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Lost in the Sauce: Trump, Cruz, and Gohmert team up to incite election-related violence
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis. Housekeeping:
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I put the latest info on Trump's phone call to Raffensperger in this comment.
According to experts, Trump’s conduct has potential criminal exposure:
A federal statute makes it a crime when one “knowingly and willfully … attempts to deprive or defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process, by … the procurement, casting, or tabulation of ballots that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.” A Georgia statute similarly provides that a “person commits the offense of criminal solicitation to commit election fraud in the first degree when, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony under this article, he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.” …The hard part for prosecutors would be proving Trump’s state of mind, because the statutes require proof of knowledge and intent. Prosecutors would have to show that Trump knew that Biden fairly won the election, and Trump was asking for Georgia officials to commit election fraud. And it’s not clear prosecutors could make that case.
At least 12 Republican senators plan to challenge Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to officially count the votes. The effort is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), as well as new Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.). Separately, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is pursuing a similar plan.
"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," the senators said in a joint statement. “Accordingly, we intend to vote on Jan. 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed."
Their plan is not going to succeed in preventing Biden from taking office, as majorities in both the House and the Senate would need to support a challenge against a state’s electoral votes. For an objection to be made, at least one member of both the House and Senate would need to submit it in writing. Then, the House and Senate separately convene to consider the issue. Debate is limited to two hours for each objection. After debate concludes, the House and Senate vote to uphold the objection and throw out the state’s votes. If the majority of the House AND the majority of the Senate does not uphold the objection, the state’s electoral votes are counted as cast.
Vice President Mike Pence’s role is simply to preside over the joint session, opening and presenting the certifications from each state. In his absence, the Senate pro-tempore Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) will lead the session. At the end of the process, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority of votes for president and vice president.
The most immediate danger from Trump and Cruz’s doomed election gambit is rightwing terrorism and general violence: Trump, in particular, is inciting his supporters to swarm D.C. on Jan. 6. “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” Trump tweeted last week. Four rightwing rallies are scheduled, including one headlined by George Papadopoulos and Roger Stone. The Proud Boys and other extremists are planning to attend the rallies and may set up an “armed encampment” on the National Mall, according to the Washington Post. On social media platform Parler, the leader of the Proud Boys said that members will be there “incognito” and may “dress in all black” to impersonate leftwing protestors.
Enrique Tarrio: "The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist...We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."
Rep. Louie Gohmert has more explicitly tried to incite violence, saying the failure of his legal challenge to the election means “you gotta go the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM.” (clip)
At the same time, pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood suggested that Pence could “face execution by firing squad” for “treason” if he doesn’t go along with the attempt to subvert the election.
Obstructing the transition
Biden’s transition director has accused the Office of Management and Budget of stonewalling the incoming administration’s team. OMB Director Russ Vought is not allowing key staff to meet with the transition team to help prepare the president-elect’s first annual spending plan, a move that could delay major proposals. Vought pushed back on the charges, saying that his agency needs to focus on finalizing the Trump administration’s regulations before the president leaves office.
“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps,” [Biden transition Exec. Dir. Yohannes] Abraham said.
Earlier last week, Biden himself said Trump officials are not cooperating with his team, singling out the Defense Department for obstructing information on crucial national security issues. “Right now, we just aren’t getting all the information that we need from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It’s nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility,” Biden said. The Defense Dept. finally scheduled meetings with the incoming team this week, after not briefing the transition for weeks.
The timing of the resumption in meetings is notable because it comes after the one year anniversary of the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. NATO officials are reportedly worried about the lack of coordination from the Trump administration: "We need the incoming Biden administration to be fully briefed and ready to deal with these very dangerous issues facing NATO's security."
Sabotaging the Biden Administration
U.S. Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack is taking steps to keep control of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia during the Biden administration. As chairman of the boards of Radio Free Europe and Asia, Pack and his fellow members have added binding contractual agreements that will make it impossible to remove him or other pro-Trump allies from the board in the next two years.
In other words, although President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled he intends to replace Pack as CEO of the parent agency soon after taking office in January, Pack would maintain a significant degree of control over the networks.
The State Department is likely to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism “as an 11th hour effort to create hurdles for the incoming Biden administration.” The label, which requires the approval of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would undo a major accomplishment of the Obama administration. To take Cuba back off the list, the Biden team would need to conduct a formal review, a process that might take several months.
Such a designation would impose restrictions on US foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, certain controls over exports and various financial restrictions. It would also result in penalization against any persons and countries engaging in certain trade activities with Cuba.
The Trump administration has been rushing to finalize a myriad of rules before Biden’s inauguration. Since Election Day, the Trump administration has issued about three to four times as many new regulations as it did during other periods of Trump’s presidency. Rules that haven’t been finalized or taken effect can be suspended by an incoming president, which Biden has said he intends to do. By contrast, rules that are finalized can take months, or even years, to undo.
“As a general rule, it takes at least as much process to undo or modify a rule as it does to put the rule in place,” said Jonathan H. Adler, a professor and an administrative law expert at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. “The Trump administration is magnifying that challenge for the Biden administration.”
Trump loyalists are urging the president to stymie Biden’s efforts to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are working to get the agreements submitted to the Senate for ratification, requiring a two-thirds vote, with the goal of failure. While such an outcome wouldn’t prevent Biden from rejoining the accords, Cruz and Graham hope it would make their resurrection more problematic.
A vote against them would signal GOP opposition to the world and, they hope, undermine any unilateral action by Biden to rejoin the agreements. One senior congressional aide told RCP that sending them to die in the Senate “would be the final nail in the coffin.”
Further reading: “Biden To Be Saddled With Trump’s Payroll Tax Deferral Mess,” Forbes. Further reading: Biden will inherit a backlog of tens of thousands of visa requests from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and a bureaucratic tangle that refugee advocates say President Trump ignored or made worse.
Trump money and properties
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is employing forensic accounting specialists to examine Trump’s finances and business operations. Vance is looking “for anomalies among a variety of property deals” and trying to determine “whether the president’s company manipulated the value of certain assets to obtain favorable interest rates and tax breaks”.
The analysts hired by Vance probably have already reviewed various bank and mortgage records obtained from Trump’s company as part of the ongoing grand jury investigation, and they could be called on to testify about their findings should the district attorney eventually bring criminal charges
In yet another shady business deal connected to Trump, the United States sold the ambassador’s residence in Israel for more than $67 million. The person who bought the residence is none other than Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The property only became available due to Trump's controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. Furthermore, State Dept. representatives reportedly lied to Congress about the sale, perhaps to hide that Adelson purposefully overbid.
For now, there is no alternative residence for the ambassador, David Friedman, Trump’s former lawyer, who currently uses a suite at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel or rooms at the former Jerusalem Consulate General when he spends nights in Jerusalem… As a result, the United States appears likely to end up leasing the residence it has owned since 1964 from the GOP-affiliated casino mogul. “It is very strange that we are now paying Sheldon Adelson,” a congressional aide told The Daily Beast. “It is not above board. We have a number of questions. Did they get two independent appraisals? Was it a sweetheart deal? Was Adelson the highest donor? Was there a reason to sell it now?”
Trump’s businesses have taken in $10.5 million of donor money over the course of his presidency. $8.5 million came from the Trump campaign and related entities that Trump controls directly; $2 million came from other Republican candidates and committees. The biggest beneficiary was Trump’s NYC hotel, taking in $3,039,979 over the four years of his presidency, with $891,003 of that in just the final four months of the campaign. Trump’s DC hotel is ramping up room prices and requiring a two-night minimum stay for two key events this month, as the president tries to squeeze more profit out of his office. On Jan. 6, when Congress is set to formally count the votes cast by the Electoral College, room rates are listed at over eight times the price of surrounding dates. Trump is encouraging his supporters to attend a protest of Biden’s win on the 6th. A room during the inauguration costs five times the normal rate, at $2,225 per night. Trump’s Turnberry Resort in Scotland posted a £2.3 million ($3.1 million) loss in 2019, marking the sixth year in a row it has failed to turn a profit under his ownership. Since Trump took over the historic property in 2014, its losses now total nearly £45 million ($61.5 million).
The fact Turnberry remains in the red comes in spite of significant tranches of payments it has received from the US government during Mr Trump’s single term in office… the US Secret Service spent nearly £25,000 to accommodate its agents at the resort during business trips by Mr Trump’s son, Eric, an executive vice-president of the family firm. Since Mr Trump’s election, the property has received close to £300,000 from the Secret Service, US State Department, and US Defence Department
A Florida state lawmaker is calling for Mar-a-Lago to be penalized - and possibly shut down - for flouting coronavirus restrictions during a New Years Eve party. While Trump and the first lady did not attend, son Don Jr., attorney Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Fox News personality Jeanine Piro were captured on video among the maskless crowd. Guests paid as much as $1,000 for access to the ballroom to be entertained by Vanilla Ice.
State Rep. Omari Hardy: “My constituents are not snowbirds like @DonaldJTrumpJr & @kimguilfoyle. My constituents live here. This is their home, and they're going to have to deal w/ the consequences of a potential super-spreader party at Mar-a-Lago long after Junior & wife leave here on their private jet.”
Are you ready for a Donald J. Trump Airport? According to the Daily Beast, Trump has been asking aides about the process of naming airports after former U.S. presidents. Further reading: “Jared Kushner’s family real estate business wants to raise at least $100 million in capital through Israel’s bond market… Kushner has helped spearhead a series of moves that have been applauded by the conservative pro-Israel community, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in disputed areas such as the Golan Heights. Kushner also has close ties to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The Census Bureau missed it’s end-of-year deadline to produce numbers that determine representation in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade. The agency is working toward Jan. 9 as an internal target date for completing the current stage of processing records. "If we miss Jan. 9, it's hard to envision that we would get apportionment done before inauguration," a Census employee told NPR.
The final timing of the 2020 census results' release could undermine President Trump's efforts to make an unprecedented change to who is counted in key census numbers before leaving office… If the first census results are not ready until after Trump's term ends on Jan. 20, it would be President-elect Joe Biden, not Trump, who would get control of the numbers, which are ultimately handed off to Congress for certification.
