Raiders practice facility address

MLC updates/confirms the team purse, previous numbers were $1.3M, now $1.15M and 6 International allowed now in playing XI with 9 per team instead of prior 8.

2023.03.25 23:35 JKKIDD231 MLC updates/confirms the team purse, previous numbers were $1.3M, now $1.15M and 6 International allowed now in playing XI with 9 per team instead of prior 8.

MLC updates/confirms the team purse, previous numbers were $1.3M, now $1.15M and 6 International allowed now in playing XI with 9 per team instead of prior 8. submitted by JKKIDD231 to Cricket [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:19 DaveShap_Automator Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality in AI (What does AI really understand? What does it matter?)

Executive Summary

(Note, everything in the Executive Summary was written by ChatGPT4)
Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality is a concept that highlights the distinction between the epistemological aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as understanding and consciousness, and their pragmatic utility as tools designed to perform tasks and solve problems. This distinction emphasizes that the development and evaluation of AI systems can occur independently along these two dimensions.
The epistemic dimension focuses on questions related to AI's capacity for genuine understanding, consciousness, and the ability to process information similarly to humans. This includes inquiries into AI's semantic understanding, symbol grounding, emotions, empathy, and cognitive abilities. The debate surrounding the epistemic dimension often delves into philosophical perspectives on consciousness, such as functionalism, dualism, and panpsychism, as well as ethical considerations related to AI's development and deployment.
On the other hand, the pragmatic dimension is concerned with the practical applications and utility of AI systems. This encompasses their capabilities to perform tasks, learn from data, adapt to new situations, and collaborate with humans. The pragmatic dimension is primarily focused on the optimization and improvement of AI systems as tools that can augment human capabilities and address complex problems.
Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality suggests that advancements in AI's pragmatic utility do not necessarily imply progress in its epistemic aspects, and vice versa. AI systems may excel at specific tasks without possessing a deep understanding of the information they process, while debates about AI's consciousness and understanding may not directly impact its practical applications.
Recognizing the distinction between the epistemic and pragmatic dimensions of AI can help guide research and development efforts by enabling a more nuanced evaluation of AI systems. It can also promote a more informed public discourse about AI by clarifying misconceptions and encouraging a balanced assessment of AI's potential benefits and limitations.
In conclusion, the concept of Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality provides a valuable framework for understanding the relationship between AI's epistemological aspects and its practical utility. By appreciating the independence of these dimensions, researchers, developers, policymakers, and the public can better navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI technology.


A lot of people are confused about the rise of AI. They say things like "the AI doesn't truly understand anything" which begs epistemological questions. Let's talk about this.


The assertion that "AI doesn't truly understand anything" opens up a philosophical debate around the nature of understanding, intelligence, and consciousness. When discussing this topic, it is essential to consider different perspectives on what it means to "understand" something.
Functionalism: According to this perspective, understanding is a matter of being able to perform specific functions or tasks. If an AI system can perform tasks that require understanding, such as language translation or problem-solving, it could be argued that the AI does indeed understand. However, critics argue that this is a shallow understanding since the AI system may not have a deeper grasp of the underlying concepts.
Symbol grounding problem: This problem arises when we consider how symbols (words or representations) are connected to the objects or concepts they represent. Humans ground their understanding of symbols in sensory experiences, while AI systems typically ground their symbols in data and algorithms. This difference leads some to argue that AI systems don't truly understand the symbols they manipulate because they lack the same grounding that humans possess.
Consciousness and subjective experience: Some philosophers argue that true understanding requires consciousness and subjective experience. According to this view, AI systems may not "understand" anything in the same way that humans do because they lack consciousness and subjective experiences. This debate raises questions about the nature of consciousness and whether it is possible for AI systems to ever possess it.
Chinese Room argument: This thought experiment, proposed by philosopher John Searle, involves a person in a room who follows instructions to manipulate Chinese characters without understanding the language. The person appears to understand Chinese to an outside observer but does not actually comprehend the meaning of the characters. Searle's argument suggests that even if an AI system appears to understand something, it may not have any genuine comprehension of the subject matter.
In conclusion, the question of whether AI systems truly understand anything is a complex and multifaceted issue that depends on one's philosophical stance on understanding, intelligence, and consciousness. Different perspectives offer varying insights, and the debate is ongoing as AI continues to advance and challenge our assumptions about the nature of understanding.


Thanks. I tend to look at this from a purely information perspective. Information in the concept of physics. Human senses are just information from the physical world. Machine data, ultimately, also comes from the physical world. What is this argument called? Explore this perspective.


The perspective you are referring to can be associated with the concept of "information processing" and the idea that both humans and machines process information derived from the physical world. From this standpoint, human cognition and AI can be seen as different instances of information processing systems.
This perspective is rooted in the computational theory of mind, which posits that cognitive processes are fundamentally computational in nature. Proponents of this view argue that mental states and processes can be understood as information processing, and the brain is an information processing system similar to a computer.
Some key ideas related to this perspective include:
Physical symbol system hypothesis: This hypothesis, proposed by Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon, posits that a physical symbol system has the necessary and sufficient means to exhibit intelligent behavior. In this context, both human cognition and AI can be seen as symbol-manipulating systems that process information.
Connectionism: This approach to understanding cognition emphasizes the importance of distributed representations and parallel processing, which are inspired by the structure and function of neural networks in the human brain. Artificial neural networks, used in AI systems, are designed to mimic the human brain's information processing mechanisms. From this perspective, the similarities between human cognition and AI systems lie in the way they process information through interconnected nodes.
Information theory: This branch of applied mathematics, developed by Claude Shannon, deals with the quantification, storage, and communication of information. When applied to the study of cognition and AI, information theory helps us understand the principles governing information processing, such as how information is encoded, transmitted, and decoded, in both biological and artificial systems.
While the information processing perspective highlights the similarities between human cognition and AI systems, it's important to recognize the differences as well. For example, human cognition is deeply grounded in sensory experiences and emotions, whereas AI systems typically rely on structured data and algorithms. Furthermore, the question of consciousness and subjective experience remains unresolved, as it's still unclear whether AI systems can ever achieve these qualities.
In conclusion, the information processing perspective emphasizes the shared basis of human cognition and AI systems in terms of processing information from the physical world. This view provides a foundation for understanding the similarities and differences between the two types of systems, while also acknowledging the ongoing debate surrounding consciousness and subjective experience.


Let's think about the emotional factors here. Many people reject the idea of AI because it's scary, threatens their identity, etc. I've noticed things like magical thinking (AI will be able to kill everyone instantly) as well as human exceptionalism (AI will never be able to do anything that humans can do). Let's explore this aspect of the debate


The emotional factors in the AI debate are indeed important to consider, as they often influence people's perceptions and reactions to AI technology. Fear, identity, and various biases can shape the public's understanding and acceptance of AI advancements. Let's explore some of these emotional aspects:
Fear of the unknown: AI is a rapidly evolving field, and people may feel apprehensive about the implications of these advancements. The idea of machines possessing intelligence and autonomy can be unsettling and may evoke a sense of uncertainty and fear. People may worry about AI systems making mistakes, being used maliciously, or becoming uncontrollable.
Threat to human identity: AI challenges the notion of human exceptionalism by raising questions about what makes humans unique. As AI systems become more capable of performing tasks that were once reserved for humans, people may feel threatened by the potential erosion of human identity or the blurring of boundaries between human and machine.
Job displacement concerns: The increasing capabilities of AI systems have led to concerns about job displacement and unemployment. People may worry that AI will replace human workers across various industries, leading to economic instability and social unrest.
Magical thinking: Some people may overestimate the capabilities of AI, believing that it will be able to perform tasks that are currently beyond its reach or develop a level of intelligence that surpasses human comprehension. This kind of thinking can fuel unrealistic fears, such as the notion that AI could instantly become a global threat.
Human exceptionalism: On the other end of the spectrum, some people may underestimate the potential of AI, insisting that it will never be able to replicate human capabilities. This belief may stem from a desire to preserve a sense of human superiority or uniqueness, which can lead to resistance or dismissal of AI advancements.
Ethical and moral concerns: People may worry about the ethical implications of AI development, such as privacy, surveillance, and the potential for AI systems to perpetuate existing biases and inequalities. These concerns can contribute to feelings of unease or opposition to AI technology.
Addressing these emotional factors is essential for fostering a more balanced and informed public discourse about AI. By promoting transparency, engaging in open dialogue, and establishing ethical guidelines, researchers and policymakers can help alleviate fears and misconceptions surrounding AI, while also ensuring that its development remains responsible and aligned with human values.


Can you free associate on the topic of "true understanding" and AI for a bit?


True understanding, a concept that has sparked much debate in the context of AI, prompts us to delve into various ideas and associations. Let's explore some related thoughts and themes:
Consciousness: True understanding is often linked to consciousness, as it is believed that genuine comprehension requires subjective experience. The nature of consciousness and its relationship with AI is a fascinating area of inquiry.
Semantic understanding: AI systems process vast amounts of data and generate complex patterns, but do they grasp the meaning of the information they process? Assessing AI's capacity for semantic understanding is essential when evaluating its ability to achieve true understanding.
Machine learning: Machine learning algorithms enable AI systems to learn from data and improve their performance over time. This process raises questions about the depth of understanding these systems can acquire through learning and adaptation.
Symbol grounding: The symbol grounding problem highlights the difference between human understanding, rooted in sensory experiences, and AI understanding, based on data and algorithms. This distinction brings the notion of "true understanding" into question.
Emotions and empathy: Human understanding is often enriched by emotions and empathy. Can AI systems ever possess these qualities, and if so, would that bring them closer to true understanding?
Human-AI collaboration: As AI systems become more sophisticated, they will likely continue to complement and augment human capabilities. Exploring the synergies between human understanding and AI understanding can reveal new insights into the nature of true understanding.
Intuition and creativity: True understanding is often associated with the ability to generate intuitive insights and creative solutions. Can AI systems develop these abilities, or are they limited to the patterns and associations derived from their training data?
Philosophical perspectives: The concept of true understanding is inherently philosophical, involving perspectives such as functionalism, dualism, and panpsychism. Engaging with these ideas can enrich our understanding of the nature and limits of AI.
Ethical considerations: As AI systems become more capable, it's crucial to examine the ethical implications of their development, including questions about fairness, transparency, and accountability. These considerations can inform our understanding of what true understanding means in the context of AI.
Evolving definitions: As AI continues to advance, our definitions of understanding and intelligence may evolve. Embracing this fluidity can help us better appreciate the complex interplay between human cognition and AI systems.


Great thanks. Good ideas. Let's take one big step back. So what? Is there any utility to having the discussion about AI and understanding?


Yes, there is utility in having discussions about AI and understanding. Such conversations contribute to a deeper comprehension of AI's potential, limitations, and implications for society. Here are several reasons why these discussions are valuable:
Guiding AI development: Debates on AI and understanding can help researchers and developers focus on creating AI systems that align with human values and interests. These conversations can inform the design of AI systems, leading to the development of more beneficial, ethically responsible technologies.
Clarifying misconceptions: Dialogues about AI and understanding can help dispel myths and misunderstandings surrounding AI capabilities and limitations. By addressing these misconceptions, we can foster a more informed public discourse about AI and its impact on society.
Ethical considerations: Conversations about AI and understanding can highlight ethical concerns, such as bias, privacy, accountability, and the potential for misuse. Addressing these issues is critical for ensuring that AI systems are developed and deployed responsibly.
Shaping policy and regulation: As AI systems become more integrated into various aspects of society, it is essential to have a clear understanding of their capabilities and limitations. These discussions can inform policymakers and regulators, helping them create appropriate guidelines and policies that balance innovation with societal needs and ethical considerations.
Education and public engagement: Dialogues about AI and understanding can promote scientific literacy and public engagement in AI-related topics. By raising awareness and fostering curiosity, these conversations can contribute to a more informed and engaged citizenry.
Human-AI collaboration: Understanding the nature of AI systems and their potential for understanding can help us identify opportunities for collaboration between humans and AI. These discussions can reveal insights into how AI can augment human abilities and contribute to solving complex problems.
Preparing for future advancements: As AI technology continues to evolve, it is crucial to anticipate and prepare for future developments. Conversations about AI and understanding can help us understand the potential trajectories of AI and the challenges and opportunities that may arise.
Interdisciplinary collaboration: Discussions about AI and understanding often involve insights from various disciplines, such as computer science, philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. These interdisciplinary dialogues can foster new ideas and collaborations, promoting a richer understanding of AI and its implications.
In conclusion, the discussion about AI and understanding is valuable because it helps guide the development of AI technology, clarifies misconceptions, addresses ethical concerns, informs policy and regulation, promotes education and public engagement, fosters human-AI collaboration, and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration. By engaging in these conversations, we can work together to ensure that AI is developed and utilized in ways that are beneficial to humanity.


Alright. I'd like you to play devil's advocate for a minute. Against me, yourself, etc. To put it another way, I'd like you to look at these discussions from a different, more eccentric perspective. Just for the sake of argument.


From a more eccentric perspective, one could argue that discussions about AI and understanding may be overemphasizing certain aspects or even overlooking the fundamental nature of AI itself. Let's consider some counterpoints:
AI as a tool: At its core, AI is a tool created by humans. Debates about understanding and consciousness may distract from the more practical aspects of AI technology. Instead, the focus should be on how to use and improve AI systems as tools to help us achieve specific goals, rather than dwelling on whether they possess some deeper understanding.
Anthropomorphism: The tendency to attribute human-like qualities to AI systems might lead to unrealistic expectations or unnecessary concerns. By treating AI as an entirely separate entity, we might be overlooking the more pressing questions related to the technology's impact on society, such as job displacement, privacy, and the digital divide.
Inherent limitations of AI: AI systems are fundamentally based on algorithms and data. These limitations may imply that true understanding, as we conceive it in humans, may never be achievable by AI systems. Therefore, the debate about AI and understanding could be futile or misplaced.
Potential for stagnation: Overemphasizing the importance of AI understanding might hinder the development of more advanced AI systems. If we become too concerned about creating AI systems that possess human-like understanding or consciousness, we might impose constraints on AI research that could prevent valuable advancements.
Focus on human adaptation: Instead of trying to make AI more like humans in terms of understanding and consciousness, we could focus on adapting ourselves to better interact with and leverage AI systems. This perspective shifts the emphasis from molding AI to fit human conceptions of understanding to enhancing human-AI collaboration through improved communication and interaction.
Redefining understanding: The debates surrounding AI and understanding might be an opportunity to reconsider and redefine what understanding means. As AI systems continue to evolve, we may need to adapt our conceptions of understanding and intelligence to accommodate the unique capabilities and characteristics of these systems.
While adopting an eccentric or contrarian perspective can provide valuable insights, it's essential to balance these ideas with more conventional views to ensure a comprehensive understanding of AI and its implications. By considering a wide range of perspectives, we can better navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI technology.


Excellent. Let's try to come up with a term, or set of terms, so that we can communicate these concepts. As I'm sure you know, there is a lot of value in naming things. Like "the control problem" or "the ought is problem". What should we call this particular debate?


Indeed, coining terms to describe specific debates or concepts can facilitate communication and promote a shared understanding. For this particular debate, which revolves around the nature of AI's understanding, consciousness, and potential limitations, you could consider the following terms:
AI Comprehension Conundrum: This term captures the central question of whether AI systems can genuinely comprehend information and concepts in the same way humans do.
AI Understanding Dilemma: This term emphasizes the conflicting views and challenges surrounding the notion of AI's understanding and its implications.
Machine Consciousness Paradox: This term highlights the tension between AI's seemingly intelligent behavior and the uncertainty surrounding its capacity for consciousness.
AI Cognition Quandary: This term encompasses the broader debate about the nature of AI's cognitive abilities, including understanding, learning, and problem-solving.
You can choose one of these terms or combine them to create a more comprehensive label for the debate, such as the "AI Comprehension and Consciousness Conundrum." The key is to find a term that accurately conveys the complexity and essence of the discussion while also promoting clarity and shared understanding.


I think the concept of orthogonality is helpful here. Machine utility is orthogonal to it's epistemology. Can you try some different names that are more precise. Borrow from philosophy if you need.


Certainly, incorporating the concept of orthogonality can help emphasize the distinction between machine utility and its epistemological underpinnings. Drawing inspiration from philosophy, we can consider the following terms:
Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality: This term highlights the separation between the epistemological aspects of AI (i.e., its understanding and consciousness) and its pragmatic utility as a tool designed to perform tasks and solve problems.
AI Cognition-Utility Divide: This term underscores the distinction between AI's cognitive abilities and its practical applications, suggesting that the two can be independently evaluated and developed.
AI Knowledge-Function Dichotomy: This term emphasizes the potential disconnect between AI's knowledge representation and its functional capabilities, drawing attention to the difference between what AI systems "know" and what they can do.
Orthogonal AI Understanding: This term conveys the idea that AI's understanding, or lack thereof, may not necessarily impact its practical utility, as the two dimensions can evolve independently.
These terms aim to capture the essence of the debate while incorporating the concept of orthogonality to emphasize the distinction between AI's epistemological aspects and its practical utility. You can select one that resonates most with the ideas you'd like to convey or even combine elements from different terms to create a new label.


Great. I love "Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality". Can you write a detailed executive summary of Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality?


