Is the movie 'Casino' based on a real story? – Film Daily

"I think I've lived long enough to see competitive Counter-Strike as we know it, kill itself." Summary of Richard Lewis' stream (Long)

I want to preface that the contents of this post is for informational purposes. I do not condone or approve of any harassments or witch-hunting or the attacking of anybody.
 
Richard Lewis recently did a stream talking about the terrible state of CS esports and I thought it was an important stream anyone who cares about the CS community should listen to.
Vod Link here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/830415547
I realize it is 3 hours long so I took it upon myself to create a list of interesting points from the stream so you don't have to listen to the whole thing, although I still encourage you to do so if you can.
I know this post is still long but probably easier to digest, especially in parts.
Here is a link to my raw notes if you for some reason want to read through this which includes some omitted stuff. It's in chronological order of things said in the stream and has some time stamps. https://pastebin.com/6QWTLr8T

Intro

CSPPA - Counter-Strike Professional Players' Association

"Who does this union really fucking serve?"

ESIC - Esports Integrity Commission

"They have been put in an impossible position."

Stream Sniping

"They're all at it in the online era, they're all at it, they're all cheating, they're all using exploits, probably that see through smoke bug got used a bunch of times"

Match Fixing

"How many years have we let our scene be fucking pillaged by these greedy cunts?" "We just let it happen."

North America

"Everyone in NA has left we've lost a continents worth of support during this pandemic and Valve haven't said a fucking word."

Talent

"TO's have treated CS talent like absolute human garbage for years now."

Valve

"Anything that Riot does, is better than Valve's inaction"

Closing Statements

"We've peaked. If we want to sustain and exist, now is the time to figure it out. No esports lasts as long as this, we've already done 8 years. We've already broke the records. We have got to figure out a way to coexist and drive the negative forces out and we need to do it as a collective and we're not doing that."

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Album Of The Year #15: Joji - Nectar