Do you understand that you are the ringleaders in some sort of psychotic financial underground fight club ? This year has been outrageous and retarded at the same time and somehow. Because all of us morons got together on here - we made money during something awful. During The worst thing we’ve ever imagined. Have you seen the movie, Contagion?? Dude that’s a walk in the park compared to the real world right now. It’s expected to report as a ThrilleHorror. - but missed my estimates for a weak drama. This post represents how god damn retarded we all are- and at the same time, it shows us how fucking beautiful we all are. Wallstreetbets, was all we had this year. and WE FUCKING CRUSHED IT. How many stocks were we right about? That Jim Cramer told us not to Buy. But because the memes were so Funny. We bought low and got to sell waaaay high Electric vehicles anyone? Yea then when the stocks we keep defending sky rocket to the moon and we use the power of the autist army DD - months later Cramer tells us he likes wallstreetbets. Yea you do jimmy So do I . Hahahahahaha Life is a video game I made enough money trading on my cell phone to pay for my entire education - not need a job while I put myself thru school YOLO’ing way too much money into meme stocks for shits and giggles and waking up to 100%+ returns ON MY ENTIRE SAVINGS MULTIPLE WEEKS IN A ROW. And I’m not alone I hope everyone here gets to experience the power of holding a stock when Jim Cramer tells you it’s not any good. Then it goes up 1000%+. If you thought you ever doubted anything you read, imagine making 690% returns on $XPEV in October when JiMMy BoY Told us that NoThiNG cOULd EvEr Do WhAt niO DiD AgAin. SIT DOWN : XPEV NIO TSLA TWTR SNAP PINS And ; FB was $30 too - 10 years ago . Social media digital marketing explosion in your face. I feel like the Incredible Hulk right now.
The biggest fucking train wreck disaster we’ve ever seen. But us retards pulled thru it. Some of us changed our fucking lives forever.
Like me. Because of this stupid forum and all of you idiots- my life has been changed forever I fucking love you guys so much Thru all of this bullshit I racked up over $40k profits this year. How the fuck does that happen I only had $8k to my name. What the f.. Idk what I’m doing. and now, PETER SCHIFF FOLLOWS ME ON INSTAGRAM. right place at the right time. Here’s my story: I found you idiots at the beginning of this pandemic. Feb 2020 I was, Depressed, Scared, Bored Angry Everything. I had Lost my job. I was deemed non-essential. I couldn’t get unemployment but got $1200 in mail. That helps for sure. Like think about this ok: $8k + $1200 = ?% ... you know ? He added more than 10% to my net worth. Right? Legit increase. So thank you for that bro. Talk shit on it all ya want but that’s a legit percent increase from D, lol. That allowed me to over leverage way more than I was used to. I stumble onto this Shitshow of a Reddit called wallstreetbets. where everyone is insulting each other. And it’s hilarious. In March, of 2020: I start trading options and really ramping up my risk. I’m in and out of $AAPL calls every 2-3 days making $300-700 per week trading which is fucking awesome for me. Sometimes over a thousand bucks a week For 20 weeks roughly. Simple math and smart trading. Sort of. I think It’s a version of Buffett’s compounding interest. Make $1k per week for 25 weeks = Make $25k Simple. Easy Now I’m smarts as Waeren BuFét . I don’t have any way to make money buttttt now I’m deemed not essential as a medical device salesman. Trading is paying my bills. My friends are interested. I keep throwing in 100%+ of my account into trades. So stupid. And by May, 2020 = It KEEPS WORKING. And we are all encouraging each other like maniacs on here lol. By June = I’m up $20,000 on the year. And guys I don’t care what you say. I know it is a small profit, compared to some of the madness on here but... To me. It’s a lot of money. Percentage-wise I’m up wayyyyy beyond normal A whole lot of money and - I have no clue any other way to make money. I made $18k total money, in 2019. And lost a little money in the stock market. and then 2020 pandemic was the nail in my sales business’ coffin. And I’m poor as Dick when the pandemic hit. My savings, I had about $8k left. . I’ve never had too much money but I work hard. And at this point all I can think is that I know I cannot give up And trust me I wanted to give up. In February and March I thought I’d become one of these suicides because I became so depressed about the virus and my wife was becoming sick. She was diagnosed with lupus and man I didn’t know how hard life could be. I would never leave her side so I push forward for us. Let’s do this Time to fight the boss. I had never been tested like this with so much hardships. You know you hear stories about people who have very bad struggles, and never think you’ll be like that, because you work hard, but sometimes - a pandemic crushes your income to $00.00 The gov won’t pay you anything and your wife is deemed terminally ill. And then all of her hair falls out But despite all of this, By May of 2020: I’d already made my 2019 salary in few months. I don’t fully understand what is happening but I keep reading. I Keep studying at nights. Understanding stocks further. I Keep reading WSB. It is working. I’m able to pay my bills and rent and eat And put gas in my car And get coffee in the morning. Something I’d never had spare cash to do really, multiple months in a row now from trading- I’m able to live better than ever. But I’m up all night studying I’m chomping adderall to push thru the shit because in my mind I couldn’t go to bed yet I need to learn I need to take this opportunity. I’d think to myself, “This is never going to happen again,” So I’d rationalize staying up till 4:30am to catch pre-market opening bell and buy 1000 shares pre-market and then exit them at 9am. Trade options till 3pm then crash hard because it’s earnings day and you can’t miss this Shit. legitimate degeneracy. I’m not starving because I’m a trader? “Ok push forward,” I tell myself. “You can do this.” STAYING MOTIVATED THRU THE DARKNESS. my gains were steady until the end of the summer when my portfolio Doubled bc of Instagram . I thought I had made all the money in the world. Over 100% gains. Little did I know i was about to 100% the 100% The most incredible thing happened, Randomly, one day I smoke a fat fat joint and put in like 2 hours making a meme video for you tardos because I’m so high... I’ve never done it before. My first meme video is born When I post the video on my Instagram, I tag Peter Schiff , Peter Schiff’s wife shouts me out - and Peter shouts me out. And I’m eating dinner with my wife. And I see that notification. “Peter Schiff has followed you” I look at my girl like waaaaaait a second. Read that to me......... Then my phone... I’ve never seen it come to life Like this. HAS ANYONE EXPERIENCE THIS BEFORE? Peter and his wife shout me out on Instagram, and the wave of followers that came to my page was UNREAL. Turns out - Peter and his wife are legit 2 of the coolest people on planet earth. And they are both part of my 23 followers. Lol Whaaaaaaaaaat. He was on Joe Rogan guys. What. (I have had this account for years and am posting constantly on it with ZERO interaction. Maybe 1-3 like per post. Posting 10x per week. Why tf do I need a personal Instagram? - let’s talk stocks b). “Whaaaaaat is happening!?!?” I decide to go big. If fuckin Schiff is into what I’m saying. LETS FUCKIN GO. I walk into the wallstreet casino (market open) In early July 2020 - I put everything on fuckn $SLV boyz. I had about 40 contracts and over 500 shares (Once again, I know this position sounds small, but understand me- This is all the money I have. So it was a true god damn yolo in the Purest of its many forms. I’m so mother fuckin proud of this trade. It changed my life forever). By the end of July I’ve almost doubled my money. By late Aug early September 2020 You saw what happened to silver. Rockets to the moon then crashes back to earth I had made the perfect trade I bought a pair of silver AirMax 97’s the day I sold my position. To celebrate bc it was so unreal to me to make that kind of money so fast. I was up up +$40k on the year. $SLV was at $28.50 the day I decided to sell I Bounce. I sell it all. Instead of diamond hands. I spin a total 180 on my silver theories about it going to $50/oz and I sell everything and take all of my profits. I got a bad feeling. I started reading about JP Morgan. And then the ultimate red flag The slimy reptiles on tv began saying silver is good. Annnnnd I was like NOPE CANT LISTEN TO LIZARDS EVER EVEN IF THEY AGREE WITH YOU and I exited the entire position HAHAHAHA while people told me if I hold till December Ill make $150k. OKAY how’s that working out ? Because silver can’t fail - and it’s definitely going to $50/oz; by December. Because the COMEX. Bla bla bla. Manipulation move on. Only hold physical. Period. Anyway I don’t care what they say. This profit I made. is WAY MORE MONEY than I’m used to. $40k total profit and the year isn’t over - I take it I sell all my $SLV positions. In the following days after I sell- $SLV absolutely collapses from $29 to $22 Are. You. Kidding. Me. I can’t believe it. I did the yolo. Again It worked. And I fucking sold at the right time. I decide that’s enough. I’m gonna use this to pay for an education to work in surgical technology. I apply and I’m number 6 on the waiting list to get into class. But they say that it’s possible. So I wait. ... maybe I can really pull off the greatest thing I’ve ever done and get my shit back together. Dr. Jordan Peterson taught us to choose the best thing we can think of- how we can help People. Also, choose a job that is one you can be good at. Then shoot for that. That’s the goal. Thanks doc I get a call on oct 17th from the school. Oct 17. Is Eminem’s birthday. I started school 2 days later. I know some will make fun of this career, but... it’s essential. Pay is awesome for me. I like to work with my hands. this is an excellent, “trade-based,” Job for me- Because I will be good at it and make money. Pandemic made me change my attitude towards work. No man is above a job and if you have a trade you can work with your hands - then you will always have income. As long as you have hands. And if you have income, you can trade like a retard forever. If you can trade, you can make $40k on your cell phone without a job in a pandemic. Stand up, and scream at the top of your lungs if you feel me on this. Is anyone even reading this shit anymore? Seriously. If you understand what I’m saying, aka- If you were fucking BROKE and you made more money, in 2020 somehow, than you ever have in your life- You are a fucking legend. And so am I. WE WERE BUILT FOR THIS SHIT. So, I drop $25k for school. I swap $15k of my profits into physical silver bc of taxes are good. I swap the physical silver for cash, to eat when I’m hungry and live on when I need to now. And my physical silver I got at $25/oz is worth over $30/oz today. . And I still have my original $8k in investments , which I’ve (to date) turned into about +$18,500 literally, by just trading whatever is trending on an app called Stocktwits. Then searching WallStreet bets for The ticker and see if You retards are talking about it yet or not. Huge W I finish school on 09.09.2021 I will have a job that day and income All of this happened because of WallStreetBets. Things were so dark. So bad. No future. No prospects at all in business but bros... I was fucking trading. Like a complete fucking idiot And making money. And I still can’t believe it. I cannot believe this happened. PULLED UP TO THE PARTY IN A PINTO LIKE IT WAS A PORSCHE and I can’t believe I made all this money following this sTupid ass Reddit website and 100% autistic, over-leveraged, retarded meme trading the entire year. Huge Respect to WSB. This place was the light at the end of a dark tunnel. Seriously. Thank you so much. All of you. You saved my life. What a fuckin trip. We are immortalized. We made history in 2020. Merry Christmas Retards ~edit • • • • • • • • • My wife is much better (her hair grew back) and I’m having a baby boy this March. I’ll be working as an essential surgical technologist by the fall of 2021. I’m an idiot and a pussy I only will put $100 at risk in any trade - and I don’t can’t what anyone says about that. because my life is forever changed for the better, because of this forum Now ... The shitshow is not over. 2020 was a springboard for some shiiiiit 2021 we are coming into a commodity boom I think. Get ready for 100x more Madness TL:DR - $IPOC 19 FEB 2021 $15C
Not anti-lockdown, but I'm just so tired of the way this has been handled. I feel robbed and angry.