Title: Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality
Executive Summary:
Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality is a concept that highlights the distinction between the epistemological aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as understanding and consciousness, and their pragmatic utility as tools designed to perform tasks and solve problems. This distinction emphasizes that the development and evaluation of AI systems can occur independently along these two dimensions.
The epistemic dimension focuses on questions related to AI's capacity for genuine understanding, consciousness, and the ability to process information similarly to humans. This includes inquiries into AI's semantic understanding, symbol grounding, emotions, empathy, and cognitive abilities. The debate surrounding the epistemic dimension often delves into philosophical perspectives on consciousness, such as functionalism, dualism, and panpsychism, as well as ethical considerations related to AI's development and deployment.
On the other hand, the pragmatic dimension is concerned with the practical applications and utility of AI systems. This encompasses their capabilities to perform tasks, learn from data, adapt to new situations, and collaborate with humans. The pragmatic dimension is primarily focused on the optimization and improvement of AI systems as tools that can augment human capabilities and address complex problems.
Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality suggests that advancements in AI's pragmatic utility do not necessarily imply progress in its epistemic aspects, and vice versa. AI systems may excel at specific tasks without possessing a deep understanding of the information they process, while debates about AI's consciousness and understanding may not directly impact its practical applications.
Recognizing the distinction between the epistemic and pragmatic dimensions of AI can help guide research and development efforts by enabling a more nuanced evaluation of AI systems. It can also promote a more informed public discourse about AI by clarifying misconceptions and encouraging a balanced assessment of AI's potential benefits and limitations.
In conclusion, the concept of Epistemic-Pragmatic Orthogonality provides a valuable framework for understanding the relationship between AI's epistemological aspects and its practical utility. By appreciating the independence of these dimensions, researchers, developers, policymakers, and the public can better navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by AI technology.
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2023.03.25 23:17 djshefu573 Deluxe Sugar Cane @ 26% THC & 2.98% Terps. Looks small, but the buds pack a punch!! CoA included 🔥

Deluxe Sugar Cane @ 26% THC & 2.98% Terps. Looks small, but the buds pack a punch!! CoA included 🔥
Not gonna lie, I expected nice giant nugs and got a bunch of smaller ones, but its STRONG. Solid 9 out of 10. It would have been a 10 if the nugs were bigger. Great effects! I'd definitely buy this again. Totally worth the rec. Surterra's been a great spot for Flower & CDT as of late. Hope the next jars got bigger nugs. Cheers 💚
submitted by djshefu573 to FLMedicalTrees [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:13 Shin-kun1997 [SF] Epsilon’s Trial

I'd love to have some critiques and feedback as I plan to publish this into something real at some point. This is also a draft. Many thanks
With heavy shoulders slumped, Sebastian Pasquet walked through the door of his house and kicked off his shoes, dropping the suitcase and hanging up his jacket. The turtleneck shirt he wore was covered in specs of dust and dirt, all of which emerged from today's earlier events.
“Ugh. I swear this position is gonna drive me into the bloody ground.” he grunted in a thick English accent. “I’m home.”
His voice caught the attention of a woman dressed in a blue shirt and apron, her hair was a dark silver and her eyes were violet, but her most defining features were a pair of cat-like ears protruding from her head, as well as a tail that stretched down to her feet. 
She walked towards him and instantly embraced him in a hug, causing him to drop the suitcase. He didn’t care and simply returned the love, pushing his lips against hers as he smirked. Greeting him was his wife, Alvia. A Felis from the planet Eria some 230,000,000 kilometers from Fiore.
A world with the lowest population in Eridani at 2.5 billion inhabited by a shy, peaceful race that, while possessing spaceflight and the ability to travel through jump space, had no off world settlements apart from their moon.
“Welcome back.” she said as her tail curved around his leg. “I missed you so much. It’s five thirty by the way, don’t you usually get out by four?”
“There was an accident on one of the launch pads that needed attention.”
“Oh my, I hope no one was hurt.”
“Don’t worry, it was an unmanned test. No crew on board.”
“Ah, great. Well my love, your hard day's work is over for the time being.” She pecked his cheek once more. “Come on, dinner’s almost finished.”
He stepped into the living room where a young boy was sitting on the floor reading a children's book. The area was designed with a modern and cozy aesthetic with the TV embedded in the wall, an L-shaped couch at the center, and family portraits stacked across a nearby table. One of them depicted Sebastian five years ago in his EVA suit, taken just before launch. 
His seven year old son, Jeremy, greeted him with a hug. While he resembled a younger version of himself, he’d been born a Felis just like Alvia, inheriting his mothers ears and tail.
“Hey kiddo.” Sebastian said, picking him up and scratching behind his ears. “What’d you do all day?”
“I got to help mom with dinner.” he replied, in a cheery voice. “Oh, Dad, are we still gonna go to the expo? Mari said she’s going with her parents.”
Jeremy had been referring to the Interstellar Aerospace Expo of 2273, which was to be held on the planet Vandam in two months. The annual thirteen day long convention where space companies, private initiatives, and anti-gravity racers from all across Eridani gathered to celebrate the one thing they all shared in common; flying.
“Of course we are.” Sebastian replied. “But were you good in school today?”
His son nodded.
“Then, I’ll be sure to take you to the anti-gravity race when we go.”
Jeremy cheered at his reply. Upon putting him down, Alvia directed him to wash his hands before dinner. He watched Jeremy head up the stairs towards the bathroom as his wife placed her head against his shoulder. 
“I swear, he can’t stop talking about that event.” she said.
Changing into a t-shirt he plopped onto the couch and turned the TV on just in time to witness a news report taking place. A story discussing a recent development regarding an unknown object floating within space, specifically the Strain Belt, the massive asteroid belt that separated Fiore from Eris. The screen then switched to a photograph taken within the belt via a satellite, depicting a violet light within a field of asteroids. As his wife sat beside him Sebastian became puzzled at the story, his mind curious as to what the supposed entity could be. 
“I read this somewhere earlier. Some are just saying it could be a comet.” Alvia said.
“But what kind of comet stays in the exact same place?” he replied. “It’s probably a defunct probe that’s reached its end.”
Alvia shrugged her shoulders as Sebastian began to massage her ears, which she loved a lot. “Maybe. So, how was today apart from the accident you mentioned?”
“Sorting through paperwork. Supersiving vehicle operation. In short, horrifying.”
“Aw, my peach sounds like he’s been through too much. It’s been two years now since you’ve had this position, director of the astronaut corps.”
“It has its perks. I get to fly in those fancy spaceliners for business trips across the planet or to the moon.”
“Oh? Then maybe you can book us a nice getaway towards those fancy beach hotels.” Sebastian rolled his eyes and smiled at her answer. Alvia slowly raised her head and pressed her lips against his once more, giving Sebastian the go ahead to massage her tail.
“Ew, yuck!”
The two ceased their advances immediately upon hearing the voice of their son in front of them. There, Jeremy stood, mocking his parents' act of love causing the two of them to laugh. When all was said and done they walked towards the kitchen where dinner was served, the entire time Sebastian was subjected to Jeremy’s rambling about the exposition. 
The next day Sebastian found himself quickly jogging through the halls of Ophir Space Complex, the campus-sized facility that managed all launches and missions of the company. He arrived at the designated meeting room and was greeted by the sight of James sitting at the head of an oval-shaped mahogany table. Beside him were Romero and Alex as well, all dressed in matching suit attire. 
Sebastian noticed at the table center a hologram of the planet Fiore, which was odd because this room didn’t have that feature the previous day.
“Sorry if I’m late. Had to drop my son off at school and traffic was impatient on the way back.” Sebastian said, taking his seat.
“Not at all mate. We’re waiting on a few more actually.” Romero replied, shaking Sebastian's hand. “How is your boy anyway?”
“Excited for the expo, that’s for sure. Says some of his friends are going too.”
“Same for me and my little girl.” Alex added. “I hear that there’s going to be a Human vs. Astrean anti-gravity prix.”
“How much do you want to bet they’ll kick our arses?”
Eventually several other suited men stepped into the room and upon closing the door, took their seats and greeted Sebastian and his colleagues. 
“Good. Now that everyone’s here, let's get this meeting started.” Romero proclaimed. “To begin, what is on the schedule for this month in terms of the new models?”
“Fortunately the accident yesterday was only minor and the damage was menial, the engineers over at our plant in Harriet are repairing it as we speak.” Alex replied. “Construction on two other prototypes are underway as we speak.”
“Will it be ready in time for the exposition?” another man asked.
“We believe so. With a little more time.”
“More time? The event is in two months and we have yet to present anything to the board and CEO. If we don’t procure results fast we’ll be coming in fifth place for the fourth year in a row.”
“Easy now, I’m sure our engineers here are on the case. Yesterday’s mishap has not slowed us down before, and it will not slow us down again.”
The hologram at the center suddenly switched to a star map of Eridani, displaying all barren and inhabited worlds within the star system, including the eight planets humanity resided on. Their names were shown just below the tiny sphere they represented. 
Daphne. Rhea. Nova. Antari. Freya. Cascade. . And his own planet, Fiore.
Soon after, a hologram of the spacecraft in question appeared at the center of the map as well. Sebastian was silent for the most part, somewhat annoyed at the constant bickering between the old men. 
“The model comes in one and two seater variants we’ve labeled as the Ichinose-class. Its nickname is Epsilon.” Alex spoke. “We were implementing a two engine propulsion system that not only propels the ship forward, but provides power for the rest of the ship. Sebastian, wanna give the rundown?”
He nodded, shifting everyone's attention to the TV display on the wall which now showed a diagram of the ship.
“Our spacecraft compared to Astreans, while advanced, are relatively primitive in their eyes. Well at least in terms of design and architecture. Astreans ships use deuterium and tritium to power their reactors while we use deuterium and helium-3, with liquid hydrogen remaining as the primary fuel source. But what makes Epsilon different is its engines.”
“Oh?” another man said.
“Typically, our vehicles employ chemically fueled aerospike plasma engines, the newer engines you’re seeing here are fusion powered and designed to not only provide direct thrust, but power to the spacecraft altogether.”
Each of the men’s eyes widened at Sebastians response. Such a design for a spacecraft was unproven on Fiore, but the concept and practicality was very much real. In fact most companies and organizations on other human worlds had recently fielded such designs. Sebastian continued. 
“Speed is also another factor we’ve looked over. A typical trip from Fiore to Eris in this planetary system will take around 7 hours. These engines can cut that flight down to just 2.5 hours of non-stop travel. Especially when you consider that it takes 5 hours to get to the Strain Belt.”
The men then began conversing amongst themselves at Sebastians statement. While some of them were supportive of the concept of lower trips across the interplanetary medium, others were skeptical. When asked if the engines were tested with astronauts Sebastian shook his head. 
“I haven’t assigned anyone to fly it as of yet, but rest assured the tests are coming back with many positive results.”
“Positive, but unmanned,” he replied. “If this were to fail, the amount of bad publicity would damage our reputation for years to come. We cannot proceed further without human ratings.”
Sebastian sighed to himself as he grunted, the men of the table chatting back and forth about the safety and possible outcomes the fusion engines would provide. He tried to find the words to say to appease the table but their corporate tone, mildly annoying political voices hindered that effort. For the past several minutes the meeting continued, with two sides discussing both the pros and cons of having such a design. Finally, after seemingly an eternity of old men debating over coffee as his wife put it, he slammed a hand on the table causing Alex to flinch. Standing from his seat, all eyes were now trained on him. 
“Enough. All this bickering is not getting us anywhere. If you want results, I’ll fly the damn ship myself.”
As if coming to some horrendous realization the table's members simply stared at Sebastian upon his closing statement. For his part, Sebastian was set on fulfilling the test operation. Further explaining that he would assign himself to a manned test of the vehicle as soon as possible. 
“I’m not so sure that would be an appropriate move, as the astronaut office head you’re responsible for ensuring launch vehicles are up to company standards.”
“And what better way to do that than from inside the said vehicle?” Sebastian replied. “Look, everyone in both corporate and engineering is under a lot of stress and worrying about our place at the exposition. I can put all those to rest with a simple interplanetary flight to Eria.”
“I agree.” Alex added. “Sebastian is one of the more experienced pilots in the program as well, especially when you look at his resume.”
Silence filled the room. The diagram of the engine disappeared from the screen as Sebastian took his seat once more, their eyes wandering back and forth as if lost in thought and trying to find counter arguments. As it became evident that there were no further words to say, one of the men had taken a piece of paper and began writing. 
“I will take it to the board then,” he said. “If we’re talking about a spaceflight, then might we add an extra task?”
When Sebastian arrived at the Strain Belt he was fast at work, enjoying the wilderness of space that he’d spent so long away from. A week had passed and he was installing one of many beacons along a column of asteroids, his EVA circulating oxygen and maintaining a stable body temperature. He had departed Fiore a few hours earlier after taking Jeremy to school and kissing his wife goodbye, now conducting a mission which included not only working out any of Epsilon’s bugs, but locating an interstellar object which had been spotted by a company space probe. 
Sebastian jumped from the asteroid and floated back towards Epsilon where the airlock was still open. Pressurizing the interior he assumed control of the vehicle and used the thrusters to gently move into more open space. The thick concentration of asteroids surrounding him resembled a field of death, something no human without the proper experience should be able to survive.
While the ship's hull was sturdy, Sebastian had to maintain constant caution. His senses were on full alert even from inside the safety of the ship. The occasional bumps along the exterior would cause any inexperienced pilot to flinch, but Epsilon was made of some of the best titanium Fiore had. As he arrived at the signal's location Sebastian found himself cast into a sea of dark, the sun barely shining through the asteroids that circled him. 
“I can’t see it yet.” he said to himself. “The news showed that thing to be a bright violet light, but where would it be?”
After floating through the belt for several minutes he was caught by the flash of a bright light, the familiar violet color from the news made its appearance known again. Activating Epsilon’s fusion engines Sebastian sped towards the light as it began to vanish as quickly as it came. He turned on the spacecraft's exterior lights to get a full view of what was before him. 
“Holy crap…”
His eyes took a moment to register what everyone at the space center assumed it to be. A large horizontal object with a shape almost like an oversized satellite with a rod attached to the end, two flat extensions resembling solar panels, and a round dome that covered its opposite end. In fact its shape and various extensions gave it the appearance of a small space station. 
“Control, I think I’ve found it.” Sebastian said through comms. “These markings along the side, those definitely aren’t human made.”
“We read you Epsilon. Are you saying what we’re all thinking?”
“Yeah. This thing is definitely of Xanadu origin.”
The sound of applause could be heard at the end of the radio. Sebastian smirked as he leaned back in his seat upon discovering one of thousands, if not millions of different advanced ancient technologies spread throughout the Milky Way. After relaying the artifact’s location and back to Fiore, his celebration abruptly ended when an alarm began to sound. Glancing at the radar beneath him he spotted two red dots, each representing ships, heading for his position. Sensing something was wrong Sebastian quickly displayed an enhanced frame of the space before him, what he could see were two low grade spacecraft flying towards his position. 
“Aw crap.” Sebastian said, activating the engines. “Control, we’ve got a problem. I’ve got a band of Outcast pirates on my plate now.”
“Well would you look at that.” one of them spoke through comms. “Looks like we’ve got ourselves a butterfly trapped in a thorn bush. No biggie, you hand over that structure there and things don’t have to go south.”
Sebastian sighed. “It was hard enough having to navigate through this freaking death field. Now I have scumbags like you in my schedule? Geeze it just ain’t my day.”
“What was that?!” One of the ships activated their weapons systems.
“Did I stutter? I called you a bunch of low life trash bags who’re probably too stupid to know how a coffee maker works.”
Before he knew it, a concentrated beam of energy came flying through the asteroid field. Using Epsilon’s powerful thrusters Sebastian was only barely able to dodge it. He gripped the stick and began to fly forwards into the fray. To maintain his stability Sebastian had to keep the fusion engine's velocity at a minimum so as to not crash into any asteroids, or worse, the pirates spacecraft. 
“Looks like this butterfly’s been reading too many fantasies. Let’s show em who’s in charge around here!”
He soon found one of the ships now tailing him. Another stream of energy zipped past his ship and grazed the side of the hull plating, setting off another alarm Sebastian quickly silenced. Activating Epsilon's energy shields he quickly formulated a plan in order to gain the upper hand. Despite being a prototype, Epsilon was equipped with defenses including a directed energy weapon and four missiles stored in a lower chamber. 
“Damn. If this keeps up I’ll run out of fuel before I can even plan for the expo’s entrance.” he said to himself, scoffing. “No matter, I’ve got a few tricks of my own.”
As he piloted Epsilon through the dense field he remained calm and collected, knowing that fear and panic would only make the situation much more dire. A common aspect all astronauts followed when venturing in or far from Eridani. Paranoia would only spell certain demise. Sebastian circled another set of rocks before raising his altitude, catching the tailing ship off guard. The ship slammed into the side of the asteroid at an intense velocity. Engulfing the ship in a silent explosion as the flames vanished. 
“One down, one more to go.” Sebastian said. “Hm?”
He stabilized his altitude and ceased all movement to find the last remaining pirate ship before him; it was a few thousand feet away but close enough for Sebaatian to see. Strangely it made no attempts to move, no communication from its crew, all he could see was the low-budget ship flash a red light from its bridge area occasionally. 
“What the heck are they doing…?”
Sebastian realized too late. Within several seconds his spacecraft's systems suddenly began to go haywire, the electricity malfunctioning and life support beginning to fail. Putting on his helmet Sebastian quickly maneuvered Epsilon out of view from the Outcasts using what little power from the spacecraft's backup systems he had. He’d been hit with an EMP. 
“We’ve got him. Finish him off so we can claim our prize.”
Sebastian began to assess the situation as the pirate's spacecraft hovered towards him, the Outcast fired another stream of energy towards Epsilon causing the ship's hull to deteriorate. Using the thrusters Sebastian shifted behind an asteroid to avoid another oncoming stream of energy. Several minutes had passed with Epsilon sneaking around the Outcast ship and avoiding whatever attacks it could. Eventually the two ships found themselves coming within range of a pocket of controlled space within the Strain Belt, Sebastian could spot the orbital infrastructure that made up Ophir Strait. One of only two clear paths of the Strain Belt that served as a trade route between Fiore and Eria. 
“Damn it.” he grunted, hitting the dashboard. “If I don’t end this quickly then we’re both gonna be fired on by the security bots.”
Separated by fifty miles, Sebastian was well outside the exclusion zone of the trade route, and with Epsilon's systems finally back online he ran another scan for the remaining Outcast ship. He spotted him several thousand kilometers in front of him once more, only this time he couldn't see him out the canopy window.
Sebastian squinted his eyes as he looked out the window, his grip firm on the stick as he came to realize that he had to. He thought of Alvia and Jeremy back on Fiore, both of them waiting for his safe return and comforting presence once more. Taking in a breath, he gradually began to speed towards the craft.
“Alright…we got one shot at this.” Sebastian said. “This doesn’t work, then Ophir Strait falls apart.”
Sebastian locked onto the Outcast ahead of him and fired one of the missiles beneath the spacecraft, but not before slightly altering its trajectory. Epsilon increased its speed enough causing the interior to shake and vibrate, the energy shields surrounding the outside were activated once again, as asteroids flew past the canopy glass at a high velocity. Within just a few minutes the Outcast ship came within sight. It fired its directed energy once again straight towards Epsilon which made contact with the energy shield. However Sebastian continued to fly straight towards the craft, ignoring the reducing shield's power. The Outcast panicked, as it appeared that Sebastian would crash Epsilon straight into his ship. 
“Are you crazy?!” the pirate shouted.
Sebastian was unfazed. “Maybe.”
Before he knew it the Outcast was closer than ever, within a split second Sebastian's spacecraft zipped by the pirate in a swift clean motion. Epsilon then used its thrusters to reduce its velocity once more, the pirate beginning to laugh. 
“What the hell was that? No guts to finish it huh?” His ship's energy weapon began to charge. “Looks like this is it then, butterfly.”
“Yeah. For you at least.”
Confused, the Outcast demanded to know what he meant. Sebastian for his part, chuckled as he directed the pirate to look behind him. The two missiles Epsilon fired earlier had reemerged and, with brute force, smashed into the pirates ship from both port and starboard side. A ball of fire engulfed the surrounding space followed by a brief blinding light. All of which could be seen, but not heard. The flames vanished. Filling the space with debris from the destroyed ship that floated off into various directions. Sebastian let out a breath of relief as Epsilon, damaged but still alive, gently raised its altitude to be above the Strain Belt. The sun’s light shone through the glass as he took off his helmet and accepted the light.’ 
“Epsilon, this is Fiore! Epsilon, do you read?” a voice spoke through comms.
“Fiore this is Epsilon, good to hear your voice.”
“Sebastian? Thank God. What’s happening up there? The signal cut out and we’ve been trying to reach you!”
Looking around the interior of the cabin he shrugged his shoulders, taking off his communications cap he responded. 
“Well Fiore, I don’t know how to quite say this….”
Two months had passed since the incident in the Strain Belt, the Xanadu artifact had been secured by the company and taken to an orbital research station on one of Fiore’s moons.
The stadium had been packed to the rim with civilians from all across Eridani filling the twenty thousand seats that surrounded the massive holographic screen at the center of the ring. Fireworks lit the dim sky accompanied by confetti raining from passing overhead ships, and the cheers of all resonated throughout the air. Flags of the various inhabited worlds throughout Eridani flew along the center. 
Among the thousands of civilians, Sebastian sat beside his wife with their son between them.
“Hey, look.” Alvia said, pointing upward. “They’re starting.”
Sebastian glanced towards the sky and his eyes were as wide as dinner plates, as five spacecraft conducting a flyover soared over the stadium in formation. Leaving behind trails blue and white smoke that casted the air in a striped pattern. They were Epsilon spacecraft, the very vehicle that saved his life within the Strain Belt. It was the second day of the 2273 Interstellar Aerospace Expo, hosted by the Astreans that lived on the planet Seira, the day that would kick off with a traditional anti-gravity race between the humans teams from Fiore, and the Jurahan teams from Eden. 
“Dad, are we gonna win?” Jeremy asked.
Sebastian smiled and ruffled his hair. “I sure as hell hope so kid. That way Alex will be getting me lunch when we head back.”
Alvia covered Jeremy’s ears. “Sebastian, language. Not in front of Jeremy.”
“What? If I remember correctly you did the same before we left.”
Alvia playfully punched his arm before placing Jeremy on her lap.
Within moments of the racers being introduced the host of the show gave a brief speech to the people, welcoming all in attendance to both the race and the exposition. Upon finishing the anti-gravity timer began its countdown from ten, with the people all counting in unison as per tradition. The entire Sebastian couldn’t wipe the cheeky smirk off his face as he and his family cheered. Ecstatic that everything in the end worked out, from getting Epsilon approved in time for the exposition, to satisfying his son’s thirst for adventure. As the anti-gravity vehicles sped off into the fray he wrapped an arm around Alvia’s waist to pull her closer. 
“You know you still owe me an explanation about what happened.” she said. “I want to know all about your first time back up in space.”
“Yeah. Well I’ll tell you…most of what happened.”
Sebastian pecked Alvia’s cheek, as the romanticized scale of the fireworks and race continued.
submitted by Shin-kun1997 to shortstories [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 23:02 Morzo_Voidmaster Sassy Cola - three short stories describing a timeline where the future is guided by a soda company