Artist: Joji
Album: Nectar
Label: 88Rising
Release Date: September 25, 2020
Listen:
Spotify
Apple Music
YouTube Music
Deezer
Soundcloud
Background
Not many artists have had a come-up as interesting and eccentric as George Kusunoki Miller, a former YouTube comedian/edgelord turned moody R&B singer. George first got his taste of internet fame as FilthyFrank, a character he described as everything a person should not be, he played the notorious persona on YouTube for over 6 years and eventually had to retire it due to him losing passion for it and suffering from stress induced seizures, which playing the character often caused.
Throughout his time as FilthyFrank however he began experimenting with music, mostly of the satirical kind at the start, his first tracks were under the FilthyFrank persona, the first one being Who's The Sucker, a dumb track where he somehow manages to rhyme "nicer" with "vagina", go figure.
A few years later, alongside the satirical rap, Joji began to make what he would consider as serious music, and this is where the timeline gets a bit messy, as he put out multiple tracks under multiple different aliases and the lines got blurred pretty fast, so I won't focus on aliases too much, but rather on the music he put out, around this era he released the therapeutical Medicine, the slow and melancholy We Fall Again, and Dumplings, which was Joji's best attempt at a trap banger.
In 2015, he birthed the Joji alias, released two singles on Soundcloud under that name, and announced a project called Chloe Burbank Vol. 1, the project was later scrapped and is probably sitting on Joji's hard drive, unfinished, however, the two singles he put out, thom and you suck charlie, were the tracks that put him in the spotlight, not to mention that to this day, there are some of his fans that believe these 2 tracks are his best and will not be topped, but that's a discussion for another day.
Following the overwhelmingly positive reception, Joji began to put out more tracks and singles, both under the aforementioned alias and Pink Guy, which was a character that blossomed into a satirical rap project, but I won't be covering that too much, and will focus on what he did as Joji instead, most tracks Joji put out were met with positive reception, some of the tracks, such as worldstar money, ended up on his debut EP as well.
Sometime around early 2016, Joji ended up signing with 88rising, a label focused on building the bridge between east and west, he explained in an interview that he was initially a consultant for the duo behind the record label, however, once the duo noticed his music and how well it was received, they asked him to jump on board and he instantly took the chance, getting signed alongside the likes of Rich Brian and Higher Brothers.
The label immediately undertook Joji and began distributing his catalog on their YouTube channel and helped him release more music, which was a couple of singles in the earlier half of 2017, and his debut EP in the latter half, the EP, known as "In Tongues", was met with mixed reception from fans and critics alike, with some describing it as his most concise body of work so far that is oozing potential, and others describing it as a bleak project that fails to set Joji apart from the sea of artists on the same wavelength as himself.
Following the release of the EP, Joji began working on his debut album, known as BALLADS 1, the album's first single, YEAH RIGHT, was released on the 8th of May, the track was first believed to be a standalone loosie as it was released 5 months before the album itself, however it ended up being on the album and was confirmed as the one of the singles alongside SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK, CAN'T GET OVER YOU, which features a production credit from non other than Clams Casino, and TEST DRIVE.
The album was well received, and was praised for containing a wider variety of sounds than its predecessor, it felt like a natural progression for Joji's sound and was a step forward towards a more mainstream approach whilst not sacrificing any of the rawness that Joji's older stuff had, which seemed to be what most fans were expecting from him.
Moving forward Joji stayed mostly silent throughout 2019, appearing on the second 88Rising collaboration album, which was negatively received due to it's lack of creativity and sub-par performances from most label signees, he also appeared on Rich Brian's sophomore album, The Sailor, and released which is now known to be as the first single from Nectar, Sanctuary, a synth based poppy track that previewed a vocally improved and more confident version of Joji.
What was assumed to be a loosie turned out to be the beginning of an album rollout, as half a year later Joji released Run, setting a new standard for himself both instrumentally and vocally, and a couple of months later he released Gimme Love, a double sided track with a fun, catchy beginning and a melancholy ballad driven ending, the last single, Daylight, was released on the 8th of August, the instrumental was produced by Diplo and the track itself sounded like Joji's attempt to break into the mainstream.
Without warning, he also released two tracks that he classified as "NOT SONG", the first being Pretty Boy, which actually ended up on the album with a Lil Yachty feature, and the second being FTC, which sadly did not end up on the album, both tracks had videos and it seemed to me at first that the purpose of both tracks was to serve the lore that Joji has built around the album, which I will be touching up on in this write-up.
A day before the album's release, he put out Gimme Cum, an enigmatic track with a mysterious message.
Nectar itself was pushed back from it's original July release date due to the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, the album however was released on the 25th of September.
Album Lore
If there's one thing George is no stranger to, it would definitely be worldbuilding, as he has proven time and time again that he has a knack for it, especially with his FilthyFrank YouTube channel, where he managed to create characters, locations, and an entire universe out of a few satirical characters, his lore was adored by many and even though visually he never wrapped up the story he did release a book that served as closure for the FilthyFrank lore.
This album's lore is not as straight forward however, and there are multiple theories doing the rounds on the internet, personally I will go by what sounded most convincing to me in terms of timeline and storyline, however do feel free to expand on what I've said or correct me, George has left multiple things left open to interpretation therefore I would not be surprised if there were multiple different meanings to the same thing.
Our story begins in the music video for Gimme Love, where we see a young Joji who appears to be a small time engineer that is eager to climb through the ranks of the company he is working for, as he rises however he appears to become more stressed out and agitated at all times, lashing out at his coworkers and breaking down consistently, throughout the music video we can see that the more he progresses, the more roadblocks he runs into, which causes his behavior to become more psychotic and manic, as the shots move forward we see him accept awards, lead his very own research team, run failed experiments on his coworkers that causes them to bleed, and eventually receive military covert status, which did not come without sacrifices, as we see him smile less and less throughout the video.
In the second half of the video, we see Joji steal the rocket he helped build by locking out his crew members, and launch himself into space, disappointing everyone he worked with and stabbing them in the back he appears to be quite happy however, eventually his mood flips as he is faced with two choices, engage or eject, the following shot does not allow us to see which one he picked as we are facing his back, all we see is Joji making the choice and gearing up for what's to come.
The lines get blurred around this spot and many people have different theories as to which video is the right one chronologically, personally I believe Daylight comes next, and my theory is Joji is having some sort of fever dream featuring his previous coworkers, most notably the older people who went through layers of plastic surgery, who appear in the music video for FTC, where they are seen wearing badges that features the same organization Joji worked for, throughout the video they are seen rummaging through the wreckage caused by Joji, clearly looking for something specific, which ends up being the award Joji won.