I have missed out on so many of what are supposed to be the most important moments of my life. My graduation, my first year of university, my 18th birthday, hell I never even got to say goodbye to my old classmates because I was sick on the last day of school. I was a good person and followed all the health orders, naively believing that if we could all just show some goddamn solidarity and have some of that good old human resolve we could get through this. Of course Alberta had to do what they do best and LARP as Texas. Feed right into all the crazy conspiracy theorists and drag their feet when proposing ways to manage this virus. Sucks, but one of the joys of living under a conservative government, freedom amirite! (except for those indigenous people on reserves and struggling workers, they don't count) Something about these last few weeks just fucking broke me. They say they were hesitant about restrictions for mental health, cause nothing's better for the old noggin than a trip to the casino to play some slots and drink your feelings away. Because that is obviously so much safer than having a single, also socially distanced friend over to watch a movie together. The UCP had the gaul to say that restaurants and stores aren't causing spread and that indoor gatherings are the real issue, when we don't know where 80% of cases come from and tons of studies worldwide have shown this claim to be bullshit. I get banning indoor gatherings, but then restraunts and non-essential businesses should be off the table too. And of course today Kenney gets up on his little stepstool podium to announce new restrictions. Thank God. Oh wait? What's that first one? No outdoor gatherings at all? You mean the THING THAT NEARLY ALL HEALTH EXPERTS HAVE UNILATERALLY AGREED UPON BEING ONE OF THE SAFEST ACTIVITIES RIGHT NOW? But thanks Kenney, thanks for keeping my mental health in check. My mental state totally wasn't hinging on that date I planned to go for a walk and look at the lights downtown with a girl I've had a crush on for ages. At least I can go to West Edmonton Mall and spend all my money on useless garbage surrounded by antimaskers and inbred trailer trash, I'm sure that'll keep me off the ledge for awhile longer! But now stores are limited to 15% of fire capacity, that'll definitely help right? Anyone ever looked at fire capacity numbers? They are fucking absurd. The tiny little Dollar Tree near my house can have 30 people inside and still be under 15%, Best Buy can have over 100. A Best Buy with 100 people inside is still busy, I don't care what the fire code says. 15% sounds low, but it's not, and I can only assume it's a misinformation tactic to calm people down. If you've read this far I think you might be just as insane as me, but what else do you have to do but stay inside and doomscroll through social networks while the world falls apart. But hey. Mental health is important right? After all that's why we avoided this lockdown until the one time of year where lonely people are known to kill themselves. I wish I could tell Jason Kenney to go fuck himself, but he already jerked himself off for 2 hours straight today on live TV.
Yes, it's my truck and No, I won't help you move and No, you can't buy it for 50 bucks!
This is long, so grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever keeps you happy and reading. I live in a senior housing community for people aged 55 and older. We all have identical 1-bedroom cottages that’s set up in groups of four or quads so that all of our front doors face inward toward each other. So, if I open my front door, I have a very clear view of the front doors of my 3 neighbors and because I am in the back of this quad, I also have a view of the parking area. I think the purpose of grouping the houses this way was to create a friendly and safe atmosphere; however, it’s just creepy in a “you have no privacy” kind of way. I am F57, disabled, and have a 16-year-old pickup truck that gets me where I need to go most of the time. If you’ve ever owned a pickup truck, you’ll understand my frustration. If you haven’t owned one, talk to anyone who has and they will tell you that according to friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, and even complete strangers, you have it so that you can help them move, haul furniture or a tree they cut down, and anything else they can’t fit in the trunk of their car. AND because it is a pickup truck, it can be mistreated, abused, dented, scratched, beaten up, and treated like a piece of heavy construction equipment and you shouldn’t care because well. . . it’s a truck. I have a neighbor (F - about 65 years old) that has kind of made a pest of herself since the day I moved in. I’ve done my best to be neighborly, nice, and accommodating, but each time I interact with her, I’m left feeling used. The neighbor, let's call her Karen, has come over pretending to want to visit with me, which she does for about 2 minutes, and then asks me for something. In the 3 years that I’ve been here, she’s asked me to set up 2 TVs (at different times), take a new alarm clock out of its packaging and then teach her how to operate it. I’ve been asked to fill out her food stamp paperwork, fill out information for her lease renewal, read a piece of mail to her and explain it because she didn’t understand it, to take her places and to “loan” her money for the bus. That’s just a few. Now that you get the idea of what I’ve dealt with before, it’s time for the story. One Monday morning, Karen comes beating on my door (she does what I call a “cop knock” – loud, hard, and repeated) around 8 a.m., waking me up. (I am a night owl, by the way.) I go to the door and she is standing there holding her natural gas bill telling me how she needed a ride to the gas company's office to talk to them about paying the bill and hands me the bill. I look at it, hoping to find a phone number for her to call, but there isn't one, but I do see that her bill is for about $17. So, I take her across town with her providing the directions since I had never been to this building (the gas company did not have an office in town, so I guess this was maybe a payment center). I drop her at the front, park, and wait for her. Karen comes out saying that they can't help her there and asks me if she should just call them to make arrangements to make payments since she didn't have the money. I tell her that's what I would do and bring her back home. We basically made this trip for nothing. Two days later, there is another loud, repeated banging on my door waking me up just before 9 a.m. Karen is back and seems to be a little frantic. She needs a ride again. This time she's very vague about why she wants to go, but left me with the impression that something was going to get turned off, repossessed, or turned over to collections if she didn't go. She's also vague as to where she wants to go. She keeps tell me that it's down by the casino, across the street from the gas station. I told her I'd take her but she would have to point me in the right direction since I've never been to the casino. She gives me turn by turn directions until she has me turn left onto the entrance road for the casino. I'm looking around for any other businesses or even the gas station and I'm not seeing anything other than the casino in front of us and open land on either side. So, I ask her where am I supposed to be dropping her. Karen points to an upcoming sign and says, "See the sign that says 'Valet'? Just follow that sign." Yep, you guessed it, Karen had me drop her at the front entrance to the casino. She'd lied to me by omission. She didn't ask me to take her to the casino (which I would probably have done since it's none of my business how she spends her money), she asked me to take her to a business near the casino. Yeah, well, I wasn't happy. On Monday she couldn't afford to pay her $17 gas bill and on Wednesday she's going to the casino by tricking me into taking her. A week goes by and I am in the office paying my rent when Karen comes in. Karen: Why didn’t you tell me you were coming here today. Girl, I just walked all the way here. Me: Didn’t know you needed a ride. I can give you a ride back to the house if you would like. I wait while Karen pays her rent and we walk out together. Now, I’m expecting to get in my truck and drive the 4 blocks back to my house. Karen had another idea. Karen: Take me to Everything’s Cheap store. Me: Where? Karen: To Everything’s Cheap. Just turn here at the stop sign and I’ll show you. It’s not far. Me: Karen, I’m going to take you there, but I’m not shopping and I’m not going to sit in the parking lot and wait for you. You’ll have to get another ride home or walk. Karen: It’s fine. I won’t be long. I drop her at the front door and I go home. A couple of hours later, she bangs on my door. Karen: Where did my ride go? Me: Home. I told you that I wasn’t going to wait for you. Karen: I had all my stuff that I had to carry home. Now my back hurts. Me: I’m sorry, but I warned you. Karen walks away muttering things that I didn’t understand and slammed her door. Skip ahead several months and I run into Karen again as I am paying my rent. She wants me to give her a ride to the Social Security office. I tell her that I can't as my truck is not running right and I can't get too far from home in it until I get it check out and fixed. My truck started having issues and it's been difficult trying to get it fixed with lock-down, a back issue that left me bedridden for several weeks, and 2 major hurricanes this year (there’s nothing major wrong with the truck - just needs a new starter and gaskets to fix an oil leak that's caused the starter to go bad). Karen: But it's just a few blocks away and it's hot out here. Me: I can't trust my truck not to leave me stranded with no way to get it home. Karen: It will be fine. Me: Maybe, but I'm not willing to risk it. Karen slaps the side of my truck and continues on her walk and I go home in my truck. Another 3 days go by and more banging on my door and again I am awakened (it's 7:15 a.m.). This time I'm angry and I snatched the door open. Me: What? Karen (standing there with her purse and house keys in her hand as if she knows I'll say yes): I need to go to the mattress store. I need to pick up my new queen size mattress. Me: No. My truck still isn't running right. Karen: But I need your truck to haul the mattress home. Me: No. Karen: It's not a heavy mattress. Me: Oh, so who’s going to help you get it in and out of my truck and carry it into your house? Karen: The two of us can do it. Me: Karen, I have degenerative disk disease. The disks in my spine are disintegrating. I can't lift nor carry a mattress even with someone helping. Karen: But I already bought it. How am I going to get it home? Me: Call friends or family to help you. Karen: They don't have a truck and you do! Me: Yes, I have a truck, but there is no sign anywhere on it that says Free Moving Company. I close the door on her and go back to bed. An hour later, more knocking. This time, it's an older man. Man 1: Excuse me, but is that your truck? (He points at my truck in the parking lot.) Me: Yes. Man 1: I have an upright piano I need to move and was wondering if I could use your truck. Me: No. (I glance over at the neighbor's house and I see her peeking through a crack in her door - I have a sneaking suspicion she has put this guy up to this to see if I would help him.) Man 1: You can drive the truck. I just need to have the piano hauled to my storage unit. Me: How are you going to get an upright piano into the bed of my