Beginners guide to horse racing betting

Horse race betting explained

Horse race betting explained submitted by BETmarket to Betmarket [link] [comments]

[Major plot spoilers] An Elizabeth theory. (album inside)

So far as I have concluded this theory is as I see not that much of a stretch. Going back into Bioshock to retrieve information about what time frame it was that Elizabeth and Booker stopped by for a visit I found something interesting as show in this album. http://imgur.com/a/EmbWs As you can see, when you first arrive in rapture in Bioshock, things seems really destroyed and messed up. But when you go there with Elizabeth, there's a few things that haven't been tampered with yet. No bloody walls, second bathysphere port walkway hasn't been destroyed and the lights aren't flickering like mad. I state that when you visit rapture in Infinite you are visiting before Jack gets there but after the revolution. Finding this, it is clearly stated in the first game that only Andrew Ryans inner circle(immediate family) can use the bathysphere and that this is not after when Fontaine gets you to use the master control key which would probably disable it. I believe that Elizabeth in an alternate reality (or universe, whatever) become instead of Anna DeWitt , Andrew Ryan. Andrew Ryan existing in the 1960's appearing as a 50+ year old man with wrinkles would line up with Elizabeths Age. Note that the Luteces showing that some variables can be gender but they're still identical twins. Andrew Ryan and Elizabeth having both brownish hair and blueish eyes would keep this theory going. Some may have concluded that Booker was Andrew, but age and time haven't been shown as being a variable so far, so Booker would've had to be in his 90's or so and Andrew may have a cane but he's clearly not yet reaching centenarian age. Booker and Comstock being born at the same time and same age. But they are still related (Father and daughter) which allows Booker to pull the Bathysphere lever. I know some people may not like this theory but to me it makes a lot of sense. Maybe their bloodline is somehow predisposed to building impossible cities? But then there's Andrew Ryan being a Russian supposedly, this is a problem I've encountered. Some may not remember he's apparently a Russian because he had no accent of the sort and didn't show it, could the place they are born be a variable also? Could he have changed his name like Comstock and really be Andrew DeWitt? I must discuss!
Edit: Thought of a solution for Ryan's Russian Heritage, Booker, being in massive debt could have escaped to Russia under a new name, scared of all the loan sharks for the horse racing bets. Explains why Andrew Ryan spoke English without accent and properly
submitted by tawsalawmaw to Bioshock [link] [comments]

Bonus Bets explained by Racenet | Horse Racing Australia

Bonus Bets explained by Racenet | Horse Racing Australia submitted by katherinemouradian to u/katherinemouradian [link] [comments]

Script for "History of the entire world I guess" by Bill wurtz

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
submitted by Temnelc to copypasta [link] [comments]

History of the entire world I guess

hi, you're on a rock floating in space. pretty cool, huh? some of it's water. fuck it. actually, most of it's water. i can't even get from here to there without buying a boat. it's sad. i'm sad. i miss you. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? a long time ago... actually, never. and also now. nothing is nowhere. when? never. makes sense, right? like i said, it didn't happen. nothing was never anywhere. that's why it's been everywhere. it's been so "everywhere," you don't need a "where." you don't even need a "when." that's how "every" it gets. forget this. i wanna be something. go somewhere. do something. i want things to change. i want to invent time and space. and i know it's possible because everything is here, and it probably already happened. i just don't know when to start. and that's exactly where it started. big bang— pause woah. i paused it. i think there's a universe now. what's it made of? quarks and stuff. ah, that's a thing! in a place! don't like it? try a new place, at a different Time™. try to stick together, because the world is gonna get bigger and emptier. but it's not empty yet! it's still very full, and about a kjghpillion degrees. about no seconds later great news! the quarks are now happily married in groups of three, called a "proton" and a "neutron." and there's something else flying around that wants to join in, but can't cause it's too HOT. ten minutes later great news! the protons and neutrons are now happily married to each other! some of them even doubled up. about 380,000 years later great news! the electrons have now joined in. congratulations! the world is now... a bunch of gas in space. but it's getting closer together... ten million years later and it's getting closer together... 500 million years later and it's getting closer togeth—star is born it's a star new shit just got made! some stars burn out and die. bigger stars burn out and die with passion! and make some brand new way crazier shit. space dust! which allows for newer and more interesting stars to be made, and then die and explode into even crazier space dust! so now, stars have cool stuff around them, like rocks, ice, and funny clouds, which can make some very interesting things. like this ball of flaming rocks, for example. meteor hits earth holy shit, we just got hit by another ball of flaming rocks. and it kind of... made a mess. which is now the moon weather update: it's raining rocks from outer space. weather update: those rocks might've had water inside of them and now there's hot steam in the sky. weather update: cooler temperatures today and the floor is no longer lava. weather update... it's raining. severe flooding alert, the entire world is now an ocean. volcano alert. that's land! there'slifeintheocean what? something's alive in the ocean oh, cool. like a plant, or an animal? no! a microscopic speck. it lives in the bottom of the ocean and eats chemical soup, which is being served hot and fresh, made from gnarly space ingredients left over from when it was raining rocks or whatever. microscopic speck asexually reproduces oh yeah, and it can do that. reproduces three more times it has secret instructions written inside itself telling it how to build another one of itself. so that's pretty nifty, i would say. tired of living at the bottom of the ocean? now you can eat sunlight! using a revolutionary technique, you can convert sunlight into food. taste the sun! side effect, now there's oxygen everywhere and the sky is blue. then the earth might've been a snowball for a while. maybe even a couple of times. it's a sponge... it's a plant... it's a worm, and some other types of weird strange water bugs and strange fish. it's the Cambrian explosion: "wow, that's animals and stuff" but we're still in the ocean. hey, can we go on land? NO why? the sun is a deadly laser oh okay. not anymore, there's a blanket now the animals can go on land. come on, animals, let's go on land! "nope, can't walk yet." "and there's no food yet, so i don't care." 100 million years later okay, will you learn to walk if there's plants up here? "maybe," said some bugs. and fish. fish gasps for air five million years later okay, so i can go on land, but i have to go back in the water to have babies! idea: learn to use an egg. "i was already doing that" use a stronger egg. put water in it. have a baby, on land, in an egg. water is in the egg. baby, in the egg, in the water, in the egg. works for me. bye bye ocean 50 million years later and now everything's huge. including bugs. wanna see a map of the land? sure. Permian extinction oh, fuck, now everything's dead. just kidding, here are the survivors. keep your eye on this one, because it's about to become 75 million years later the dinosaurs. here's another map of the land. yeah, it broke apart. don't worry about it, it does that all the time. here comes a meteor. meteor strikes and the dinosaurs are gone it's mammal time, here come the mammals. look at those breasts. now they're gonna dominate the world, but one of them just learned how to grab stuff. and walk. no, like, walk like that. and grab stuff at the same time. and bang rocks together to make pointed rocks. "ouch" and set things on fire. "yeouch" and make crazy sounds with their voice: "gneurshk" which can mean different things. that's a human person! and now they're everywhere. almost. ice age! what? you can walk over here? cool. not anymore well i guess we're stuck here now. let's review: there's people on the planet. and they're chasing their food. fuck it. time to plant some grass. look at this. i get to control the food now. now everyone will want to be my friend and live near me. let's all build houses, except mine is bigger because i own the food. this is great! i wonder if anyone else is doing this. tired of using rocks for everything? use metal. it's underground. better farming was just invented in a sweet dank valley right in between these two rivers, and the animals are helping. guess what happens next? more food. and more people, who came to buy the food. now you need people to help make the food and keep track of the sales. and now you need houses for people to live in and people to make the houses and now there's more people and they invent things which makes things better and more people come and there's more farming and more people to make more things for more people and now there's business, money, writing, laws, power, Society coming soon to a dank river valley near you. meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, the horse is probably being tamed. why is all my metal so lame and lumpy? tired of using lame, sad metal? introducing: bronze. made from special ingredient tin from the far lands of Tin Land. i dunno, my dealer won't tell me where he gets it. also, guess what? egypt meanwhile, out in the middle of nowhere, they figured out how to put wheels on a horse. now we're getting somewhere. also, china and did i mention indus river valley civilization society count: 5 ... norte chico the middle east is getting more complicated. maybe because it's in the middle of the east. knock knock, er, clop clop. it's the... people with the horses? and they made an empire. and then everyone else copied their horses. greeks! ah look, it must be the greeks! er, a beta version of the greeks. let's check in with the indus river valley civilization: they're gone. guess who's not gone? china. new arrivals from india... maybe it's those horse people i was talking about... or their cousins or something... and they wrote some hymns and mantras and stuff... you could make a religion out of this. there's the bronze age collapse. now the phoenicians can get down to business also, can we switch to a metal that's a little easier to find? thanks. look who came back to israel, it's the twelve tribes of israel. and they believe in God just one though, and he's got like a ten-step program. here's some huge heads. must be the olmecs. the phoenicians make some colonies. the greeks copy their idea and make some colonies. the phoenicians made a colony so big it makes colonies. here comes the assyrian empire. never mind, it's the babyloni— media—it's the Persian Empire: "wow, that's big" enlightenment ah, the buddha was just enlightened. who's the buddha? this guy, who sat under a tree for so long that he figured out how to ignore the fact that we're all dying. you could make a religion out of this. oops, china just broke. but while it was breaking, confucius was figuring out how to have good morals. enlightenment ah, the greeks just had the idea of thinking about stuff. and right over here, alexander just had the idea of conquering the entire persian empire. it's a great idea. he was... great. and now he's dead. hopefully, the rest of the gang will be able to share the empire evenly between them. knock knock, it's chandragupta. he says "get the hell out of here. will you get the hell out of here if i give you 500 elephants? okay, thanks, bye" time to conquer all of india er most of india but what about this part? that's the tamil kings. no one conquers the tamil kings. who are the tamil kings? merchants, probably. and they've got spices! who would like to buy the spices? "me!" said the arabians, swiftly buying it and selling it to the rest of the world. hey, china put itself back together again, with good morals as their main philosophy. actually, they have three main philosophies: confucianism: have good morals taoism: go with the flow legalism: fuck you, obey the law out here, the horse nomads run wild and free, and they would like to ransack your city. nomads ransack china let's check the greekification levels of the greekified kingdoms: greekification overload. bye, said the parthians. bye, said the jews. hi, said the parthians, taking over the entire place. heyyyyy, said the romans, eating the entire mediterranean for breakfast. "thanks for invading our homeland," said the jews, who were starting to get tired of people invading their homeland. "hi, everything's great," said some guy who seems to be getting very popular and is then arrested and killed for being too popular, which actually makes him more popular. you could make a religion out of this. want silk? now you can buy it from china. they just made a brand new road to the world. conquers vietnam or you can get there on water "sick! new trade routes!" said india, accidentally spreading their religion to the entire southeast. hmm, that's a good place for an epic trading kingdom. there goes buddhism, travelling up the silk road. i wonder if it'll reach china before it collapses again. remember the persian empire? yep, said the persians, making a new one. axum is getting so powerful, they would like to build a long stick. has anyone populated madagascar yet? let's do it together. china is whole again... ...then it broke again still can't cross the sahara desert? try camels. "hell yeah! now we've got business," said the ghana empire, selling lots of gold. and slaves. "hi, i'm a member of the roman empire, and i was wondering is loving jesus legal yet?" "no" "actually, okay sure," said constantine, moving the capital way over here to be closer to his main rival. don't worry about rome, it won't fall. it's the golden age of india there's the gupta empire, not chandragupta, just gupta. first name chandra. the first. guess who's in rome? barbarians. what's a barbarian? "non-romans," said the romans, being invaded by non-romans. r.i.p. roman empire. actually just half of it, the other half is just fine, but it's not in rome anymore, so let's give it a new name. the mayans have figured out the stars oh, and here's a huge city, population: everyone. the göktürks have taken over the entire eurasian steppe. great job, göktürks. how's india? broken. how's china? back together. how's those trading kingdoms? bigger, and there's more of them. korea has three kingdoms. japan has a kingdom, it's the sunrise kingdom. intermission deep in the arabian desert, on the top of a mountain, the real god whispers in muhammad's ear. so, he goes down to the cube where everyone worships gods and he tells them their gods are all fake. and everyone got so mad at him that he had to leave town and go to a different town. you could make a religion out of this, and maybe conquer the world as well. the roman empire is long gone, but somehow the pope is still the pope. plus, there's new kingdoms all over europe. i wonder if there's room for moors. here's all the wisdom. in a house. it's the baghdad house of wisdom! just in time for the islamic golden age! "let's bring stuff to the coast and sell it, and become the swahili on the swahili coast," said the swahili on the swahili coast. remember this tiny space you have to go through to get from here to there? someone owns that now. wanna get enlightened in the middle of nowhere? the franks have the biggest kingdom in europe, and the pope is so proud that he invites the king over for christmas. "surprise! you're the new roman emporer!" said the pope, pretending to still be part of the roman empire. then the franks broke their kingdom into what will later be called france and not-france. the northerners, er, just "norse" if you don't have much time, are exploring. they go north, from the north to the northern north. and they find some land— two types of land!— and they name them accordingly. prankd they also invade some other places and get called many names, such as "vikings." there's the rus! the kievan rus! are they vikings? "i don't think so," said the kievan rus. okay, fair enough. the pope is ready to make some more emperors of the roman empire. the holy roman empire! it's actually germany, but don't worry about it. new kingdoms—CRISTIANIZE ALL THE KINGDOMS!! which brand would you like? "mine's better" "mine's better" "mine's better" "time to conquer england," said william. it's a bird! it's a plane! it's the seljuk turks! "aah!" said the byzantine empire, who's getting so small and almost doesn't exist anymore. "we need help!" they need help! so they call the pope. "hey pope, can you help us get rid of the seljuks? maybe take back the holy land on the way? come on, i know you want to take back the holy land." "yes, i do actually want to do that. let's do a crusade." crusade! they did many crusades. some of which almost didn't fail. but at least the italians got some sweet trade deals. goodbye mayans. hello toltecs! goodbye toltecs. hello mississippi! look at those mounds. there's the pueblo. i always wondered how to build a town in a cliff. guess who's here? khmer. where? here! and pagan is there. vietnam unconquered itself, korea just became itself, and japan is so addicted to art that the military might have to take over the government. china just invented bombs, and typing. and the mongols just invaded most of the universe. nice going, genghis! i bet that will last a long time. some of the islamic turks were unaffected by the mongol invasions because they were busy invading india. is it tonga time? i think it's tonga time. i just figured out where the swahili gets all of their gold. look at this chad! it means "lake." there's an empire there! right in the middle of africa! the king of mali is so rich, he's going on tour to let everyone know. "wow, that guy's rich," everyone said. the christians are doing a great job reconquering iberia, which will soon be called spain and not-spain. please remain christian. we will check in later to see if you're still christian when you least expect. whoops, half of europe just died. ming! china's back, yay! hey, khmer. time to share. new kingdoms, here and there. oh, look who controls all of the islands. it's the mahajapit. majahapit. mapajahit. mahapajit. mapajahit. ma-ja-pa-hit? oh, italy's real rich. time for them to care a lot about art and the ancient classics. it's kinda like a rebirth. here's a printer. let's make books! so you think you can conquer the byzantine empire? yep, said the ottoman turks. nice job, ottoman turks. oops, you missed a spot. don't forget to ban europe from the indian spice trade. "what? that's bullshit," said portugal, spiceless. "well i guess we'll have to find another way to india" "wait!" said christopher columbus, probably smoking crack. "if the world is round, let's go this way to india." "nah, don't worry, we already got this," said portugal. so chris goes to spain. "hey spain, wanna hire me to find india by going around back of the world?" "no" "please?" "no" "please?" "wtf" "no" "please?" "...okay" so he sails into the ocean, and discovers... more ocean. and then discovers the indies, and japan! let's draw a line to decide who gets which half of the world. the aztec and the inca empires are off to a great start. i wonder if they know that europe just discovered their continent. the hapsburgs are marrying into so many royal families, they might have to start marrying each other. move over, lithuania, here comes moscow. ivan wants to make russia great again. move over, timurids, maybe go invade india or something. persia just made persia persian again. let's make it the other kind of islam. the one where we thought the first guy should've been the other guy. hey, christians! do you sin? now you can buy your way out of hell! "that's bullshit. this whole thing is bullshit. that's a scam. fuck the church. here's 95 reasons why," said martin luther, in his new book which might have accidentally started the protestant reformation. "you know what would be magnificent?" said suleiman wearing an onion hat. "what if the ottoman empire was... really big?" which it is now. "what if russia was big?" said ivan, trying not to be terrible. portugal had a dream that they controlled the entire indian ocean, including the spice trade. and then that dream was real. and spain realized that this is not india, but they pillaged it anyway. "damn," said england and france. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." then the dutch revolt, and all the hipsters moved to amsterdam. "damn," said amsterdam. "we gotta start pillaging some stuff." question one: can you get to india from north america? no, but at least there's beaver. question two: steal the spice trade. that's not a question, but the dutch did it anyway. and sugar... guess where all of the sugar is made? in brazil! stolen! in the caribbean! and it's so goddamn profitable, you might forget to not do slavery. the next thing on russia's to-do list is to get bigger. britain and france are having a friendly discussion about who should control the entire world. more specifically, ohio. then it escalates into a seven-year discussion, giving prussia a chance to show austria who's boss. but what about britain and france, did they figure out who's boss? yes they did! it's britain. guess who's broke? also britain! so they start taxing the hell out of america. "fuck you!" says america, declaring their independence and fighting for it, and france helps them win. now france is broke, and britain will have to send their prisoners to a different continent. wait, if france is broke, why do the king and queen still wear such fancy dresses? "let's overthrow the palace and cut all their heads off!" said robespierre, cutting everybody's heads off until someone eventually got mad and cut his head off. you could make a rel— no, don't. haiti is starting to like the idea of a revolution, especially the slaves, who free themselves by killing their masters. "why didn't we think of this before?" wait, who's in charge of france now? "me," said napoleon, trying to take over europe. luckily, they banished him to an island. but he came back! luckily, they banished him to another island. there goes latin america, becoming independent in the latin american wars of independence. britain just figured out how to turn steam into power, so now they can make many different types of machines and factories with machines in them so they can make a lot of products real fast. then they invent some trains. and conquer india and maybe put some trains there. "hey, china!" said britain. "buy stuff from us!" "nah, dude, we already got everything," says china. so britain tried to get them addicted to opium, which worked, actually. but then china made it illegal and dumped it all into the sea. so britain threw a hissy fit and made them open up five cities and give them an island. britain and russia are playing a game where they try to stop the other person from conquering afghanistan. also, the sultan of oman lives in zanzibar now: "that's just where he lives." india just had a revolution, and they would like to govern themselves now. "nope," said britain, governing them even harder than before. incoming telegram: HI I JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THRU A WIRE technology is about to go crazy! the united states finally figured out whether slavery is good or bad. it's bad, they decided, and then they continued manifesting their destiny, which is to kill the rest of the natives and take their land and maybe kick out the mexicans too. "i know! let's rape africa!" said europe, scrambling to see who could rape it the fastest. they never got ethiopia... britain and france are still hungry. they never got thailand... the united states ran out of destiny to manifest, so they're looking for more: hawaii! cuba! wait, spain controls cuba. well, blame something on them and go to war! what should we blame on spain? u.s.s. maine sinks "let's blame the maine on spain." so they blame the maine on spain. now we're in business. to celebrate, they kick panama out of panama and make a canal, connecting the two oceans. britain just found oil in the middle east. it makes cars go... china is so tired of being bossed around that they delete their old government and make a new, stronger government, which is accidentally weaker and is controlled by a guy from the previous government. europe hasn't had a war since the last war, so they start world war one. look at those guns! it's gonna be a great war, so great we won't need a second one. after it's over, they blame germany. russia went on strike, and the workers overthrew the government. now, everyone's paycheck is the same. communism in the soviet union... the arabs revolt and britain helps. now the ottoman empire is gone, so we can give the jewish people a place to live. hopefully the arabs won't mind. "let's cut the cake!" said sykes and picot, carving up the remains of the not-so-ottoman-anymore-empire. except turkey! turkey makes a brand new turkey! and then the saudis conquer arabia. it just seemed like the right thing to do. phone rings hello? yes, it's the 1920's calling. let's get to a car and drive to a party and listen to jazz on the radio and go to the movies. the economy is great and it will probably be great forever. just kidding. germany's back, featuring hitler, the angry mustache model, and he's mad at the jews for existing. japan is finally conquering the east, and they're so excited, they rape nanking way too hard. they should probably just deny it. hitler's out of control, so the international community tackles him and tries to explain to him why killing all of the jews is a bad idea. but he kills himself because they could explain it to him. that's world war two! bonus round! pacific showdown united states vs. japan FIGHT!! united states drops two extinction balls on japan FINISH HIM! let's unite all the nations and have some world peace! seems legit. "hi, im gandhi, and if britain doesn't get the hell out of india, i'm going to starve myself in public." britain leaves "wow, that worked?" bonus! now there's pakistan. actually two pakistans, one of them can be bangladesh later. the jews and the arabs finally figured out which one of them should live in the holy land. "me!" they both said at the same time. let's divide up the lands so we're both happy. SIKE! they both get angrier! look out, china! there's a new china in china. what's on the menu? communism! no thanks, said the other china, escaping to an island. i wonder which one is the real china...? there's the korean war. korea versus korea! nobody wins, then its on pause forever. let's meet the sponsors. oh, it's the two global superpowers. they're having a friendly debate over which economic system is good and which one is an evil virus of satan. and they both have atom bombs. FIGHT!! wait, no, that would be the end of the world. let's just keep it cool and spy on each other instead. and make sure we have enough atom bombs. "i'll race you to space." united states plants a flag on the moon now let's make more countries fight themselves. europe is tired of pillaging other continents, and the continents they were pillaging are tired of being pillaged. so here's a new map with new countries. now you can't tell who they're being pillaged by. the united states finally decided whether racism is good or bad. they decided it's bad, and the world agrees. south africa might need another minute to think about it. let's check the world population! woah. okay. technology is better too, that might keep happening. the soviet union decides to relax a little, and accidentally falls apart. europe makes a union, so now they can all use the same money. except britain, because they don't feel like it. let's check the mail... surprise! it's on the computer! whoops, someone just attacked america. i bet they'll remember that. phone call! surprise! it's in your pocket! wanna learn everything? surprise! it's on the computer! now your phone's a computer, which is in your pocket! whoops, the economy just crashed. don't worry, the big banks won't fail, because they're not supposed to. surprise!... flying robots. with bombs. wanna print a brain? some people have no friends. some people have no food. the globe is warming, and the ocean is full of plastic! "let's save the planet!" said everybody, not knowing how. "let's invent a thing inventor," said the thing inventor inventor after being invented by a thing inventor. that's pretty cool. by the way, where the hell are we? thanks for watching history i hope i mentioned everything
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Megathread: Bernie Sanders in narrow win over Buttigieg in the New Hampshire Democratic primary

Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by a margin of about 4,000 votes, or less than 2 percentage points, over Pete Buttigieg, according to an NBC News projection.
Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont, had been leading in the polls, so his victory wasn’t a surprise. But he and Buttigieg were closely bunched with the third-place candidate, Amy Klobuchar, allowing all three to claim either victory or solid momentum going into the next round of voting.
At the same time, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were headed toward poor showings and failed to get any delegates, NBC News projected.

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Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary - 'We are putting together an unprecedented, multi-generational, multi-racial movement, and this is a movement from coast to coast' independent.co.uk
Sanders wins three-way contest in New Hampshire primary wsws.org
Another split decision: Sanders narrowly beats Buttigieg in New Hampshire - Amy Klobuchar captures headlines with strong third-place finish; Warren and Biden far back in fourth and fifth salon.com
Democratic field narrows after New Hampshire but race is far from settled - The Democratic presidential primary now appears to be a battle between Bernie Sanders and any candidate who can stop him theguardian.com
Sanders edges Buttigieg in New Hampshire, cementing Democratic front-runners denverpost.com
Bernie Sanders' uneasy New Hampshire win axios.com
Sanders Wins In New Hampshire, Narrowly Beating Buttigieg aljazeera.com
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Sanders wins vote; Buttigieg leads in total delegates cnn.com
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Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire, DOJ turmoil and Westminster names new top dog: The Morning Rundown nbcnews.com
Sanders Is Winning Because He's Popular - Voters like the senator from Vermont—it’s socialism that makes them nervous. theatlantic.com
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What New Hampshire's exit polls tell us about the primary - Bernie Sanders cleaned up among younger voters but was spurned by older ones. For Amy Klobuchar, it was the opposite. politico.com
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'Do They Never Learn?': Progressives Rip Media Attempts to Downplay Bernie Sanders Win in NH Primary commondreams.org
Why Bernie Sanders's New Hampshire primary win should terrify you washingtonexaminer.com
Former Goldman Sachs CEO rips Sanders after NH win: 'He'll ruin our economy' thehill.com
Democrats eye Nevada, South Carolina after Sanders wins in New Hampshire reuters.com
Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire Victory Is a Big Deal for Socialism in America. Here's What To Know About the History of the Idea time.com
Analysis: Bernie Sanders' New Hampshire win ups pressure on moderates to coalesce pressdemocrat.com
Bernie Sanders lost among New Hampshire voters focused most on beating Trump New Hampshire shows Bernie Sanders still has an “electability” problem. vox.com
What changed for Sanders in New Hampshire since 2016? The electorate, for one. washingtonpost.com
Health Insurance Giant Reacts to Bernie Sanders' Slim Win finance.yahoo.com
Bernie Sanders claimed victory in the New Hampshire primary. Here's what that win means abc.net.au
Progressives to Voters Skeptical of Bernie Sanders: This 'Big Tent' Movement Is a Winning and Practical Choice — "Sanders is much more pragmatic and less ideological than his opponents would like to admit." commondreams.org
Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire Win Was Fueled By the Sunrise Movement . Organizers with the Sunrise Movement and New Hampshire Youth Movement mobilized the youth vote in New Hampshire, helping Bernie Sanders win the primary. teenvogue.com
New Hampshire 2020: In Supreme Irony, the Horse Race Favors Bernie Sanders rollingstone.com
What revolution? New Hampshire results show Bernie Sanders base of support shrinking washingtonexaminer.com
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary; Buttigieg leads in delegate count fox8.com
The Night Socialism Went Mainstream - Bernie Sanders’s victory in the New Hampshire primary marks a turning point for Democratic politics. theatlantic.com
Elon Musk tweeted a bizarre 'Sonic'-themed meme of Bernie Sanders after he won the New Hampshire primary businessinsider.com
SC’s Joe Cunningham slams Bernie Sanders’ ‘socialism’ ahead of 2020 Democratic primary postandcourier.com
Investors bet on Sanders after New Hampshire win as Biden plummets: Smarkets finance.yahoo.com
Bernie Sanders and No One are tied for winning the Democratic Primary according to 538 projects.fivethirtyeight.com
'South Carolinians don’t want socialism': Democrat slams Bernie Sanders ahead of state primary washingtonexaminer.com
Sanders Would Bring the Center-Left’s Collapse to U.S.: Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination wouldn’t be a freakish occurrence outside the experience of other advanced democracies. politico.com
‘Terrified of Bernie’: Sanders’ socialism spooks swing-district Democrats washingtontimes.com
AOC’s Speech Snub, ICE Remarks Rankle Bernie Sanders Campaign- AOC’s people were said to be unhappy at being called on the carpet and expressed concern over Sanders’s Joe Rogan embrace—but now AOC is back on the stump in New Hampshire. vanityfair.com
Bernie Sanders's New Hampshire Win Confirms He is the Front-runner, Like It or Not teenvogue.com
Why Does Mainstream Media Keep Attacking Bernie Sanders as He Wins? gq.com
Bernie Sanders on His Big Win in New Hampshire msnbc.com
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[Primer] The Nightmare Hive: A Five-Colour Lurrus Slivers Guide