3,659th Quarterly Meeting
Kilometer-long freighters docked and undocked from Port Vesta. Ventral doors opened to let in adamantine loading arms, the size of which existed only in tales of primordial titans for much of human history. Once reloaded, the ships departed for humanity's interstellar colonies at Tau Ceti, Aldebaran and Rigel. So choked with ship-induced warp bubbles was Vesta that stargazing was a fruitless pastime for many millions of kilometers out.
And all this was visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the most important conference room humanity had ever known.
Cool air circulated through the 40 by 20 by 5 meter room. 20.4 degrees Celsius, the perfect temperature to keep ambitious minds in line with corporate procedure. And no minds were more ambitious than those sitting in here.
9 of the most powerful human beings alive sat around the rectangular conference table, four on each of its long sides and one at the end farthest from the door. Their perfect faces were reflected in its polished black marble, craftsmanship reflecting in craftsmanship, one working in flesh and the other in stone. Their suits ran the gamut of subdued color, from black to gray to blue to beige to brown, though all but one had a metallic sheen. No one tried speaking before the meeting began. Everything that would be said today had been written and rewritten over the previous weeks. Today was a formality, a tradition practiced by an organization that had existed for 914 years.
Yet everyone in the room knew that the predetermined decision formalized today thrust their organization into foreign territory.
The man at the end of the table stood up. His dark brown suit was only two shades distant from his dark brown skin, most on display on his shaved and polished head. He removed his black-framed glasses from their perch 210 centimeters above the floor and tucked them into his breast pocket, 170 centimeters above the floor.
"Members of The Board," he said, "I declare this, the 3,659th quarterly meeting, open."
A woman, nearest on his left, stood up as he sat down. She wore a beige suit whose metallic sheen paled in comparison to her voluminous blonde hair. In her lilly white hands was the Quarterly Profit Report.
"Mr. CEO," she said in her most authoritative voice, "I'm proud to report that we have once again met the expectations of the founder. From July 1st to September 30th, 2999 CE, we maintained a profit margin of 80.0 %. As of September 30th, we hold a market share of 99 % and a market capitalization of 400 quadrillion credits."
The woman sat down. The other eight clapped their approval.
A man, nearest on Mr. CEO's right, stood up. His gray suit complemented the full head of silver hair installed on his scalp and chin. Strong and youthful hands, grown in a vat and transplanted onto this bicentenarian, held the Readiness Assessment Report from the R&D Department.
"The Instant Sassy program has achieved level 4 certainty as of August 16th, 2999 CE. They can now create a maximum of 1 kilogram of mass and replicate drink and bottle in one go. Mass production of the Instant Sassy vending machines awaits your approval, Mr. CEO."
The man sat down. Clapping ensued.
Five more members of The Board provided their tidbits of information, but everyone knew the best was saved until last.
A young man, actually young in contrast to everyone else's purchased youth, rose from his seat at the doorward end of Mr. CEO'S left side. He wasn't more than 30. He was only 160 centimeters in height. His hair and suit were both pitch black and without sheen. Most of the board wondered if the boy even combed. He certainly didn't shave. His delicate fingers held a one page legal summary.
"Mr. CEO," he said in a monotone lawyer-stating-the-facts voice, "it has come to the attention of the legal department that a small firm at Rigel is selling a 1-to-1 clone of Sassy Cola, though under the branding of Flash Cola. As there is no reliable intellectual property enforcement that far out, we suggest Sassy Cola Company perform a cease-and-desist operation."
The clapping that followed was, as planned, subdued to balance The Board's recognition of his work and the dire situation he described.
Mr. CEO stood once more to give the final address.
"Members of The Board, we stand at a precipice. Military action against a small firm is a bold move. Then again, the Sassy Cola Company is no stranger to bold moves. It was a bold move when in 2085 my great great grandmother started this company in order to sell her sassafras-enriched soda. It was a bold move when we spent the 23rd century expanding Earth's launch capabilities so that humanity could colonize the solar system and thereby create new markets for Sassy Cola. And it was a bold move when in 2610 we invented the FTL warp drive so that humanity could settle the stars and buy more Sassy Cola. So let's put this to a vote. All in favor of sending a cease-and-desist?"
Five members raised their right hand.
"All opposed?"
Three other members raised their right hand.
"Five for and three against. And I vote in favor, giving the issue the 2/3 majority it needs. A cease-and-desist will be sent to Rigel as soon as the ship is ready. I declare this, the 3,659th Quarterly Meeting, adjourned."
All nine stood and clapped, excessively, as if their noise could bury the question of ethics.
Outside the floor-to-ceiling windows, a kilometer-long ship (built by Sassy Heavy Industries) docked at Port Vesta (technically Sassy Drive Yards) and loaded up with cargo containers (built and owned by Sassy Shipping) to be delivered to Aldebaran (Sassy Cola Aldebaran, subsidiary).
Dr. Megalomanovich
The walls and ceiling and floor of the office never stayed the same color for long. They meandered through the greens, brighter then darker, strolled along the beach with various tans, took a dip in the water with cyan blue and finished by going back to the greens. They were cymolds, cybernetic funguses, and they formed the surface of every room in the administration wing of Sassy Research Installation #544.
It wasn't a very well publicized installation. No research from here had ever appeared on Sassy Science Direct's Top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year. Of course, that meant what they were doing was very, very important. Another reason to locate the place so far from the rest of human civilization.
Far from civilization is a relative term. To be far on the surface of a planet, you got to be, eh, 100 kilometers away. To be far in the context of a star system, make that 100 million kilometers. To be far from humanity in the year 3535 CE, you have to be 100 light years away. And that's just what we were. 100 light years separated us from the nearest human outpost. Not the nearest built-up star system or lone asteroid city. No, I mean 100 light years from the nearest hitch-em-up, one warpship, sorry excuse for an outpost. Nothing lay in-between and no one was coming to rescue you if you broke down halfway.
But that was the price of admission if you wanted to meet Dr. Megalomanovich.
To the layman, his name means nothing. To the educated, resentment. To the dreamers, hope. He is the greatest mind of our time bar none. And, like all great minds, he has created controversy.
The cymold on these walls was invented by him while he was still in secondary school 150 years ago. He designed the meter-thick mycelium fibers which root Installation #544 to its carbonaceous asteroid in an undergraduate mycology class. Since then he has: led a team which developed an all-biological fusion reactor, led another team that made a proof of concept for matter-antimatter annihilation based metabolism and singlehandedly created a cow subspecies that produces Sassy Cola instead of milk.
This last accomplishment most impressed the one and only financial backer of all human science, the Sassy Cola Company.
It didn't matter that Sassy Cola was already made in the most efficient way physically possible, by assembling it, bottle and all, from the fundamental elements themselves via vending machine MDROM-derived replicators, because Sassy from an udder was cool to the average consumer.
And so Dr. Megalomanovich was scooped up and shipped off to Installation #544. Here he has remained for 120 years doing . . . something. I'm here to find out what.
A chubby man with pudge stuffed unsuccessfully into a white lab coat walked in to the office. His eyes had been replaced by cybernetics—not eyes, but an assortment of twitching miniature radar dishes and antennae. His thick white hair is gelled straight back like the racing helmet of a bicyclist. It took me a minute to realize that this man was the good doctor.
"Dr. Megalomanovich?," said I.
"Who else were you expecting in Dr. Megalomanovich's office?"
"No one. I mean you, but, but—"
"You have only seen my younger self. Likely from my exploits in producing that wondrous strain of cow which produces delicious Sassy Cola."
"I know you from more than just that."
"I don't know why, all my other stuff had nothing to do with Sassy Cola."
He ripped some of the cymold off the wall with one of his olive green gloved hands. Beneath it is barren rock, half-digested by the lithovorous cymold.
"I mean, the antimatter-powered life thing was pretty neat," said I.
"Pretty neat? PRETTY NEAT?!?"
I shrank in my seat and whimpered, "Yeah."
"I'll show you neat my boy. Follow me through the teleporter!"
Rubber fingers pressed a sequence on the door's keypad with inhuman speed. The metal door dissolved away and only a teleporter field remained.
For those who've not seen the new 2D intrabrane teleporters—or thresholds as their called—you're in for a treat. Not only are they compact and have ranges up to a light year, but they allow light to pass through so you can see where the hell you're going. Not all light; hard ultraviolet and above get filtered out as do large energy differences. So if you're traveling from a paradise planet to a spaceship and that spaceship's warp drive has an oopsie, the 1 billion kelvin nuclear fireball won't char your burgers.
We weren't traveling to a paradise planet, at least not in the traditional sense. To a neogeneticist like myself it was heavenly.
I noted three things when I first stepped through. 1, the whole environment was bathed in the orange light of a red dwarf star. 2, the environment was divided between land—the cliffside we were standing on—and a bubbling black sea of what turned out to be Sassy Cola stretching toward the horizon. 3, the animals.
I don't know why the animals stood out to me over what I assumed were plants. They weren't actually plants but a form of lichen—but, but, but the prejudice toward the animals was still there. In fairness, they were pretty enigmatic. One of them crawled along the ground with a head that was entirely tongue, licking up the lichen bulbs like pieces of candy. Another one looked like a tree, but on closer inspection was an amphibious anemone, its roots sunk into the shallow sea's floor and its tentacles reaching out of the water to grasp a third creature—a bird of some kind whose flight was aided by gas bags on its underbelly.
"Behold, my masterpiece," said Dr. Megalomanovich.
"It's beautiful beyond words," said I. "How did it come about?"
"By way of 120 years' hard labor. Shortly after my Sassy Cow achieved galactic fame, The Board granted me with a research installation of my own. In return, I was to do the impossible: abiogenesis."
"To create life from nonlife."
"You had gotten close with the antimatter metabolism trial."
"Indeed I had. And that is why I refused to take any hand-me-down help from Earth's biota. From the beginning I wanted my life to run differently. I couldn't find a way to replace carbon as the backbone, but I was able to swap out water for Sassy Cola."
"You're telling me that in every cell of every one of these creatures is Sassy Cola?"
"It is their water."
"Do you have a few years?"
"Unfortunately, I don't. Even this little jaunt is wasting my precious time."
"Speaking of time, how did they grow so fast?"
"Accelerated evolution through computer-aided keystone transcription errors."
"Again, I don't have years to waste teaching you. I waste enough time teaching the installation's staff."
"When do you plan on showing your masterpiece to the wider galaxy?"
"My masterpiece will show itself to the galaxy when it is ready. There is no doubt in my mind that a day will come when a creature on this world will take a rock and bash it against the head of another and say 'eureka!' before pondering the philosophical implications of taking a life."
"Anything is possible when your body is 70 % Sassy Cola."
The Bimillennial Celebration
Upon receiving the invitation, I couldn't wait to go to the Bimillennial Celebration at Sol, though I did worry how I'd be received in turn. Few humans outside my corner of space had ever met a nonhuman sapient before. It didn't help that I lacked so much as a species name to give them.
If it were up to me, I'd name us astrographically, by the planet we live on. In that case we would be called the Sasserines after Planet Sasser. It's not a good moniker; too nationalistic when our distinguishing characteristic is first and foremost biological. So I dropped the case and made it sasserine. Yes, much better. It's less proper, more grounded, more biological. It is this species name that I used in my travels.
The first stop on my journey was at the derelict Research Installation #544. Humans abandoned it long ago when the Sassy Cola Company's fortunes took a turn for the worse. Now it was kept up by us sasserines as a heritage site. I left a bouquet on The Good Doctor's shrine, shed a few sticky tears and moved on. The tiny warpship I had chartered had an impatient pilot.
That pilot turned into quite an annoyance during our two weeks together, for he asked questions that became more and more inappropriate with time. I'm not one to disparage curiosity—I'm a scientist after all—but I fail to see the scientific necessity of revealing which variety of Sassy Cola I urinate.
My next stop was Rigel, a blue giant star that shined 1 million times brighter than Sasser's red dwarf. Since Sassy Cola's monopoly of both power and soda had waned, I found many other brands on offering, including one called Flash Cola. Flash's slogan summarized its claim to fame: "Resist the Sass and Drink a Flash!" I briefly wondered what Sasser's biosphere would look like if it were based on Flash Cola instead of Sassy Cola. I purged this thought experiment from my mind upon realizing that the planet would likely be named Flasher and we the flasherines.
Onward to Sol by way of Aldebaran. This leg was much more pleasant than the last as I had booked a room aboard one of the last functioning warpships of Sassy Cruise Lines. Luxury abounded and even my rational mind almost succumbed to the temptation of using the rest of my money to stay aboard til death. But such an act would break the terms of the invitation.
Sol, the most ancient and most populous star in settled space, was the venue for the greatest party ever thrown by humanity. Derelict Sassy Cola freighters had each been converted into a single light bulb and arranged by the hundreds to create a sign at Neptune's distance from the sun reading, "2,000 SASSY YEARS!"
I'm not normally a party person. Secluded reading is my pastime of choice. Yet I couldn't help but crack a Sassy with every human who asked me to join them. Why not?, I thought. After all, without the Sassy Cola Company, I wouldn't be alive.
The solar system felt like it held the totality of settled space within its borders. Port Vesta alone held hundreds of distinct cultural groups from just as many star systems. I met 35 of them on my 5 kilometer walk from Sassy Cruise Lines' designated dock to the hotel where I was to be staying. Sassy Cola's monolithic corporate culture was no longer humanity's culture. People were being themselves again.
And that included being suspicious of outsiders, especially ones from a different tree of life.
I felt eyes all around me. I had drunk too much Sassy Cola, besting even the worst human junkies. I sweat the drink. I urinated the drink. Boys and girls inspected me like a zoo animal every time I went to one of Port Vesta's many street markets. It overwhelmed me and I left early for my meeting on Earth.
Orbital space around humanity's homeworld is so congested with infrastructure that teleporter range around Earth is limited, by law, to a mere 1,000 kilometers, 1 billionth of what it is everywhere else. To get to the planet's surface I had to leapfrog from orbital plate to orbital plate, often having to cross a single plate by way of a couple teleports. Yes, they are that large. Most contain surface areas and populations similar to Earth's 21st century nations-states. After visiting 57 nation-state-orbital-plates against my will, I arrived at Earth's surface.
At least I had reached the top surface. Earth is a shellworld with 15 surfaces, each named after a variety of Sassy Cola. I was on Sassy Orange and needed to get down to Sassy Cola Classic, 7 surfaces below. Teleportation law was even stricter here than in orbit. The technology was used exclusively to ferry people between surface levels and teleporters only existed in the atlas towers which held the next surface.
I was awestruck upon first seeing an atlas tower as they occur nowhere but Earth. From green pasture it rose into the cloud cover above. Through those clouds, ten kilometers up, lay gigatons of diamond hard plating topped with teratons of granite, soil, lakes, rivers and cities. I was under a planet-encapsulating house held up by countless pylons, themselves kept rigid only as long as the power flowed. Luckily, it always did.
The atlas towers also serve as propagandistic monuments, each shaped like a bottle of Sassy, though of the variety which matches the name of the surface level they exist on. The Sassy Cola Company had its detractors, but the fact that the corporate superpower had built Earth into what it is today went unquestioned.
I eventually arrived at surface level 7, or Sassy Cola Classic. The 7 surfaces above had replaced Earth's original troposphere and stratosphere. The 7 surfaces below existed where the planet's crust once did. Together, the 15 shells supported 20 trillion humans living in spacious luxury—though no one had more spacious luxury than The Board.
Their 1 billion hectare estate is a combination art piece, capital, pilgrimage site and tomb. No teleporters exist within its borders. The atlas towers there are disguised as steep mountains on their bottom halves and cumulonimbus clouds columns on their tops.
Dwarfed by these gigantic illusions are the many castles of the estate. One of these castles serves as the estate's north entrance and holds the Sassy Parliament Building. In here convene two houses, a lower house elected by the Sassy Cola Company's 100 trillion shareholders across settled space and an upper house chosen by The Board.
The lower house had drawn up the invitation program and voted 67,306 to 32,694 to pass it. The upper house hesitated, unsure whether they wanted "billions of yokels trampling through the estate." They passed it with the exact bare minimum of votes, 600 to 300.
The addition of a clause limiting it to 10,000 "yokels" that came in tour groups of 50 per hour was the deciding factor in passing the invitation program. Now I was part of one of those groups, an ordinary ambassador for the world of Sasser, though I doubted that cultural and economic exchange, two bullet point motives of the program, were occuring.
Oh well, I thought as I boarded the maglev train to the next destination.
The nine members of The Board lived in nine penthouses atop nine towers near the center of the estate. I'd remark on the penthouses' reported opulence if 200 stories of height and the estate's no-cameras policy hadn't isolated us from them. I imagine they like it up there, otherwise I can't fathom why they'd live so secluded from the rest of their species. I wondered what such recluses thought of Planet Sasser and the sasserines or the invitation sent to me by their personally selected managers. But I'd little time to ponder as the maglev neared my stop.
At the very center of the estate sits a diamondoid hemisphere 10 kilometers in diameter. Inside exists a full recreation of one late 21st century American small town. The maglev line terminated at the entrance to the dome where a bright green sign reading "Tupelo" hung.
The rest of the tour group was just as in awe as I when we walked inside and found ourselves surrounded by single family homes along four lane roads with no sidewalks. From the artificial blue sky above came laser beams which generated holograms of moving vehicles. They veered around our group even though the lasers would cause nothing worse than a slight tingle on the skin. A human dressed in a law enforcement uniform of the time led us to the predetermined sacred sites.
First we stopped at the hospital where The Founder was born, then the double wide trailer where The Founder grew up and, finally, the soda shop where The Founder introduced the world to Sassy Cola in 2085.
I obsessed over this last stop. Burned into my psyche is the memory of the artificial sun rays shining through the shop's stained glass windows and onto the stainless steel counter. I took in every scent and sound and touch; the bittersweet sassafras laying in sacks in the corner, the scratching of our shoes on the artificially cracked and yellowed linoleum floor and the coolness of the counter on my cheek when I laid my head down in defiance of the guide's orders.
At the end we all had a thimble full of Sassy Cola made from the recreated soda jerk. It was inferior to every drop of Sassy that I'd drunk since birth. Even my blood, filled with the wastes of cellular respiration, likely tasted better.
But taste alone didn't determine the value of this thimble. The drink represented conception, its serving the initialization of the two millennia of change that followed. Just as water was a prerequisite for all Earth life, so Sassy Cola was a prerequisite for all life on Sasser.
This soda was the origin of everything I am. I believe that's cause for celebration.
submitted by Morzo_Voidmaster to HFY [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:55 Onebigfreakinnerd Luka and Mental Health