truck? Man 1: I'll just roll it up a ramp and into the back. Me: Do you know how much an upright piano weighs? One person can't push it up a ramp. If you use a ramp on my tailgate, you will break the tailgate and probably lose the piano in the process. My truck is large, but the rear end is not made for hauling a piano and will cause the front end to lift off the ground preventing my front wheel drive truck from gaining traction and straining my 16-year-old engine. Man 1: Well, could you call 4 or 5 of your male friends to help lift it into the back of the truck? Me: No! I close the door on this man, too. He didn’t come right out and say it, but I felt like he wanted to borrow my truck so he could go pick up the mattress for Karen. Yeah, I’m a little suspicious. The following morning . . . *sigh* . . . I ignore the knocking that occurs every half hour or so over a 3-hour period until she finally gives up. Later that afternoon, I open my door to get the mail out of my box when a second man approaches me out of nowhere. It’s like he was hiding around the corner waiting for me to come out of my house. Man 2 (points at my truck - it irritates me every time someone does this): Is that your truck? Me (feeling very annoyed and snarky): What gave it away? Is it because it's parked in a space clearly labeled with my house number? Or is it because someone told you who the truck belonged to? (I point at Karen's house.) Man 2: Does it run? Me: Listen, I don't know what you're wanting me pick up, deliver, move, haul, transport, or tow, but I am not a moving company, taxi, uber, delivery service, or a tow truck. I won't be doing any of those things and before you ask, I won't be allowing you or anyone else to drive my truck either. Now, do you have any other questions? Man 2: Uh, do you want to sell it? Me: What?! Why would I want to sell it? Man 2: Well, since it needs fixing, I thought maybe you would want to sell it to someone who could afford to fix it. Me: How do you know it needs fixing? Man 2 (turns bright red and can't take his eyes off ground): I just thought if you sold it, you could buy something else and I could fix the truck. Me: Tell Karen that I'm not selling you my truck so that you can fix it to give to her. Man 2: I wasn't going to give it to her. Me (pointing at his huge truck parked in Karen's designated space): You want me to believe that you would rather have my 16-year-old truck that needs repair than your brand-new truck? How stupid do you think I am? As the older man silently stares at the ground, Karen flings her door open and marches up to me. Karen: Just sell him your truck so he can fix it. You clearly aren't going to do it any time soon. At least I will put it to good use. I need it and I need it more than you apparently do. Now, he’s willing to get it fixed for me, so just sell him the damn truck already! Me: My truck is not for sale! When or if I get my truck fixed is absolutely none of your business. Karen: I’m going to call the office and tell them that you have a broken-down truck sitting in the parking lot that needs to be hauled to the junk yard. They’ll make you get rid of it or fix it. Man 2: Karen, they can’t do anything to her . . . Karen cuts him off. She’s so angry, she’s crying, shaking, and spitting as she screams Karen: SHUT UP! STAY OUT OF THIS. I WANT THAT TRUCK AND I’M GOING TO GET IT! I’LL CALL THE POLICE. THEY WILL MAKE HER GET RID OF IT. Man 2: Karen, the police aren’t . . . She cuts him off again. Karen: YES, THEY WILL. THEY'LL LISTEN TO ME. She storms off to call the police. In the meantime, I brought a chair outside along with a can of soda and a bowl of microwave popcorn. I figured this was going to be a good show. Karen and Man 2 have gone inside her house to wait. The neighbor to my left has come out to see what’s going on. Let’s call her Mary. Mary can’t stand Karen, so she drags a chair out and sits next to me and we share my popcorn. Enter Cop 1 and Cop 2 The cops arrive in about 5-6 minutes and walk up to Karen’s door and knock while glancing around at Mary and me and grinning. She answers and tells them that I have created an eyesore in the neighborhood by having an old beat up, broken-down truck sitting in the parking lot and she wants it removed immediately. Cop 1 (pointing at my truck - yep, he does it, too and I can't help but roll my eyes): That truck? Karen: Yes. Cop 1: That truck is clean, shiny, no dents, no scratches, new tires . . . are you sure that’s the eyesore? Karen: Yes. It’s 10 years old and broken and she doesn’t want to fix it. It’s just sitting there doing nothing for months. Me: It’s 16 years old. Cop 2 (spins around, surprised): Seriously? That truck is that old? Wow! It’s in great shape. You’ve taken good care of her. Me: Thank you. Karen: I want that truck gone! Cop 2 walks over to me to discuss my truck’s mechanical history. So, I explain to him that in the 16 years that I have owned her, I have changed her oil every 3-4 months, given her a bath once a month, got her a new set of tires 6 years ago, and when I first began having problems with her starting, I bought a new battery (the old one was the original battery from when I bought the truck off the showroom floor), and when the battery wasn’t the problem, I had a mechanic come and look at it. He determined that it was the starter and the gasket was leaking. All I was waiting on was my friend to come and help me start her (someone needs to get under the truck and tap the starter while someone else turns over the ignition) so that I can get it to the mechanic’s house for him to work on it. Karen: She’s lying. That truck hasn’t moved in 3 months. Me (offering popcorn to Cop 2 who took a handful): Wrong. It hasn’t moved in 4 days. It’s had problems for 3 or 4 months. Cop 1: Ms. Karen, there really isn’t anything the police department can do for you. Her truck definitely isn’t an eyesore nor is it sitting there in pieces creating a safety hazard. Karen: She’s driving down property values. Cop 1 (starts chuckling): Ms. Karen, you are renting a house in government subsidized senior housing. Cop 2: Why don’t you tell us the real reason why you want her truck removed. Mary (who has been silent until now - stands up and turns on her best diva soul-sister voice and attitude and gives the cops the greatest Deep-South Beautiful Black Woman sermon I’ve ever heard – I’ll try to write as best I can): Ohh, Lawd Jesus, help us all! Dis here woman of the night, want everything she can’t have, Lawd! I think it’s cuz she pulls her hair back so tight, Lawd, she can only see what’s in the back o’ her mind! Uh huh! She wants her Old Saggy Boy Toy of the Day here to buy my friend’s pick’em up truck, so she can go and pick’em up, Lawd, mm-hmm, if ya gittin' what I’m sayin’. He buy it and trade it to her for a little roll on her nasty sheets! Lawd Jesus, help us! And she think she all hot and sexy so you believe her and take away my friend’s truck. She a fool, uh huh. She think she can fool you, too, uh huh! How da hell do ya think she got those 2 big ass TVs in there? Mmm-hmm! Cop 1 is bent over laughing hysterically while Cop 2 is standing with his mouth open and his eyes wide. Cop 2 (turns to Man 2): Is any of that true? Man 2 (embarrassed, humiliated, and just looking tired): She wanted the truck and 50 bucks. Karen and Man 2 are arrested. Not sure what the exact charges were but I heard words being thrown around like pandering, solicitation, scamming, and false complaint among others. A couple of days later, Mary told me that Karen returned home. I guess she found a way to get bailed out. I haven’t seen her and I am hoping that I don’t. As for my “pick’em up truck”, I’m still waiting to get her to the mechanic. My friend will be here on his next day off (he doesn't get them often) to help me. It’s a good thing I’m a patient person with a super diva as a friend and neighbor. It's also good to know that my truck is at least worth one 20-minute roll on the sheets and 50 bucks. EDIT: Thanks for the awards everyone! And just a little side note for those of you rolling your eyes at the fact that I offered a cop popcorn and he took it - I live in the Deep South in a small-ish college town. The cops here are helpful, friendly (until provoked), and generally good guys. When construction workers stole from me after Hurricane Laura, two cops came to investigate and afterwards I offered them both a bottle of water and they accepted.
Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)
IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early. The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster. In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly. The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged. Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms. The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist. The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale. ‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing. It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment. Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge. That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted. The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions. Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge. Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it. Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales. Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others. This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse. Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away. These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk. If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced. If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober. The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs. The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them. This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame. Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier. There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language. What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand. That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough. If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses. As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial. The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt. Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame. This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’ So Stokes punches him. It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road. Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks. Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him. Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended. Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop. Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance. ‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’ The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’. The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back. After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed. If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence. Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued. ‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass. A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’. The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now. Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa. It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’. The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
I work at a crooked casino. You don't gamble with money here.