Back to Daylight, Joji appears to be some sort of intern working for the director and the actors, towards the end of the music video we can see Joji waking up from the aforementioned fever dream, clearly in a daze, as the shot widens we see that he is alone, in a barren wasteland, with nothing around him except for a tent and what appears to be a device used for communication, he plants a few seeds in the soil and sits by the device, hoping for a sign of life.
Next comes Run, where we are once again met with Joji having a nightmare, the entire video symbolizes being trapped in a place you don't want to be in, as Joji appears to be in a never ending limousine with people he has no interest in whatsoever, towards the end of the nightmare we actually see Joji running across a massive wasteland, the same wasteland we saw him in at the end of the Daylight music video, throughout the video, we see Joji become consumed by the soil itself, which I would assume is a representation of his fears back then, seeing as he was alone and had little to no hope of being saved whatsoever.
Joji wakes up from this nightmare and appears to be in some kind of spaceship, if the videos were released chronologically, we would be completely lost at this point, lucky for us, we already know what the spaceship is, as we see a picture of the Sanctuary crew in the final shots of the Run music video, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the crew is the ones that saved him from death and picked him up from the mess that he placed himself in, hence the name Sanctuary, which means refuge or safety from pursuit, persecution, or other danger
The crew itself is seen in action in the music video for Sanctuary, where Joji appears to be fighting and defeating some sort of one-eyed alien supervillain at the start, however, once he is defeated, both Joji and the crew themselves become aimless, as they are living monotonously without a goal, thankfully(???), one of the crew members sees this and decides to take matters into his own hands, by surgically removing his own eye, which portrays his transformation into the new supervillain, and following this up by killing a crewmember and escaping on his own, once again giving the spaceship it's own purpose.
Unfortunately the music videos that were put out after the release of the album appear to be too subtle for me to think they are connected in any way, shape or form, there are many theories of course but I can't help but feel like that most of them are a reach.
The most plausible explanation for this lore that I can think of is that the whole escaping from earth on his own, landing in a barren wasteland, trying to plant seeds in it, and eventually being picked up by a group(88Rising, wink wink) is a metaphor for his transition from FilthyFrank to Joji, the barren wasteland stands for how hopeless he felt at the time and the seeds symbolize the loosies he was slowly dropping before ditching his channel to become an R&B superstar, which if true, solidifies the idea that George was done with FilthyFrank long before he actually left the channel itself.
Regardless, I thought the lore was very enjoyable and it was nice to see Joji back in one of his elements at least, most fans would have been disappointed in me if I had not touched up on it a bit seeing as it was a huge part of the albums release and they are intertwined in some sort of way.
Review
When it's lovely I believe in anything What does love mean When the end is rolling in
  • Ew
It is important for me to preface this review with the fact that this Joji album is not like anything we've ever heard from him before, this is not the one man army, garageband using, sample meshing Joji that we knew in the past, this is Joji with an entire team behind his artistic vision, a whole group of people working with him to help him push his sound to the next level, and unfortunately, while the quality of the music has clearly went up, when so many people have their own input on something eventually the lines get blurred and the album loses its artistic direction and cohesion, which is one of my only complaints with this album, and I'm glad I got it out of the way first.
Artistic direction and cohesion aside, this album contains some of Joji's highest highs to date, especially the singles, that's not to say that there aren't some deep cuts on here that shine as well, but once you listen to the album in it's entirety you quickly understand why the singles were chosen as singles, especially when you consider how sonically different they are from the non-singles.
Sanctuary, the album's first single, is a sweet, poppy and synthy track that features a high pitched and melodic Joji, some of the track's lyrics are somewhat abstract but they are quite visually descriptive and that's always a plus in my book, the instrumental itself is quite spacey and has a nice retro vibe to it, already a huge step forward from what we've already heard from George, the track's climax reaches towards the end and gives us a beautiful bridge,with Joji crooning about wanting to be held by a significant other.
I fell for your magic, I tasted your skin And though this is tragic, at least I found the end I witnessed your madness, you shed light on my sins And if we share in this sadness, then where have you been?
  • Run
Run is one of the more cinematic cuts on this album, the track is truly a double edged sword because although it's one of Joji's best, it has set an extremely high standard for both Joji and the album, leaving fans such as myself worried about whether or not he will ever reach a similar high, the production is clean, Joji's vocal lines are as dynamic as ever, the guitar melody is infectious, the lyrics are better than anything Joji has ever written and he is putting his heart and soul into every word, the electric guitar solo at the end is also something worth mentioning, which sits perfectly right in front of Joji's distant and wide vocals, ending the track on a strong note.
Look into your heart and let me know Do things turn black and gray as they go? When I'm far too gone, can you show me love? Give me love
  • Gimme Love
The lyrics above come from the album's third single, a 2 sided track that starts as a bouncy, percussive, fast paced, and catchy song, with Joji chanting and pleading to be given love, softly singing about being surrounded by apathetic people, after the second chorus the entire song comes to a halt in order to make room for a mellow guitar and Joji's harmonies, which are absolutely stunning if I may add, the track, much like many other tracks on here, ends on a cinematic strong note with a string section and a grandiose piano.
The final single, Daylight, is no doubt unexplored territory for Joji, the instrumental, which was produced by Diplo, starts off slow and minimalistic, with a simple yet groovy bassline, and reaches its apex on the chorus, when it suddenly becomes extremely lush, heavy, and thick, the track is most definitely a solid attempt at modern day and mainstream pop music, clearly made with the intention of receiving radio play.
All of the singles show up in the first leg of the album, which is absolutely phenomenal, the opener track, Ew, starts off light and easy, with a somber and distant arpeggiated piano backed with Joji's soft vocals, who's singing about heartbreak and the loss of many relationships, sounding as bitter as ever lyrically, the chorus includes a grand string section and a chord progression that is fully panned to the right and sitting all the way behind the mix, and surprise surprise, the track itself ends on a cinematic strong note, much like many of the other tracks on here.
I've got no aim, a million rounds, is nothing real? A hundred pounds of heavy steel, it feels so loud Tied to my chest, it feels so loud I'll take a peek to across the peaks This grass is neat and I'm quite unique But I'd like to be, but I'd like to be
  • MODUS
Up next comes MODUS, a moody track that has an intro similar to the opener track but later on has Joji melodic rapping to a murky trap instrumental, with Joji of course sounding better than ever, lyrically speaking, many of the themes on this album are similar, Joji is mostly singing about relationships, heartbreak, and the need for a significant other, the lyrics themselves give the album a nocturnal, bitter, hopeless vibe, which is what we've come to expect from Joji's music nowadays.
The third track, Tick Tock, is a plucky banger of an instrumental that has Joji rapping over it with pitched up vocals on the chorus which is something that's a little bit reminiscent of his older, more amateur work, the vocal layering on the verse is also something worth mentioning, really showcases Joji's dynamic range and how much he improved as a whole, the track is nothing groundbreaking in terms of what we've heard so far and remains lowkey for the most part but is without a doubt one of my favorites on this project.
On Nectar, one of the yet-to-be-announced tracks was produced when the artist was only sixteen years old. “I’m excited to see if it sticks out or not to the listeners.” he reveals.