Humans don’t have it easy in fantasy settings. They tend to be cast either as strictly worse versions of other races in all qualities that actually matter, or they’re just the jacks-of-all-trades lacking both the strengths and weaknesses of the others. In many games, this lack of specialization makes humans boring, and keeps them away from presence in minmaxed munchkin builds, but here? They do have one strength.
Diversity.
A band of humans from all five colours trek across the countryside. The finest specimens that the species has to offer. They come from all walks of life: noble priests, veteran soldiers, pirates with even less respect for you than for your property rights. There’s one chick who makes stuff cost more mana somehow. (Do any of the Innistrad novels explain that?)
All march together for a common purpose: using their combined powers, they must exterminate a hive of interplanar rodents. The slivers have expanded their territory in recent months, terrorizing the farmers whose grain the kingdom relies on. The exterminators are well-equipped, bringing magic found in their faith, strength found in the arrival of their comrades, and giant praying mantises found God-knows-where. Discard, +1/+1 counters, ramp - they have it all. If there’s a need that has to be met, you can bet there’s a human somewhere willing to do it for enough coin. But through it all, these bipedal mammals still have one weakness.
Diversity.
Humans are pack animals, you see, but still individuals. Social ones to be sure, but they also appear determined to love their shortcomings more than their potential greatness, and cringe away from the pinnacle of evolution: the parasocial. Their flesh-brains have come so far, but without an omnipresent psionic link, they’re little more than their unicellular ancestors. Limited to a single life. A single existence. You can dismantle an entire army of them just by breaking down their fragile communications systems. Once that’s done, you can just sit back and watch as disorganization dissolves their ranks and their differences drive them to tear each other apart. This is the eternal flaw of the Self: it implies a lack of perfect union with the Whole.
And as these humans, less of a people than a cobbled-together mass of persons, reach the top of the hill and see the outline of the Hive on the horizon, they will know the failure of their species. They will bear witness to the accomplishments of the Whole and even as they fail to articulate it in words, they will know that the Self is the Flaw.
We have long since mended this Flaw. They sent their finest ones, but the fact that their finest are confined to being ones, with gifts that only apply to singular specimens, is their fatal limit. That is why their final stand against our expansion can only ever be that: a final stand.
---
"bro wtf that was cringe, ur gonna lose karma"
Sorry, I’m a wannabe fantasy writer on Reddit. Get used to awful prose.
Welcome to a primer for my particular brew of 5C Slivers in Modern: the Nightmare Hive. It’s something I’ve been somewhat surprised to not see more Slivers players dabbling in. If you ask me, I think they have an unhealthy attachment to 3-drops. 🤮
I’m going to focus on deckbuilding/card choice and playstyle notes. It’s probably not going to be a ton of new information for experienced players, but it can call attention to some micro. I’ll throw some attention to matchup notes but that’s not what’s as fun for me to write. This is also the first time I’ve ever written an MTG primer. Well, a primer that isn’t for a deck that’s actually just a shitpost made of cardboard. (Ask me about 95-land Vendilion Clique EDH!)
There’s not much I have to say for an introduction or a “Why Slivers?” in general. You guys already know it. Slivers have a certain reputation among casual players for being OP. Maybe this is because they’re the truest embodiment of what a tribal deck is. Slivers sacrifice a lot of individual power in order to maximize group power. But really the reason for this is that building a functional Sliver deck for casual is one of the easiest things in the world. As far as fair decks go, you can get a ton of mileage in terms of effectiveness out of relatively little money spent just by rooting through the foul-smelling dumpster that is your LGS’s bulk commons bin, throwing any slivers you find at some lands and calling it a deck. You also get more insight by comparing them to other creature types like Humans or Elves: plenty of those creature types will show up incidentally in more generalist decks, but the instant an opponent plays their first Sliver, you know exactly what’s going on and you know you should be afraid. Consequently, casual circles often have the one Sliver deck of the friend group whose player loves to be feared and who everyone else loves to fear.
This shifts a lot once one goes into competitive environments. Slivers have clear weaknesses, and in my view, many of the common modern Sliver builds fail to really play to their strengths enough to make up for this. I don’t even know if the deck I’m about to describe to you is any different, but I can attest to this deck having a good matchup against other Sliver decks by virtue of sheer speed. Vroom vroom.
Do keep in mind that while I’m hyping this deck up because it’s mine and I’m proud of it, it’s far from perfect. But you know what it is? Consistent, easy to play and fun as SHIT for smoothbrains like me. HAHA TURN CREATURES SIDEWAYS EVERY TURN, WORLD’S BEST STRATEGY GAME, NOW FREE TO PLAY ON MTGARENA
Alright bois, get ready. Strap in, set aside your existential identity as a Unique and become one with the Hive. Click your talons together when you’re ready and brace yourself for some card choice analysis. Truly the funnest part of Magic, at least if you’re like me and spend hours honing a theoretical build for your D&D character without caring to ever actually play it.
If all you care about is the list, here's the summary by a helpful Goyf.

The 0-Drops:

In this deck, our only 0-drops are lands, and you’re probably familiar with what the best choices already are. Where this gets a tad spicy is in the land count: 18. One of the reasons this deck stands at an advantage against other Sliver decks is precisely from the pseudo card advantage provided by being able to draw fewer lands than our opponent and still have a functional deck. Curving lower than burn out here.
4x Cavern of Souls: Surprising literally nobody with this one. In the Bant snowpile meta that hasn't quite gone away with Astrolabe, your opponent will have plenty of countermagic, and this card will be pulling a lot of weight for getting you on even footing with them.
4x Unclaimed Territory: Discount Cavern. The color-fixing is just this valuable, letting us draw on Slivers from every color to create an optimized horde without stressing about our mana sources.
4x Sliver Hive: Here’s something we have over other tribal decks: Twelve different lands that can all tap for colorless as well as one of any color to spend on our creatures. Sliver Hive has a final ability stapled on, but I legitimately feel that this card would be buffed if that ability was replaced with flavor text. That would improve Slivers as a whole by adding to their aesthetic while also removing an ability that literally never gets used, at least in this build. Requires you to draw a third of the lands in your whole library to use, and if you’ve reached that point, you’ve probably already lost.
0x Ancient Ziggurat: WHAT? Yeah yeah, I know. Here’s the thing: With the above lands doing so much for our mana fixing, and a number of other lands we want, there’s little room for Ancient Ziggurat. Which is a shame, because ziggurat is an awesome word that you should strive to use at least once every day. The inability to be used on noncreature sources matters more often than you’d think, usually in the case of sideboard cards but also for a number of hands in which one would be keeping a single land and an Aether Vial.
“But isn’t it better for Lurrus since it can produce any colour to cast it, unlike Sliver Hive?”
Before the nerf, this was correct. However, now that you have to pay 3 generic mana to put your companion into your hand, a cost that Ancient Ziggurat can’t contribute to, it’s no longer worth it.
In short, Ancient Ziggurat is good, but “good” isn’t good enough for the Hive. We demand more.
3x Mutavault: Unfortunately, playing 4 Mutavaults here is suboptimal. Five-color deck needs its five-color sources, and in a deck with 18 lands, we don’t want more than one-sixth of our lands failing to produce colored mana. A number of creatures in the deck are ones Mutavault can’t be used to pay for even if we want to. That said, the 2/2 body that benefits from all the Sliver buffs is commonly the difference between winning and losing a game. In playtesting I’ve found 3 to be the optimal number, but you wouldn’t be totally insane for playing 2 or 4.
2x Silent Clearing: Apparently 18 lands is sometimes too many. The pain from these is usually insignificant, while the card draw can help us pull a clutch win out of nowhere. This particular horizon land is chosen since out of the ones available, it most lines up with our mana requirements. Shoutout to the times you crack it at EoT, draw a creature you can drop with Aether Vial, untap and swing for lethal because of that new Sliver.
1x Snow-Covered Plains: Yes, this deck is very, very bad against Blood Moon. Good thing the Astrolabe ban makes Ponza worse, right? Blood Moon only gets less common in the meta from here, right guys?
The single Plains is mostly a formality, something to fetch off of opponents’ Paths, Assassin’s Trophies and Fields of Ruin. Why Snow-Covered? Mind games. It might cause your opponent to think you run something that makes the snow quality relevant. In truth, it’s because it adds possible variance in your opponent’s mind that they might account for, at zero mechanical downside. I actually don’t like the fact that snow-covered basics are strictly better than standard basics. I’d like to see a modern-legal Snow hoser that’s good enough to use, making snow lands something to use only if your deck actually cares about them rather than making them the optimal default for every single deck.
So, that’s our manabase. Nothing too surprising or exciting, but had to be done.

The 1-Drops:

AND NOW WE GET TO THE CARDS YOU ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT

AIGHT HERE’S HOW YOU MURDER EVERY SAPIENT BEING YOU ENCOUNTER

One of Slivers’ main weaknesses as a tribe is their one-drops. There aren’t many, and the ones we get aren’t absolutely spectacular. No 1 mana 2/2s with haste or anything. (God can you imagine how OP a 1 mana 2/2 with haste would be?) But they do get the job done, providing the keyword soup that makes this deck favourable against other fair decks. Just to fluff this out and address some bad possibilities people might want to account for, I’ll also be rating every one-drop sliver. I know you’re desperate for my opinion.
4x Aether Vial: When I first got into Magic, I didn’t understand what was so good about Aether Vial. Sure, you can get some cards into play faster, but it also takes up your first turn as well as a card to use. You’re just kneecapping yourself in the long run. What I didn’t understand is that much of the time, there is no long run in Modern. The added speed is worth it, as is the instant timing and the immunity to counterspells. Aether Vial is our only noncreature spell maindeck and we’ll drop it turn 1 if it’s in hand. They’d better counter it then, or the combination of Cavern of Souls and Aether Vial itself will make counters useless. This card is also what lets this deck survive at all against Blood Moon.
0x Metallic Sliver, Plated Sliver: The earliest slivers weren’t that powerful. We’re not missing much from being unable to use these.
0x Mindlash Sliver: I do wish this was somehow playable, but alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. You’re spending mana to 2-for-1ing yourself, unless your hand is empty, but even then this probably isn’t worth it. You don’t want to rip apart hands, you want to rip apart FACES. Doesn’t make the cut. Maybe one day we’ll get a better version of this that’ll be useful against control.
0x Screeching Sliver: If someone manages to make Sliver Mill good, let me know. It’s certainly not viable now given all the Uros and dredge.
4x Sidewinder Sliver: Now we’re talking! Costs 1 white mana, meaning it works with any of our non-Mutavault lands. Flanking essentially makes this a lord for combat only, but there will be places where the fact it gives others a minus instead of your own creatures a plus is relevant: opposing lifelink becomes less powerful, Ice-Fang Coatls die before they get to deal damage, even 1-toughness first strikers die before getting to deal damage. Flanking only works against creatures without flanking, but the only time that’ll come up in Modern is the mirror, and in that matchup this will essentially just be vanilla since it grants the ability to all slivers, not just yours.
0x Virulent Sliver: Maybe in the past you could’ve made the case for this. Maybe you could argue that in some very niche cases like against soul sisters or decks that can continuously pick off your lords, the poison will kill before the damage. Especially if you get multiple of these out. But nowadays our selection of one-drops isn’t quite that terrible, and we don’t have to use this.
4x Galerider Sliver: The best one-drop Sliver in most cases. Little to say, makes them unblockable to most creatures. Being able to block enemy fliers sometimes matters, but usually your playstyle is just HAHA TURN CREATURES SIDEWAYS, MAGIC IS THE WORLD’S BEST STRATEGY CARD GAME. If your opening hand has multiple one-drop slivers, you might want to drop one of the other one-drops first in order to bait the removal on that one. To use Sidewinder Sliver as a point of comparison: making your opponent’s blocking choices less optimal isn’t as good as taking away their option of blocking at all.
4x Striking Sliver: Now this is interesting. Most Sliver decks I’ve seen run 2 of both this and Sidewinder, but since this deck is meant to be faster and more aggressive, we want 4 of both. Especially since both of them are equally good against one-toughness blockers like Snapcaster Mage or Ice-Fang Coatl. Let’s compare them for interest’s sake. First Strike works on both attacks and blocks, unlike flanking, and you can Aether Vial the Striking Sliver in as a combat trick after blocks. Can’t do that with Sidewinder since flanking is a triggered ability. By contrast, Sidewinder Sliver is easier to cast given our mana base, works better as a combat trick in more cases (a 2/2 sliver with first strike blocked by a 2/2 successfully turns a trade into a win, while being blocked by a 3/3 fails to turn a loss into a trade; flanking succeeds for both) and as the slight nudge into superiority for me, flanking stacks. Also importantly, many of your opponents will not know that flanking stacks until after you inform them of this once they’ve already formally declared blockers. For me, flanking stacking makes it more valuable to get multiple Sidewinder Slivers as opposed to multiple Striking Slivers, and in most matchups if I’m boarding out 1-drops, I’ll start taking out copies of Striking before Sidewinder. Exceptions do exist: against 8-ball you will be very thankful for your 1/1 first striker that totally negates their single-toughness attackers.
Well I guess that’s all of them. Time to move on to-
>OBJECTION!<
2x Changeling Outcast?!: That’s right folks, you heard it here first. We’re this aggressive. We’re committing so hard to our lord and savior The Fast that we’re throwing in a couple of 1-mana unblockable changelings who will benefit from all pumps given to slivers. The fact they can’t block is hardly ever relevant in a deck that intends to do no blocking, and the unblockable clause makes this a clock that gets surprisingly fast once you have a couple of the two-drops down. Costing black mana means there’s only four lands in the deck that can’t cast it, making it a reliable first-turn play if you really have nothing else to put down, and they’ll let you win through a number of board stalemates. All of that said, these will usually be your first cuts when it comes to sideboarding. Not that they’re bad, just that everything else is better - these are essentially flex slots. Try them, and if you find them underwhelming, I have other suggestions in their stead for the two-drops. Do note, however, that this can make your curve a bit too high to be truly speedy.