Hi, everybody. My name is Sid, and I’m an addict. It took me a long time to accept that. But when you take a job in a casino just so that you can be there all the time and try to gain an edge, you’re an addict. It’s obvious even to me. More so to my family and friends, who I barely see anymore. It’s not pills or coke, booze or heroin that I’m hooked on. I’m addicted to gambling. The casino that made me so obsessed is not an ordinary one, though. It’s far from ordinary. You don’t play for money at Fantasy Casino. You play for your dreams. I hear you laughing. But have you ever had a really, really great dream? One that got so good you snapped awake the second it started to get really excellent? Well, imagine that times a thousand. Times a million. A dream so real and so perfect that all of your fantasies become reality. Time stretches out. You feel like you are there forever. A lifetime passes before your return. Infinite wealth, the ability to fly like superman, you’re surrounded by sex and beautiful people all day as you relax in a palace built to your mind’s most exacting specifications of perfection. But then you wake up, and in an instant it is gone. The power, the wealth, the endless sex and supernatural powers. Everything is suddenly NORMAL again. And so you go back to the casino. I went back to the casino. But the problem with gambling is that you don’t always win. And when you lose, suddenly the winnings are gone as well, vanished without a trace. All I knew was that I had to have that feeling again. So I went inside the giant building and then followed the secret signs which led to a door that led to a staircase going downwards. I went down the stairs and knocked on the door marked “Private” and waited for an answer. “Password.” The voice on the other side of the black door waited for my response. “Seramth Gin.” I said the unnatural words carefully and deliberately, still not knowing their meaning. A friend had told me the password, a fellow gambler who I would later find dead in his apartment. His corpse white, bloated, and maggot-infested. His eyes were black and filled with blood which streamed from his eye sockets like tears. He had bit his tongue clean off and his fingernails were found lodged in various surfaces throughout his apartment. Like he had been trying to claw his way out of a steel box that only he could see. But I’m getting ahead of myself. That was later. At this point I was still hopeful for another wonderful dream. Still thankful for his advice to seek out the place. The door opened and I walked inside. It was the same as it had been the day before, only less busy at this time – still early afternoon. I approached the table I had been sitting at the night before. Poker – Texas Hold ‘em: Ten dream limit – the sign read. The rules were simple. You got a stack of chips. If you doubled them, you received a dream. If you lost them, you lost a dream. I wasn’t concerned about losing dreams yet, I still didn’t understand exactly what that meant. When I lost my first stack of chips, I quickly bought in again. And again. And again. Pretty soon I realized I had lost eight dreams with no winnings whatsoever. I was in a slump. A losing streak. I decided to go home and count my losses. Literally, since I had no idea what that even meant. As I got up to leave the table, the dealer looked at me. His eyes were remorseless and cold. “See the cashier on your way out,” he said, handing me eight black chips. I gulped and walked over to the glass window where the cashier sat waiting. Handing him the eight chips, he raised his eyebrows and clicked his tongue. “That’s a shame. Hold out your hand please.” Two men in black suits came up behind me suddenly and stood on either side of me, intimidating in their stature and demeanour. I did as he asked and held out my hand with the palm facing up. The cashier pulled out a strange-looking device from beneath the counter. It had a vial of vermillion-coloured liquid at the top that was attached to the rest of it which resembled a gun with a hypodermic needle at the end. I screamed and tried to pull away, but the two men grabbed me and held my arm through the window. Thrashing and elbowing them, I tried to get away but it was useless. The cashier injected the stuff into my veins quickly and it felt cold and slimy going through my system. I could feel it suddenly in my heart, turning it cold and then up into my mind and my lungs and all extremities causing me to shake and violently seize. I writhed on the floor, blood pouring from my ears and my eyes. Finally the feeling settled down into a numbness that prickled the insides of my blood vessels. It wasn’t until later, once I realized what the casino really was, that I found out what they had done. I went home with the certainty that they had injected me with something. If winning had resulted in the greatest dream I had ever had – essentially an almost never-ending fantasy – what would happen after a loss? Nightmares. That was what it would be. I was sure of it. I settled into bed that night and closed my eyes, drifting off to sleep quickly after such an emotionally exhausting afternoon. As soon as my eyes closed, they opened again and it was morning. It felt as if I had not slept at all. My mind was fuzzy and it was difficult to focus. My eyes wanted to close again but my alarm was telling me that it was time to get up for work, so I hit the “dismiss” button and hopped in the shower. I threw on my clothes and went out the door. At work I noticed a few people looking at me strangely, but I didn’t realize until someone pointed it out to me that my shirt was on inside-out. At this point I was still working in an office doing commodities trading and such lapses were frowned upon. If you couldn’t focus enough to put your shirt on properly in the morning, how could you focus enough to get the work done in such a demanding environment? Millions of dollars changing hands with each transaction meant that such trivial things were put under a magnifying glass and coupled with other subsequent mistakes each following day after that, I found myself in the boss’s office by the end of the week being handed my walking papers. Desperate for rest after days of not feeling any benefit from sleep, I went back to the casino. They knew just by looking at me how to dig their claws in further. After a couple hours I had managed to win myself a dream. They handed me the complimentary cocktail as they had the time before. I hadn’t realized the significance of it and still didn’t, despite the unusual vermillion colour of the drink. I swallowed it in one gulp and went out the door practically dancing and clicking my heels, ready to go home and feel rested again. My dream that night was wonderful. Everything I had hoped for in many ways. But not as good as the first time. I wanted that feeling back again. Knowing that it was a dream the whole time and realizing that it was going to end seemed to shorten the fantasy, made it seem hollow and manufactured. If I could win again maybe it would be like that first time, I thought. The casino drew me in again and again. I found myself a zombie most days, exhausted, at my wit’s end. Ready to call it quits for good and say goodbye. But then I would win again and it would all seem to be alright for a while. My debt kept growing and growing with nearly every trip. The hypodermic needle would be plunged into my skin and every time they had to hold me down. Every time I would feel a little more empty. A little more hollow. Waking up every day began to feel the same. Nothing had definition or purpose. “You’re here all the time,” one of the goons whispered to me as they shot the needle into my vein the time after that. “Haven’t you figured it out yet? You should just get a job here and then at least you’ll be in on the secret.” I applied the next day and got an interview with the boss. I would find out later that if you got someone to apply there you got a one dream bonus. In his office, the well-dressed man was sitting behind a massive polished ebony desk. The room was adorned with paintings, sculptures, and other high-priced artwork. He had photos everywhere of himself shaking hands with world leaders, new and old, for hundreds of years. His face never changed. Never aged. “So, you want to work with us? Tired of dreamless nights without end? You want to have some relief, is that it?” “Yes. Please. Anything. I’ve been coming here for so long and it’s an endless cycle. I want back what I’ve lost but I keep finding myself more and more in debt with each visit.” “Ah, so do you understand it now, then? What the ‘injections’ are?” It finally dawned on me, sitting there. Not injections at all. They weren’t putting something in us. They were taking something out. The vermillion-coloured liquid in the vials – our dreams. “If I take a job with you, will the same rules apply? Will they still take my sleep, my rest, every time I lose?” “Yes. We can’t have the employees living by different rules than everyone else. But we will give you an alternative injection, so that you feel well-rested when you come in for your shift.” “I’ll do it. I need to rest. I need to get some meaningful sleep. My life has been miserable ever since coming here.” “Well, I can’t promise that this will help,” he said, getting up from his desk with a hypodermic gun in his hand. The vial of fluid sitting atop this one was jet-black and looked evil and poisonous. He rolled up his sleeves as he primed it and I watched a few beads of it drip oil-like out of the tip of the needle. “What the hell is that!? I don’t want that stuff in me!” “But you need to sleep, my dear worker. I can’t have you passing out at the blackjack table like a narcoleptic! You agreed to this, after all. You wanted to rest, and the only way for that to happen is for you to have SOME sort of dream. Not everyone is as lucky as you, you know. To have that wonderful vermillion fluid in your veins. Some people come to us begging to take it from them. Some of our employees for example, the ones who do the recruitment for us, are full of this black stuff.” “What?” I had gotten up from the chair and was backing away from him towards the door. But I found it was locked as he approached. “First you have to tell me the password, Sid.” “Seramth Gin.” I said the words that I had said every time to gain access to the casino, only this time I pictured the letters and rearranged them in my mind. “Nightmares.” He smiled as he injected me with the vial of black hate, and it went into my veins feeling hot and unpleasant. I began to sweat and the beads of it turned cold on my skin as I shivered. I’ll sleep tonight. I might even wake up feeling rested. But as long as I live and work at that casino, I’ll be afraid to dream again. Because now my unconscious hours are occupied by the most terrifying experiences imaginable. Nightmares beyond imagining in their awfulness. That is my fate. Unless… Just maybe, I can win one more time. JG TCC
[December 15, 2020] – New Content in Grand Theft Auto Online
The Cayo Perico Heist has been added to GTA Online. In this update, players are contacted by Miguel Madrazo who will task them with infiltrating one of the most secure private islands in the entire world, evading or neutralizing the heavily armed security forces stationed there, and escaping with valuable evidence along with as much art, gold and drug money as they can carry. Players must scope, prep, and execute the Heist either solo or with up to three other players and will have the opportunity to access several new weapons and vehicles along the way.
The Cayo Perico Island has been added to GTA Online. The Island consists of several different key locations that players can explore while scoping for the Heist, including a beach party where new DJ collective Keinemusik performs an exclusive set. Upon completing the Heist as leader, players can return to the Cayo Perico beach party at their convenience and invite others along for the journey.
The Kosatka has been added to GTA Online. The Kosatka is a new driveable Submarine property that acts as a base of operations for planning The Cayo Perico Heist. The Kosatka can be customized with Guided Missiles, a Sonar Station, and a Weapon Workshop. The Kosatka also comes with a Moon Pool where players can store the new Sparrow, Kraken Avisa and Pegassi Toreador vehicles.
The Music Locker has been added to GTA Online. The Music Locker is a new Nightclub located underground below The Diamond Casino & Resort, which acts as a social hub and is where players can first meet Miguel Madrazo to learn about The Cayo Perico Heist. The Music Locker is also the venue that showcases new DJs added with this update.
One new DJ has been added to GTA Online. Players can see this new DJ perform at The Music Locker:
A new feature to toggle strobe lights in The Music Locker has been added. In the Style section of the Interaction Menu, the strobe light toggle can be found, listed as “Music Locker Strobes” and can be toggled on or off.
New DJ Request Missions have been added to GTA Online for owners of the Casino Penthouse who have completed The Cayo Perico Heist. Players will earn special rewards for completing these requests.
Two new Radio Stations have been added:
K.U.L.T 99.1 FM
Still Slipping Los Santos
Two existing Radio Stations have been updated with all-new mixes and tracks:
New Hidden Cache collectibles have been added to GTA Online. Players can find up to 10 Hidden Caches on the ocean floor around San Andreas each day. Players who own the Kosatka Sonar Station can blip the Caches on their radar. Players are rewarded with GTA$ and RP for finding these Hidden Caches.
Nine new vehicles have been added to GTA Online:
Kurtz 31 Patrol Boat
One new weapon, the Military Rifle, has been added to GTA Online and can be purchased from Ammu-Nation stores.
Additional new weapons have been added to GTA Online and can be unlocked on Cayo Perico.
Over 180+ items of clothing have been added for both Male and Female characters in GTA Online.
Over 30+ Tattoos have been added to GTA Online.
Nine new Face Paints have been added to GTA Online.
Six new celebration emotes have been added to GTA Online, which can be used while dancing:
Several new Awards related to The Cayo Perico Heist have been added to GTA Online, including the opportunity for players to earn up to 1.4 million in bonus GTA$ for various Heist challenges.
Five new styles of Blackjack tables and four new styles of Three Card Poker tables are available for purchase for players who own a Casino Penthouse and the Private Dealer. They can be purchase from the Casino Shop using Chips and equipped using the Interaction Menu.