  • Joji Interview with Schön! Magazine.
While not officially announced by Joji himself, it is safe to say that Upgrade is the aforementioned track, a small interlude that seats itself in the earlier part of the album, the track starts with a grandiose piano, which is quite unnecessary if you ask me, because once we have it out of the way all we get is a very obviously barebones instrumental made from a different time, the telltale sign being non other than the ukulele that we have seen in George's earlier work.
It upsets me that Joji has not made this fact much more known because this track has been consistently the subject of criticism by critics and fans alike, but at the same time I understand, because at the end of the day George left that track in there for the die hard fans, not the critics.
Up until this point there is no doubt that Joji has played it safe, sure the album is much more grand and cinematic than its predecessor, but there's no denying that the signature sound is still there, we still get the hazy and moody slow bangers, if Nectar was only the first half then Joji might have had a strong album in his catalog, maybe even a classic, but I understand him wanting to expand and experiment with other sounds in order to grow as an artist.
The midsection gets a little bit tricky, as Joji begins to get out of his comfort zone and the album features start appearing, to me it sounds like Joji did not know how he could keep the listener interested in the second half of this album and decided to opt in for a bunch of features as a quick fix, some work out fine, some better than others.
Handsome young man, never pull up on time Lookin' in the mirror, lookin' good should be a crime, crime All this pain I'll never let show (No) My real thoughts, you'll never know (No)
  • Lil Yachty on Pretty Boy
I never really listened to Lil Yachty that much aside from the obvious hits he had over the course of his career, but he clearly shined on this track as the feature, for starters, the track is very light-hearted, definitely one of the more lofi tracks on this album, the highlight for me without a doubt is the bridge, which sounds like something straight out of Pink Season, George was clearly having genuine fun with it, some even speculate that most of the bridge was made using samples from his earlier work as Pink Guy.
High Hopes, which features Omar Apollo, is one of the more lowkey cuts in here as well, the percussion on the instrumental and the detuned guitar on here remind me of some of Joji's stuff from BALLADS 1, unfortunately however the track doesn't stand out much, at least not as much as Afterthought with BENEE, another track where Joji's melodies and vocals shine through once again, and BENEE's feature definitely adds some character to the track, at least enough to the point where the feature made some sense
On Normal People, Joji recruits childhood friend rei brown, in an attempt to capture lightning again after their first collaboration, Once In A While. Unfortunately lightning didn't strike twice here for me and the track felt quite lackluster and uninteresting, especially for such an anticipated track and when compared to their first song, many of the tracks and collaborations on the second part of the album really felt like Joji just trying to recapture the magic of his earlier work, and while some of those attempts did work at the end of the day it does feel like a cheap cop out.
Oh, understand, girl, I'm out of sight To the other side, I don't want no stripes Got my insides loud like motorcycles Girl, don't notice it, I don't notice it
  • NITROUS
Another example of Joji attempting to recapture magic is NITROUS, which marks Joji's second time collaborating with Clams Casino, the track is very reminiscent of their first track together, both Joji and Clams Casino however killed it, the track's instrumental is very murky and nocturnal, much alike most of the album, but that doesn't stop Joji's delivery, which is very fun-loving and upbeat.
By the way you move, I know you want me to Tell you all the rules, I know I'm searching too Give me all your clues and things to guide me through The end of the world, the end of the world
  • Mr. Hollywood
Produced by the one and only Kenneth Instrumentals, Mr. Hollywood is one of the more heartfelt and personal tracks on this album, Joji is singing about his evergrowing popularity and how it will never affect what is important for him, which in this case is the girl he's singing about, like many other tracks on this album, you will often hear something that will remind you of Joji's older work, in this case it is the ad-libs on the chorus, which are very reminiscent of his ad-libs on BESIDJU, regardless the song has at least a bit of substance which makes it one of the more commendable tracks.
The final run of this album is where Joji flips the script here, there are a few tracks that have questionable artistic decisions, such as Reanimator, with non other than Yves Tumor, the track serves as an instrumental interlude before the final two tracks, however with a feature such as Yves Tumor I honestly expected much more than what we got, and what we got is basically a 3 minute track, with the first minute and a half being nothing than a drone-y, synthy instrumental, and the second half being quite a lackluster performance by Joji and his guest, much like some of the other tracks on the album, it seems like it received a similar treatment, where the track was initially unfinished and still half-baked, and rather than attempting to finish the track they opted for an easy way out, which in this case was making more than half of the track an instrumental and then calling it an interlude just to be safe.
"that weeknd synthpop track sure is doing huge numbers, maybe i should also make a synthpop track as well"
  • Joji, probably.
I would be down to argue that if Blinding Lights by The Weeknd had not existed, 777 wouldn't have existed either, Joji's constant attempts at breaking into the mainstream and commercializing his sound have always left a bad taste in my mouth as it felt like it came from a place where authenticity is lacking, nevertheless I find it bizarre to make a track that is very similar to one of the most successful tracks of the year and not attempt to push it at all, that's not to say that 777 on it's own is not a good track, however there's no denying that the sound selection on the instrumental, some of the flows, and the chorus itself hold blaring similarities to The Weeknd's track, I understand why he would make such a track however and find it admirable at the very least.
Thankfully, the album ends on a strong note, the final two tracks are both beautiful even though they're worlds apart, Like You Do, is a quintessential love ballad from Joji, a stripped down instrumental with beautiful piano chords and a laid back vibe, Joji is singing about his current partner and how what they have might not work out, even though he feels like they're perfect for one another, the closing track, Your Man is a massive change in tempo, with an upbeat, electronic, deep house-esque instrumental, we hear a Joji that is optimistic, which is a nice change of pace, especially considering how bitter most of his albums and projects have been up to date.
Since I met you All the gloomy days just seem to shine a little more brightly Consider what we've got 'Cause I can never take you for granted
  • Like You Do
Conclusion
There's no denying that some tracks on here sound like a bastardized version of Joji's signature sound. Joji is trying his best to commercialize his sound without sacrificing the rawer elements of it, which unfortunately results in a jumble of sounds. This album is not free of criticisms as there are many issues in here that need to be worked on, it's much less cohesive than its predecessor and at times sounds like a bunch of rough ideas put together in order to create the world's most average musical equivalent of a photo collage, but if we were to just set all of that aside and just look at this album for what it is, then there's definitely something in here for everyone. George might have not made a classic, and he certainly hasn't found his sound yet, but this album is an indicator that he's on to something, and once again I am already anxious to hear what he has in store next.
Talking Points
  • What did you think of this album? Is it a good follow-up to BALLADS 1?
  • Do you think Joji works better alone or when he has a team behind him?
  • Do you think Joji will yet again set another high standard for himself next project?
  • What are your predictions for Joji's sound in the future?
  • Now that he's more keen on having features, who do you think would compliment Joji's sound the most?
  • Favorite tracks?
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The Ultimate Parlay: DraftKings ($DKNG)