The 2-Drops:

The reason this build works, and arguably the reason the whole tribe works, is that Slivers have such an abundance of 2-mana lords. (Basically, if you wish Rat Colony.dec was a good deck, play this. That's why I do.) They wind up buffing each other and creating monstrous attack phases in a short number of turns. The consistency is phenomenal since they’re all so interchangeable and redundant. Not all of them are created equal, but all of them will nonetheless serve you well in ripping people’s midsections open.
4x Unsettled Mariner: This time we’ll just get the one changeling out of the way upfront: this guy is good. 2 mana 2/2 makes it a reasonable rate for a body, and you can drop it early in place of a lord without actually losing much damage. Many opponents will be tunnel visioned on killing this in order to free up mana, which will also take up their removal that should have been saved for killing lords. It makes life noticeably harder for burn, 8rack, Jund as long as they have to let it live, and so on. An excellent addition to the deck from Modern Horizons, instant 4-of. Be sure not to forget that it doesn’t just prevent the spellcasting, but counters it as a triggered ability, so you won’t just have to correct your opponent that they’re unable to cast their spell given the mana they have like with Thalia - their spell is directly countered if they screw up. Also remember that the counter applies to spells that target your nonsliver permanents, such as land destruction, as well as to you! Delaying Cryptic Command for a turn is super helpful in the control matchup. Lastly, it applies to abilities as well. Planeswalker abilities, Fields of Ruin, Thought-Knot Seer ETB trigger, even Gifts Ungiven, all of it has to have extra mana paid or it does nothing.
0x Clot, Heart, Muscle, Talon, Winged, Acidic, Crystalline, Hibernation, Victual, Crypt, Hunter, Mistform, Quick Sliver: None of them are modern legal. The most unfortunate loss is Crystalline Sliver, which could be out here giving all of them shroud and thus making removal totally pointless. At least Unsettled Mariner does an acceptable impression.
0x Gemhide Sliver: WHAT DO WE NEED THIS MUCH MANA FOR? GET OUTTA HERE GREEN BOY
0x Ghostflame Sliver: WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE COLORLESS FOR? GET OUTTA HERE COLORLESS BOY (might be fun tech against all is dust or ugin, but by that point you’ve already lost)
0x Quilled Sliver: WHY IS THIS SLIVER UNTAPPED?! YOU’RE FIRED!
0x Spined Sliver: This is an interesting one to me, and I’ve come very close to running it. The 2/2 body makes it attractive, as does the ability acting similar to flanking. Two things contribute to it not being worth running: the fact that at the end of the day its ability is a worse flanking, and the fact that casting it is too awkward for the utility we get out of it. We need either Vial or two lands that can tap for any colour to get Spined Sliver out, and while we actually do meet that criteria the majority of the time, the minority is large enough to be worthy of consideration.
0x Spinneret Sliver: WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO BLOCK?! GET OUTTA HERE SPIDER SLIVER. ALSO WE ALREADY GET ACTUAL FLYING FROM GALERIDER SO WHO NEEDS YOU
0x Two-Headed Sliver: It sometimes gets close to kinda viable-ish, but the fact it’s a 2 mana 1/1 that doesn’t pump itself as well as the fact that we already have several flying sources and a few unblockables in here means that this ability is very often pointless. You will feel the pain when it’s absent, and you’re unlikely to notice the pain of it being present and wishing it was something else, but trust me - the damage is there even if you don’t feel it. It’s not good enough for the main deck, and the sideboard has much more important circumstances to concern itself with than whether or not menace would be good in this matchup. We already run over most other go-wide decks, and are unlikely to lose due to a lack of menace.
0x Cautery Sliver: You just get so much more out of any given sliver from its quality of improving other slivers than you get from sacrificing them to ping stuff.
0x Darkheart Sliver: I legitimately believe this one can be viable. If you’re in a particularly aggressive meta, you can pull wins out of the extra life from this. Against burn, each sliver can directly cancel out a burn spell. Against Jund, you can respond to all removal spells by gaining some extra life. Sac everything in response to a boardwipe to buy time for your recovery, including dodging the exile clause on Anger of the Gods. Chump and sac before damage if you manage to be losing for some reason. There was a time when I ran a single one mainboard as a better game 1 against burn decks, and I wouldn’t fault you for running it as a one-of, though I now consider the loss of consistency for doing so to be a bit too much. Especially since Unsettled Mariner is already a card that makes it more awkward for your opponents to remove your slivers, you already have some protection from this angle.
4x Sinew Sliver: And now we’re off to the races! Drop it turn 2, cast it with an extremely easy mana cost for this deck, Aether Vial it in before damage to screw over opponents’ blocking decisions, pump your Mutavault, save creatures from damage spells. Sinew Sliver puts in a ton of work, and is easily one of the best cards in the deck. PUT IT DOWN, MAKE ALL YOUR SLIVERS RIPPED, TURN YOUR CREATURES SIDEWAYS, YOU CANNOT LOSE.*
\you can sometimes lose)
4x Frenzy Sliver: I don’t like Frenzy Sliver. I just don’t. It’s a 2-mana 1/1 that only adds power and only for unblocked creatures. Can’t even Aether Vial it in after blockers are declared. Sinew Sliver sparks joy. Frenzy Sliver does not spark joy. However, it’s very easy for this deck to cast and it comes close enough to being a lord for this highly aggressive list that it makes the cut as a 4-of. If you’re considering cutting two-drops for your sideboard cards, these will be among the first to go, unless your opponent plays so few targeted spells and abilities that Unsettled Mariner isn’t worth it.
0x Manaweft Sliver: WHAT DO WE NEED THIS MUCH MANA FOR? GET OUTTA HERE GREEN BOY
4x Predatory Sliver: Yes… YEEEEEESSSSS! One-sided Sinew Sliver STRONK! Costs green instead of white, but being one-sided matters more often than you think, and not just for the mirror. Sinew Sliver will also be buffing opposing Mutavaults and Unsettled Mariners. Predatory Sliver is consistently a house against decks of all kinds, being cast turn 2 or being dropped by Aether Vial at instant speed to wreak havoc on opponents. Many question why one would even play Slivers when options like Merfolk and Goblins are available, and the answer is that we’ve already touched on 12 different damage-boosting 2-drop slivers, and we’re not even done!
0x Sentinel Sliver: Similar to Darkheart Sliver, I used to run this as a one-of and I’m quite convinced it’s viable depending on meta. Easy to cast, 2/2 body, and without being able to use the 3-mana lifelink sliver, this does a lifegain impression by allowing us to threaten blocks where we couldn’t before. That said, its benefit is situational and its presence raises our curve as well as potentially the need for more lands. I leave it out, but you wouldn’t be insane for including one if you have an aggressive creature-based meta.
0x Diffusion Sliver: Other Slivers players will maul me for this choice, but it comes back to how aggressive this deck wants to be. 2 mana 1/1s really need to earn their place, and this doesn’t quite do it, especially with Unsettled Mariner already present in the deck. Diffusion Sliver is an absolute house in more midrangey or ramp-focused sliver builds to protect the big boys, but this list doesn’t lean so heavily on any individual component, and it would typically rather draw another lord than a diffusion sliver. Especially when it’s already late game or when it’s trying to recover from a wiped board. So what I’m getting at is something you probably already knew: defense is for wimps.
4x Leeching Sliver: This is a better version of Frenzy Sliver. It still has many of the same problems, but the advantages of life loss as opposed to a damage boost are crucial: the life loss bypasses effects like Worship, isn’t prevented by Fogs, still applies even if the attacking creature is blocked, and the triggers can finish off a nearly-dead opponent even if they have enough creatures to block everything. 16 2-mana lords. This is why you play slivers.
0x Venom Sliver: This can work as a one-of if the stars align and you have an extremely weird meta full of big creatures that aren’t Uro and Kroxa. But in most metas the deathtouch just isn’t going to be useful enough. Your creatures should get big enough to kill with combat damage, and you’d rather have a lord instead of this to boost said combat damage.
0x Bladeback Sliver: Slivers that are tapping to deal direct damage aren’t benefiting from the 16 lords. We don't like your type 'round these parts.
4x Cloudshredder Sliver: Oh-HOOOOH, this thing is spicy. This absolute MADMAN acts as Galeriders 5-8 for much more consistent evasion, as well as haste. This is the quality it takes to let a 2-mana 1/1 that doesn’t pump itself be viable, and it earns its place unquestioningly. Seriously, this allows for absolutely ridiculous plays. Turn 1 Aether Vial, turn 2 Cloudshredder Sliver, Vial in Sidewinder Sliver and swing for 2, turn 3 Striking Sliver, Predatory Sliver, Vial in another Predatory Sliver, swing for 15, flying, flanking, first strike. There are many decks that just cannot handle this pressure, especially if they’ve already shocked themselves. If they Anger of the Gods now, they’ll still be low enough for you to rebuild and kill with a second wave later.
0x Dregscape Sliver: This may or may not be the correct choice. It’s what I’m currently using due to trying to avoid the unearth being a nonbo with a certain nightmare cat. No question that these are good, and might actually warrant a place here, but this specific build performs just fine without them. Like the other 0-but-viable slivers, you can play around with cutting the Changeling Outcasts for a couple copies if you wish.
0x Enduring Sliver: WHY AREN’T YOU ATTACKING? GET OUT OF HERE ABZAN SLIVER

The 3-Drops:

Why would anyone in their right mind play 3-drops in a non-ramp deck? This is modern. Format's too fast and degenerate for that, bucko.
With one exception.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den

The benefit for the restriction, besides the lower land count. We all know how awesome Lurrus is. Format-breaking monster.
“But u/Yaldev, companions got nerfed!”
You call that a nerf?! Now we can pay 3 mana, the same as its normal cost, but now it’s colorless, and then put it into play at instant speed and uncounterably with Aether Vial! Combined with the fact that the hardest abusers of Lurrus are now considerably less able to abuse it themselves, while it actually got better for us specifically, and I think there’s never been a better time to play this deck!
If you do feel like casting Lurrus from hand, it costs 1 colourless and two hybrid black/white, so even our non-5C lands can contribute to casting it. Also keep in mind that it’s totally viable to play your “name a creature type” lands and name Nightmare for the sake of being able to cast Lurrus, AND keep in mind that those lands will still be able to be used to pay for your changelings since they also count as Nightmare Cats. Fun!
Lurrus is such a boon for this deck, despite not being a sliver. It has lifelink, working well against burn and prowess. It lets you come back from a number of different boardwipes. It frees up the space that would have been taken up by Dregscape Sliver to instead get other utility and one-mana spells while still having access to reanimation. You can recur your sideboard cards if they get destroyed. This card is just so GOOD and I can’t believe that other Slivers players are so delusional that they think it’s worth it to trade off Lurrus for cards that cost THREE mana!
But what about Collected Company?
Collected Company is indeed one of the best arguments against a Lurrus build, but there are a few details I want to call attention to, one of which is the impact of both the mana cost and the coloured requirement. Including Collected Company demands a retooling of the mana base, reducing consistency in exchange for potential pop-offs that have a ceiling that feels good to pull off, but is typically overkill.
The other issue is one that doesn’t have as much attention paid to it: it increases how many noncreature spells you’re running. Despite the bans, we’re likely still looking at a meta with a dominant snow-pile control feel. A deck with enough Dovin’s Vetos and Force of Negations to spare. By making these cards practically useless by sticking to almost entirely creature spells, we deprive our opponent of resources.
All of that said, you actually could still play around with including Collected Company as well as Lurrus. Remember, Lurrus’s restriction only applies to permanents, not to instants and sorceries. It’ll just require retooling your mana base a bit, probably including another land or two and dropping some of the any-colour producers in favour of green lands, Silent Clearings go out for Horizon Canopies, and it makes you more vulnerable to Grafdigger’s Cage, a card that opponents will already be boarding in against you if they have it in order to deal with Lurrus. You also won’t get maximum value since you have no 3 drops to get. This is essentially 4 mana for 4 mana at most.
Slivers isn’t a solved archetype. Feel free to be a scientist, do your own experiments, add to collective knowledge of the Slivers Player Hivemind.

Sideboard:

For this sideboard, I’ve opted towards going hard against specific decks rather than having few cards for everything. This is in part out of necessity, since our options for diversifying legitimately are limited: the Slivers that are worth including in sideboards are 3+ mana, and that leaves only colourless spells that cost 2 or less. We can’t go wide, so we have to go deep.
4x Chalice of the Void: BEHOLD THE FUNSLAYER. Chalice on 1 is your answer to all the decks you already know are reliant on 1 drops, including but not limited to:
To account for this, you’ll typically be boarding out some 1-drops to account for strong likelihood of them being uncastable, though even then, there’s still a good chance you’ll get to use them anyway. Aether Vial turn 1 will let you get them in without casting, while Cavern of Souls will make your 1-drops uncounterable by Chalice.
Also keep in mind the super spicy Chalice on 0, which makes life difficult for UR Free Spells, Cascade, any cheesy strats trying to be Cheerios in 2020, Prime Time (NO PACT 4 U), and once again, Ad Nauseam. 0 stops them from casting Lotus Bloom from exile!
Overall, I think Chalice is the deck’s best sideboard weapon. Do not run less than 4. It’s too valuable.
4x Dismember: Sometimes there are creatures you genuinely have to worry about. Stoneforge Mystic fetched Batterskull and you can’t handle it being played on turn 3. Goyf needs to die before it gets massive. Against other tribal decks, taking out a key lord can be more valuable than yet another 1-drop sliver on your own side. 4 life is a lot to pay, but often this card will save you more than 4 life, or prevent more than 4 life gained for your opponent, or just secure a win that could have otherwise been thrown into question. Also keep in mind that because your Silent Clearings tap for black, they can contribute to the Phyrexian mana cost to save a teensy bit of life.
4x Soul-Guide Lantern: This can easily be substituted for Tormod’s Crypt if that’s your preference. I just like the Lantern for the ETB exile so that it doesn’t have to be cracked as early just to get rid of a single problematic card in a graveyard. In any case, this answers dredge, Uro, Jund and so forth. Can also be sacced to draw if you simply must win the game before your opponent’s next turn and desperately need to hit something to secure that. As a bonus, it can be recurred with Lurrus as both repeatable grave hate and card draw.
1x Damping Sphere: In all likelihood you’ll want 2 of these if Tron has relevant presence in your meta, but for my own deck I prefer to keep it to 1. Nothing special here, it hits all the same stuff you’d expect, such as Tron, Storm and Prowess. The annoying thing about it is that you also happen to be one of the decks that wants to put out several spells per turn, meaning that Damping Sphere will be slowing you down as well.
1x Torpor Orb: In all likelihood you’d rather drop this to double up on Damping Spheres, but I find that in longer games, you’ll get a ridiculous amount of mileage out of this bad boy. Your deck has exactly zero ETB triggers, so you’ll miss out on nothing, while simultaneously gimping Snapcaster Mages, Ice-Fang Coatls, Soul Sisters, Squadron Hawks, Rangers and Ranger-Captains of Eos, Seasoned Pyromancers, Silvergill Adepts, Harbingers of the Tides, Merfolk Tricksters, Thassa’s Oracle, Champions of the Parish, Thalia’s Lieutenants, Detention Mages, Freebooters, Thought-Knot Seers, those god-awful “turn your lands into artifacts and then Reclamation Sage them” decks, and need I even mention blink strats?