GTA Online Fixes
Game Stability and Performance
Fixed several issues that caused game crashes, freezes and other stability problems
Fixed a stability issue that caused high memory usage for PC players, which could have led to pausing/stuttering on low specification hardware
Fixed an issue that may have caused players to get stuck on a black screen during transitions between GTA Online content
Matchmaking & Networking
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the sky camera after attempting to use the ‘Quick Job’ option to enter a Casino Heist lobby
Fixed an issue that resulted in players remaining in the same session after using the 'Find New Session’ option
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen when accepting a Job invite while inside the Arcade
Fixed an issue that may have caused network errors during the race portion of the GTA Online Tutorial
Fixed position sync issues with the Rune Zhaba vehicle when some players in a GTA Online session are running at a high framerate
Fixed an issue that resulted in the news van getting stuck on a sign stopping Mission progression during the Casino Work Mission – Fake News
Fixed an issue that caused the Casino Heist Prep Mission – Duggan Shipments to end unexpectedly after launching
Fixed an issue that caused the Police Van from the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary to appear during an Open Wheel Race
Fixed an issue that resulted in the Mission starting with 3 seconds on the timer in the Casino Heist Random Encounter – Patrick McReary
Fixed multiple instances of incorrect button prompts that were present in several Arcade Games on the Japanese version of the game
Fixed overlapping text that was present in the Arcade Game – QUB3D
Fixed an issue that resulted in players with restricted accounts being able to see the custom initials of players on the high score screen of Arcade Games
Fixed an issue that caused the Movie Props Hidden Collectibles to be missing from their intended location
Fixed an issue that caused Lester’s car to not be drivable in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that caused players to be stuck with no functionality in the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after trying to launch the Heist Mission: Fleeca Job – Scope Out
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use the skip trip functionality in the in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Plane
Fixed incorrect objective text that was present in the Heist Mission: Prison Break – Station
Fixed an issue that caused players to fall through the map during the Casino Heist – Finale
Fixed an issue that caused players to be taken into a Casino Heist Mission after not choosing an option on the Next Job Voting Screen, despite having made no Casino Heist progress
Fixed visual issues that were present after quitting spectator mode during the Adversary Mode – Every Bullet Counts
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to re-equip rebreathers during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to use their weapon wheel during the A Superyacht Life Mission – Salvage
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing camera functionality in the Gerald’s Last Play Mission – Make Ends Meat
Fixed a button conflict that was present in the Arena War – Game Masters
Fixed an issue that resulted in players falling under the map after modding a vehicle in the Arena Workshop Property
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to deliver Cargo during the Business Battle – Assassination
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on the objective ‘Hack the Security Panel' in the Business Battle – Factory Raid
Fixed an issue that caused the Mission to instantly fail after launching a Sell Mission
Awards and Daily Objectives
Fixed an issue that caused the Daily Challenge – 'Participate in the Featured Series' to not register correctly
Fixed issues that resulted in players’ Arcade set up progress getting reset
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck after drinking at the Arcade bar
Fixed camera issues that were present when entering the Arcade
Fixed an issue that resulted in players losing movement functionality after storing the Enus Paragon R (Armored) in their Office Garage
Fixed helicopter spawning issues on the Yacht
Fixed visual issues that were present with the Office Garage cutscene
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to exit their Arcade after accepting an invite
Fixed an issue that resulted in players getting stuck on a loading screen after driving into the Arena Garage
Fixed an issue that prevented several variations of vehicle cinematic cameras from appearing for all vehicles
Fixed an issue that caused the Bravado Gauntlet Classic’s trade price to be displayed incorrectly on the Benny's Original Motorworks site
Fixed an issue that prevented Cargobob helicopters from being able to pick up the Vapid Peyote Custom using the hook
Fixed several miscellaneous model and texture issues for the following vehicles:
Invetero Coquette D10
Bravado Gauntlet Classic Custom
Albany Manana Custom
Vapid Peyote Custom
Bravado Youga Classic 4x4
Fixed clipping issues that were present with several of the ‘Open Shirts’ and ‘Open Party Shirts’
Fixed several miscellaneous clipping and texture issues for the following clothing items:
Animal masks (and other larger mask options)
Tucked Short Shirt variants
Untucked Short Shirt variants
Yacht Captain outfit
Reduced the frequency that the player will receive call, text and email notifications regarding content from previous GTA Online content updates
Fixed an issue that resulted in vehicles not arriving after being requested from Ms. Baker
Fixed an issue that resulted in players being unable to interact with certain activities in the Casino
Fixed an issue that caused the Avenger’s entrance trigger to not be visible to players
Fixed an issue that resulted in spectators being unable to swap filters
Fixed an issue where PlayStation 4 players without a PS Plus subscription would not be directed to the correct menu when attempting to access GTA Online
Fixed an issue that caused some weapon magazines and attachments to be missing during cutscenes
(37M) Just finalized divorce yesterday, and it feels great AMA
I wish I had found this sub years ago. Reading through these posts is really eye-opening and I see so many similarities to my own marriage. Long post ahead. I married at 18 for all the wrong reasons. She was 21. We were high school sweethearts. We were in love, but, in retrospect, neither of us were ready to get married. I kind of knew it at the time, but I went against my gut and did it anyway. We were married for 19 years. No kids. There were so many red flags over the years, but, in my eyes, none of them were worth ending the marriage. I never cheated. To my knowledge, neither did she. It just became a never-ending cycle of her treating me like a man-child which got progressively worse over the years. I even have a text message thread from several months ago where she claimed I wanted her to be "my mommy" (this couldn't be further from what I wanted) and that's why she treated me like this. She pushed me (not in a good way, but I'm glad she did) to advance my professional career. Any job I had was never good enough for her, and I never made enough money for her. Red flag. However, this caused me to rapidly climb the corporate ladder in my 20s. At 29 I was able to quit my FT 6-figure job and start my own business, doubling, then tripling, then quadrupling my income over the next couple of years. Certainly no regrets here. We have also been able to buy several houses, become landlords for 6 years, and pretty much live where we wanted. But she resented me for it. I was required to be at the office *a lot* and she hated that I wasn't home until 9 pm on any given weekday. Our last house was a solid 2-3 hour drive (depending on traffic) from the city center. So I often had to leave the house by 6:30 am and wasn't back until late in the evening. Yeah, she was lonely. She wanted me to watch TV with her every night (I became very disinterested in TV anyway) which just wasn't possible. I could have kept a somewhat cushy corporate job that wasn't demanding in terms of hours, making much less money, but that wasn't good enough for her. Rewind back to 2001. I put her through college and sacrificed my own college education for her. I worked 2 jobs, 7 days a week, for years to support us when I was 18-21. We were living in a crappy apartment and barely making ends meet. But she was going to make something of herself, then I was going to go to college and do the same. Like you are supposed to do. I tried to go to college while working 2 jobs for 60-70 hours per week, but it was way too much. My grades made it unable for me to advance, so I dropped out. She graduated in 2004... then never really tried to get a decent job. The 'best' job she ever had was a retail store manager for a small store (making like $15/hr) and she hated it. She was perfectly capable of making 6-figures at a corporate job, but she never even made an attempt. She hopped between entry-level and minimum wage jobs, never spending more than a couple of months at any of them. Don't take this to mean I ever really cared about how much money she made. What I cared about was the effort she put into being a responsible adult. We were still having trouble making ends meet. In 2006 (married for 5 years) I got my first big pay jump when I switched companies. I increased my income by 70% overnight and I was starting to see light at the end of the work-till-you-die tunnel. It was finally going to be good with my new income and hers, right? Wrong. A couple of months into my new job she brought up the idea of her quitting her job to be a 'full-time homemaker'. Remember, we didn't have kids and didn't want any, and she is the one with the degree and the college debt we would be paying down for the next 15 years. It started as an idea, then over a couple of weeks, it turned into her begging me to let her quit her job for good. I resisted, explaining to her that it made no financial sense. Besides, how was she going to keep herself occupied throughout the day? Laundry only needed to be done once a week, dishes only take a few minutes a day. So, against my wishes, she quit working for good and never looked back. She did take to cooking more, but she basically sat at home and watched TV. This went on for years. She knew I was against it. Without her income, we were in a worse financial situation than before I got my new job. But, (her words) because I was the man, "I was supposed to support the family" She was bored all the time. The free time gave her much more time to find things to get upset about and dwell on. For example, she would start a big fight if I left a single bowl in the sink for *me* to wash later. Or if I used the stove or microwave and she found a single spec of splattered food. Or if I turned a perfectly functional knob on the washing machine to wash my own laundry. She would absolutely blow up -- "I did [insert thing here] on purpose so I could get out of doing [the thing] in the future." Thank god we had our own bathrooms. She resented me for these things and I had no chance for retribution. She did do most of the housework for a few years, but I always did 100% of the yardwork. And almost 5 years ago we bought and lived on a farm -- got several dozen animals from horses to sheep to donkeys to ducks and geese. Just like in her professional 'career', she helped take care of them for a little while. Until she decided it was too much work. Then I was the one left by myself rounding up the animals, fixing broken fence, thawing out frozen water pipes, etc at 2 am on a weeknight when I had an 8 am meeting the next morning. As you would expect, the sex decreased significantly over the years. It was good when we were in our teens and early 20s. But she became less and less interested over the years. It went from several times per week, to several times per month, to every few months, to... almost never. She wanted sex to be very mundane. She didn't like it when I went down on her. She absolutely refused to go down on me, and never did. She didn't like it when I tried to use my hand to please her. She didn't like foreplay. She never wanted to do anything other than missionary. We talked about how to spice up our sex life for years. I brought all sorts of ideas from the table from roleplaying to toys to things on the kinkier side, but she never actually wanted to do anything about it. I had also been struggling with PE throughout my later 20s which made the situation worse. And the PE was "my fault" and "I needed to do something about it". I did see a urologist who diagnosed me as perfectly normal and sent me on my