The Ultimate Parlay: DraftKings ($DKNG)
Here on a Sunday night to give you autists some time to cross-check my info, start your RH instant deposit, and let your wife's bf know you're coming back with a vengeance. Here's an in-depth analysis on DraftKings and how to maximize profits over the foreseeable future to squeeze this for every tendie we can. Now that many states face revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic and wider budget deficits, there needs to be a push to fill that gap and nothing is better positioned than sports betting.
As you all know, $DKNG came to market through a SPAC merging with Diamond Eagle back in April, at the worst of the pandemic when live sports were dead and there was more uncertainty than ever for what was to come. Jason Robins, Draft Kings CEO, has balls of steel and knew that they needed to get to market quickly for a sports betting run-up the likes of which we've never seen. Sports are now on their way back, with a huge amount of positive catalysts coming up in the next few months to skyrocket this stock to the moon and beyond.

Management

I want to clarify that a large amount of my conviction from this play comes from the incredible management team leading the company. CEO Jason Robins is a stand-up guy and has led the company through a huge amount of scrutiny since its founding in 2012. He comes from a data analytics background which could not be a better fit for the sports betting business. He prioritizes the high speed data that fuels the DraftKings platform as its most valuable asset and speaks often on the commitment his team has to ethical values and encouraging a trustworthy environment for its users to gamble their paychecks on the DraftKings platform.
I've linked a great interview to get to know the CEO and give further insight into DraftKing's plans moving forward below and highly recommend anyone going in on this play give it a quick watch. Jason is optimistic about the future of state's legalizing mobile sports betting moving forward and says they will continue to invest boatloads of money into customer acquisition costs through TV ads and billboards on a state-by-state basis. Link: https://youtu.be/2OVFB9piEC0
Any of you who have come across DraftKings commercials, YouTube ads, billboards, know that their marketing is on point. This is a great play because DraftKing's expansion has occurred thus far on a state-by-state basis. This means that there's a large part of the nation (actually the majority) that is still ignorant to the sports betting wave that is coming in 2021. DraftKings is positioned extremely well to lead the way into the ~25 states still waiting to pass the bill.

Legislation

The fact that the top 4 states in the country still have not legalized online sports betting presents a HUGE opportunity to ride this wave with little downside risk. Sports have already gone through the worst-case scenario during COVID shutdowns and survived—now we’ve got a great amount of positive catalysts coming up (NBA season, March madness, Super Bowl, etc.) that the general population is begging for some action on, paired with more money in their pocket from significantly less entertainment costs since the pandemic started.
The Wuhan Virus gave DraftKings a shot in the arm to streamline its way into most (if not all) of the remaining state's ballots during Q1 and Q2 due to the huge cut in tax revenues that the lockdowns caused across the country. Governor Cuomo of New York released a statement last week stating he is now considering the passing of mobile sports betting in order to raise the state's tax revenue during a time where Congress completely skipped them over in terms of providing aid through the stimmy. New York is a huge catalyst moving forward. In my opinion, this is a make or break for how things look for DraftKings moving forward, and will largely influence how other states react. Mobile sports betting scares states as it is new and so accessible, but if you do research into the Powerball and other loterry companies, it just took a push in the right direction for states to realize how much money they are leaving on the table by not participating in these emerging markets. Sports betting has already benefited the 9 states which passed the bill (NJ leading the way) and has NY as well as every other governor, feeling major FOMO.
Current states where online (mobile) sports betting laws have passed:
  • New Jersey
  • West Virginia
  • Indiana
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Hampshire
  • Iowa
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Tennessee
Some of the reported revenues from sports betting:
New Jersey: $931.6 million
Pennsylvania: $491.9 million
Illinois: $434 million
Indiana: $250.8 million
Colorado: $231.2 million