Piloting the Deck:

BRRRRRRRRBRBRBRRRRRRBBPLTHPBLBWRBPWBLGPTH
VRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM
In many games, this deck plays out in quite similar ways: Turn 1 sliver, turn 2 lord and swing, turn 3 another lord and swing with second mainphase one drop, turn 4 play 2 more lords and kill. May take an extra turn or two depending on their removal and how painful their manabase is. Seriously, it’s impressively fast, while also being impressively consistent.
Because the creature spells in your library curve out at 2, you’re perfectly fine with keeping a hand consisting of a single land and an Aether Vial. You can leave the Vial at 2 charge counters for the whole game, and even if by some freak of probability you never draw a second land, you can cast your 1-drops with the single land. At the same time, drawing more than one Aether Vial isn’t redundant for you, since there are a number of times when you’ll want to tick a 2-counter vial up to 3 for the sake of dropping Lurrus.
Note that in most games, Lurrus won’t even come out. Deck is 3FAST. It’s more of a possibly-turn-losses-into-wins sort of card. In games you were going to win anyway, it’s rarely necessary.
Deck’s fun. Sometimes you do actually have to think about the attacks you’re making. Sometimes you have to play around your opponent’s open mana meaning they very likely have something to pick off a lord. That can impact whether you’re still willing to attack with your 3/3 that’ll be brought down to a 2/2 into their blocker. Sometimes you have multiple lords in hand and you play the weaker one first to bait removal. I can’t realistically cover every situation, but I can offer some general advice:

Matchup Notes

This primer's already approaching the character cap for reddit, so here's a separate document for any hotties who've made it this far.

Conclusion (ft. Shameless Self-Plug)

Thanks for reading this, ModernMagic lurkers! Apart from wanting to give back to all the primer writers who've helped me smash face in Magic and other games through the years, I wrote this in order to get my writing in front of people's beautiful faces. If you like my style, feel free to check out my fantasy/sci-fi writing project at Yaldev. It's got weaponized cyborgs, undead dinosaurs, sentient paper airplanes, Horse Meat, lots of pretty art, and if you're a Vorthos flavour-geek you'll definitely be seeing how MTG influences the worldbuilding. Hopefully that's a good thing.
Feel free to post comments and discussion, I should be around to provide responses of questionable value.
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I Read It So You Don't Have To: Little Kids, Big City (by Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen)