I think one of the most overlooked aspects in NBA performance is just someones mental health. In recent years, especially since DeMar DeRozan started popularizing mental health talks in the NBA, it's become a struggle factored in with player performance more and more. Unfortunately, I think many can be fairly uncompassionate in this field, and with that I bring forth Luka's year.
This year for the Mavericks has been... rough to say the least. Losing Jalen Brunson and Boban were probably hits to Luka's esteem but now he's just clearly not alright. Any interview I've seen him in this month he just looks really depressed. I'm not even saying this is because of the Mavericks performance; the dude is getting paid alot and clearly loves basketball. However, losing very close teammates, a legal dispute with his mother which has led to practically the end of them speaking to one another, and just the fact that he's a fairly soft spoken and shy dude whose turned into a superstar have all gotten to him.
Mental health is a pretty personal thing and I'm not trying to assume anything about Luka, but from the looks of it, he is really going through something. He was always a pretty emotional player, but this season more than any prior. Sometimes he looks like he's about to break after a no-call. I think more and more people are addressing his mental health and in general are being more supportive, but I also see so many people just shut him down. Just yesterday at the Hornets game the HOME crowd boo'd the Mavericks. Although they were definitely not boo'ing Luka, that's quite a hit to one's self-esteem.
There was a period in later December last year which in my opinion was one of the greatest individual player performances in NBA history. The fact the dude had 3 50+ point games in a matter of not even 2 weeks, and the fact that he was also a triple double machine, and one of these games was a 60 point 20 rebound one, and he's gone this low. He needs professional help this off-season undoubtedly.
I guess I just pass off the question to u and ask how mental health in the NBA should be evaluated. Even if talks are being normalized, it's still quite a stigmatized topic in the sport.
submitted by Onebigfreakinnerd to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:34 drkhlimentclinic Dr KH LIM EAR NOSE THROAT CLINIC

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submitted by drkhlimentclinic to u/drkhlimentclinic [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:31 misterwiser34 (In VA)- was just fired for "fit" issues. Was with the company for close to a year- Had 0 performance related documentation and recieved a "Meets" on annual review- any recourse for wrongful termination?

Like stated in the title. It's a long one so please bear with me.
TDLR: Sr Director fired me for fit issues but have been with the company for almost a year. No performance issues discussed with manager. Do I have any recourse to argue for severance or wrongful termination?
I know VA is an at will state but this just seems fishy.
Context: It's a larger company but was a part of one of their new "startup" ventures for a brand new manufacturing facility. Long hours, etc. You get the idea.
In addition to that I severely hurt my foot back in early Feb (not at work sadly) that prevented me from accessing the floor (was on crutches then a boot). I spend a ton of time with this place, navigating all of the curveballs that come with a start up and anytime I had documented deadline or inspection that I was in charge of I delivered acceptable results. I had developed really strong relationships with my counterparts and I was known for being an overcommunicator with the team (my one OpsManager called me the book writer)
As it goes with Startups, stuff changes constantly and we were finding and addressing gaps as they came up. I had a few rough conversations with the sr manager due to me asking for asking for additional support, being denied, and him being upset with progress on some of the projects I was working on.
I recieved a "fully meets" for my annual review and had 0 performance related discussions for not meeting expectations with my formal manager. I.e. no write ups, verbal "counselings," whatever. I'm a manager level as well if it matters.
I walked in on a morning this past week and he immediately sat down in my office and told me I was fired for "fit"- went out of his way to try and spin it wasn't "personal" but he felt there were too many gaps with my role and I didn't mesh well with the team.
Mind you, this same team has all reached out to me privately to let me know that they would write me a letter of recommendation if needed including my direct manager.
I believe the manager who fired me went rogue and didn't tell anyone what he did until after the fact because a competent HR would have been present in the room with him and I. I also know that while they are backfilling my role there was a massive restructuring announced and currently there is limited space in the office portion of the building. I think he fired me to free up office area and budgeting because he didn't like me and needed someone to go to make room for the additional heads being brought in.
I have scheduled a meeting with HR to discuss separation. I have yet to receive anything from HR in terms of paperwork etc. That shows I've been fired outside of the discussion.
So Reddit, my question is do I have any legal recourse/justification to sue for wrongful termination if they do not offer me severance when I speak to HR next week?
I know for a fact HR is stalling a bit because these kinds of conversations are fairly standard for separated people so it shouldn't be until next week to have this call.
submitted by misterwiser34 to legaladvice [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:20 Rallade We need to address subtle white upremacy in polyamory communities

I've been a part of the polyamorous community for a while now, and something that's been on my mind lately is the prevalence of subtle white supremacy in some of our activities and memes. I want to talk about this issue because I believe it's important to create a more inclusive and welcoming space for all polyamorous people, regardless of their cultural background.
One of the things that has struck me is how many of our community activities are centered around European high fantasy themes. Renaissance fairs, Dungeons and Dragons, and other similar events often feature costumes and themes that draw heavily from European history and mythology (case in point, this post). While there's nothing inherently wrong with these themes, the problem arises when they become the default and dominant culture in the community.
For people of color, this can create a feeling of exclusion and marginalization. It can be difficult to fully participate in these activities when the cultural references and touchstones don't reflect your own heritage or experiences. It can also be exhausting to constantly feel like an outsider in a community that's supposed to be about acceptance and love. Here is a recent post discussing something related
However, the issue goes beyond just European high fantasy themes. Another issue that we need to address in the communities tangential to the poly community is cultural appropriation. This can take many forms, including the whitewashing of yoga and the appropriation of traditional eastern medical practices, for example.
I want to be clear that I'm not saying that we need to abandon all European-themed activities or ban certain memes. What I'm suggesting is that we need to be more mindful of the messages we're sending and the impact they can have on marginalized groups.
Here are a few suggestions for how we can create a more inclusive polyamorous community:
I know that this can be a difficult topic to discuss, and I want to acknowledge that there may be people who feel defensive or uncomfortable with this conversation. But I truly believe that by having these discussions and making small changes in our community, we can create a more welcoming and inclusive space for all polyamorous people.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback.
Edit: People seem to be assuming my background so here it is, vaguely:
submitted by Rallade to polyamory [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 22:20 Bitter-Western-5713 What are the psychological effects of hypergamy on men?

What is Hypergamy?

📷Hypergamy is the practice of seeking a partner who has higher social status, wealth, or education than oneself. Although hypergamy is often associated with women, men can also be affected by this phenomenon. In this article, we will explore the psychological effects of hypergamy on men and how it can impact their relationships and self-esteem.

Hypergamy and Masculinity

One of the ways hypergamy can affect men is by challenging their masculinity. In traditional societies, men are expected to be the breadwinners and providers for their families. When a man perceives that he is not meeting these expectations and that his partner is seeking a higher-status mate, he may feel emasculated and lose confidence in his ability to provide for his family. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and anxiety.


Hypergamy can also impact a man's self-esteem. Men who are passed over by women who are seeking higher status partners may feel as though they are not good enough, and that their worth as a person is tied to their social status or wealth. This can lead to feelings of low self-worth, self-doubt, and even self-loathing. In some cases, it may even lead to a man engaging in risky or destructive behaviors as a way of proving his worth to himself or others.

Relationship Satisfaction

Hypergamy can also impact a man's relationship satisfaction. Men who perceive that their partner is seeking a higher status mate may feel insecure in their relationship and doubt their partner's commitment to them. This can lead to jealousy, possessiveness, and controlling behaviors, which can ultimately damage the relationship. On the other hand, men who are hypergamous themselves may be more likely to cheat on their partner or leave the relationship for a higher status mate, which can also be detrimental to their partner's well-being.

Coping Mechanisms

To cope with the psychological effects of hypergamy, men may engage in a variety of coping mechanisms. Some men may become more competitive and strive to improve their social status or wealth in order to attract a higher-status mate. Others may try to distance themselves emotionally from their partner or become emotionally numb in order to protect themselves from the pain of rejection or inadequacy. Some men may also seek out therapy or support groups to work through their feelings of emasculation or low self-esteem.

Here are some coping mechanisms for hypergamy:

It may be helpful to reflect on what you truly value in a partner and relationship. Instead of focusing solely on social status or economic means, consider other qualities such as kindness, intelligence, shared interests, and compatibility.
Expand your social circle to include a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds and socio-economic status. This can help to expose you to a wider range of potential partners and reduce the likelihood of hypergamy.
Hypergamy can be influenced by societal expectations and biases. It is important to recognize and challenge these biases in order to make more conscious and authentic decisions about partner selection.
Instead of solely seeking out partners who are higher in social status or economic means, consider investing in yourself and improving your own career, education, or financial situation. This can help to increase your own confidence and self-worth, and may attract partners who value these qualities as well.
If hypergamy is causing distress or difficulty in relationships, it may be helpful to seek professional support. A therapist or counselor can provide guidance and support in managing hypergamous tendencies and developing healthier relationship patterns.


In conclusion, hypergamy can have a significant impact on men's psychological well-being, self-esteem, and relationships. Men who perceive that they are not meeting societal expectations of success or social status may feel emasculated, insecure, and inadequate. This can lead to negative coping mechanisms, such as controlling behaviors or self-destructive behaviors, which can ultimately harm both themselves and their partners. To address these issues, it is important for men to seek support from trusted sources, such as therapists or support groups, and to work on building their self-esteem and sense of self-worth independent of their social status or wealth. If you want to learn more about women not just Hypergamy, feel free to check out our book. Hypergamy: The guide to understanding women
submitted by Bitter-Western-5713 to Learningmenandwomen [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 21:42 flinger_of_marmots Survey participants wanted

Survey participants wanted
Hello all,
I'm part of a graduate team studying how leadership behaviors relates to your satisfaction, performance, and engagement. We are seeking input from imaging professionals from all modalities and types of facilities. Please consider taking the anonymous survey below and passing it onto colleagues.
Your input and experience is valuable to us, and we hope the information we learn has the potential to inform current leadership and inspire best practice for increased employee performance, engagement, and well-being.
Thank you!

To all imaging professionals:
You are invited to participate in a research study on how attitudes and behaviors of leaders relate to employee satisfaction. You were selected as a possible participant because you are currently employed as an imaging professional. Please consider one or two ways to participate:
  1. 15-minute survey (link provided)
submitted by flinger_of_marmots to Radiology [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 21:36 schtroumpfs_farceur Where find programming project for learn

Hi all! I am addressing this channel for the first time because I am a beginner in programming and more particularly in the Python language. My problem is simple, it seems obvious to me that to learn to program, you have to practice! But the more time goes on, the more I run out of project ideas to practice. I have already made several, often small games made with pygame. I now want to explore other things more complex and maybe even useful but I don't know what. It is true that I have some ideas in mind but they seem too ambitious for my small level and I am afraid of getting discouraged. So how can I keep progressing? How did you learn to program?
submitted by schtroumpfs_farceur to learnprogramming [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 20:48 guineawheek [Highschool Robotics] How bad quality control and a few extra gears taught thousands of FRC and Vex students how NOT to cover-up your hostile workplace problem

Content wrning: sexual harassment, coercion, predatory behavior, toxic workplace environments, self-harm, general traumatic experiences

Background info

This whole development is remarkably hard to explain to people not already familiar with the particular highschool robotics programs involved, so here’s our best shot at summarizing.

FIRST Robotics

Circa 1992, eccentric Segway billionaire Dean Kamen figured that America needed more students to go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). To achieve this end, he founded the nonprofit For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, commonly abbreviated as FIRST.
To achieve Dean’s goal, FIRST decided to model a highschool robotics competition after a class the late Woodie Flowers taught at MIT. In this competition, hereafter referred to as the FIRST Robotics Competition or FRC, highschool students and adult mentors would work together for six weeks to construct a robot. This robot will then perform a series of game tasks (that change year to year) in 3v3 competition matches to try and score the most points. These competitions usually have a qualification match pool and an elimination bracket.
Despite the competitive element, the community values inter-team cooperation and sharing resources, as at the end of the day, the value is in student growth and development rather than trophies and banners. This sense of competitiveness without toxicity often gets thrown under Woodie’s favorite slogan of “gracious professionalism.”
The robotics competition element is something better shown rather than told, so here's the kickoff video for the 2022 season and here’s the final match of said season where you can see the robots themselves go.
The online FRC community is centered around ChiefDelphi, an early 2000s PHP forum converted to Discourse, and the FRC Discord, which mostly spectated events (a common theme of any dramatic happening in the FRC community). Much of the discourse around this story happens on ChiefDelphi.

Innovation First International

In the early years of FRC, Dean Kamen’s approach towards creating the initial set of teams was to go around to various engineering firms and academic institutions to get them to create teams with their employees to mentor them. Examples include the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Xerox, and Renesslaer Polytechnic Institute, but also a particular E-Systems Inc (now part of Raytheon). This company would then start a team in Greenville, Texas (now known as FRC 148, the Robowranglers) and get two local employees to mentor it. With their help, the team would go on to win the 1993 National Championship, and the two employees, Tony Norman and Bob Mimlich, would realize they worked really well together.
This partnership would become the company known as Innovation First International. They would mass produce control electronics for FRC robots in these early years, and would additionally produce server racks in collaboration with Dell under the subsidiary RackSolutions, Inc. as seen on Linus Tech Tips. (They use that video everywhere on their website, by the way). Additionally, they would create the Vex line of classroom robot kits, the more widely recognizable Hexbug brand, and miniature Battlebots models marketed under the Hexbug and Vex brand. While different divisions, they mix employees and generally all still report to IFI’s CEO. IFI’s culture is more or less unified across all their divisions, for worse or worse.
Over the years, their FRC-specific product lines (under the brand VexPro) have also included various gears, wheels, pre-drilled metal structure, and motors, and they have become an established vendor in a small industry that has popped up around selling parts specifically to build FRC robots as part of what we call the Commercial Off-The Shelf (COTS) Revolution. No longer does a team need to machine their own wheels and gears to compete – they can simply place orders online and have them shipped to their workshop.