On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court found the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal law prohibiting states from authorizing sports betting, to be unconstitutional. It is now up to individual states to decide if they want to authorize and regulate sports betting in their state. Congress can also take action on the authorization and regulation of sports betting but has so far left it up to individual states.
As you can see, states are cashing out on the mobile sports betting wave, with New Jersey leading the way and making a large part of that revenue from NY residents crossing state lines to get their gambling fix in. Gov. Cuomo has been opposed to legalizing sports betting in the past, calling it "a violation of the constitution"...buut that was before covid lockdowns and his state was drowning up to their neck in debt.
DraftKings management issued extremely bullish guidance without even taking into account new states passing legislation. This is one of the things that I love about CEO Jason Robins that stood out to me in the hours of interviews/articles I’ve looked over. This man is the pinnacle of underpromising and over delivering. The staff at Draft Kings are extremely customer centric and focused on strong ethics to help them provide a platform for sports aficionados to enhance their viewing experience.

Data-Driven/Proprietary Tech Stack (the MOAT)

Legislation aside, the other huge catalyst is DraftKing's unique approach to owning its own data and proprietary tech stack. I believe that this will be where DKNG separates itself from the competition that is rushing to this space and will give it the upper hand in acquiring, and retaining, a large percentage of new users across opening states.
From investor presentation: "Upon close of the business combination, DraftKings will become the only vertically-integrated pure-play sports betting and online gaming company based in the United States. Through the business combination, DraftKings expects to realize synergies by transitioning its risk and trading sports betting platform to SBTech’s, instead of relying on a third-party platform. In addition to reducing costs, DraftKings will control its backend system and product roadmap, differentiating the company from other U.S. operators and giving it the ability to tailor its sports betting product to U.S. sports and users."
"SBTech is a global leader in omni-channel sports betting and gaming, with more than 1,200 employees in 10 offices worldwide. Since 2007, the group has developed the industry’s most powerful online sports betting and casino platform, serving licensees in more than 15 regulated territories. SBTech’s clients include many of the world’s premier betting and gaming operators, state lotteries, land-based casinos, horse racing companies, and iGaming start-ups. The group supplies highly flexible betting and gaming solutions to clients looking for exceptional configurability and the quickest route to market, complemented by proven business intelligence and reporting capabilities. The SBTech offering includes its seamless sportsbook, Chameleon360 iGaming platform, managed services, on-property sportsbook and omni-channel solutions that provide players with constant access to sports and casino products across all online, mobile and retail channels. Supported by unrivaled expertise in trading and risk management, acquisition and CRM, and the highest standards of regulatory compliance, SBTech’s partners consistently achieve rapid growth, enhanced brand loyalty and record revenues."
DraftKings prioritized OWNING their own backend technology via this merger with SBTech, making them the first, and only company in this space to own their risk and trading platform. This gives DraftKings a huge edge to the rest of the market. It forked up the cash to keep everything in house not only to provide a better customer experience, but also to widen the moat against competitors as new states come onboard. The key here is to clarify that DraftKings and SBTech combined to be the only player in the market with 100% vertical integration and control of their own backend. Jason Robins and the rest of the management team are placing their efforts on having the best technology and the best product and really going all in on owning the U.S. landscape opening up, with as little need for cross-platform interaction as possible.
This acquisition of SBTech was a complete game changer because it allowed them to be independent from paying revenue share to a third-party for betting lines and risk management services.
Clarification: no other sports betting/fantasy sports/casino company currently has 100% vertical integration on the level that DraftKings has established.

iGaming Boom

This is where the market is missing the mark. Take the time to read over analyst reports, news articles, and interviews and you'll quickly notice 99% of the general market is completely glazing over DraftKing's iGaming sector. This industry has been a CA$H COW in Europe for awhile now, and is only getting started in the United States. Out of the companies that occupy this space, DraftKings is the only one to create one synergistic platform for Fantasy sports/Sportsbook/iGaming. This will be a huge value proposition that will ultimately rocket DraftKings to the top of the gaming market and solidify it as THE gaming powerhouse moving forward.

The infrastructure driving DraftKing's products and Tech (all in one platform)
Anyone that's watched the run of Skillz and the hype pushing PaySafe, knows how much anticipation there is for iGaming to become the new norm in the world of gambling. DraftKings has emerged as the market leader in each state they've launched in, and continue to gain more and more market share. Once new users get introduced to their platform, the cross-selling opportunity is limitless and creates an extremely sticky customer acquisition cycle.
Competitors like Penn and MGM are dinosaurs in this space and have been playing catch-up to DraftKings since 2012. The new age of gamblers don't want to drive to a physical casino location or buy a home desktop to gamble. Everything will be mobile and run in real-time. DraftKings has been building an incredible live-sports ecosystem (first to market) and innovates the possibilities of what you can bet on a daily basis. Just download the app for yourself and do some exploring. I believe this is going to boom in the TikTok/millennial crowd as more states start to hop onboard.