Inspired by the overwhelmingly positive response to my previous 'book report' on Ramona Singer's Life on the Ramona Coaster (seriously, thank you all -- truly supporting other women 🙏🙏), I decided to try my hand at writing up yet another of the embarrassing number of Housewives books in my personal collection: Alex McCord and Simon van Kempen's Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City with Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle.
After reading just the title of this book, I'm already exhausted. It's pretentiously long and awkwardly phrased while somehow still managing to be entirely devoid of meaning. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of Simon and Alex. The summary on the back cover describes the pair as the "breakout stars" of RHONY, an assessment that I would charitably call 'debatable,' before going on to inform me that I can look forward to "informative and often hair-raising stories of life in the urban jungle," and that "Alex and Simon use their own hard-won experience as a springboard to discuss a host of parenting topics." I anticipate that this content will be quite useful to me, the guardian of four cats that I spoil endlessly and treat like my actual children.
One of the pull-quotes on the back cover allegedly comes from our very own Bethenny Frankel. I say 'allegedly' because I refuse to believe that the following passage would ever come out of Bethenny's mouth (or keyboard or whatever):
Alex and Simon don't take themselves too seriously, which seems to be essential to parenting. Their fresh 'he said, she said' perspective on parenting is both humorous and insightful!
Please, take a moment and do your very best to picture mention-it-all, betting-on-horse-races-at-age-five Bethenny unironically using the phrase "fresh 'he said, she said' perspective." To describe Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord. Right, didn't think so.
My experience reading Little Kids, Big City started on an unexpected high note when I opened the front cover to find that my copy (purchased used through Better World Books for the low, low price of $5.31 with shipping) had been signed by Ms. you-are-in-high-school-while-I-am-in-Brooklyn herself, Alex McCord! Truly a gift I do not deserve. Samantha and Debbie (whoever and wherever you may be), thank you for your service. I am forever in your debt.
Unfortunately, as would soon become painfully clear to me, after starting off on such a promising note, I would have nowhere to go but down.
The book, which is written in alternating passages from Alex and Simon, begins its introduction with a chronicle of Alex's "fashionably nomadic" early adulthood. Ever the proto-edgelord, she recalls, "I did all those things our mothers warned us about and had fun doing them." We switch to Simon's perspective to hear the deeply embarrassing story of the couple meeting through a dating app while Simon was on a business trip in New York City. No, there is absolutely nothing embarrassing about meeting someone on a dating app. But there absolutely is something embarrassing about using the profile name "Yetisrule" to meet someone on a dating app. To clarify, this was apparently Alex's username, and I remain hopeful that we will get a more thorough explanation of her connection to the elusive Yeti as this book continues.
Alex tells us that, while she and Simon hadn't initially planned to have children, they eventually started to have "clucky feelings." I have never heard this phrase in my entire twenty-five years of life, but based on context clues and also a Google search, I learned that it means they wanted to have a baby. Don't worry, though! As Alex tells us, "You can be eight months pregnant and wear a leather miniskirt." Personally, this is life-changing news -- I had always believed that I couldn't have kids unless I was willing to compromise my 90s goth aesthetic! Maybe I'll rethink this child-free thing after all.
The next bit of advice seems like it actually could potentially be sort of helpful. "No one is a good parent all the time -- nor is anyone a bad parent all the time," they reassure the reader. "You can become a parent without losing yourself." Unfortunately, as soon as I catch myself nodding along, the modicum of goodwill I'd built up is promptly trashed by a gag-worthy line from Simon: "If you take nothing away but a wry smile after reading our little tome, then we've done our job." I immediately vow not to smile until I'm finished reading this book. Excuse me, this little tome.
The book starts in earnest with Chapter 1: "Does a German Shepherd Need a Birth Plan?" To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting a riddle at this juncture, but I am nevertheless excited to hear Simon and Alex tell us "why childbirth is not an intellectual activity." First, however, we get a passing reference to "Park Slope, home of the ParkSlopeParents.com message board made famous in 2007 with a so-ridiculous-it-got-headlines discussion on gender-specific baby hats and where feminism can be taken to extremes." And despite the lame alarmist allusion to ~*XTREME feminism*~, this line did manage to lead me down an interesting Internet rabbit hole, so thanks for that, I guess?
Jesus Christ, I am on PAGE 4 and I am already so done with Simon. Presented without comment:
With the Park Slope OB-GYN, we had the first sonogram and saw the little blip on the screen -- our child-to-be. They say seeing is believing and as nothing was happening inside me, seeing confirmation on the video monitor that indeed my spermatozoa had penetrated and infiltrated one of Alex's ova made me aware that my days as a footloose and fancy-free guy might be coming to an end.
Y'all, I am currently working on my PhD in Molecular Biology. Which, if you were not previously aware, gives me the authority to decree that Simon is never allowed to use the word "spermatozoa" ever again. And so it is.
I was about to say that Alex's passages are at least more tolerable, but it appears I spoke too soon.
The stats they quoted referenced a 40 percent cesarean section rate in the city, and I wonder how that can be acceptable? Are we heading toward Brave New World, where babies are scientifically created in petri dishes and gestated in artificial wombs? Oh wait, we're already there. Are we heading towards a Wall-E existence, where we ride around in carts everywhere and do nothing for ourselves so that our bodies break down and we're all fat, oozy blobs drinking protein from a straw? Somebody slap me, please!!
Truly, Alex, it would be my pleasure.
As a Type-A person, just reading the story of Alex's first pregnancy and delivery gave me anxiety. She says that she just never really "felt the need to establish a birth plan" and that she "gave in to any craving [she] felt." Don’t worry, though -- "If I had suddenly craved chalk, ecstasy or Elmer's Glue, I'd have thought twice." I feel like there is some symbolism here to unpack (Could the Elmer's Glue be a metaphor for the childlike spirit of connection and unity???). Simon describes himself as "a learn-on-the-job guy" and tells us that he and Alex "failed to attend the last couple of [birthing] classes as by then we both just wanted to let instinct take over when the time came." As someone who has never trusted my instincts even once in my entire life, I cannot relate.
Twelve days after his due date, baby François is born. Except it turns out that he actually was born right on time, but Alex "didn't keep regimented track of [her] periods" and miscalculated. What a bummer that modern medicine hasn't advanced to the point where doctors can guide you about that sort of thing.
I don't even know what to say about this next bit, but God help me, I still have 215 more pages of this book to go.
Although the final stages of labor were very, very painful, I [Alex] never used our code word (tin can) for "game over, give me drugs." I definitely recommend using a code word, because it was kind of fun to scream, "I want drugs, give me drugs" through a contraction and have the midwife, nurse and Simon all know I wasn't serious. Once he [François] was finally out of my body, I experienced a tsunami of endorphins that was almost orgasmic, and I understand completely the stories other women have written about ecstatic birth. Simon was sitting behind me at the point of birth, and later when we untangled ourselves he discovered he'd actually ejaculated though hadn't felt any of the normal lead-up to that. It may seem distasteful to some, and definitely neither of us was thinking of sex at the time, but with the rush of emotion and my lower nerve endings going crazy, it's not too far a stretch to say that it's a profound experience.
Johan is born two years later, although it's unclear from the text whether either parent reached orgasm during the event.
The chapter ends with a top-ten list entitled "10 Things We'll Remember That Happened During Pregnancy." These include useful tidbits like
  1. Best advice I heard: men's genitals grow and change shape regularly, then go back to the way they were before. Don't worry about your female delicate bits being able to retract.
Which is…a lovely sentiment. But one that is slightly undermined by phrasing the first part in the grossest way possible, as well as by the use of the phrase "female delicate bits." I do like the idea that they "retract," however, because I think it's very cool to imagine the vagina as an SUV sunroof. By the grace of God, Chapter 1 comes to a close.
In Chapter 2 (titled "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn, What's My Name Again? and Who is This Alien?" -- seriously, were they padding their word count with chapter titles?), we get more questionable parenting advice from the McCord-van Kempens. They glibly dismiss concerns about co-sleeping ("Simon and I both slept with cats and dogs our whole lives without squishing them"), which I honestly would be more annoyed about if I hadn't immediately gone on to read Simon's account of "the midnight race to the 24-hour pharmacy to buy a breast pump as Alex's breasts were seemingly engorged with too much milk and she thought they were about to explode and fly off her chest." As it stands, I'm truly too defeated to care. Again, just to be perfectly clear: no shade to having issues breastfeeding, all shade to using the word 'engorged.’ And also for giving me the mental image of Alex's breasts desperately struggling to flee from her body (though to be fair, who could blame them?).
Proving that she does not inhabit the same world as the rest of us mortals, Alex tells us that she expected that her state of sleep-deprivation as she raised two young children would "spur [her] creativity with graphic design." For some reason, this does not seem to be the case. Alex is puzzled.
Finally, we've come to this chapter's top ten list ("Top 10 Memories of Random Things We Did While in the Post-Birth Haze"). While these lists have so far been utterly irredeemable, they also mean the chapter is coming to a close, so I can at least take some solace in that. This particular list ranges from the irritating…
  1. We subversively took sleeping babies to as many non-child-friendly places as possible to prove the point that children can be seen, not heard and not bothersome, such as dinner at the Ritz in London, the Sahara Desert, shopping on Madison Avenue, Underbar in Union Square and film festivals.
…to the truly unnecessary.
  1. While changing François' diaper on day one or two, we both stood mesmerized by the changing pad as meconium oozed out of him. It was really the most bizarre and fascinating thing I'd seen to date.
With the couple's general backstory and credentials now under our belts, Chapter 3 ("The Screaming Kid on the Plane is NOT Mine! (This Time)") focuses on advice for traveling with children, which Alex admits "can be a complete pain in the you-know-what." I cannot describe the rage I feel at the fact that she has -- in no fewer than 50 pages -- forced me to read about both her newborn son's excrement and her husband's ejaculate, but cannot bring herself to use the word "ass." Alex, we're really far beyond that at this point, don't you think?
Not to be outdone, Simon shares a conversation he had with François that is remarkable not for its content, but for the fact that one of Simon's nicknames for his son is apparently "F-Boy." Thanks, I hate it.
This chapter's list ("Alex's Top 10 Travel Memories") includes the entry:
  1. Both boys charging down Saline Beach in St. Barths like something out of Lord of the Flies.
So, like a horde of primal sadists? I'm wondering if Alex and Simon have inadvertently confused Lord of the Flies with the hit 2007 reality show Kid Nation. I really hope that's what's going on here.
Chapter 4 ("'Mommy, Johan is Gone!'") promises to teach us how to handle accidents. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel taking emergency advice from the authors of this particular book, but (in large part due to the fact that I have slept since reading the previous chapter, giving the pain a chance to dull somewhat), I am willing to at least hear them out.
After relaying a story of François needing emergency surgery after a foot injury, Alex tells us that at one point, she and Simon realized they had spent "nearly $5000 on Indian takeout" in the past year. For the mathematically averse, this works out to a monthly budget of roughly $100 worth of Indian food per week, making my quarantine Uber Eats habit seem downright quaint by comparison. The chapter-ending list walks us through the "Top 10 Things We Do in a Crisis," and fortunately, the tips seem pretty benign.
  1. Knowing what calms the children down, such as making silly faces or reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards.
Wait, hang on. What?
reciting Shel Silverstein poetry backwards
I'm sorry, please forgive me if I have missed some recent, paradigm-shifting development in the field of early childhood education, but what?? As in, "ends sidewalk the where?" "Sdne klawedis eht erehw?" I am truly befuddled.
Maybe the next chapter ("'Is Today a Work Day or a Home Day, Mommy?'") will have some applicable wisdom for me, as I will, in fact, be working from home every other week for the foreseeable future. And, I cannot stress this enough, I am a psychotically overinvested cat mom. Alas, we are instead treated to an unnecessarily detailed breakdown of how important it is to delegate, and specifically that Simon cleans up vomit and Alex cleans up "feces in the various forms that come out of children's bottoms at appropriate and sometimes inappropriate times such as the middle of Thanksgiving festivities." As if we needed another reason to consider Thanksgiving problematic.
The chapter takes a brief commercial break…
When an everyday product can do double duty such as Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty, a dish soap that seals in moisture while I'm tackling cleanup, sure, I'll buy it.
…before closing out with a list of the "Top 10 Things We Do Because We Were Here First." I am happy to confirm your worst suspicions and tell you that item number one is indeed "Have passionate sex."
In Chapter 6 ("I Saw Your Nanny…Being Normal?"), I find myself actually sympathizing with Alex for the first time in this book. Which is mostly just because the chapter starts by talking about all of the awful, catty parental competitions that seem endemic to a certain crew of white Manhattan moms, and it makes Alex come off at least slightly less irritating in comparison.
That is, at least until a few pages later, when she starts to complain about a previous au pair:
She was sullen, melodramatic and kept a blog about how she hated Americans, hated France, hated us and the children but loved New York. I think she must have thought we were idiots, and when she asked us to leave early we were only too happy to get her out of our home.
I would love to meet this woman. I think we could be great friends.
This chapter's list is even more difficult to parse than previous ones, because while it's titled "Top 10 Things Caregivers Have Inadvertently Done to Amuse, Annoy or Thrill Us," it's not at all clear which descriptors apply to which points. When a babysitter "accidentally used a household cleaning wipe when changing a diaper," were the McCord-Van Kempens amused? Annoyed? Thrilled? The world may never know.
In Chapter 7 ("'Putting To Death Is Not Nice,' a Duet for Two Boys and A Guitar"), Alex and Simon share some of their hard-earned childrearing wisdom with us. Which basically amounts to Alex telling us that, while normally misbehavior from the kids incurs a warning followed by a time-out, she has also developed an ingenious new strategy where she actually steps in to intervene when the stakes are higher. Let's listen in:
A third permutation is when there's a behavior that has to stop immediately, say if Johan has a big blue indelible marker and is running through a white hotel suite. I swoop in and grab the marker as to risk a three count [warning] would be to risk decoration of the sofa.
Take the marker from the toddler immediately instead of trying to reason with him? Groundbreaking.
Side Note: At this point in my reading, I am incredibly satisfied to report that I have discovered my first typo in the book, and in one of Simon's sections no less! ("These toads secret [sic] a poison…"). This is wildly pedantic of me and proof that I am a deeply sick person.
We run though a list of "Top 10 Things We Never Thought We Would Have To Explain" ("10. Why hot pizza stones do not like Legos.") before moving right along into Chapter 8, "Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons." Strangely, I have a very vivid memory of Alex saying "I have a chapter in my book called, 'Don't Listen to the Well-Meaning Morons" in some distant RHONY episode or reunion. I guess she was telling the truth.
The chapter opens with a series of passages in which Alex and Simon respond to various comments that have been made about their parenting over the years. I think this device is supposed to be a bit of lighthearted snark on overbearing strangers, but instead just comes off as weirdly defensive and passive-aggressive. A few examples:
"My daughter is perfect. Her table manners are excellent, she never speaks unless spoken to and we've always had white sofas at home since she was a child, with no staining."
-A woman with one preteen daughter, no sons
Your daughter sounds boring. I wouldn't want my sons to date her..
Zing!
"Why are you outside?" - A bagel seller in Montreal, in February
I'm hungry and the stroller is well protected under the plastic cover. Johan is warm and cozy, the others are asleep in the hotel and I'm going stir-crazy. Is that enough, or should I buy my bagel from someone else?
Got 'em!
"Excuse me, your baby is crying." -- Someone said to Simon as they peered into the stroller to try and determine the cause of said noise.
You don't say! Do you think, you stupid idiot, that I don't hear that? Do you think I think it's just loud music? Do you think I don't want him to stop and that I like it???
Sorry, did I say 'passive-aggressive'? Let's change that to just 'aggressive.'
But despite bristling at being the recipient of unwanted advice, far be it from Alex to shy away from giving her opinions on the shortcomings of other parents.
There was a mom at another table who wore all black and told her hyperactive daughter that they had to have a family meeting to decide what to do next. The type of woman who might ask her daughter to "process her feelings" about which color to choose. The type of woman who wanted make [sic] a big huge hairy deal about including her daughter in the decision-making process and "negotiating" the next best step for the family to take in the pottery shop. Pardon me while I shoot myself.
I'm sorry, but I just cannot respect this take coming from a woman who calms her sons by reciting comedic children's poetry backwards.
We next learn that there are "many websites out in cyberspace," some of which offer child-rearing advice. Simon summarizes their useless "vitriol" as such:
They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, whereas for the 21st century surely hell no longer hath fury, as it's all been hurled at the belittled and scorned Internet mom.
I'm honestly not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean, and my confusion continues all the way through this chapter's "Top 10 Ways We Make Ourselves Feel Better When It's All Getting To Be Too Much." We begin reasonably enough…
  1. Check to see whether the person offering advice has children. How old are they?
  2. Do they have a point? Are they right? It is entirely possible.
…before quickly losing all sense of self-awareness and flying completely off the rails.
  1. Will we ever see this person again? If not, can we get away with unleashing our fury on them? Note, if you're reading this and decide to try it for yourself, go big or go home.
The last few chapters have been a bit Alex-heavy, but never fear -- Simon pops back up in Chapter 9 ("If I Wouldn't Eat That, My Kid Won't Either") to tell us a charming story about how the family refers to his Bolognese sauce as "Dead Cow Sauce," and this is because his children are incredibly enlightened and understand the circle of life and where food comes from. Or something along those lines.
This chapter also provides a lot of really incontrovertible proof that, even though you may swear that your kids say the most hilarious things all the time, you are wrong. I love kids. I can play cool aunt with the best of them. But this "recipe" for "Johan's Concoction" tries so hard to be cute and funny ("whisk violently -- making sure to spill a little out of the top") that I could barely stifle my groans. For anyone who happens to frequent RebornDollCringe, I am strongly and inexplicably reminded of Britton.
A list of "Top 10 Things We Don't Like About Children's Restaurants" culminates with
  1. Where would you rather be? A bistro devoted to race-car driving, with 1950s toy cars on the walls, or T.G.I. Friday's?
Excuse me, ma'am, you must be unfamiliar with the concept of Endless Apps®.
The title of Chapter 10 is "You'll Give in Before I Do!" and although the subtitle lets me know this is referencing "the art and warfare of bedtime," it's hard not to take it as a personal taunt from the authors. Most of this chapter is just transcriptions of 'cute' things François and Johan have said to try to avoid going to bed, but we do get this gem:
Slaying the dragon is our family euphemism for using the toilet (drowning the dragons that live in the sewer) and is fun for the boys to talk about, though probably not forever.
Before giving us a chance to adequately process this revelation, Alex goes on to reflect:
Hmm, perhaps I should delete this -- I don’t want obnoxious classmates getting hold of this book in 10 years and asking the boys if they need to slay the dragon in the middle of geometry class.
Alex, I assure you, you truly have nothing to worry about. Any self-respecting bully will be far too focused on the fact that Simon ejaculated at the moment of his son's birth to pay this comparatively trivial factoid any attention.
The authors shake things up and end this chapter with lists of both "Top 20 Bedtime Stories" and "Top 10 Lullabies," both of which are thankfully inoffensive.
In Chapter 11 ("Children Like Shiny Objects"), we follow Alex and Simon as they purchase the townhouse we see them renovating on RHONY. Although other (read: lesser) parents might store breakables out of reach or limit children's toys to playrooms and bedrooms, Alex and Simon were blessed with two boys whose aesthetic sensibilities are already quite developed:
One kind of funny thing that I noticed recently is that the toys the boys tend to leave upstairs in our red and black living room often tend to be red and black as well. I'm not sure whether that's intentional, but it's funny that the room always seems to match regardless of its contents.
The list of "Top 10 Craziest Places We've Found Objects" is mercifully absent of any orifice-related discoveries.
After reading just the title of Chapter 12 ("Raising Baby Einsteins"), I'm bracing myself for the self-satisfied smugness to come. This preparation turns out to be duly warranted. Baby sign language is dismissed as "a scheme dreamed up by ASL experts who wanted to sell classes to easily influenced new parents," Mommy and Me classes are "not really for teaching anything," and we learn that Alex and Simon have instituted a bizarre family rule that "if a talking toy came into our house, it had to speak a foreign language or speak English in an accent other than American."
We learn that Simon apparently does not know what antonyms are (for the record, Simon, the word you're looking for is homophones) and that New York City is replete with "wailing, nocturnal, type-A obsessed harridans willing to sleep with persons not their spouse if they think it will help their child get into THE RIGHT SCHOOL." Uh, yikes. After a tediously long description of François' pre-school admissions process, Alex informs us:
As a former actor, I've always gotten into play-acting and dressing up with my children. Perhaps a little too much. But I've taken the opportunity to show off a few old monologues, complete with bounding around like a puppy. If you have knowledge, why not share it? If you happen to know Puck's speeches from a Midsummer Night's Dream by ear with tumbling and staged sword play, why the heck don’t you share that with your boisterous boys, who love it and run around shouting, "Thou speakest aright!"
I am suddenly compelled to call my mother and thank her profusely for never making me put up with anything like this. Maybe I'll also get her thoughts on one of the tips listed in "Top 10 Favorite 'Developmental' Things To Do": "if they want something that you want to delay giving them, make them ask in every language they can before giving in." To me, this seems like an effective way to encourage your children to learn how to say "Fuck you, mom" in French as early as possible.
In Chapter 13 ("Urban Wonderland"), Alex and Simon promise to share their unique perspective on "taking advantage of raising a child in the urban jungle." But mostly, we just get a rant about how everyone thinks their kids have weird names, and that makes Simon mad. This chapter's "Top 10 Reasons New York is the Center of the Universe to a Kid" list reminds us what truly matters: "there are more songs with NYC in their titles than any other city."
Immediately after telling us how great it is to live in a city (excuse me, urban jungle), Alex and Simon switch tack and spend Chapter 14 ("'Daddy, a Cow! And It's Not in a Zoo!") expounding on the importance of exposing kids to nature. Sounds great, I'm on board. Unfortunately, we almost immediately take a hard left turn into a story from Simon's childhood where he and his brother are "befriended by this old guy, Dick, who lived on the outskirts of town in a small tin shed." We hear that Dick "occasionally pulled out an early Playboy magazine back from the days when the lower regions were airbrushed out," and that "there had been pretty strong rumors of pedophilia," before promptly returning to the main narrative with no further explanation. I can only describe the transition as 'jarring.'
I can tell how exhausted I am at this point in the book by how hurriedly I skimmed the list of "Top 10 Differences We've Noticed Between City Kids and Country Kids." To be honest, I'm almost annoyed when a particularly bizarre quote manages to catch my attention, because that means I have to think about it for the full amount of time it takes me to transcribe from the page. I'm beginning to think that my initial hope that I could glean some useful cat-rearing advice from this experience may have been overzealous.
Chapter 15 ("You're Such a Great Parent, You Should Be on TV (LOL)") is the only chapter to directly address the family's time on RHONY. It starts with this (attempted) comedy bit in which Alex and Simon pretend to be hilariously self-aware and self-effacing (Alex: "Look up 'Mommylicious' in the dictionary and you will see a photo of me in a ball gown, breast-feeding an infant while making Osso Buco and directing carpenters to build a bookcase for my Dickens and Shakespeare."). This posture would be infinitely more believable if I hadn't spent the previous 205 pages watching these two take themselves deadly seriously.
But rather than share any juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits (or, indeed, convey anything of substance at all), Alex and Simon spend exactly 3.5 pages blustering about how it wasn't harmful for their children to be on TV before giving us a list of "Top 10 Hilarious Things The Boys Have Done While Filming or at Photo Shoots." Spoiler alert: none of them are 'hilarious.'
Chapter 16 is literally titled "The Light at the End of the Tunnel," which makes me feel like this whole experience may have just been Alex and Simon playing some sort of twisted game with me. Alex tells us this is "the chapter of hope," but given that she then tells us about a time when she "spent one full hour discussing why magic markers cannot be carried around with the caps off, particularly in a hotel suite with white couches and walls," I'm not sure exactly where this hope is coming from. Also it seems like this markers-in-a-hotel-room thing happens weirdly frequently. We are then treated to Alex and Simon's "Top 10 Moments of Getting It,'" which includes
  1. Apropos of nothing, Johan said, "You give us time-outs because you are teaching us to be good grown-ups."
This is a thing I'm sure Johan said completely organically and not in response to hearing his parents say "we're giving you a time-out so that you learn to be a good grown-up" approximately seven zillion times.
This brings us to the book's Epilogue (a mercifully short two pages) featuring the line "If you made it to the end of this book, we salute you." Honored to accept this hard-earned accolade, I can finally close the book and start figuring out a way to erase the memory of Simon busting a mid-childbirth nut from my aching brain. Wish me luck!
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Meet The Freak 10