The Vex Robotics Competition and RECF

The Vex Robotics Competition or VRC is a competition that IFI has significant involvement in. Basically, it’s a competition a lot like FRC, except with much smaller robots (they must fit in 18”/45.72 cm sizing cubes) that are built almost entirely out of the IFI-designed and produced Vex kit of parts. The Vex kit of parts is a lot like an Erector set, except if the parts were designed to be used to make robots.
The Vex Robotics Competition is run by the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, (RECF), a nonprofit set up by primarily IFI for financial reasons — easier to get other companies to sponsor STEM competitions if the money’s going to a tax deductible 501(c)3 organization, after all. (protip: if you have a robotics team, make a 501(c)3)
Now, RECF claims independence from IFI, but practically speaking, this is debatable. Until recently, they even had the IFI CEO Tony Norman on their board of directors, and have historically had many prominent VEX employees at pretty much every level of their organization, from event volunteers all the way through their leadership. Their facilities even have an IFI logo on the floor, which they have recently bought a literal rug to cover up.

The Falcon 500

Sometime in late 2019, IFI’s VexPro brand would announce a new motor for the FRC market: the Falcon 500, or the “only motor you’ll ever need.” Its integrated motor controller made it one of the smallest motor + controller combinations on the market, while being lighter and more powerful* than its rivals. It even advertised this cool “Field Oriented Control” feature, that would totally not get released 3 years later behind a DLC paywall. But to say people were hyped about this was an understatement. After a quick confirmation that programming them would be the same as the previous motor controllers, teams were racing to spend the $140/motor, with a team pre-ordering 45 in one go.
Despite some shipping delays, the Falcons would eventually ship. And indeed, they were good motors…when they worked. On February 11, 2020 a user posted a video to ChiefDelphi of their Falcon 500 making a weird noise. Further posts of similar reports soon cropped up, and it was soon discovered that what had happened was the screws that held the motor’s output shaft had all become loose — in a few instances, they became so loose they rubbed onto other parts of the motor, destroying it as it tried to turn. One common cause of these issues were that sometimes, the motor’s screws would not have threadlocker applied when they should’ve – an often blue substance you add to screws to make them not loosen.
While VEX would eventually address these complaints, despite their assurances of fixing QC, these issues would persist in the 3 years hence. They would even sell kits that would help fix some of these issues. While teams still bought Falcons because they were good, there was building frustration with needing to make sure each motor you got was built correctly.

The open letter and IFI’s Glassdoor

On November 3, 2022, an alumni posted a thread to ChiefDelphi making a long post about the continuous QC issues both his former team and the wider community had encountered with VexPro products like the Falcon 500, the fact that VexPro sold fixes for their broken products, and finally recounted an incident where VexPro sent too much of a particular product and charged his team for it unless they were returned. This is illegal according to the Federal Trade Chall-sorry, Commission, but they didn't fight it because of the intimidation factor of going after a vendor they relied on to build their robot.
However, the greater FRC community didn't just see the thread as an opportunity to vent about exploding Falcons or poor sales practices. People saw it as an opportunity to dig into IFI itself.
In particular, the first link in the thread was to IFI’s Glassdoor page — a mix of some good reviews that were superficially short and some genuinely horrific ones. Some highlights include:
  • "Toxic work environment"
  • "Bullying management culture"
  • "DANGEROUS culture for women… genuine harassment happens frequently"
  • "Discrimination happens all the time"
  • "Unless you are homophobic, like to abuse people, and are a cisgendered white man, you won’t be welcomed here."
  • "Fear-based management structure"
  • "Misogynistic executive level"
  • "Textbook sexual harassment suit waiting to happen"
Now, this Glassdoor has actually been a bit of an open secret in the community for a while. And indeed, initial reactions point out the sampling bias a website like Glassdoor has — favoring people with strong opinions one way or the other to make a post.
And people had been more defensive of IFI in the past. On one past instance of discussing IFI’s ethics (in particular how they were flying employees on a private jet for golf trips in late 2020, mid COVID pandemic with no masks in sight), a certain [Lead Mentor] would say, "Tony Norman has personally made your life better, and you didn’t know it."
But something was different this time — a former VEX employee came forth and said:
To those here who are commenting about the Glassdoor reviews, as an ex VEX employee, I will openly state that the culture was sexist and homophobic. Folks openly made some racist jokes at the time and during my time there, I saw plenty of gaslighting, horrific behavior from management, and was gaslit myself specifically by my boss at the time.
This credence given to the Glassdoor posts would be the spark that lit the gasoline-soaked fire pit. Conversation shifted away from initial posts on VEX’s QC issues to ditching VEX products and the ethics of where FRC teams put their money. But more importantly, it paved the way for more stories to come out.

The floodgates open.

One well-respected mentor shared a story where he had recommended a recent female alumni of his team for a Vex internship, to which a (then?) current Vex employee warned in an email,
I’m not sure how well someone from an all girls robotics team will fit in with the ‘boy’s club’ we have going on here. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for breaking it up… and maybe this is the best way to do it, I just don’t want her to be uncomfortable with the situation.
An anonymous user posted "I was at VEX. I was bullied." and described in detail the deleterious effect of that bullying on their mental health. Later, they followed up with more information.
More damning and detailed posts would come out. One post detailed his experience as an intern at HEXBUG, discussing how:
  • IFI hired interns and co-ops for cost reasons
  • IFI management encouraged female interns to go to dinner with Tony Norman for their own career prospects
  • Employees being berated by Tony for filing complaints to """HR"""
  • Various threats of violence and abuse
  • Tony celebrating a divorce in the office followed by tracking his ex-wife’s car
This was soon followed up by another prominent former VEX employee who detailed his own traumatic experiences, detailing how:
  • …Tony Norman and those around him constantly harassed female employees
  • …Tony would also just harass everyone else on "personal appearance, intelligence or [perceived] productivity"
  • …booze and firearm-filled parties hosted by Tony were implicitly mandatory for career growth at IFI
  • an executive aimed a .45 gun at his back while working a long weekend, thinking he was an intruder, commenting "I do not know what would have happened that day had I not heard this executive announce their presence."
  • …IFI’s preferred hotel in China when managing overseas manufacturing happened to be one busted for human trafficking
  • …"Guaranteed" bonuses were just tools of financial retaliation by Tony if you stepped out of line
  • …IFI’s own "Girl-Powered" initiatives aimed at promoting women within their own Vex robotics competition were just virtue signaling
  • …said Vex Robotics Competition was definitely racially profiling teams at their events for checking that teams were adhering to competition rules
Of particular note is that this post ends with a contact email of [email protected][personal]. Also not stated was how said employee ended up hospitalized from the sheer stress of working there, which a close friend in a followup post detailed.
A few other IFI employees would share their inputs. Each of these blockquotes are different people.
As a former IFI intern myself, I’m disheartened to see just how futile the efforts of those inside to fix the company were. Educational robotics should be one of the best places to work given how high reward the products’ potential impact is. It’s a shame that we’re at this point today.
I’m not ready to speak about my experiences here, as the road to recovery is a long and personal one that I’m still working my way through. But I do want to validate everyone who has spoken anonymously or openly about their experiences, your courage is awe-inspiring. Don’t let anyone cast any doubt on anyone’s experiences and trauma; what they went through was very real.
I was not enough of a part of the “in crowd” at IFI to have to deal with much of the toxicity, but it was there to see and hear in rumor around the office. The stories and experiences told here should be enough, but I’m sure anyone who worked there could go on…
The treatment was not just at IFI, the treatment came over to RECF, saw good people get hurt time and time again, including I who was a target by power hungry staff because I just did what I was told to keep things running smoothly, while still to this day allowed to be involved. I saw what protecting me was doing to my colleague and friend, and it was destroying him.

Initial community reactions

ChiefDelphi and #TeamIFI

To say that teams were appalled would be an understatement. Many teams immediately committed right then and there to phase out Vex products — even the powerhouse teams sponsored by IFI as influencers in the community as part of #TeamIFI. For context, these are some of the highest performing teams in the world. FRC team 254, the Cheesy Poofs, for example, has the most World Championship wins to their name of any team, while the others regularly make Einstein, the last final bracket that leads to Championship Finals.
Out of the 9 elite #TeamIFI teams, all but 2 of them would soon announce they were dropping IFI’s sponsorship and planning to divest their products. The first of these teams to drop, FRC 1678 Citrus Circuits, was at an offseason competition the weekend they announced their divestment and rumor has it they had taped over the IFI sponsor logo on their robot mid-event.
The two teams that remained, 148 and 3310, are very intertwined with IFI financially and mentor-wise, so it was expected they would not leave as it would likely kill their teams. They're likely equally worried about the question, "What if IFI leaves us?"


The Vex Robotics Competition also has an online Discourse instance, called the VexForums, and they had been tracking the developments on ChiefDelphi closely given that their main competition has been run by IFI, and several of the former employees who came forward also posted their accounts on VexForums as well. They were also pretty upset too. Similarly to FRC, products sold for their competition also had massive QC issues and hostile business practices, such as batches of the only legal motor for their competition dying 30 seconds after first use, and their crackdown on resellers/secondhand sales of their products. Among other things:
  • Community members were not happy that the #GirlPowered initiative was really PR speak and demanded answers from RECF
  • They were also furious at Tony Norman’s general debauchery, such as the time he bullied the city government over a hanger lease for IFI’s private jet (that he mostly seems to use for himself), along with all the other previously described abuse of his own employees
    • Fun fact: the private jet doesn’t even have a PIA, unlike Elon’s jet. For the past few months, it’s been supposedly sitting at a maintenance facility in Colorado.
  • People discovered that two former toxic IFI execs who left got reinvited to run a competition for RECF with Tony Norman’s blessing
  • A VRC student came forward and discussed another instance where Vex also violated FTC regulations regarding sending extra products to buyers and attempting to charge for the extra product or have it be returned
    • An IFI employee claimed that these instances should have been impossible — it turned out that sales dept was so segmented the individual representatives were just doing this on their own without management’s knowledge, making these instances more of an incompetence rather than malice
  • Several forum users started using an edit of the antifa logo titled Anti-IFI Action as their profile picture
But all of these things paled in comparison to the moment a student came forward and described how a former IFI employee and previous member of the game design committee for VRC had engaged in an abusive and predatory relationship with her, threatening to hurt himself when things went south.
Community members questioned the ability of VEX and RECF to provide a safe environment for their students — especially when a former coworker and acquaintance of the accused groomer came forward and straight up asserted that the person in question "was a key actor in the cultural issues discussed [in the original ChiefDelphi post about IFI culture issues in general]: during their tenure at IFI. Many no longer felt particularly enthusiastic buying parts from their one primary vendor. Some questioned whether they should continue their involvement in VRC at all. All in all, the community wanted answers.

IFI's Response

Of course, IFI and RECF weren’t going to sit there while in hot water. They would, in fact, respond to all the allegations.
The CEO of the REC Foundation, Dan Mantz, made a post to VexForums basically stating:
  • That RECF is independent of VEX and IFI with their own "independent infrastructure, executive staff, operations, processes, HR department, employee handbook, etc"
  • How RECF isn’t just VEX and they pick VEX because they think it’s the best option
  • How IFI is going to make a response that will address community concerns
(Sidenote: pretty much all of the Discourses for RECF competitions are hosted on servers paid for and controlled by IFI and their employees.)
And soon enough, a response from IFI would indeed come, on both ChiefDelphi and VexForums. And boy, was it a response. This is in fact, one of the responses of all time, dare we say.
Just another day, completely not taking any responsibility, playing the victim, accusing everyone who spoke out as trying to sabotage them for their competition, and asserting how they have never had any complaints ever (and totally not because they were shredding the reports).
Let’s see some of the immediate reactions, quoted here verbatim:

The Testimony that killed the Vex Forums

Of course, everyone was Not Happy. But there was one last major bombshell post forthcoming from yet another former IFI employee and former alumni of FRC 148, one of the IFI house FRC teams. To summarize the post:
  • 148’s lead mentor for most of the 2000s and 2010s was something of an idol. He had a popular blog (that went down the moment the IFI drama broke -- he's also requested takedowns of all Internet Archive copies too) and a figure many in the FRC community looked up to. He was also a relatively prominent figure within IFI,
  • The same extended to to 148 itself — everyone wanted to be close with the Lead Mentor. It was the difference between collaborating with him on the robot design itself or just being yet another sheet metal fabrication body.
  • As a result many students, including the post’s OP, would try and build close relationships to [Lead Mentor]. In retrospect, this practice was Really Weird — as said [Lead Mentor] would then attempt to date her after she graduated.
  • 148, including [Lead Mentor] had a culture of their mentors above the age of 21 buying alcohol for mentors that were not at least 21 years old
  • 148’s (as of now, current) mentor drive coach being something of a womanizer and a manipulative, irresponsible boyfriend
Immediately this, IFI would take down the Vex Forums, claiming they were going to transition to a new paid platform under the guise of “student safety.” They would quickly backpedal, and eventually put the forum back online, but now every post needed moderator approval.
Internally, IFI and RECF would make snide comments about this post, which would then also get brought to light, resulting in an apology from Dan Mantz.

The fallout

Things settle down at this point, especially since Thanksgiving was that week and IFI was on holiday. But things were not done yet.
Tony Norman would announce that he would step down as CEO of IFI, and RECF would remove him from his board. However, he still owns half the company, so he’s not really gone. To date, IFI has still not found a replacement CEO, and Tony still is likely to show up at the next Vex World Championship as usual.
A local paper would cover the story…heavily biased towards Tony. ChiefDelphi was, very reasonably, not very happy with this one.
#TeamIFI effectively no longer exists, as it is negative reputation for teams who care at this point. 148’s 2023 season robot notably did not show any sponsors in their reveal video.
IFI products now have a stigma in FRC. Some now call Falcons "bigot motors" as a joke. That said, IFI would continue to make at least a couple million on “new” Falcon 500 v3s, which were very expensive ($220), limited in total quantity for the entire season due to supply chain shenanigans, and still had QC issues.
The supplier West Coast Products, which sold quite a few products of their design under Vex SKU as a rather significant proportion of VexPro’s mechanical products, clarified that the products they make that are resold under Vex do not make Vex any money.
A side effect of this whole drama was that several other sexual predators in the FRC and VRC communities got publicly outed. Some of these had been banned from FIRST, but unlike some other youth organizations, FIRST generally does not publish their banlist so it remains to be seen if they will stay gone.
The [Lead Mentor] is no longer with 148 or IFI, but he’s still involved in the community – he now works for the company that makes the Falcon’s motor controller, and mentors a team who vehemently claimed he did not mentor them to others.
The entire Hexbug brand and Battlebots toys line was to be sold off to Spin Master.

In conclusion

Vex and RECF continue to exist, and IFI will still rake in money. But it’ll be harder for them to find impressionable interns to do cheap labor for them, and many FRC teams are now eyeing alternatives if at all possible, especially given the difficulty of buying new Falcons anyway.
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2023.03.25 20:45 Charming_Netapp Dream League Soccer 2023 Mod 80K Coins and Gems iOS and Android 2023

Dream League Soccer 2023 Mod 80K Coins and Gems iOS and Android 2023

Dream League Soccer 2023 Mod APK (DLS 23 Mod Menu, Unlimited Coins/Gems, 20+ Features) latest for Android devices to manage your team to win the world championship with the best king sport of this era.

If the popular football games in the world such as PES, FIFA Mobile attract players by personal strength in each football match, the football management simulation games will score points thanks to football management tactics. One of the most famous self-games of this line of management simulation games is Dream League Soccer 2023, in the Dream League Soccer series game of First Touch Games.

In parallel with the development and change of the real-world ball world, Dream League Soccer has also constantly changed and updated with new versions. By joining Dream League Soccer 2023 you will have the opportunity to build your own dream team in your own style. Not only managing and building a team, but players can also completely build a stadium that is not inferior to the world’s top pitches today.

Dream League Soccer 2023 is the latest version of this cult football game series that has been upgraded quite a lot in terms of graphics. Besides, some game modes have also been updated. Now it’s easier than ever to recruit famous soccer superstars or build your dream shine. Besides, do not forget to build an epic stadium and upgrade its facilities well to prepare for the great matches of the team that you manage!

Join the game you will become the manager of a team. You have the right to choose players for your team. Up to 80 players with different strengths give you the freedom to choose. Each player will have a personal index of fitness, running speed, and different skills. Players can change the team name, outfits, and team colors as well as the team logo to make your branding.

As a coach, the player’s task is not simply to build a team of his own, but also to adjust the appropriate strategies to overcome six tournaments: Academy Division, Amateur Division, Division 3, Division 2, Division 1, Junior Elite Division, and Elite Division. The difficulty of each match will increase gradually, so players need to use smart tactics to become the champion of this sport.

Its gameplay is very simple. Players only need to move with the D-pad button in the lower-left corner of the screen and the passing buttons on the right side of the screen. You can also easily change the passing position of the pass according to your hand. There are 3 main skills: cross, pass and kick the ball. Players need to combine well to create spectacular goals.

Players will be contracted with top soccer stars in the world such as Ronaldo, Messi… to create your dream team. Of course, you will have to spend a lot of money to own these players. Lead them to participate in matches and events to bring in high-value rewards. Moreover, players also have the opportunity to confront real players in the world through Dream League Live mode. The 3D scenes celebrating victory and cheering from the audience bring high realism.