2021 Projections

Pulled from the investor presentation, $DKNG has smashed every one of their 2020 assumptions listed below. For any stats guys out there, I would love to see some models at how much of this market is still up for grabs. DraftKings has positioned themselves to be at the head of this movement, and I believe that 2021 will be the year we really see them take off into triple digits share prices.
The catalysts are there, and the market is ripe for the taking. Their projections are extremely conservative and management lets the numbers do the talking. In my opinion, this is a bet on the management putting the dots together to EXECUTE as state legislation starts to go their way, once NY happens this shift will occur rapidly.

https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgadata/1772757/000110465920032214/tm2012476d1_425.htm
The management is incredible and truly displays a vision for wanting to prop up shareholder value in the long-term through valuable data, a fully integrated platform, and aggressive customer acquisition to take control of this market as states realize the economic deficits which they are facing going into a new year. This along with the unprecedented hype that is going to be involved with sports events this year, will skyrocket DraftKings to new heights.
This is not a bet on sports betting alone, it is a play on a data-heavy and analytically driven behemoth, with strategic partnerships (league, team, and celebrity partnerships) and one of the most aggressive marketing strategies I have ever laid eyes on. The stock soared earlier this years upon news of the Michael Jordan partnership (https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/02/investing/draftkings-michael-jordan-deal/index.html) and there is many, many more big moves in the pipeline.

Conclusion

Long-term I am extremely bullish on people wanting risk to make up a daily part of their lives. The psychology of sports betting resembles that of the lottery and is becoming a must-have for people to have the choice to place bets from the convenience of their mobile phones. We are moving into a future where if risk and leverage are not involved, people will have little interest in dedicating their time to things. This shift can be seen with the boom in retail options trading (shoutout wsb gang) and will have a similar effect in sports, iGaming, and random prop bets/surveys that Draft Kings is innovating heavily in. This is not to mention the infrastructure that DKNG is continuing to build out to rival that of Europe in terms of live sports betting (which makes up three quarters of revenue for online sports books in the UK) and expanding their horizons to lesser betted on sports such as tennis, golf, soccer, etc.
If you've gotten this far, congrats you're just a few steps away from striking gold. Any feedback, comments, rebuttals, bear scenarios, etc. please comment. Good luck.

Positions

$70c 1/21/22
$90c 1/20/23
🚀🚀🚀 Bet at your own risk 🚀🚀🚀

Tl;dr

DraftKings has state legislation action coming, incredible management, is data-driven, is vertically integrated/owns its tech stack, has exposure to the full range of new world gaming (Fantasy/Sportsbook/iGaming), and is ahead of its competition forming league, team, and celebrity partnerships.
$70c 1/21/22
$90c 1/20/23

Sources (do your own DD dumbass)

https://youtu.be/2OVFB9piEC0
https://www.legalsportsreport.com/42835/draftkings-kambi-2021/
https://sportsbook.draftkings.com/help/sports-betting/where-is-sports-betting-legal?_ga=2.2847858.331721966.1608603855-1177209388.1608603855
https://www.legalsportsreport.com/46711/the-week-in-sports-betting-dec-21/
https://www.aol.com/news/why-draftkings-flutter-trading-lower-201654511.html
submitted by omertaproject to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

$700,000 Bet on Fintech - BFT

$700,000 Bet on Fintech - BFT
Alright Degenerates- I posted a small little snippet a day or so ago about BFT. I wanted to do a bit of DD on BFT but also wanted to highlight something that was brought to my attention by a degenerate gambler. Lastly, I wanted to compile some good little snippets that have been put together by some other members as well as from the investor presentation.
Before reading further please understand the major Risks.
  • This is SPAC with ~10.00 NAV, if the deal falls through it could drop to 10.00 USD
  • The warrants could be very lucrative but they can be called and if a deal fails to materialize, these can become worthless.
  • If you're ok with the above risks, continue reading.
Keep in mind that this merger is not complete, but the terms of the deal have been provided to investors and we will be able to either vote yes for the deal or vote no and redeem our shares in BFT for 10.00 cash. So there is downside to this play should the vote not go through or should the two entities terminate the agreement. Right now the downside is ~3 dollars per share according to the close price from today.

MY POSITIONS - Mostly PRPL, PSTH and BFT/BFT.W


https://preview.redd.it/ygrfo9vp0b461.jpg?width=1065&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ccd5cd4846d0cdcd6f1ed0e7a37548399a5cf461
https://preview.redd.it/fd3o99vp0b461.jpg?width=1072&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=96faf02b077fc060c6025bbf7976b54edc6db493


The Customers and MOAT

  • Deep Customer Base with deep ties to gambling/betting industry with Deep penetration in Europe and growing customer bases around the world. Gambling is a tricky business and regulated differently than other industries. Many big players have avoided the industry and Paysafe has a great reputation and has become one of the early movers in the industry. The following are some notable customers.
https://preview.redd.it/0bhbpnvr0b461.jpg?width=473&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=57ec71dfedd8c6eb1d604282021340fbd8d39025
https://preview.redd.it/cno03rvr0b461.jpg?width=285&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=4281b8e0db4783b7b4b6cce74f62f0694bdbb008