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Discord
Valentine
The pain in my shoulder kept rousing me from sleep, and damn did I ever need the rest. I'd get an hour or so of sleep, and then something would happen to tweak my shoulder. I'd roll over, or move reflexively to brush away an itch, and I'd be brought reluctantly to wakefulness.
It's not that I was uncomfortable. In fact, this 'hotel' as Wallace called it, might be one of the most luxurious buildings I'd ever set foot in. The furniture down in the restaurant, for example. The quality there, in just one of the pieces, was astounding. It was difficult to get fabric to take dye consistently, to achieve a uniform colour. As such, it was often the upholstery that was of particular prestige, making quality pieces often the centre of a noble's living room. Not only was every piece of furniture in that restaurant of such quality, everything matched. It was as if some sort of perfect automaton had fabricated each piece. And that was to say nothing of the carpentry and metalwork involved, which were similarly astounding.
Then there were the sheets I'd wrapped myself in. It wasn't quite the same as silk, silk had a more sultry quality, and this felt somehow more wholesome. It was more like a warm hug than a- well, than any of the sorts of things I usually got up to when tangled in silk sheets. And with Wallace sleeping nearby, his long steady breaths providing a comforting rhythm, and his scent lingering on the air, I found that I felt safer than I had in a very long while. Not safe, there was a reason I still kept a pistol nearby, there remained a long way to go for true safety, but I was safer.
I only wished I could enjoy it, to bask in the warmth from the pile of blankets, and luxuriate in the feeling that I didn't have an immediate looming threat breathing down my neck. The problem was, my gods damned shoulder would not stop hurting. I tried to find a position that wouldn't aggravate my injury, but despite my best efforts, still couldn't stay asleep for more than an hour at a time.
Finally, angry, bored, and still very tired, I kicked off the blankets in a fit of pique. Of course, that only hurt my shoulder more, and I grit my teeth to keep from waking Wallace with a pained gasp.
I frowned, the steady rhythm was gone.
I snatched a sheet and held it to my chest. With some difficulty, I sat up and peered over the edge of the bed. Wallace had left. Which meant he'd woken up. Which meant he'd noticed me sleeping on the floor next to him.
I sighed. I had been hoping to be gone before he woke, though I wasn't sure what I was trying to hide. That I trusted him? He probably figured that out about when I was huddled naked in the bath.
I wish he'd woken me, we could share breakfast, and I'd follow his explorations, but damn I was tired.
I slithered into the bed, still warm from his presence. I curled up in the middle of the bed where the warmth was the greatest and settled in among the blankets and piled pillows. By some magic, the mattress shaped itself to fit my body, and I quickly found a position that didn't set my shoulder aflame. The heat made me drowsy, and in renewed comfort, saw little reason to fight it.
I had little idea of the time that had passed when I finally woke once more. I only knew that the hollow and tired feeling had abated, and the sun still had not yet risen.
I considered laying there for a while longer. Perhaps I'd doze off again, but thought better of it. I was curious about what Wallace had been doing, had he returned to the room, only to leave me to sleep in peace? Perhaps, but it was a large building. Likely he wasn't finished exploring.
I pushed myself up, found my torch and pistol, and wrapped myself in one of the sheets. So covered, I slipped back across to my room and dressed in the sleeveless shirt and legless trousers I'd worn to dinner. I'd worn the ensemble to dinner out of exhaustion, after all, getting into the flight suit was a bit of a bother at the best of times, and I didn't feel like attempting it with one arm. I'd expected Wallace to make some remark, maybe blush a little. I'd even had a biting retort ready for the occasion, but he didn't protest my lascivious dinner wear. It seemed not to register to him.
I found I quite liked Wallace, which was quite the novel experience. I'd always seen company as something to be avoided unless I'd paid for their time. How strange it was then, that I hoped Wallace would stay once I'd finished teaching him what magic I knew.
With him possibly anywhere in the massive building, I intended to track him by scent. Sleeping several hours in his bed had made that tricky, however, and I had difficulty separating the scents present in the environment from those clinging to me. I could get an idea of where he'd been, but was unable to tell how long ago it was. As it seemed he'd spend the hours I was asleep searching the entire building, I found myself doing the same. I struggled to find a single room that did not have at least a trace of his scent within.
It made me regret leaving my necklace behind, but it wouldn't be safe with my shoulder still healing. That said, I'd only checked the first floor, and I could already feel myself growing faint as I gazed at the door to the stairs.
I am going to make that man carry me back down here.
Just pushing open the heavy metal door- the humans take security seriously it seems -made me feel dizzy. I put my hands on my knees and took a few deep breaths to steady myself before continuing.
I woke to the taste of blood in my mouth, a brutal headache, and the reek of fear. I shifted a little and blinked my eyes open, and I heard a sigh of relief.
"Oh thank god, please, just don't move."
I came to realize that Wallace was holding me in his arms, a little too tightly, as he was making it difficult to move my head.
"Wallace," I grumbled drowsily, "Let me go."
"Valentine, just- please, for fuck's sake."
I met his gaze, and my anger softened as I saw the concern in his eyes. He looked like he'd just seen me die.
"Okay, okay," I soothed.
Wallace calmed a little as the sickly scent of fear was gradually replaced by the musky scent of my pheromones. With so much skin uncovered, the effects should have taken hold much more quickly than they did, but at the very least it didn't appear as if his heart were about to stop.
Wallace took a deep breath, "In first aid- for humans -the number one thing, the most important thing unless someone is gushing blood, are head and neck injuries. "
I placed my palm gently against his chest, "It's okay," I finally understood what had him so shaken, "Fey are different, we're not so vulnerable to getting bumped on the head."
"You're-" he began, but I put a finger to his lips before he could interrupt.
"I know a thing or two about treating injuries, Wallace," I insisted, "I learned all sorts of things about head injuries, but us fey are not like anyone else. If we were, every noble house would have a pile of dead servants who fainted trying to carry the lady's tea up the stairs."
Wallace gently took my hand away from his lips. He held gently onto my hand, our hands clasped loosely across my chest.
"I thought you were dead," he said flatly, "I pushed open the door, and here you were on the landing, limp as a corpse and white as a sheet."
"This isn't the first time I've fainted trying to climb the stairs," I sighed, "I just need a little air."
I gave a little yelp as Wallace gathered me up and rose to his feet, and quickly threw an arm around his neck to steady myself. I squirmed around until I was in a more or less sitting position. The motion made my head throb, and I rested my head against Wallace's chest while I squeezed my eyes shut against the pain.
I'd made it almost to the roof, following Wallace's scent, but that was damning with faint praise. It had been easy to figure out where he'd gone off to once I was in the stairwell, as his scent was present throughout, but the climb had been brutal. To any other fey, my ascent through the building would seem supernal. But to the humans who'd constructed the building, doubtless to Wallace as well, I must have seemed pitiful.
Wallace elbowed the bar across the door, which shifted slightly, and he ducked out onto the roof. I shivered as the cold air brushed across my exposed skin, and tried to press closer to Wallace. It got awfully chilly during The Long Night, and I was a little underdressed.
The roof was altogether more pleasant than that of the 'gas station', as Wallace had called it. There were several cushioned benches scattered about, some small trees here and there, and a few flower beds set against the low wall that ringed the rooftop. Someone, indeed, likely several someones, had gone to some effort to make the space as pleasant as possible.
"What happened to your jewellery?" Wallace asked, his voice low, though I could feel the bassy reverberations in his chest.
"It's not safe to use while I'm healing," I shivered, "So I'm useless until my shoulder is mended."
"You're plenty useful," Wallace insisted, "You teach me magic, and I'll carry you around wherever you want to go," he promised.
He carried me over to one of the benches and took a seat. He let go of me, but I didn't take the opportunity to slide off his lap. Instead, I snatched a nearby blanket and pressed it into his hands. He took it, an amused expression on his face, and helped me settle it around myself. With it trapping the heat, it felt like I was sitting with my cheek resting against a furnace. Between his natural scent and the all-encompassing warmth, I felt myself growing drowsy once again.
I pulled the blankets tight around myself and peered up at him, "Maybe I'll ride you around like a horse," I giggled, "Did Temerity get to ride you around too?"
He immediately turned red, his lips set in a thin line as he tried not to break out into a guilty smile.
"Oh, she did, she did!" I hooted, "Were you face up or face down? The girls at The Blushing Maiden have given it to me both ways, so I can see the appeal in either case," Wallace turned, if it were even possible, a yet darker shade of red, "Now that I think about it, Temerity does seem the sort to take the initiative. Face down then."
Wallace's guilty smile turned to a grimace, but there was grudging mirth in his eyes and the twist of his lips.
I prodded him in the ribs, "You're not even the tiniest bit angry," I asked incredulously, though it was more of a statement.
I pressed my nose against his chest and inhaled deeply, "I can't smell a whiff of anger. If I were a servant, anyone else would be having me flogged right about now to correct my mark against their honour. Or as a noblewoman, they'd be looking for a father, brother, or husband to duel."
He sighed, a wry, grudging smile on his face, "Humans used to be like that," he admitted.
I frowned in thought, "Now that I think about it, I don't believe Simon has ever challenged anyone to a duel. And gods know people have tried to goad him into it."
"Why, to try to get rid of him?" Wallace guessed, "Seems like a losing proposition if it's fey versus human, even if he doesn't go all Super Saiyan on them."
"Super Saiyan?" I inquired.
Wallace covered his face with his hand, "The body magic thing he does."
"Oh, well, you're right. Magic isn't allowed, though that can be hard to enforce. But it's the privilege of the challenged party to opt for a champion to take their place. Usually a sprite, or now that there are other races in the city, a goblin or elf. But it matters little," I explained, "Simon seems genuinely ambivalent to even the most grievous insult made against him. At first, it led to him losing a great deal of respect within the city, but once it was clear he didn't care about that either, I think he was able to turn it into a strength. That said, it's not as if he doesn't get even with those that oppose him. Typically when a nobleman of the city goes after Simon, he'll find that a wife or daughter will have mysteriously fallen for the human interloper," I thumped Wallace on the chest, "Simon's playroom isn't quite as well soundproofed as Temerity's though, I understand that most of the manor, along with anyone out on the street, can hear when Simon is taking the initiative with a new paramour," I put a hand to my chin, as if in thought, "Now that I think about it, that must be some serious soundproofing in Temerity's place, I mean, you must be awfully lou-"
Wallace, very gently, but very firmly, put his hand over my mouth.
"Shhh."
I shrank inwards a little and nodded.
At first, I'd been needling him just to see what it would take to get him to strike me. Humans were still an enigma to me, and I found that people were generally easier to deal with if I knew where the limits were, but now I realized that the greater risk would be making the big mushy goliath feel hurt.
He took his hand away, and I pulled myself up to plant a kiss on his cheek, before sinking back down to nestle against his chest.
"You're an okay bodyguard Wally."
"Thanks, Vally," he replied wryly, "Have you got your daily allotment of teasing me in? Can we get to adult stuff?"
I rolled my eyes, "Val will be fine, and what is it?"
"Well," he began, pulling down the blanket a bit so I could see out into the night, "I picked this bench for a reason, are you able to make out that light in the distance?"
"No, can you-"
Wallace covered both the torches, and I waited as my eyes adjusted to the darkness.
"Maybe?" I said finally, "I might just be seeing what I want to see though. I take it you're more confident?"
He nodded, "It's a campfire. It's way the hell out there, but it's a fire."
"Probably surveyors from Caniforma," I guessed.
"Are they going to be a problem?"
"Perhaps," I admitted, "They might eventually find a route here, but surveyors tend to guard their discoveries jealously. Unless you know who to ask, it's not easy to even learn where to buy such information, and that's to speak nothing of the price. No, they're not likely to pose a threat. That said, if someone is truly determined to come after me, they likely could reach us."
"You mean someone might pull the same stunt we did," Wallace realized.
I pulled the blanket back up over my head and relaxed against the big man.
"Yes. And while we had to spend a day getting through the pass, the proximity of the mountains offers possibilities to the determined."
"You mean someone might try to make their own little rest stop by climbing up far enough? Would that even work with horses?"
"Doubtful," I replied, "But if it came to it, they could abandon the horses to the tide, and sleep out the night partway up some convenient cliff."
"Hmmm..." he rumbled quietly, "Just trying to think through the timeline here. So the horsemen, horsewomen, horsepeople?"
"They were riders, not centaurs," I huffed.
"Whichever, point is, they left late. After all, we left late, and they left even later after that. So we'll assume whoever comes after us has time to prepare, and are down the ramp from the city at first light."
"Not a simple task," I interjected, "There are special carriages that carry horses down, and even if they've planned to have those ready, the descent is yet slower than it was for us."
"Okay, fair," Wallace agreed, "But it does mean that, compared to the riders we ran into, they'll be further along at any given point in time."
"Fair," I agreed.
"Which pushes their point of no return forwards, I don't know, six hours?" he guessed, "That might be a bit generous, but we should prepare for a best-case attempt from them."
"They also won't have spent several hours searching an alien neighbourhood for us," I added.
Wallace nodded, "Which means they get even further. Now include the fact they've got a safe return that's a lot closer... yeah, I bet they could make it. Fuck they'd be tired though."
"I wouldn't worry about it for now, Wally," I assured him, "I have a hard time conceiving of a more defensible position than what we have now. We'll have time to ready ourselves. Besides, they know not what they face at the end of their journey. I don't expect to see them in the next Long Night, perhaps the one after next at the earliest," I peered up at him from beneath the blankets, "Plenty of time for you to learn some magic."
Wallace beamed and seemed to tremble at the mere word, and it gave me a little thrill to see him smile like that.
I thumped my hand against his chest again, "Carry me inside, feed me some breakfast, and we can get started."
Wallace pursed his lips, "What was that you said, something about protecting you but not taking care of you?"
I narrowed my eyes, "You're not taking care of me, you're pampering me.
"As you wish, your highness," Wallace replied wryly.
Still bundled up in the blanket, Wallace brought me back inside through a different staircase. Rather than functional metal railings and hard stone steps, this staircase was thickly carpeted, and the hardwood railings were stained a rich dark brown.
Wallace shouldered his way through the door at the bottom of the stairs, and I somehow found myself in a room that was even more luxurious than what I'd seen below.
Now that wasn't to say that every surface was engraved, gilded, and studded with gemstones as it might be in a royal's palace. The humans who'd built this structure seemed to have a preference for understatement, and instead of displaying wealth with precious metals and rare stones, it was with quality materials. Again, I was astounded by the uniformity with which the carpets and furniture upholstery were dyed. The elves could do work that was nearly this good, but it wouldn't be uniform over such a large area, and the reagents they used to fix the dyes had an unfortunate scent.
It looked to me that the top floor of the entire east wing was dedicated to this single set of chambers. Well, perhaps not 'chambers', as the designers seemed not to have believed in walls. Where they were needed, they were either glass, as the exterior walls were, or did not rise to reach the ceiling, and served simply to break up the sightlines and provide a little privacy.
Oddly enough, the kitchen seemed to be displayed proudly, rather than being out of sight, hidden back in some servant's area. I wasn't happy to see the harpsichord, in what would be the sitting room, had it been a separate room. There was also another of those black glass slabs that humans always arranged their furniture to face. There had even been several in the restaurant below, arranged so that no matter where one sat, a slab could be seen. This one was the largest I'd yet seen and was nearly as wide as I was tall.