Dream League Online is a big challenge for every team. Because there will be a lot of big-name competitors competing for the championship. The more matches you win in the tournament, the closer you get your hands on the Championship. However, if your team fails, do not be sad because the player’s experience in the team is still increased. This is also an opportunity for practical friction to help you improve points that are not really suitable for the team’s tactics.
submitted by Charming_Netapp to techyguy [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 20:24 Akmedrah Humanities first contact gone Oh, So Right - 31

PART 30 <==H==> FIRST
The tears flowed for roughly an hour as Allan and Aly reunited. Allan apologized profusely and relayed what he had been told. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, everyone seemed to calm down.
“Im just glad you are back.” Aly said, her arms wrapped around Allan and her head resting on his chest.
“Me too.” Jalla said smiling at Allan.
“I knew you would be back, but I worried…” Aly said her voice somewhat muffled as she had refused to let go of him since his return.
“So I do have a question.” Allan said gently pushing Aly back so he could look her in her face. “How did my mom end up living with you?”
“Well, why don’t you ask her?” Aly said and gestured to Allan’s back where his mother was being helped onto the bridge by Nara.
“Ohh Allan.” She said with a smile, “I am glad you are back. Aly told me what was happening…”
Sarah’s voice trailed off as she caught sight of the shifting golden tattoo. Anger flashed across her face. “Allan James Mac’Millen, is that a Tattoo?!”
Allan laughed and went to hug his mother. “Yes mother, it is a tattoo given to me by the beings who requested my temporary death. It is to mark me as a favorite of theirs I guess.”
“Hmmm,” Sarah said her face softening at the explanation. “Well, I guess it’s all right then. I grew up Christian, so some things are still bad in my mind, and yet I have a son who consorts with Gods and apparently tells them off on a semi-regular basis. I guess I can get over the gods, or rather an even higher being giving you a tattoo as a gift.”
A funny look passed over Sarah’s face. “So do you know what it’s like now?”
Aly and Jalla looked confused. But Allan smiled at his mother. “No, I do not have any memories of my time in death. You shouldn’t worry about it, it will be a long time before you have to go there.”
Allan saw his mother’s tight smile and how Aly flinched at his words. “Mom, what's wrong.”
Allan looked at her then, really looked at her, and realized just how skinny she was and almost yellow in color. Sarah looked up at him. “Oh, my boy, you and Eddy both have always been so quick to put things together. I have Cancer Allan, liver cancer, the doctors say there is nothing to be done. So I called Aly about four months ago, She rushed back with Jalla, Tilllia, Nara, and Eddy in tow. She did everything she could, but my liver was shredded for all practical purposes.”
“You couldn’t help her?” Allan asked turning to Aly, taking in his mother's condition as calmly as he could.
“I do not have the nescicary training to help her. And the medical AI is already working wonders…” Aly seemed hesitant.
“Why not take her to station Xentrop Theta? Have Doc take a look at her, and see if anyone can help.” Allan said. He knew he was desperately grasping at straws.
“We were going to, Doc already suggested we could get Jeths to build her an artificial liver and he would happily install it for her. But Allan…” Jalla was hesitant now, “Allan the Chiln have taken over the station and several other key points in the galaxy. They are declaring themselves for the enemy. We don’t know what happened but Chalxra and Kilndla have not been able to communicate with us. It has been getting harder and harder to travel let alone get messages to people who are stuck on the outside of a broken Jump Gate.”
Allan sagged into a seat. “Of course, we were going to go help them and then I died and disappeared for a year. I let Chalxra down.”
A small flash of light announced Eddy and Tillia’s arrival. “Hey, Allan.” Eddy said and clapped Allan on the shoulder.
Jalla and Tillia hugged and retreated to talk with each other. Allan smiled at Eddy who was giving Sarah a hug. “Good to see you, Eddy.”
“I’m glad your back, shit is falling apart, and no matter how much I pester anyone they won’t give me answers, particularly the Gods,” Eddy said, then a light seemed to spark in his eyes. “But I get a feeling its all about to change.”
“I hope so. What ship are you here on?” Allan asked.
“Well about three weeks before shit got really bad and the Chiln claimed several points, I was on the Gish homeworld training a group for search and destroy missions. When we got word about what was happening, we loaded up with Hilx’Nit and headed out to a shipyard where Hilx’Nit assigned me command and told me to do what I could so I am flying a behemoth.”
Eddy gestured out the leftmost viewport and Allan had to laugh, the ship was less of a ship and more of a portable city. It looked desolate though. “So what’s its name?”
Eddy smiled with his best shit-eating grin. “Hamunaptra.”
Allan groaned. “You really do love that movie.”
“Hey man, Fraiser is a badass, and is one of the best actors ever.” Eddy retorted.
Aly smiled as Allan and Eddy continued like this. She knew these two men were connected by a love for the woman who had been their only support in youth, and by the horrible things their fathers had made them do. She noticed Eddy’s face took on a strange look as Allan’s voice took on a more serious tone.
“Eddy, you remember the girl you dated who was trying to get in on the presidential press team.” Allan asked.
“Yeah, Teresa, what about her?” Eddy said looking almost confused.
“You think she could convince the president to meet us and chat about what’s going on?”
Eddy shrugged. “Maybe, but honestly you should probably be talking to this fucker right here.”
Eddy walked over and slapped his hand down on Mack’s shoulder. Allan raised an eyebrow. “So, Mack, you think you can get the president to listen?”
“Probably,” Mack said with a grin. “Unfortunately I have had quite a bit of dealing with the president, especially since I blew off a mission to help you. Since coming back and before I took a hiatus to come here, I got appointed to a special advisory position in the White House. Basically, I tell the president if a mission is feasible or not.”
“Cool shit.” Allan said taking a seat and looking up at Aly. “Aly, could you connect Mack to the White House switchboard?”
“Of course.” She said with a smile, despite not wanting to leave his side.
“Oh, you mean right now, right now.” Mack said his tone holding a note of confusion and worry.
“Yes, I do. I have been tasked to prepare mankind and bring it forth into the galaxy. Xulgra and the higher beings both asked this of me.” Allan said.
“Well fuck. Yeah, I will talk with the president, and get you a meeting ASAP.” Mack said and then turned to Eddy. “You should call everyone and tell them to do their thing.”
Eddy nodded and pressed a button causing his ship to teleport him back. Allan looked around curiously. “Do their thing?” He asked no one in particular.
“Remember how you and Aly told everyone to try and prepare the world for what was to come. Well, they took you seriously. Between those of us who went with you to Aly’s world, only one of us has simply been laxing off with the president.” Mara said getting a silly look from Mack, “Everyone else has at the very least been stockpiling weapons, I know Troy now owns the single largest manufacturing facility for all things military anywhere in the world. A couple of the other guys work with him. But the others are all doing their thing.”
“So do you think people are ready?” Allan asked the concern in his voice making everyone wonder what he knew was coming.
“I don’t know,” Mara said hugging Jessie close. “All I know is with the group you took off world on your side, you have damn near the largest stockpile of weapons on the planet.”
“Good.” Allan said as Mack ended his chat with the president.
“Okay Allan, let's go he said to show up whenever,” Mack said.
“I have a better idea.”
[Planet: Earth, White House - United States of America, Oval Office]
“That was a strange call.” President Rorgan muttered to himself. He liked Mack, and despite the fact Mack had come as highly recommended as you could possibly be, Mack was most certainly an acquired taste.
“Well regardless, it sounded like he was wanting to introduce someone pretty badly so I imagine he will be here soon.” President Rorgan said aloud. He did this a lot, speaking his internal thoughts out loud. He began to wonder where he had first picked up the habit, thinking back to his childhood, he leaned back in his chair.
Suddenly he was falling. He was brought up short by the floor. After a flurry of readjusting himself, he was back on his feet and finally noticed his surroundings. Gone was the often lonely Oval Office, with its regal trappings. Gone was the isolation which came with spending time in the Oval Office. Instead, everything was metal.
“Mr. President.” A familiar voice called out. President Rorgan turned to face the sound and found Mack standing with a group of people.
“Mack. you…” His words trailed off as his eyes took in the sight before him. Several of the people were human, he was sure, but three of them were not. One was nude and mostly covered in brightly colored scales, and two others were tall and furred looking like something akin to a fox or a wolf.
“What the fuck.” The president said and stumbled back.
Mack jumped forward to steady the president. A new voice, one the president was not familiar with, spoke. “Mr. President, my name is Allan James Mac’Millen, and I have some things I need to tell you, but first let me welcome you to the Solstice, and congratulate you on your first time in outer space.”
The president looked around and finally saw the viewports that displayed the blue marble of earth floating in a sea of ink. The President worked his jaw for a moment and then collapsed to the floor, supported by Mack.
Everyone looked at Allan, who shrugged. “I guess it could have been worse.”
FROM THE AUTHOR: My editor is on hiatus so I did the best I could so bear with me if there are any egregious spelling or other grammar errors.
If you want to support me:
If you want to read my other stories:
HFY Author Page (please note that I will never be putting ads on my website, it is purely a labor of love not a means to earn money, there is no login required.)
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2023.03.25 20:13 Benzema1993 "I Know One Thing"

"I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing."
This is a saying repeated frequently by teachers, mentors, and in Internet forums, with the aim of conveying the idea of ​​the necessity of intellectual humility. When we know that one of the most famous philosophers throughout history said it, then we must feel the obligation to hold ourselves accountable, address our ego, and be conservative in estimating the extent of our knowledge.
And it is a distorted saying from paragraph (22d) of the book "Apology of Socrates” written by Plato - and the word apologia here does not mean retraction and admission of error, but on the contrary, it means giving a speech to ward off accusations on one’s behalf when confronting the judiciary committee in court -, And the original saying is "for i was conscious that i knew practically nothing" And the occasion for saying this saying is in an attempt by Socrates to inquire about the truth of the prophecy of the Delphic oracle, which told one of his friends that he - Socrates - is the most knowledgeable of people, so Socrates was surprised by this prophecy, and decided to investigate its validity by questioning various types of people from poets, writers and philosophers to investigate the extent of their knowledge. And this particular saying he said when he talked about the artisans, whom he acknowledged them knowing many beautiful things that he did not know, but at the same time he saw in them the same defect that he saw in all of their other equals, which is that they talk about things that they do not really know, and then he concluded at the end of the paragraph to the conclusion that it would be preferable not to be as knowledgeable as their knowledge, nor as ignorant as their ignorance.
But what are these things that they do not really know?. We can identify these things by observing the type of questions that Socrates asks his interlocutors. In the dialogue "Euthyphro" he asked his interlocutor about what is virtue?, and in the dialogue of the Republic he asked his interlocutors what is justice?, and in the dialogue "Gargias" he asked what is truth?, and so on.
Was Socrates convinced by the answers of his interlocutors? No. The reason for this can be figured out by clarifying two concepts that Plato adhered to, - I mention Plato here instead of Socrates because Socrates is nothing but a mouthpiece of Plato's ideas in his writings, and from here I will use both names to refer to the same philosophical entity that is platonism -. These two concepts are the science of knowledge (epistemology), and the science of essence (ontology). The first asks what are the means used by the philosopher to reach his conclusions about the origin of knowledge, and the other is about the limits he sets to define the nature of something.
The epistemology of Plato is very simple despite the complexity of the ideas and philosophies that it produced, and Plato described it as a theory of recollection, and explained it clearly in his dialogue “Meno” - and other dialogues like "Phaedo" -. In "Meno" when Socrates accompanied Meno's slave-boy step by step in solving a geometric problem without directly giving him the answer. And he was able to prove through this that anyone - even a non-scholarly slave-boy - can reach the right answers by merely retrieving the forgotten knowledge. Where Plato believes that all the knowledge that can be known is already in our possession before we are even born, and we have gained it in previous lives. so there is no acquisition of knowledge, but only a remembering of it. This is a very strange theory of course, and as one researcher described it contains the fallacy of the circular reasoning [see the article "picking a fight with Plato" by the philosopher Ed Fraser].
So, after clarifying the epistemology of Plato, we must ask what is the nature of the things that we remember, and what are their limits, and why does Socrates see the answers of all those that he talks to are wrong, and what are the correct answers that he is looking for?.
The answer lies in the definition of the science of essence of Plato. So Plato believes that there is an imperfect multiplicity, and there is a perfect one who is its essence. An example of this is the circle, for there are many circles, but all of them are imperfect, in the sense that when you draw a circle, no matter how smooth you think its roundness is, when you examine it closely you will notice protrusions that zigzag the line of roundness which spoils its perfection, and even if you try to program it on the computer, when you zoom in, you will notice crooked pixels of the screen that also prevent its complete roundness. But Plato believes that in an immaterial world there is one complete image of the circle that casts a shadow over our material world and that gives its circular characteristic to some of the things in our material world. And the extent of this idea does not stop at geometric shapes such as the circle and the triangle. For even creatures, plants, and all things that are not mixed (such as mud, for example) have a complete form in that non-material world, and this is what is known as the theory of forms. Everything in our world is an imperfect image of its ideal counterpart. The theory also extends, as one can guess, to concepts such as knowledge of truth, justice, and virtue, such as seeing that it is just to return a deposit that someone entrusted to you as soon as he asks you to return it to him, but this definition of justice falls apart when we assume that this deposit is a knife that is entrusted to you by someone who has went crazy and now asking you to return it to him out of desire to hurt you, then it would not be just or right to return the deposit. so there got to be a more complete definition of justice than this definition that we gave earlier qhich deeply relies on circumstances and opinions. Plato believes that the only person who is able to reach this complete knowledge of those immaterial forms is the philosopher who realizes the existence of these forms and wants to truly reach them. and in the book "The Republic" Plato appoints this type of philosopher a ruler of his imagined state in order to devote himself to this divine philosophy. And It is not kept hidden from the reader of this book the extent of the dictatorship and tyranny of the system of government that Plato imagined. And another additional point is that from the theory of forms later on developed the theory of Sufism emanation, which sees that the soul desires liberation from the material world and to return to the transcendent higher God to be with Him in his perfect unity, and to leave the material world and the body which is hated for its impurity and imperfection. . .
After this clarification and completion of the context, the next time you hear the saying “I know one thing, which is that I know nothing,” or rather, “for i was conscious that i knew practically nothing” then know that this saying was not said with the aim of declaring the humility of its speaker, but rather to err others and err all those who do not adhere to Plato's approach to philosophy, as he, as we explained, sees that only the philosopher who realizes what he realized about the theory of forms and the recollection theory, is the only one who is fit to answer Socrates' questions and to obtain knowledge and assume the eternal power of judgment.
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2023.03.25 19:26 Level-Money626 Anyone else have good counselor prompts?

Anyone else have good counselor prompts?
I've been really drawn to engineering prompts for counseling. It seems to me that many people in the boomegen x area (esp men) feel uncomfortable with therapy and counseling. I believe that ChatGPT can help from the standpoint of cost to also it being somewhat comforting that its not a real person that one needs to be vulnerable to. Does anyone else have any prompts that have worked really well for them on the counselor front?
submitted by Level-Money626 to ChatGPT [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 19:25 Razur Franchised VALORANT players are allowed to stream Counter-Strike.

Notable figures in VAL's esports scene have taken issue with this Twitter thread which implies players in the VCT International Leagues "can't stream other games like CS."
A number of reporters are stating this is untrue for VALORANT players in 2023; VALORANT players can play CSGO / CS2 so long as it's not a paid promotion, which reporters also state is a standard practice in the esports industry.
The Twitter thread also includes a link to a 9 year-old article which reported how Riot's player contracts for Season 4 of the LCS restricted players from streaming competing MOBAs and games associated with those MOBA titles. Riot did address the issue days later, stating the LCS Season 4 player contracts would change to target paid sponsorships from games developers instead.
(EDIT: For the record, the VCT International League is a Partnership League; it is not franchised. I used the word franchised in the title of this post because of the language the tweet in question originally used.)
EDIT2: Added the resolution of the LCS Season 4 player contracts issue.
Pretty sure everyone's on the same page here, but I thought making a thread for historical purposes where everything is in one place would be a good idea. (Figured this could be a question that gets asked in the future.)
submitted by Razur to ValorantCompetitive [link] [comments]

2023.03.25 19:25 Johnny_Boy398 Hans Hüttig and Arfikareich facelift proposal (Part 1)

Hans Hüttig and Arfikareich facelift proposal (Part 1)
Oh boy, here I go writing another 30 pages of unsourced fanfiction!
Good old Hans Hüttig: as legacy as legacy TNO content gets. From the independent foreign policy to the Himmler driven 4D chess insanity, to the flawless SS coup the story of Hüttig and German Africa is practically crying out for a rework. It is simplistic, 2 dimensional, and no longer in line with TNOs development philosophy. And frankly its boring. I think we can do better.
But despite all that, Hans and what he does narratively is also utterly necessary. The south africa war is the first piece of “major” content for post-GCW Germany and the US playthrough. The collapse of the Reichsstaat kickstarts africa content, and trying to balance three more enormous RKs into German gameplay would be all but impossible. Hüttig is currently the linchpin on which all african content south of Cameroon rests.
So, rather than redesign all of south/central africa from the ground up, or try to work through a increasingly unworkable bit of legacy content, I think it would be best to instead integrate Hüttig as well as the sudden loss/collapse of the German african holdings into modern TNO as best can be done. And in this post I will tell you my proposed new story of Huttig and his state, from bloodhound to generalissimo to cornered animal to death. If that sounds interesting to you, then keep reading :)
(FYI this is part of my larger project of proposing an expanded rework/facelift of the current African content. The important parts for this post are that the Reichskommissars are Carl Krogmann for Zentralafrika, Bernhard Ruberg for Süd-West Afrika, and by 1962 Theodor Eicke for Ostafrika. Everything else should be explained in post.)