way. He suggested both of us see a sex therapist together, which she was not ok with -- because this was "my problem". Until we separated and I put myself out there, I hadn't had sex in about 4 years. Fast forward to 2018. I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer -- like fewer than 100 cases per year in the entire country. The physician knew very little about it -- the hospital hadn't seen a case of it in over 5 years -- and referred me to a specialist in a city a few hours away. It was a few months before I knew anything definitive or could get it treated. When I told my ex about the diagnosis, she preceded to inform me how I don't "have cancer" (but I did) and made it clear it was my own problem. I had an all-day surgery with the specialist to remove it -- I told her it was going to be an all-day surgery in advance. A couple-hour drive each way. Did she offer to drive me there or support me in any way? Nope. I got to drive myself there and back. Did she help me clean the huge surgical wound (it was like 10 inches in diameter) I had for the next 3 months? I even asked for her help cleaning and dressing it. She refused. So I had to figure out how to do it by myself. Did she express the slightest interest in talking to the specialist about it to get her own answers and put her mind at ease? Nope. She already knew better. This when it became painfully obvious she didn't care about me at all. And I still financially supported her 100%. At this point, she hadn't had a job for over 10 years and spent most of any given day watching TV. In 2017 she started an Etsy sewing shop -- which didn't take much of her time, but it gave her something to do. We were vendors at lots of local festivals together when those were still a thing. We were doing this almost every weekend from April through December. She didn't have more than 200 orders per year until 2020. When the lockdowns and mask shortages started in March she started sewing cloth masks. She did really well for a couple of months, doing 50-100 orders per day. I told her I was proud of her. I also tried to help her when she was having trouble keeping up. I spent a whole day helping her get caught up on orders. I can't sew, so I was helping her pack envelopes, print shipping labels, and iron decals onto the masks. She showed me how to do the iron-on transfers. It's so easy a 10-year-old could do it. I did a couple hundred of them that afternoon. She came to inspect them before they got shipped out. And she blew-the-fuck-up. I did it *exactly* how she showed me and they looked great. But she could still see a crease in the fabric where it was folded. It was "my fault" and, as usual, I had done it "on purpose" so I could get out of helping in the future. Sound familiar? I immediately stopped helping and left. I was done with her acting like a child. She is 40 years old and still acts like she is 12. Did she ever thank me for helping? No. Did she still ship the orders? Yep, so they weren't bad were they? Did she apologize for blowing up again? Nope. And I forgot to mention -- we have been basically separated for the better part of 4 years. Sleeping in different rooms in the house. I've been living in an 'apartment' in the basement of my own house. She kicked me out of the bedroom when she was throwing a fit about a short business trip I was going on. I needed to "tell them I wasn't going". She threw all of my stuff down the stairs and that was the end of that. I wasn't allowed to use the stove that I paid for. If I had food in the microwave and she wanted to use it, she would throw away whatever I had in there. She would throw away my dishes if I wasn't watching; I found them in the trash all the time. I spent the next several months thinking about all of this and much more. One thing I came to realize: in the 19 years we had been married I couldn't think of a single instance where she apologized for blowing up about something meaningless or admitted she was wrong. Not a single one. I even challenged her about it. Could she think of a single time she did either one of those? She couldn't come up with one concrete example. BTW, I apologized thousands of times. I never once blew up about anything in our entire relationship -- that's not the kind of person I am -- but I have apologized for things I said that made her feel bad and admitted I was wrong many, many times. At her insistence, I even admitted to doing lots of meaningless things that I didn't actually do just to put a fight to bed and keep the relationship in-tact. There is no point in fighting over BS. 2020 also brought on a lot of financial stress. At the beginning of the year, I had signed contracts that would make this the biggest year since I started the business. Clients were in sports, restaurants, casinos, and live entertainment. I lost all of them, and most of them are unlikely to survive 2021 without a bankruptcy. I laid off my entire staff. Our income took a nosedive. We burnt through most of our savings because she couldn't control her spending habits, and she had zero interest in financially contributing to the household. This was the straw that broke the camel's back. She made it abundantly clear she didn't care about me, and, at the same time, she expected me to financially support her do-whatever-she-wants consequences-be-damned lifestyle. I prepared the divorce papers and presented them to her on a whim when she was blowing up about dishes in the sink or something like that. I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I don't know why she acted surprised. She had told me she wanted a divorce plenty of times in recent years, and a couple of times in 2020. But she never had the balls to do it. This was something I had been thinking about for a few years, but I was likely to be on the hook for $10k/month in alimony for the rest of my life if it weren't for COVID. We live in a midwest state with divorce case-law which strongly favors women, and I have lots of male friends/colleagues who got screwed royally in a divorce -- even if their spouse cheated. So it was kind of the perfect storm. Depleted savings and drastically reduced income meant there was nothing for the court to grant. All we really had left was retirement savings and home equity. The house sale is closing in 10 days and we already liquidated the 401k, which she used to buy her own house. That was everything. Sorry for the long post, but I needed to rant to some strangers on the internet. There is obviously much more to tell over 19 years of marriage, but I'll leave it here for the sake of brevity. This post may sound very one-sided, but I really tried to keep it together. I tried to be a good husband. To give my wife what she wanted. To be there for her when she needed me. To make her happy, at the expense of my own happiness. Happy wife, happy life, right? As I put in the title, the court granted dissolution yesterday. It was very easy. No attorneys, we didn't fight about any remaining property. We each own our own vehicles free and clear and had no interest in the other's. She stole a few thousand more dollars from our joint account and sold some valuable things without my permission, but it wasn't worth fighting over. I just let it go. I'm finally free and I feel better than I have in years. Ask me anything.
He works full time and is a pig. Won't lift a finger around the house. Leaves his literal garbage everywhere. If I bag up trash and set it outside, he'll walk around it and refuse to take it around the house to the cans on his many 20+ minute smoke breaks. Weekends are soul crushing because the house can be as nearly spotless as a house can be with a toddler and by Sunday it's completely trashed because I refuse to clean up after him and he refuses to grab a vacuum and suck up the food mess both HIM and the toddler left in the living room, kitchen, dining room, and even the bathroom sometimes. This man even refuses to wipe off his shit smears on the toilet bowl and regularly splatters shit up onto the underside of the seat. I haven't cleaned "his" toilet in months and there's a nasty brown ring in it cause he leaves his piss in there for days and only flushes if he shits but won't make sure it all went down so sometimes there's still shit floating in there. Unfortunately its the bathroom with the tub so I have to clean the tub for my kid and I to bathe. He had four days off for Christmas and again for New Years. God strike me dead if I'm lying that my socks were brown and crusted from the crumbs of food and mud he tracked in. There's a bench and a boot tray by the door. I watched him come in, step OVER the boot mat right in front of the door, walk through the living room, stop to scrape his boots on the living room rug his daughter lays on and plays on all day, and then trip down the hall to our room with light tan carpet. The mud stains on the rug are still there because I don't own a carpet cleaner and the rentals are out right now. I fully believe he does this om purpose as a way to blatantly disrespect me and tell me to go fuck myself. Over his four day Christmas vacation, he walked out the door and disappeared for 11 hours. When I asked him where he was, he told me he was two towns over (2 hours one way) with his mom shopping. He just walked out the door and decided for me that I wasn't going to get to enjoy any time for myself and that I was going to parent alone. He didn't even ask how our kid was doing. Over his four day New Years vacation, he pulled thr disappearing act TWICE. On New Years eve he decided he was going to go to the casino with his mom. Never mentioned this or asked how I felt about it. Just walked out the door and left the toddler with me. Never asked how she was doing. Came home at 3am. On New Years day, I woke him up at 8 am and he got mad because he had gotten in late. Not my problem. He then stormed around the house for a few hours until his mom called him to ask if he wanted lunch. He didn't talk about it with me. I overheard it (she was on speaker) and he just started getting dressed. When I asked where he was going with his mom, he said "No where." So he's lying. Okay. So I call her up and ask if she'd like to hang oit with her grand daughter and she says yes! Send her with him! (I told her I needed to get some work done without her up my ass). This pisses him off and he goes and sits in his car so that I am forced to get her ready and her bags packed with snacks and clothes and diapers and toys and I put her in the seat and kiss her goodbye. Not even 40 minutes later he bangs open the door and she's crying. He rants about how she was a BRAT the entire time and embarrassed him and blah blah blah. Shit I deal with daily because she's a toddler and that's what they do. He puts her down, dumps her bags down, and walks out the door. He's gone from 2pm to 1am. He just decided for me that he was going to force me to care for her instead of getting my work done because he didn't want to parent that day. So the next day, Saturday, I wake up before the two of them, set the monitor right next to him on full volume, and walk out the door. I got some work done, groomed my dog (takes an hour just to dry him after a bath and then I gave him a hair cut), sat in a parking lot with a hot lunch, browsed a Home Goods. I was gone 5 hours and I was dying to get back home. I never called to ask how she was and I desperately wanted to. I went back home to a fucking pig sty of a house. She was also filthy from feeding herself a messy lunch and not being cleaned up after. She was also over tired and sobbing when she saw me because of course he didn't put her down for a nap. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy being "off duty" and doing things I want to get done or just playing hooky from parenting? I thought about getting a hotel room just for me, but I'd be miserable sitting in a room all by myself constantly fighting the urge to video call to see her. And then I know I'd go home to even more work than would have happened if I had just stayed. How do I manage to act like a man who clearly wants to skip out on parenting every chance he can even just for one day/night???
Driving back to IV with my girlfriend back from holiday ski trip and visiting my sister (small gathering), we broke down 50 miles north of Winnemucca which is a nice way of saying the middle of fucking nowhere. Spent all day yesterday trying to fix the car but something is fucked with the computer and it needs to go to a legit shop. So here I am at a casino/hotel in the middle of fucking nowhere, classes start tomorrow and if I'm lucky I'll be able to rent a uhaul to tow our car the remaining 700 miles back to SB. There is no point to this story I'm just looking for sympathy. At least classes are online and I only have one monday class and it appears to be async.