The deference shown to the objects suggested some religious significance, and it occurred to me that there had been something similar in the house we'd looted before leaving the human neighbourhood. The materials hadn't been quite the same, and the glass slab at the front had bulged outwards rather than being perfectly flat, but there as well, the furniture had been arranged to face it.
"This is the penthouse," Wallace explained, "I wanted to wait until you were up to ask your thoughts, but I think we should start moving our stuff up here. The stairs are a problem-"
"It'll be fine once my shoulder is mended," I assured him.
Wallace shrugged, and set me down on one of the wide upholstered and high-backed benches in the sitting room, "There's also some conference rooms through there," he went on, nodding towards the central spine of the building, "so there's space for us to work if we need it."
I stretched out on my back while Wallace went over to the kitchen to root through the cabinets.
"Is that what's atop the other wing?" I yawned.
"No, the conference rooms are near the elevators, probably for fancy people to have fancy people meetings," he called back, "The other wing is a presidential suite, so I guess this is an American hotel."
"American?"
"Uh, it's another country from Earth," he explained, "But the language is the same, and I'm familiar enough with the units they use to measure things that it's not a problem," I heard the cabinets shut. A moment later, Wallace was peering over the side of the couch, "I'm gonna go out on the balcony and cook, you stay out of trouble till I get back."
"I'll try, no promises."
With both of us properly fed, I had Wallace join me in the sitting room and drew him down next to me on what he called a 'couch'.
While he'd been busy cooking, I'd poked around the penthouse, looking for something to use for our first magic lesson. I'd found what I'd needed in the bathroom- a bathroom that was larger than some commoner's homes -a box of hairpins.
I took out just one of the pins and handed it over to him. It seemed comically small in his enormous hand, and he held it between forefinger and the odd not-quite-thumb, not-quite-finger that was his extra digit.
"I can do magic with just this?"
"Yes and no. The first thing to understand-" I began.
Wallace beamed, and threw his arms up in the air, "First law of magic!"
I sighed, but couldn't help but share his smile, "You're just a child on the inside, aren't you."
"We're all children on the inside," Wallace replied, "and we're all just pretending otherwise."
My smile turned to a smirk, as I considered what I might do if I wasn't trying to keep up appearances as a noblewoman. And the truth was, it wasn't as if I put much effort into such appearances.
"Are you going to let me teach you magic," I prodded, "or are you going to keep sharing your philosophy?"
"Alright, alright, what's the first law of magic?"
"From a single object, you can only get one type of mana," I recited, "There are exceptions, but for the time being, one object, one type of mana."
Wallace frowned and stared intently at the hairpin, "That doesn't exactly make sense."
"What about it troubles you?"
"The exceptions. Physical laws don't tend to have them."
"Wally, which one of us is teaching and which one is learning right now?"
"I know, I know, but I also spent two decades in one type of school or the other," he insisted, "Newton's laws of motion, the laws of thermodynamics, Euclid's postulates, they mostly don't have exceptions."
"Mostly?" I repeated, "So then they do have exceptions, why is it so strange then-"
"That's just it," he exclaimed, "Thermodynamics, that's sacrosanct. Pretty sure even magic doesn't violate that no matter how hard you try. But Euclid's postulates and Newton's laws of motion, those are different. Euclid had five postulates. The first four are simple. I mean simple enough that they're a single sentence that a kid could understand. I mean, the first one is that you can draw a straight line between any two points, really simple stuff. But Euclid was trying to explain the very fundamentals of geometry. His problem, and hell, mathematicians worked on it for hundreds of years after him, was his fifth postulate. He was trying to describe the fundamentals behind parallel and non-parallel lines, and it was kind of clumsy. He couldn't quite get the phrasing to be as neat and tidy as the other five postulates. And not just him, like I said, plenty of genuine geniuses worked on the same problem, and couldn't figure it out. See, the truth was, there was a deeper understanding that wasn't known," he paused, I think he'd noticed that my eyes were starting to glaze over, "Um, remind me to tell you about non-euclidean geometry some time. The point is, the way he was trying to describe how parallel lines worked, didn't always apply. But he couldn't even conceive of how it didn't apply. It was as if he was blind to it."
"And you think the same is true for magic?" I said slowly, as I digested his speech.
"Yeah, and you know what," Wallace said confidently, "This is exactly the sort of thing Simon would recognize as well."
I felt a sudden tightness in my chest, not fear, but excitement. Wallace had already been able to provide some hints, but now it felt as if I were finally starting to draw the curtain aside.
"This Newton, what was his mistake?"
"Well the thing to remember about Newton, is that he was a genuine genius. I mean, he couldn't figure out the equations necessary to track the motions of planets, so he invented a new type of mathematics. He was one of the first guys to lay out a set of laws that could begin to describe the way the physical world worked. It's more complicated than that, and others added to his theory to build Classical Mechanics, but there's a reason that Classical Mechanics is sometimes referred to as Newtonian Physics. The trouble was, there were areas where his theories broke down. But like Euclid, it broke down in ways he couldn't conceive of. It worked for apples falling from trees, and planets orbiting stars, but not, for example, black holes, nuclear weapons, and spaceships trying to travel faster than light."
"I feel as if I say this frequently in your company," I told him tiredly, "but pardon me?"
"Newton's theories worked at the scales that most people can conceive of. From the very smallest bit of dust, all the way up to the most very massive stars. As for velocity, it covered the stationary, all the way up to objects travelling more than a hundred thousand times faster than a speeding bullet."
"What else is there?"
"Exactly!" he exclaimed, "It took another two hundred years for a guy named Einstein to come along and invent General and Special Relativity, which explained how things smaller than motes of dust, larger than the largest stars, and nearly as fast as light worked."
"I still don't think I understand quite what you're saying, but I take it, that it is enough to know that there was more to know than Euclid and Newton could fathom."
"Exactly," Wallace agreed, "So, what are these exceptions to the 'one object, one mana type' rule?"
"Gemstones, air, and liquids. Raw gemstones can be cut in such a way as to provide two of the available mana types at once. Garnets, for example, provide four mana types, Metal, Body, Strengthen, and Protect. When it is faceted, the jeweller selects any two of those, and from then on, those are the only two mana types that the garnet may provide. Indeed, the caster must use both types, for any spell that includes the garnet. As for air and liquids, neither can be said to be a single object. With liquids, typically one must use the entire container unless it's something like a spellcaster dipping their hand in a lake or river. That's typically only something experts can do though. Most spellcasters will simply scoop some up in their hand or the like. Air presents the same difficulty, experts can simply use it directly out of the space around them, but most Air magic users will carry glass bottles of various sizes."
"So say I wanted to use this bobby pin," Wallace suggested, "I'd need to use the whole thing, and only for one of its available mana types?" I nodded, and then Wallace bent the pin until it broke into two halves, "And now this is two objects, so I could use what was a single bobby pin, for both mana types in a spell?"
"Yes, that was the puzzle I'd intended you to solve," I admitted, "I sense you're unhappy with this answer?"
"I am," he agreed, "I don't know how the 'one object one mana type' rule is wrong, but it's wrong. What if I had two pins, or let's say I just use both these halves. These are metal, so they've got Metal mana? Okay, so could I use both halves for Metal mana, and then some third object for the other mana type I need?"
"Yes," I said slowly, "I suppose that's the second rule. Controlled magic always takes two types of mana, attempt it with a single type, and only the gods know what will happen."
"Alright, well I'm gonna think on rule one. It feels kind of like a 'blind men and the elephant' situation."
This time I just threw up my hands.
Wallace grinned sheepishly, "Sorry, have you ever seen an elephant?"
"Yes," I replied, more than a little exasperated.
"Coles notes-" he began, and I gave him a dangerous look, "Sorry, simple version is, one blind guy puts a hand on the leg and thinks an elephant is like a tree. Another feels the trunk and says it's like a big snake, so on and so on."
"You're clearly very intelligent, very learned. It's a shame you hide it behind a veneer of utter madness."
"We can argue about who's crazier later," he chuckled, "So we've got the first rule, 'one object, one mana type', and its exceptions, and the second rule, 'one or more verbs, and one or more nouns, or bad things happen'."
"Then there's the final rule, and it applies to the case you suggested, using both halves of the pin for Metal mana. Steel is a Greater source of Metal mana. It doesn't matter how much steel you have, it will only ever be a Greater source. The quantity of steel instead determines how long the Greater source persists."
"Is there a number for greater?" he asked, "What's the scale?"
"I've yet to hear anyone use numbers to try to describe the difference between various mana sources, or at least, try and succeed in coming up with anything that makes sense. No, the scale is Minimal, Lesser, Moderate, Greater, and Significant."
"Hold on. Actual metal is only the second-best source of Metal mana? How does that make sense?" Wallace demanded.
I shrugged, "Only gemstones are a Significant mana source, metals are typically Greater, not just of Metal mana itself, but of whatever other mana types that metal provides as well. Copper provides Greater Fire, for example."
"Hmm, seems kinda weird that it's the most powerful sources of mana that are best known," Wallace mused, "I would have thought it'd be the other way around."
"There are commonly known rumours about colours and herbs both supplying either lesser or minimal mana of a great many different types, but I've yet to hear any specifics."
"How are new types discovered then? Even if most people get the info second-hand, someone would have had to be the first."
"It's tricky," I warned, "And I don't even know if the method I know of is the safest way to do it, but typically one takes a material with a known mana type, and the material they want to understand and attempt to cast a spell. Either the caster can guess at what mana might be present in the unknown material, in which case things proceed as with any normal spell."
"And if they get it wrong?" Wallace grimaced.
"If they get it wrong," I continued, "Or simply try to cast a spell without trying to guess what mana types might be present, then nearly anything can happen. The proto-spell uses the selected mana from the known material and a random mana type from the unknown material, and chaos generally ensues."
"I'm guessing it's generally a good idea to use small quantities then?" Wallace offered.
I nodded, "Anything to limit the potential damage. Transformation magic and Body magic are the worst. Fire magic, to be sure, may cause severe burns if the caster is unlucky, but Healing magic can correct something as simple as an injury. But a body, malformed by magic, is nigh-impossible to correct."
I took his hand in both of mine. It was soft but strong, and large enough that my thumbs didn't quite meet in the middle.
"Promise me you'll listen, and promise me that you won't go experimenting on your own," I urged him, "This is dangerous, and there's only so much I can do. If I were any good with healing magic, I would have fixed my shoulder already. I understand your excitement, but before we continue, I need your word that you'll listen when I warn you something's dangerous."
"Alright, I promise," he assured me, "If I come up with anything crazy, I'll talk to you first."
"Thank you, the other thing I should warn you about is that this isn't going to be easy. I don't want you to feel discouraged if it doesn't work right away."
I didn't want to sabotage him by telling him just how hard it was to cast a spell for the first time, but I also didn't want him giving up. I'd seen both extremes in my time. Some would give up after trying and failing for weeks, while still others would hear such tales and internalize the assumption that they'd never be able to do it. I was by no means a magic tutor, but those I was familiar with had spoken of striking a balance. It was essential to warn would-be spellcasters of the difficulty, without making it seem insurmountable. Magic was a science of the mind after all, and if someone got the wrong idea in their head, it often made their magical journey a great deal longer, if it started at all.
"Everything is hard until you figure it out," he replied, "I'll be patient."
"First," I began, speaking softly, "Close your eyes, once you get more familiar with magic you won't need to, but for now it can help to focus the mind."
He did as I asked, and I let go of his hand to pick up the box of bobby pins.
"The spell you're going to cast will give you an invisible hand, that can pick up only metal. Steel contains Earth, Fire, Metal, Movement, and Protection mana. You're going to use the Metal mana from one half of the pin, and the Movement mana from the other to create this hand," I shook the box so he could hear the pins rattle, "Then you're going to use that hand to pick up some of these pins."
Wallace nodded, an oddly tranquil expression on his face.
"Now. Magic requires you to hold two different understandings of the world in your mind. First, there's the world as it is now, where you're holding two halves of a broken pin in one hand. Second, there's the world as you will it to be, where the halves of the pin are gone, and you have an intangible hand, capable of only manipulating metal. Now I understand that might not make much sense," I admitted, still speaking softly, "But think of it as there being two worlds. There's the mental world as it exists within your mind, and there's the physical world, as it appears to everyone else. Take your time," I said soothingly, "Don't rush yourself, the important thing is to-"
There was a metallic rattling, and then the pins were floating above the small box, as if cupped in an invisible hand.
I leapt to my feet, astounded at what I saw, "Wally, that's amazing!" I exclaimed.
Wallace was not so enthused. He had his eyes open now, but there was an unexpected sadness in them.
"Seems I'm uniquely suited to this," he muttered dourly.
"What's the matter?"
"Nothing, just the universe reminding me that I'm a freak."
"Who cares?" I demanded, "What you just did takes most people weeks or months, you're a freak? Wallace, I would cut off my arm to be a freak like you. You're an enormous slab of muscle with indestructible bones, a supernatural talent for magic, and this is just a guess, but someone your size is also probably hung like a horse."
He immediately turned red and brought a hand to his face, but I went on unabated, "Who cares, if I had a body like yours, I would revel in it. The strength, the power, I would need to run from nothing. And what you said about your body making muscle no matter how lazy you are? Gods, I would eat as much as I wanted, drink whatever I liked, and bed whoever I fancied," I shook my head slowly, "But you don't conduct yourself like that. I would have searched out some shapely elf noblewoman, one that was easier to handle than Temerity, to act as patron and paramour while I ate and drank and fucked the days away," I spread my arms, and gazed down at my scrawny frame, "But instead you're here with me, because I need you, and because you have a good heart."
"Well," he said slowly, "Thanks, I guess," he said with a bland shrug.
I growled and prodded him in the side. I wanted it to hurt, but I think my shoulder ended up worse off than his ribs. At the same time, I bore down on my pheromone glands, forcing out as much of the rage pheromone as I could muster.
"You don't think I know you get angry sometimes? Really really angry?" I demanded, "When we lost that pack, gods, I didn't think the scent of anger could be that thick. And then in the tunnel when you were trying to get through that metal cover, the smell was so strong I thought I was going to faint."
I wiped my brow with the back of my hand. It wasn't sweat. Instead, I was giving off so much of the pheromones that it was beading on my skin, and making my clothes and hair damp.
"But you didn't lash out at me, or anyone else. Who cares if you get angry? It happens, what matters is what you do with it. You're a good person, with a good heart," I informed him, "But time to time you need someone to slap you upside the head and get you on the right track, that's all."
He chuckled at that. There was enough rage pheromone in the air now that he should have long since bashed my head in, but instead, he was laughing.
He raised his hands, "Alright, alright, you've made your point. Now could you please tone it down? If I have to put up with this for much longer, I'm gonna burst a blood vessel."
I switched to the opposite pheromone, and couldn't get much out before my glands ran dry, but it was enough to neutralize the rage pheromone in the air.
I put my hands on my knees and took a deep breath, I don't think I'd ever pushed myself that hard, and I was surprised to find it left me so exhausted. My legs felt like jelly as I stumbled back over to join Wallace on the couch.
"If you're done feeling sorry for yourself," I huffed, "I can finish explaining magic," I offered.
"Go ahead, what's left?" he asked wryly.
Continued in comment
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