Nazi propaganda poster reminding and boasting of their old colonies. Though Hitler was always uninterested in Africa most of his nationalist and revanchist supporters thought otherwise, and wanted very much to regain their old territory. As German boots marched from Iran to London to Moskow, the dreams of these men were allowed to go wild: can the new master of Europe truly deserve the title if he is not also the master of Africa?
In order to answer what Hüttig and German Africa should look like, we must first answer how Germany came to control Africa in the first place. After all Hitler was apathetic towards the African continent, always in favor of pushing his mission to colonize eastern Europe. Yet Germany takes over all of central africa: why? For this we must delve into forbidden knowledge: how Germany won WW2. We know from leaks that Italian East Africa never fully fell to the allies: that a guerrilla campaign succeeded in bogging down allied forces until Italo German reinforcements came through egypt. But it seems unlikely to me that Axis forces would have gone much further south than that: the soviet and middle eastern fronts demanded the men, and the capture of the suez had been accomplished. On the allies side men were needed for the defense of the home isles and operation torch. As such, the German occupation of africa would take place after the wars end.
Operation Torch: the opening of a new front in west africa via amphibious landings in Morocco and Algeria would have still gone forward. Just as in OTL it would have been done with the cooperation of anti-axis elements in the vichy france army/administration in africa, but unlike OTL the attack would not have gone nearly so smoothly. With Germany continuing to win in the east the french commander in Africa François Darlan remains committed to collaboration, and the allies fail to take Algiers by coup. The French forces in africa are split between Darlan and Charles Mast, and the battle for french africa devolves into a messy civil war. In the end the north of french africa, supported by the Germans and Vichy France, remains loyal to the collaborator government while the south, via the bribes and invasions of Free france with British assistance, falls under Degauls control. The battle for Algeria meanwhile will devolve into a bloody stalemate, with American troops being supplied through a captured Morocco and British Gibraltar fighting German troops supplied through Tunisia. The balance is finally broken when Spain intervenes on the side of the Axis. In return for control over Morocco and German economic assistance, Franco joined with what he now considered the winning side and fatally damaged allied supply into north africa as well as critically weakening the british navy. Seeing that their attack had failed, the allies made a fighting withdrawal back to Britain, where they scrambled to defend the Home islands.
As the Americans suffered reverses in the Pacific and the Soviet Union began to fall apart, allied morale began to collapse. For our story this has important implications for what remained of allied controlled Africa. In South Africa Jan Smuts had to resort to increasingly authoritarian measures against pro German sabotage and a surging pro-neutrality movement. North and South Rhodesia saw a sharp upswing in pro-federation opinion and an increase in war weariness more generally. Though initially enthusiastic and furnishing large numbers of volunteers, the British Africans now saw the probable fall of the mother country and wondered if there was a way out. The Belgian Congo, held by free Belgium forces, faced similar issues while British held South-West africa saw a Nazi insurgency spring up. In this atmosphere of fear and pessimism several actions were taken: fearing that they would soon be forced into isolation the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland elected to confederate, seeking strength in unity and numbers, while British Uganda sought to make room for an expected flow of refugees. The Bechuanaland Protectorate was occupied by South African forces. But no one declared independence or sought to make a separate peace.

Rough map of Africa at the end of the war, but before negotiations. I don't have photoshop, so let me paint a picture in words: Anglo-Egypt all the way down to IEA is occupied by Italy. Northern and southern Rhodesia are confederated with Nyasaland. Bechuanaland is occupied by South Africa and southern French Africa is controlled by the Free French. All other borders should be accurate.
Instead the fate of Africa was decided where it so often had been: at diplomatic tables in Europe. Though the Axis armies had failed to conquer all of Britain the atomic bombing of Hawaii sapped the last of Anglo-American resolve, and a ceasefire was signed on July 16th, 1945. In the ensuing negotiations German dominance over africa was decreed in the manner typical of the Nazi’s: bold, broad declarations of conquest with very little prior planning. The main forces pushing for this was the Office of colonial policy under Rudolf Asmis, in alliance with German business concerns who saw great potential for profit in the dark continent. Hitler by this point was fully engaged with constructing his new order in eastern Europe, and largely left questions of african policy to others. This lenience, as well as the general atmosphere of triumphalism, allowed the ambitions of the colonialists to run wild.
The former German colonies of Cameroon, South-west Africa and East Africa were handed over without concession, while Belgian, British and some French holdings were signed away for mere promises to “respect the lives and properties of European settlers”. Kenya was transferred to Italian East Africa. The only area which retained some semblance of autonomy was the newly formed Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Here Germany would grant internal political autonomy and even the right to maintain a limited semi-independent armed force in return for economic concessions, the right to garrison the federation with German troops, the extension of anti-jewish and racial purity laws into the federation, and an annual payment from the rhodesians to cover the costs of German occupation in the federation. As such Rhodesia officially ceased to be a British colony and became a German protectorate, but much of the pre-war structure remained. Finally the Germans also annexed Bechuanaland, but here they hit a snag: the south africans refused to withdraw their occupation of the area, and unilaterally annexed it. Even as the policy of neutrality became the only possible course of action, Jan Smuts refused to cede yet more British territory to Germany. Smuts would sign the peace treaty, but in his last days leading the south african government he would do all in his power to keep South Africa out of German hands. For their part the Germans briefly considered seizing the area militarily, but were talked out of the idea by their allies in the South African political scene, who believed they were on the verge of winning the government via elections.
One final hurdle needed to be overcome however: the old governments needed to be evicted from the territory now claimed by the reich. Hitler’s apathy towards africa and insistence that demobilization continue at a swift pace meant that the colonial ministry would never get the troop numbers it requested: the issue of overextension was present from the beginning of German Africa. In many areas this was not an issue: British Africans no longer had any stomach to fight so long as their rights were respected, and in Sud-west africa the German population welcomed their new masters with open arms. For the vast majority of the black natives, the news that the flag was changing yet again was met with a shrug: this was hardly the first time land in africa had changed hands, and one European was assumed to be much the same as another. The African intelligentsia however was nearly in a panic, fearing for their positions and lives. But at this point modern native political organizations had only just begun to form, and even fewer had real experience in warfare: the black africans would not yet offer united resistance. The only real resistance would come from the Free french and belgians. Though it took months, the promise of respecting settlor institutions and the decisive defeat of Free French forces in Gabon ultimately won over most of the new territory. The Belgians had been pacified, and the French were forced to retreat far into the north where the Spanish, Portuguese and French State promised to finish them off. So it was that by the end of 1946, Africa looked something like this:

Africa in 1946. Though the Portuguese colonies would later be taken and Rhodesia placed under tighter oversight from Ostafrica, these basic divisions remain in place at game start. (Namimia=Sud-West Afrika, all are in their base RK states instead of their post collapse names as seen here.)
After this many things happen: the northern border of Zentralafrika is pushed back by native revolt, the free french are saved by iberian interference and American support, the portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique are invaded and added to the kommissariats, and Rhodesia is pressured to fall further under Ost-african suzerainty. But this post is about Hüttig and the Reichsstaat, so let's stay focused on that.
Hans Benno Hüttig was experienced in East Africa, having fought there in WW1, but was even more experienced in the German concentration camp and prison system. During the war he gained a reputation for being a ruthless troubleshooter, suitable for fixing whatever issues he came across and being ideologically devoted. And when he arrived in Ostafrika in 1951, he found a situation in dire need of fixing. The second Reichskommissar Albert Hoffmann had bumbled the colony into a massive slave revolt, with the garrison keeping control of the urban settlements but large parts of the countryside rendered unsafe for German travel. For this Hoffmann would be the only Reichskommisar to be recalled from office, and was replaced by an SS man: Theodor Eicke. The Eicke administration had only one goal: the pacification of Ostafrika by any means necessary. To this end the new Reichskommisar leveraged his old SS connections to bring in some trusted hands, and among them was Hans Hüttig.
Hüttig would spend the next decade growing intimately acquainted with the Reich’s african territories, and with all the dangers and rot therein. In keeping with his reputation in Germany Hüttig proved to be a merciless and harsh man who would seek to “rectify” any issues he found. Steadily rising up the SS hierarchy as well as gaining the trust of Eicke for being one of the few uncorrupt men in Africa, he quickly became known as East Africa’s bloodhound. He was empowered to seek out and destroy dissidents, often chasing his prey beyond Ostafrikan borders into the other Kommissariats, and even into neutral territory such as South Africa. Additionally he was instrumental in advising the “African system” of concentration/labodeath camps in East Africa. In all this he was protected by his patron Kommisar Eicke, and became a figure of hatred, envy, and fear. By 1962 Hüttig is 68 years old, and many looked forward to his retirement. But they had no such luck. Though Hüttig did resign his field commands he was tapped by Eicke as the head of security in Ostafrika: a job which he accepts in early 1962. The white devil had won his prize.
But Hüttig's rise has been due more to his political reliability and personal ties than his actual competence. Though hardly a moron it is clear that he has been promoted beyond his capabilities. He is unimaginative, relies heavily on protocol and “statistical methods”, and his personal political radicalism makes him see enemies where none exist, and gets in the way of cooperation with other forces. Though successful in suppressing several native revolts his methods have caused damage even to white lives and property in affected areas, and have not prevented later flare ups in the same region. Though his network of camps have successfully pacified parts of east africa it has come at the cost of high expense and economic stagnation. Even his battlefield record is mixed: though he performed well enough against poorly equipped native revolts, his SS forces performed poorly in the war against Cameroon. Finally, and perhaps most damningly, his system of fortified villages and punishment camps has not succeeded in ending the state of insurgency in Ostafrika. Though all African RKs have resistance movements to contend with Ostafrikan resistance is without a doubt the most damaging and intractable, despite the ever escalating cycle of violence. only the Tanganyika coast and Bouhlerstadt can be said to be truly pacified and under German control, with other areas either in a state of low intensity warfare or administered by autonomous Europeans.

Philipp Bouhler (right). A career long member of the Reich Colonial Office, he was the first Kommissar of Ostafrika, when it was in its original, smaller form. Recalled to Germania after the death of the prior head, he now acts as the highest authority on African colonial matters. However he and his office are weak: unable to thrive in the cutthroat politicking of the NSDAP, the colonial office has consistently been outmaneuvered by the foreign office, business syndicates and the SS. By 1962 only Sud-West Afrika truly follows his commands.
In short, Hüttig is seen by most white men in Africa as a grumpy prison warden who has grown too large for his own good, whose inflexible mindset causes almost as much damage as it prevents. For those who have lost their property or status to Hüttig's black band he is a dangerous radical whose witch hunts and blank cheque do nothing to entrench German rule and do much to undermine it. And for the black and Asian Africans whose families he has murdered, whose sons he has enslaved and whose daughters he has tortured, for the vast majority of African men and women Hans Hüttig is the devil himself. A symbol of absolute evil who is hated nearly as much as he is feared.
But for many of his men and the African SS as a whole, Hüttig is the thin black line keeping the barbarians at bay. When a gaggle of naive nuns get themselves kidnaped who is sent to rescue them? Huttig’s men. When some petty chief or mercenary gets delusions of grandeur who is sent to beat out the fire? Huttig’s men. When a flat footed bureaucrat thinks he is above the law and steals from the volk who knocks on his door? Huttig’s men. Without them and Hüttig, they say, Afrika wouldn’t last a year before it dissolves. As such young fanatics see in Hüttig the image which has been cultivated for him: an incorruptible man of iron who one can anchor themselves too in these times of uncertainty. Where others see stupidity they see determination, where others see a lack of foresight they see a man of action. And most importantly this is how Hüttig is increasingly seeing himself: surrounded by such voices and with the weight of the world on his shoulders, how could he not?
In normal circumstances this would be the end of Hüttig's road: he would spend the last years of his career as the right hand man of Eicke, slowly losing control of the massive territory until he retired into obscurity. But this is not the fate destiny has for him: for to the south a fire is burning.
In South Africa the post-war 1948 election did indeed bring the National Party into power, which immediately set about implementing its policy of Apartheid and upholding the status of white supremacy more generally. Additionally they sought to open trade relations with Germany and Japan after having been isolated from these markets by the war. They were soon to be disappointed however: the Japanese had little interest in inviting “foreign competition” into their market, while the Germans insisted that South African desires could only be granted if they integrated into the Pakt more generally. America meanwhile suffered from economic recession and took a dim view of the National Party. With politics interfering the south african economy slowed to a crawl, and other issues began to make themselves known: tensions between the Boer and English populations, the creeping fascistization of the National Party, disagreements over the scope and means of segregation, and continued pressure from black organizations attempting to tear down apartheid all have led to increased tensions within South Africa. The minutiae of this conflict is not worth going into in this post, but suffice to say that the National party is split, and the entire nation threatens to split along with it.

Johannesburg civilians train in small arms, as part of a local political militia. Despite the governments assurances that South Africa is safe and stable, the popular fear of black revolution or simple crime continues to dominate. Reich propagandists and agents, in a rare case of agreement between the colonial and foreign office, have fanned the flames of this fear by supporting those who claim that the National Party is not doing enough to ensure white rule in South Africa.
Hüttig has always been of the opinion that the fate of South Africa would not be decided by votes or speeches, but by blood and steel. For years he has been bitterly disappointed by the South african policy of not permitting him to pursue groups or individuals across the border into south africa, and contends that the reason his policies have only had limited success is because of the softness of South africa, Italian East Africa and Zentralafrika giving fugitives a “safe zone” in which they could escape his wrath. With his rise to leadership of the Ostafrikan SS and head of security this contention has only become more important.
There is very little he can do about the policy of any of these states, but in South Africa the question of fugitives from the north has become a political issue. Since the establishment of Ostafrika and the conquest of the Portuguese colonies there has been a steady stream of migration from the north into south africa, for economic as well as political or social reasons. As bad as the Boers were, they would at least pay you something for your work. Hundreds of thousands have traveled to south Africa either in hopes of making a new life for themselves, or more often to earn money which could be sent back home. And along with these migrants more than a few were political dissidents. The question of what to do with this influx has divided the country: more moderate members of the national party have been happy to exploit this group as cheap labor, willing to work for almost nothing. Liberal whites and several religious groups also wish to maintain the system, as preferable to aiding and abetting Hüttig's reign of terror by capturing his dissidents for him. The ANC, representing black south Africans, has declared itself open to these migrants as well in the name of pan-african solidarity. Finally, the geopolitical situation must also be considered: if South Africa were to intercept and return all the people fleeing German Africa as Hüttig wished it would be tying themselves irrevocably to the German system: unacceptable in the face of the ongoing strategy of neutrality in the cold war. Of course, there are those who say white South Africans should never have become so dependent on black labor, that aligning with Germany is in their best interests, and that not cracking down on this trend is an unacceptable security risk.
The question has come to a head with a bill which would make it law to deport black Africans back north kicking around parliament indecisively. In 1962 the bill is brought to a referendum, and quickly grows to be seen as a referendum on the future course of the nation: will south Africa become tied at the hip to the Germans and follow a more authoritarian path inspired by nazi and fascist successes, or will it maintain its course of controlled democracy and international compromise? But as said before many in the German administration have no faith that a democratic vote will bring south Africa to sense. As such, though they will lean on South Africa to attempt to swing the referendum their way, they are also preparing contingency plans: arming and training more radical groups as well as forging ties with economic barons and other Boer VIPs. If elections will not bring South Africa where it needs to be, perhaps a march on Cape Town will… But Hüttig is not a man to rest on idle hopes: he believes that even this will not be enough, and behind closed doors has advocated for the armed takeover of South Africa, citing the Dutch and the English as nations which could only be brought into the new order through force and arguing that their African cousins would be the same. This is yet another example of his ill-advised radicalism to most, but when the referendum brings South Africa to a state of civil war, he will be seen as a profit. Even a broken clock is right twice a day it seems.
When Hitler dies and the fatherland suddenly has its hands full with the following chaos, German Africa finds itself in a difficult situation: communication with the colonial office is sparse and contradictory. Thousands of German soldiers have been stranded and resupply denied. The financial and material strength of the German colonies has been severely constrained, and as such all three do as one would expect: they hunker down, plan to conserve their strength, and wait for the chaos back home to subside. But their prior actions will not give them this option. Radicalism fostered by the Germans themselves has borne fruit in post-referendum south Africa in the form of violence and riot from all sectors of society. Just as Germany is falling into a succession crisis, South Africa falls into civil war. Initially the Reichskommissars see this as unfortunate, but not something they could afford to get involved in. But poor command over radical officers and units close to the border inevitably draws them closer to the conflict, until finally the report comes in that south African forces attacked an SS group in German territory. Whether this was a case of accidental fire, revenge, or even a false flag from the SS itself is unknown, but the result is inevitable: German boys have been killed and no true Nazi would settle for anything less than a war in response. The RKs intervene in South Africa, despite some reservations. But why worry? The south Africans were divided, weakened by degenerate ideology and outnumbered, German forces would sweep into Cape town in no more than a month. And in the end all of Africa would be under German guidance, finally elevating them from being the eternal black sheep of the empire.

Another reason for German confidence in their \"defensive attack\" was their superiority in armored vehicles, especially tanks. The German tank fleet has been rightfully criticized as overly large considering the state of warfare, but it has benefited the afrikan administrations by giving them a great deal of older models as surplus. Of course Afrika mostly lacks the facilities to repair or replace these machines, but so long as the war does not last longer than a few months this should not matter...
With these thoughts in mind the German forces hastily marched southwards to fulfill their mission of “self defense”. And when they attacked alongside their political allies, they discovered that the enemy was not nearly as weak as they had supposed. Though initially successful anglo and black south africans rallied against the German invasion, and soon the uncoordinated and relatively flimsy German force found itself bogged down, and the OFN having been invited in by their opponents. It was clear: the light “anti-bandit” forces were no match for American tanks, and the three week operation was going to be anything but. The Kommissariats needed to unite, to reform, to strengthen, or else they would come undone before Germany proper could return to them. They needed an African Oberkommando.
Hans Hüttig is not the best choice for generalissimo: he is not trained in the command of large armies, he is broadly disliked and distrusted by the Wehrmacht, and his age is beginning to show. However, he is also the only choice for the position. He alone commands an organization that commonly works across RK lines, Ostafrika is providing the majority of the troops for this war, and without his cooperation the supply chain to the front would be endangered. With no one who clearly outranks the rest and Hüttig having been the only man to seriously plan for a conventional war to the south, it becomes clear that Hüttig's men will accept no one else for the job. The various other armies of German Afrika never had any intention of following the Oberkommando to the letter in any case, and so after a period of resistance they bow to the inevitable: Hüttig is the war master.
As his first act as commander, Hüttig does something surprising, for perhaps the first time in his life: he arms the natives. For years Hüttig had been the staunchest defender of the colonial offices policy of maintaining an all-European armed force, but even he could not deny the math: if German men were going to die in their thousands to the south, then they would need to be replaced by their thousands in the north, and all the conscription in the world would not fix that. Though he still considers the natives unfit for frontline action Hüttig does have experience in turning native against native: the Kapo. The Kapo was a concentration camp prisoner who was given administrative and supervisory tasks in return for privileges in the camp itself. The necessity of this system meant it was already institutionalized in camps across Africa, turning prisoner against prisoner. As such, in order to fill in the gaps behind the lines, this system would be expanded: in return for the promise of a better life, prisoners would be given the option to act as “anti-bandit” forces or as porters bringing material to the front. Of course these units would be commanded by German officers, and deployed in areas they had no personal connections to, but this is still a radical change from the prior policy of tribalization, enslavement or extermination.