(SELLING) THE WAR W/GRANDPA + JU JITSU+ TENET + ECHO BOOMERS + THE WOLF OF SNOW HOLLOW + THE NEW MUTANTS 4K + UNHINGED + MULAN + ANTEBELLUM 4K + BILL & TED 3 + MANY MORE. DONT MISS THE LINK TO MY SECONDARY LIST AT BOTTOM OF MY PRIMARY LIST. THANKS FOR LOOKING ;-)
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O Xander CAGE (VUDU OR ITUNES 4K) PAYMENTS ACCEPTED +PAYPAL FRIENDS & FAMILY +CASH APP +VENMO +GOOGLE PAY +APPLE PAY SECONDARY LIST BELOW https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cZ9CqHTNJ14wo7H80BkSi4nTZHOf-4eBxnCtJjYAk48/edit?usp=drivesdk
The Pretty Idiot's Guide to Human Space: Rugen (part 1)
The salvo of coilgun shells smashes into the complex of bunkers on the opposite riverbank, sending a spray of charred dirt, sandbags, and timber flying into the air. A sloped bastion caves in, burying the rifle pits at its base. One leg of a watchtower is blasted away and the whole thing sways drunkenly before twisting and collapsing across the trenches, the flagpole on its roof somehow landing upright and leaving the enemy's blue-and-gold standard waving in the debris-laden breeze. The Human artillerymen beside me let out a cheer and jump up and down, slapping each other's outstretched hands. The army of Humans watching from beyond the battery all jump around and cheer, too, their yells loud even compared to a half-dozen high explosive shells. And... so do the Human gunners on the hillside across the river, and the army behind them. They all cheer and applaud. Even though they are, in fact, the enemy whose defenses are getting blasted into pieces the size of a poet's paycheck by the aforementioned coilguns. So... I cheer my lovely green head off right along with them, because things are exploding and stuff is burning and apparently the Humans on this planet just generally approve of that sort of thing. My name is Solontha reValthinna, and I'm the Felra who goes to the places nobody else wants to and learns about them the hard way so you can learn about them the easy way. That's my angle as an author, and that's why I'm the Pretty Idiot. ---- "Solontha, darling, I've got just the destination for your next Pretty Idiot's Guide!" My business agent only sounds that chirpy when she's found some new way to try to get me killed. I'd like to think it's because the more trouble I get into, the better the resulting books turn out. That, or she still hasn't forgiven me for that topless dance I did at the Publishers' Guild dinner party she took me to. In my defense, they provided the liquor. I just happened to drink a lot of it. Also in my defense, my topless dancing is godlike. "Not back to the Tarq Imperium, I hope? They said they'd shoot me if they ever caught me inside their borders again." My agent clucked at me. "They said no such thing. They just heavily implied it. And that was only because you wrote that they were a bunch of pointlessly brutal totalitarian fuckwads." I snorted. "That's right. And it was the 'fuckwad' part that they objected to." "Nobody likes being called a fuckwad, Solontha. Fuckwads least of all. But, no, I'm thinking we send you to write about a Human planet this time." Humans? Interesting... The few I've known, I've mostly liked. Well, I don't hate them, anyway. And they look kind of like us Felra, at least a little bit. If you took a Felra and eliminated everything behind her forelegs -- and kept her from dying from lack of some important organs, obviously -- you would have something that still doesn't look particularly like a Human. So, dye her green skin an earthier color, replace her beautiful tresses of feathery-branching tvan with coarser, single-stranded hair, remove one pair of breasts, and take a digit from each hand. She still doesn't look quite Human. Make her face a bit rounder and flatter, thicken her bone structure, and Congratulations! You've surgically converted a Felra into something that could possibly maybe pass for a Human in really poor lighting. Also, you're a sick fuck for doing such a thing. Point being, Humans are sufficiently similar enough to us that they can be cute, in a goofy bipedal sort of way. And immersing yourself in an alien culture can be more rewarding if you can also immerse yourself in some attractive alien nookie along the way. Any aspiring travel writers who are reading this can consider that a pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot. "So, any particular Human world? Somewhere with casinos, maybe? Or some place run by the Church of Giving Money, Liquor, and Carnal Pleasure to Sexy Alien Visitors?" That last bit caught my agent off-guard. "Is that an actual religion?" "If it was, do you think I'd still be working?" "Of course you would. You love travel, trouble, and remunerated smart-assery too much to just quit." Ah, I'm such a lucky Felra. Most agents charge extra for that kind of quality banter. "The place I've got in mind for you is Rugen, a frontier-level colony world well off the outer fringe of the Arm." "The tail-tip of nowhere, in other words. And what's the attraction for a Pretty Idiot to play tourist there? Societal collapse? Rampaging Felra-eating predators? Pandemic-level clown outbreak?" "How about the longest-running ongoing war in the Known Galaxy? Two hundred eighty-seven common years and no end in sight." Yow. I'm passingly familiar with war, having wandered through five or six of varying size and awfulness while sightseeing -- and writing about said sightseeing -- and three centuries is a lot of war, especially confined to one planet. I could only imagine how that could twist and scar a world and its people. The devastation. The tragedy of wasted lives and resources. The sheer dysfunctionality of societies raised for generation after generation on bitter vengeance and the never-ending march towards victory and a peace they can no longer even properly conceptualize. A world of bloodlust, paranoia, and the threat of sudden brutal death staining every moment of every day. Why, the possibilities for misery were endless. It sounded perfect for a vacation getaway. ---- I took regular commercial liners as far as Thielbarra, but had to buy passage from there to Rugen on an independent freighter that was slightly more reputable than a spaceport prostitute, just not as hygienic. There were only three other passengers headed to my destination, including a Kreevin botanical researcher who ignored everybody and a not-very-sober Zharg who worked for one of the big interstellar communications providers and who must have fucked up his job just badly enough to get sent to an isolated hole-in-the-void posting, but not quite badly enough to be fired. I ended up sharing a cabin with the only other quadruped, an adorably optimistic Iraitrian missionary who was going to Rugen to set up a temple to the Harmonious Gods and try to get a congregation going. Being the cynical agnostic wretch that I am, I just had to ask how much demand she thought there would be for a doctrine of cooperative religious pacifism in the middle of a war zone. "You offer food to the starving, not to those with bellies already full," she told me. "Our beliefs are meant to be applied in the world, not just agreed with in the temple." And did she expect to end the war all by herself? "I hope to make a difference to someone. Whether it's by teaching the Way, by being an example, or just by offering a person who needs it a roof, a meal, and a sympathetic ear. If even one person considers their life to be better for having known me, my mission will be worthwhile." Damn. I had been entertaining myself with the idea of flirting mercilessly with her for the whole trip, but all that earnestness. All that simple, undeniable goodness. Even my cynicism and libido combined couldn't look that in the face. So I flirted with the ship's captain, instead. Not that there was any real challenge in it, as despite Felra not being four-armed lizard people, Jixavan males are completely enamored of our tails, which are both more voluptuous and generally more exposed than those of their own females. Pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot: if you're a Felra and need to manipulate a Jixavan guy, buy one of those tail-stockings their women wear. Even the biggest ones will be too tight and short for you, so cut a bunch of slashes in it and pull it as far up your tail as it will go. Then wear a skirt short enough to expose the top hem of the tail-stocking and enjoy your newfound powers of persuasion. I ended up getting twenty percent off my fare and three marriage proposals. Captain Akothin had made a few runs to Rugen before, so I was able to ask him some questions about the place. If you've never read one of my Pretty Idiot's Guides before, part of my schtick, if you will, is lack of prior research regarding the places I go. My self-imposed limitation is that I can only obtain information by seeing for myself or asking someone with firsthand experience. No encyclopedias or hyperweb research. That media stuff is, at best, quarter-truths and agenda-driven grazershit, anyway. By going into a place without 'knowledge' of it, I go with fewer preconceptions. That's the 'Idiot' part of the title. The 'Pretty' part is because I am. And if you have to face life as an idiot, it really does help to be a pretty one. The good captain had never actually made planetfall on Rugen, always conducting business from orbit. Sensible. Boring, but sensible. I therefore confined my inquiries to spacers' matters. Like, were we going to have any issues with pirates or paramilitaries on our way in-system? "No pirates. Not enough shipping in or out for those guys to make a living raiding it and too far from any active lanes to make a useful base. Pirates operating across star systems have to really watch their fuel expenditures." Captain Akothin then proceeded to give a suspiciously well-considered dissertation on how to turn a profit in space piracy, which I will not share here but have filed away for future reference should too many of my books bomb on the market. And as for paramilitary ships affiliated with the warring factions? "I've never seen any." What about orbital defenses? Would there be minefields to be tensely navigated? Would we be subject to stop-and-search by military patrol craft? "Rugen's a frontier-level system." The captain looked at me like I was a moron, albeit a moron with an incredibly sexy and distracting tail. "There ain't even a transshipment station, just a few cheapo weather and comm satellites. I just put the ship in a parking orbit and they send shuttles up. But it's not like the shipments are ever so big you'd need an orbital dock anyway, and shuttles are fine for passengers. Of course, that also means no orbital repair yard and no fuel depot, but that's not much worry since Rugen is just a long detour off our Thielbarra-to-Rialto route and I always do a refuel and refit at Thielbarra for safety's sake and, um, will you marry me?" ---- The shuttle ride down was as uneventful as such things generally are and afforded a chance to take in the view of Rugen from medium-high orbit. It was not a particularly exciting planet seen from 18,000 miles above its equator -- under the sparse clouds, some smallish seas, broad smears of iron-red in the right places to be deserts, accented by patches and streamers of an odd green that was almost an indecisive blue, and some blink-and-you'd-miss-them polar caps. But the thing is, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how many planets you've seen out the porthole, or how much of an undifferentiated dirtball the one below you is. There is no such thing as 'ordinary' when it comes to the sight of a whole damn world suspended in space right in front of you. It's a moment of magic, every single time, and anybody who says otherwise is lying, or is a soulless shithead. Or, since those aren't mutually exclusive, they could be both, like a corporate journalist or a Rybathi. I used the flight time to mentally review what firsthand knowledge of Humans I possessed. Pro-tip-slash-caveat: members of a species often behave very differently in their own polities than they do in foreign or more cosmopolitan settings. Expatriates or visitors to your world are typically trying to get along in your society and tend to adjust their behavior accordingly. Their behavior when they are in the majority and they get to decide what's normal may be radically different. That said, there were a few truths I felt comfortable in ascribing to Humans in general based on experience. For starters, sexual dimorphism. Humans born biologically male or female remain that sex, unless medically altered. Females are usually smaller and are the ones with slightly inadequate breasts. Males tend to be bigger, stronger, and coarser-looking and, like most mammaloid males, have completely inadequate breasts. This dimorphism leads to the most basic social structures being built around male-female pairings and their offspring -- family -- rather than the looser pack-based structure of Felra. These family structures appear to have a relationship similar to, though vastly more complicated than, the Felra mother-daughter bond. Basically, if you wrong a Human, you may face retribution not just from her, but from her entire bloodline. Except sometimes you won't, because, like I said, complicated. Second, though many Galactics tend to use the terms 'Human' and 'Terran' as synonyms, Humans emphatically do not. Among Humans, the word 'Terran' refers specifically to an inhabitant of the Terran Commonwealth, the oldest, largest, and apparently most detested Human stellar nation. Humans who are not Commonwealth natives tend to have negative reactions to being called 'Terrans'. In this context, the term 'negative reactions' seems to cover a range from 'cold and profane verbal correction' to 'assault with a power-nailer'. Maybe this trip would offer a chance to find out why that might be? I'd also been told that actual Terrans react poorly to being called 'Human', though I've never met any Commonwealth Terrans and can't say for sure if that's true. Third, Humans tend to be territorial, and therefore possessive. They have a strong impulse to guard things they have laid claim to. Don't try to make use of anything a Human regards as their own without asking permission first, even if you intend to give it right back. This impulse extends quite strongly to their romantic or sexual partners as well and attempting to bed, or even flirt with, a Human who has been claimed by another will tend to be met with hostility. You could try asking for permission, I guess, but that just seems to lead to socially awkward hostility. And if you don't know why socially awkward hostility is worse than the regular kind, then obviously you've never been in a fistfight with a drunken Dahu who was sporting a clingy wet kilt and a massive erection. next **** More Known Galaxy stories
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ROAD TRIP GIRLS DAY DAY TRIP TO THE CASINO - YouTube