Drawing of a European Kapo and his wards. Faced with the ever present issue of manpower even before the war a system of turning the prisoners against each other was necessary. Considering the dire conditions of the camps those willing to sell their souls in return for their food were not hard to find. The issue was to ensure their continued loyalty and diligence. For those who were suspected of falling short, the typical punishment is to simply be stripped of their status and returned to the prisoners to do with as they wish.
The second order of business is to build an arms industry from almost nothing. Throwing financial caution to the wind, Hüttig shall seize relevant property and take out massive loans, and rush the construction of ammunition and other such factories. For this project Otto Förschner will be called to service, having had experience with factory slave labor for years dating back to the V2 program during WW2. The third and final task is the most difficult: corralling and coordinating the armed forces and policy of the other two RKs. While Theodor Eicke is generally in agreement with him, Carl Krogmann of Zentralafrika and Bernhard Ruberg of Sud-West Afrika neither trust nor support him. They were willing to accept the “Kapo” units as a sad necessity, and agreed in abstract that native labor should supply while Europeans should fight, but they are resistant to truly integrating their armed forces with Hüttig. As such Hüttig is forced to rely on the African SS, and on threats more than true consensus.
As the war drags on, all will become more desperate, approving policies they never would have before. For Hüttig this works to his advantage, to a degree. The generals and administrators will fall even more in line as the war situation deteriorates. However it will also force him to desperation: Kapo units will be expanded with penal conscripts and sent to the front, when loans are no longer able to be forced out he will resort to outright confiscation, even the ancient practice of slave raids will be revived to feed the ever-growing war machine. As the number of reliable men available decreases, backline units resort to more terroristic methods, trying to foster fear which will do what their actual strength cannot. Overall, the Afrikan RKs will be run to exhaustion, with ideology and sustainability being increasingly sacrificed in a war that can no longer possibly be worth the cost. But the only thing worse than a pyrrhic victory is a crippling defeat, and so the Germans will have no choice but to fight on.
When Germany rights itself and the new Fuhrer is empowered the efforts of Hüttig will be aided, but his position will be maintained, for there is no war in south Africa. Both America and Germany want to win, but both also want to avoid escalation: Africa is not worth risking nuclear Armageddon for. As such Germany will send supplies, advisors, “volunteers”, air systems and intelligence. But much as America cannot risk an outright declaration of war against the African RKs, Germany cannot risk directly taking over the war effort in Africa. With this final dynamic of German aided RKs and National Party radicals fighting OFN aided national party moderates, the war will see its end. It may end in three ways: The Germans and Boers successfully march to Cape Town and South Africa is reorganized as a One-Party state under the Boar led National Party radicals, both sides are unable to continue fighting and a ceasefire is agreed to, or the African RKs begin to unravel as the war becomes too much for them and Germany is forced into a unilateral ceasefire, giving up much of the south to OFN South Africa. Regardless of the outcome, the RKs will be left badly destabilized and all the leaders will blame everyone else for everything that went wrong, with thinly veiled accusations of treason flying between rivals. Clearly Germany cannot leave Africa as is, and so a conference in Dar es Salaam will be called to discuss current issues in Africa and decide on a new policy, or at least however much of Africa is left after the war. And it is here that Hans Hüttig will take power and become the Master of Afrika

SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Benno Hüttig, posing in front of a newly constructed punishment camp near Dar-es Salam. As Obergruppenführer of the Ostafrikan SS and the head of security in Ostafrika, Hüttig commands the largest number of troops by any single person in Afrika, with Wehrmacht garrisons typically being dispersed. After the South African war, he is without a doubt the most militarily powerful person in Africa, win or loose.
(To be continued tomorrow)
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2023.03.25 19:24 GrahamTheCrackerMan [US,US] [H] 1000 WB Sealed Move Promos (Catch Mew!) Dragonite, Electabuzz, Mewtwo, Pikachu [W] Paypal

Hey Everyone, I have 900 sealed WB promo's. All prices below include tracked first class shipping. Cards will be protected by rigid sleeves and or cardboard inserts for bubble mailers depending how many sets you purchase. I've sold hundreds of slabs, raw cards, ect. I take pride in my shipping practices.
Time Stamp
I am only selling sets of 4 (one of each card).
I will only ship to your PayPal Address.
Please include your Reddit user name in your message on PayPal so I can track your orders.
Thank you for stopping by. Happy Collecting.

# of Sets Your Price Discount Cost/Card
1 $45 - $11.25
2 $85.50 5% $10.69
3 $128.25 5% $10.69
4 $162.00 10% $10.13
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10 $382.50 15% $9.56
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2023.03.25 19:19 No_Egg_9724 The UTD CS program and it's industrial ineptitude

Esteemed students and faculty members,
First and foremost I will like to state that students are not students first. This school is a buisness and we are customers. Since I got that out of the way, I will proceed to efficaciously grill this program and it's industrial INEPTITUDE.
As a diligent scholar enrolled in the computer science program at the University of Texas at Dallas, I have grave reservations regarding the current curriculum's capacity to furnish us with the skills requisite to thrive as software engineers or data engineers/scientists. We are required to take discrete math II, Digital Systems and Logic, Physics, and much, much more. Classes such as CS 3345(Data Structures and Introduction to algorithmic analysis) are somewhat useful if we have good professors such as Professor ... however they lack technical practice and implementation that will actually allow us to pass technical interview rounds. Despite the program's lauded reputation, I contend that it fails to impart practical development skills or even technical skills that will allow us to be as "excellent" as they swear the program is, which in this case, is false unless it is in research positions.
More specifically, my apprehension stems from the dearth of exposure to modern frameworks and the programming language Python, whose mastery is deemed essential in positioning oneself as a desirable candidate for prospective employment. While we do gain proficiency in C++ and Java, such proficiency alone may not be adequate in meeting the exacting standards of the industry. I understand that these indeed are frameworks and languages that we can learn on our own however, we are wasting money. Why does ITS have python and SQL courses ready and available to them whilst we struggle with java and C++? no exposure to databases or full stack app development, not even a simple MERN class. Not even a mandatory elective for it? What is going on? SMU has react classes available to their students. Why not us?
Whilst I recognize that universities confront multifarious challenges in developing and implementing academic programs and securing funding, I hold that the quality of our education and future career prospects must NOT be jeopardized. As students and CUSTOMERS of this esteemed institution, we are entitled to expect an educational program that adequately equips us with the necessary knowledge and skillset to succeed in our chosen field.
I implore the faculty and administration to heed our concerns and endeavor to address them, instead of kissing the behinds of their funders who make us take these pointless classes. They only care about their funders, not their students(CUSTOMERS). It is time for the students here to stand and demand our moneys worth.
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2023.03.25 19:04 JulianSkies The Werewolf - Ch 10 "Memory"

And here's the second to last chapter. Sadly there were two bits of scene I didn't manage to fit here somehow, and I don't think it's going to come up at any point in the final chapter either but it's also not very relevant.
Credits to u/SpacePaladin15 for this amazing setting, even if I wound up going a bit wild with it at the end here.
In a desert planet, in a desolate little outpost as far from the oases as it could be, a little starport hidden from everything. In the launching bay is a small black craft, scarce fit for one person. In the hangar are only two people.
A grey-furred venlil, shaking slightly, the wool on his back still not fully grown from the recent shave. An arxur with unusually white scales and blood-red eyes, right arm tattooed with intricate patterns in red, a star map.
“You never told me where you were going, Kerim”
“You wouldn’t have the stomach for it, Ishak”
“Oh, come on, i’m stronger than you think”
“Is that so?” the venlil turns to his best friend, staring at him with one eye, a deep stare “Then prove it to me”
“Oh yeah, how?”
“Hurt me. Do that, and i’ll know you’re cruel enough to know where i’m going”
His friend huffs, looking away “Then I don’t want to know”
He had always been far too soft for his species. He was lucky to be born on this planet.
In the little hidden starport, the tiny black craft had returned. Only one person waited there as he stepped out of his ship, those crimson eyes giving him the energy to work through his damaged leg.
“You look awful”
A limp, badly patched cuts, a third of his wool missing “Looks worse than it is”
His friend offers him his shoulder, he takes it “Nesha told me to thank you”
Of course the news would come here faster. The ones who escaped the re-education facility must have taken the direct route instead of his indirect one “I should be feeling… Happy…” he didn’t “Fourty six…”
“Fourty six?”
“I had to… I had to finish my mission. Of them… Twenty eight…” he can’t look at his friend, but he can’t avoid doing it either being this close. He doesn’t deserve this “They were target practice… I pushed them ahead of me…”
His friend puts a gentle claw over his head “You destroyed that place, you were a hero” he didn’t feel like it.
“I will be here when you return, I promise”
There were blue marks on his friend’s crimson tattoos now. Each one marking a failure, a candidate that did not bloom in the end. “No you won’t, silly, don’t make promises you can’t keep” he gently traces his hand over the markings in his friend’s arm “You’ll be out there, as you should” he told him, before departing.
And yet he kept his promise. He always kept his promises.
When his small black ship docked again, it was smoking, a damaged engine and the oxygen supply leaking. He barely had the strength to step out of the ship, his mouth was dry and his legs refused to obey him, his eyes couldn’t focus on anything other than a white shape before him.
“You look like you haven’t eaten in days” his touch was so gentle, a gentleness magnified only further by how sharp his claws were. The warm feeling in his throat of the drink that had been so carefully guided to his mouth.
“M-months… Really…” his voice had returned, at least slightly. He could still feel the metallic taste in his mouth “Seventy… Nine…”
His friend gently supports him as they walk, at the pace his legs can take him “That raid never even started, my friend… All because of you, you’re a hero”
They never knew how they died. A slip into the abyss, a broken plasma pipe, they died in confusion and fear. He didn’t feel like a hero.
His friend held him close. Today, there were thirteen ships in this port. Small black vessels all of them. With some effort, he finally makes him let go, no matter what he still had a mission.
“Before you go” his friend offers him something “I have two gifts for you. These, to keep you safe” two beautiful black knives, with a serrated edge for shredding cuts and a hook in the back for defense. It even had a compartment in the handle for the blackblood pills. The fangs of a beast, his friend’s fangs… “And the other, i’ll give you when you’re back”
This is his last chance. He takes his friend’s gift, and steps in closer “I make a promise to you” he silences his complaint with a single finger over his snout “I promise to you my blood, I promise to you my life. Yours is all that I am, yours is my life and yours is my death. The right to my end is yours and yours alone”
“Don’t…” there it was, that sad noise, the choked voice “Don’t make that promise to me”
But that was the only promise he could make to him “Then go and do a good job, so I can break it someday” he holds his friend’s- No. His promised’s fangs close, before walking away.
He kept his promise. His end belongs to Ishak. Thirteen ships left, three returned. A bloody mess steps out of his ship, matted fur, a swollen eye, dirt, grime and blood. The clattering of metal on the floor as those strong white arms held him, even more blue against the red. “You look awful, my promised”
“I-it’s… Worse than it… Looks…” he shouldn’t be holding him like this. He couldn’t will his dirty, stained arms to hold his promised.
“How about I take you home, and we can watch something? I’ll give you a good grooming, and I’ll listen to you.”
He didn’t have the energy left in his soul to respond, he simply let his promised carry him in his arms. His caress was gentle, and the brush felt the same comfort as it always gave him. Slowly, slowly he could feel his own body again. But he was surprised by something, his promised put a datapad in front of him, before returning to brushing his back “Only if you want to” he reassured him. He was having difficulty reading, but… He knew what it was.
An already pre-approved transfer request, to the exploratory fleets.
It had been years since his fangs were last bloodied. Now the only red on him was the dye on his arm, red and blue like his promised’s. He sat at the bridge as he always did, a position of privilege none begrudged him for. He was good at his job, his job was keeping his crew safe when they landed, and otherwise here he waited, watching his promised guide them into the stars.
The loud, sudden squawk attracted his attention. There were two sensors officers, and the krakotl commanded the attention of everyone whenever she made any noise. She was always on the lookout for something, something specific.
“We’ve found it! It’s right there!” she was frantic, crazed nearly.
“We’ve just gotten into maximum sensor range-” his promised was always level-headed
“You don’t get it. I’ve spent my entire life memorizing those cliffs and valleys” she commands the central screen with her readouts. To most, the patterns of the spectrometer were unreadable. But even to those, if you were an explorer those shapes were burned into your memory. Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen- The levels of each- This wasn’t just a candidate. This was the best candidate of the last twenty years.
“Yorim, plot a course” his promised points at the zurulian navigator “Ashir, I want every last star in that map” the arxur was their second navigator, their mapmaker. His entire job was to ensure the perfect accuracy of the star chart “Kerim, start getting the ground team ready” he nods, could this candidate bloom?
Yes, yes it could. First, their scout ships saw a beautiful planet of strange colors, violet and green and blue. Then, when the main ship arrived in orbit they detected the breathable atmosphere, and could see the stretches of violet-leaved plant life, oceans of blue and rivers of green.
Landing on a new planet is always exciting. When the salty air welcomed him to the soft sands of a beach, he almost cried. The sound of the gust rustling leaves and the cry of a distant bird disturbed by it, his entire team required a long time to recover. It was here, it was finally here.
They were cautious. It took three weeks until the main ship was cleared to land. The rivers were dangerous, he’d tasted the green algae and they had a familiar taste, of a poison he’d used many a time. The fish in them were vicious, carnivorous hunters, but his promised had found a strange joy in fighting them “If I’m going to eat something, I’d rather it fight back” he told him. Even to beasts he would offer his kindness…
It had been two entire months now. Everything in the defined colonization radius had been cataloged and studied. Every last beast had been studied as far as they could, every last plant tested, the composition of the soil so carefully recorded. This planet could sustain them. It could feed them and flourish.
And in this camp a distance away from their ship, he and his promised were staring up at the stars. His promised’s scales were absolutely covered in scratches, he had just recently snatched another of those vicious fish out of the waters. He had contented himself with slowly stripping away the soft bark of this broad-leaved tree, it was deliciously succulent and soft, a taste he had never had before.
“I wish I had your tongue, my promised, because the noises you’re making are tempting me to to try some of that”
He laughs, wouldn’t be the first or last time they’d tried something that’d upset their bodies. That’s what explorers did “Oh, there’s room in the infirmary”
His promised then became silent, still looking at the stars “Say, I have a favor to ask you. For when we get back”
“When. When we get back. And we bring our maps home, and everyone can come to this place” he truly believed his own words. He wished he could believe them this much “When you finally can break your promise. If I meet my end before you” it was not a look of sadness or acceptance he gave him, he could truly envision being here for a time indescribable, until an end he could not foresee “I want you to bury me under one of those trees you love so much” he didn’t believe he could keep that promise, but he made it still.
When they left, there was no trace they were ever there. They left only footprints in the sand, that the wind would wash away. When they charted a course as far away as possible from the paradise they had found, most of the crew was already aware they were making their way to their deaths. He did not believe in this tiny, miraculous chance. But his promised did.
“Scout one’s report is late by a minute, sir!”
“Red alert, battlestations!” and yet with all his hope, his promised was not stupid. Their scouts were disciplined to a terrifying degree. It was the only way to have any hope against the Blind Fleet. They who would keep them blind to the rest of the universe.
They had maneuvered far away from their paradise. They had crossed past the claims of the Dominion into the claims of the Federation. If they were found, they could never know where they were coming from. From here, they would circle back to their dusty home with their maps. Of course the Blind Fleet found them, they always did, as long as they had to pretend to be part of the Dominion, the Blind Fleet would always find them.
“Scout wings, activate camouflage and join ranks with the Blind Fleet, some of us will return home” only arxur were allowed to be scout pilots, exactly for this. Whenever the Blind Fleet was met, they could hide so at least some would return home “Start the FTL drives and initiate evasive maneuvers!”
“Negative, sir!” that voice was one of the scout pilots “We’re not blending in!”
“Damn it, Ashiak, you have a nursery to return to!” Ashiak was a Matron back home whenever the exploration fleets were preparing, a mother to an entire nursery.
“We’re above a colony world, sir!” the scout pilot had noticed something nobody else had “And i’m not taking the blame for luring those Dominion monsters over innocents”
Sensors had failed to realize they had steered so close. Given their position it must be a venlil colony. To lose here would mean the Blind Fleet would take the colony as targets of opportunity. He looks at his promised’s eyes, and he looks back. They all knew what they had to do now, they could not lose, but neither could they win. “Belay the camouflage, keep the transponders ective and dive into their formation, I want them shooting themselves!” he looks at their pilot, the bulky mazic doesn’t need orders, he raises his trunk in recognition of it.
“Let our blood be poison!” his promised shouts, and he joins in with the entire crew as they return the shout “Let our blood be poison!”
Soon after, they’re running down the corridor of the ship. One last duty before the end. Were the Dominion to find their maps, they would descend on that paradise like a plague, gut it and burn it in the name of… Whatever it was that drove them. And so, he and his promised were running towards the ship’s computer core.
Explorer ships had a centralized computer core, exactly for this reason. He grabs a simple strip of fiber on the side of the monolithic server and his promised grabs another one on the other side. With a quick yank the electromagnetic emanations completely destroy every last remnant of their research, their maps, every bit of knowledge of that paradise is gone. His promised looks at him and smiles.
They’re running back, through the same corridor. His wide view catches a glimpse of the escape pods located in this corridor. And then he feels a powerful clawed hand against his chest, he has time to turn to face his promised but not enough time to react as he’s thrown inside one. By the time he recovers he’s not able to get past the door before it closes and seals “No! Damn you! I made you a promise!”
That’s the last image he has of Ishak in his mind, that gentle smile that fit him so well “And i’m breaking it for you” was all he said as the pod started moving.
He had securely strapped himself on the chair, eyes trained on the windows. That was the last he saw of his ship. The telltale colors of an FTL drive cascade, the ship dove into the Blind Fleet, the violet light engulfing both. He could never fulfill his promises.
As a post-note, the two scenes I didn't manage to fit was:
Kerim giving Ishak a small pillow stuffed with his wool that was shaved off when he got his cerimonial scars before leaving for his first mission (this is seen as a gift of farewell).
Kerim mentioning his third mission was, with the other twelve assassins, to take down a cattle ship from one of the other chief hunters. Which is why he was so busted when he returned as he hid in there for a long time. He'd count a hundred and two deaths by his hand, and mention the ship had fallen in the sea and they'd all drown. But the return scene flowed so much better with him just being... Basically catatonic I couldn't fit how to add this part.
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