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I actually know Paysafe and the usage quite well.
PayPal has many restrictions in Europe regarding iGaming , so does Square.
This is a big play on iGaming for those that aren’t aware.
I was a mid- high stakes online poker player through the 2010-2018. Played a variety of sites. : iPoker; PokerStars, Paddy, MicroGaming, 888, Party. Why so many sites? Because I was always on lookout for where the action was, if a big whale sat down at one online casino; you bet your sweet ass I’m there.
So let me give you my take as a consumer that’s probably spent over $100,000 in transaction fees personally on Paysafe.
This was one of the cheapest and fastest ways to move money around online.
Unlike Stripe this which is against risky business such as CBD and gambling, paysafe is actually one of the leading payment providers in both UK/AUS / Ireland for iGaming.
Big example is William Hill, Bet365, Bwin.
Now why would you want to move money online around as a gambler ?
Well, Visa/MC charge close to 50%->75% more, online casinos = the merchant. They don’t wanna pay that, and in fact put limits on this type of payment processor. (Your visa’s credit cards etc). If a punter deposits / withdraws frequently, the online casino could literally be on the hook for like 20-30% of the turnover throughout the gambler’s period. (This assumes the gambler doesn’t lose all his money per deposit.
Imagine you’re a professional sportsbettor, you’re not loyal to one site. Different spreads / odds are offered on every site, you want to be able to move your money from one to another quickly and cheaply. Arbitrage opportunities do exist in sports betting as bookmakers hedge their books to minimize risk, diff frequencies of bets occur on each sports book; you get the idea.
For recreational punters, it’s simple: some sporting events that are smaller simply don’t exist on one site that exist on another. Eg. Perhaps you using Pinnacle / 10dimes for low spreads on high volume events, but perhaps you want to gamble on live events on bet365 on another day, and bet ponies on Hill.
What if you only have $5000 ? Giant pain in ass to deposit money to each site, paysafe lets you move it around easily.
Should you use visa, you may get blocked from depositing on various sites; Bodog, WHill, Bet365 just to name a few. Withdrawals and clearing deposits with bank transfers or checks takes days-> weeks and gamblers ain’t gonna wait for that shit.
You can also buy prepaid paysafe cards from stores if you don’t wish to use your real credit card; and load that shit up.
One of the biggest markets this is prominent in is South east Asia, they are some of the biggest punters and fucking loving gambling. Looking at you pinoys, Indonesians, Malays. Not everyone wants to fly to Macau to get their rocks off.
As much as this is a play on FinTech, please understand this company has more or less the best Payment service on online gambling globally.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Comparable VALUATIONS

From this chart you can see that there looks to be some favorable multiples that could improve once a deal closes. Also, I'm very bullish on the great Margins as well as the conservative growth. I think Foley along with the growing Igaming undervalues the potential of this company. Just the Draft Kings relationship make me tingle.

CHART is COURTESY of u/CoachCedricZebaze
https://preview.redd.it/aozxwuft0b461.jpg?width=722&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e40cbc4538ff3bef87a31050dca316ecae996a9b

Management and Growth

  • Bill Effing Foley - I have a thing for guys name Bill and this guy get my nips hard.
    • This guy has turned shit into gold. See his previous ventures before and after....

https://preview.redd.it/dp6oe2ew0b461.jpg?width=386&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5e6f137c95fec971568dfa5bc07d0290997c753d
https://preview.redd.it/mhl9b7ew0b461.jpg?width=326&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=f57ec2eb7c7c318323373af10c8bb12b03e9082e
  • Bill has connections and a strategy to dominate Igaming.
  • Igaming addressable Market is expected to grow immensely from a few billion to tens of billions.
https://preview.redd.it/qfacblzz0b461.jpg?width=241&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=dbcdace95286ffccf613daa79b93554ca3e5728b

This is an end to end payment processor with big big big name relationships for very disruptive companies that have huge addressable markets. The reason I am excited is because IGAMING is just really starting to take off and Paysafe is a first mover with brand new experienced management and very very fair valuations that could pop after a merger.
TL;DR- BUY BFT stock and BFT.W because BFT stands for big freaking tenderloins.
submitted by dhsmatt2 to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Ended my gambling career (for now) on a high note - jackpot handpay to end 2020. My thoughts and ramblings as a now-retired gambler.

Warning: long rambling stories ahead. I am bored and waiting to get through my first day back at work since before Christmas. You've been warned!
I've been going to the casino pretty regularly for the past few years. Before that, I played occasionally. I exclusively play slots. I view it as a night out - first with friends back when I brought $50 and played penny denom minimum bet spins and prayed to win $20, and then eventually shifting my mindset to playing higher bets and denominations. I hit my first jackpot handpay a couple of years ago. I hit $3700 on a $27 bet on a Geisha machine. I've hit a few other jackpots here and there, culminating with my biggest jackpot ever this past summer. I hit $12K on a $50 bet on a Pompeii slot machine.
Well, the long story short is that I have fallen out of love with gambling. I have somehow managed to have a positive ROI on gambling. I track my withdrawls and win on a spreadsheet. To put it bluntly: I have been extremely lucky over the past few years. I know that slots are not a viable way to win money in the long run, so I made a decision a few months ago to "retire" from gambling at the end of 2020.
I went to my local casino last Wednesday. It just so happens when I hit a jackpot that I usually do it within the first half hour or so I'm at the casino. Well, it happened again. After going up $600 or so on another slot machine (I don't remember the name), I went to one of my most hated/favorite old school slots - Zeus dollar denomination. One of my worst moments in all of gambling was a few years ago. I got a bonus round on the Zeus dollar denomination on max bet of $45 a spin. I was BEYOND excited. I've seen Youtube videos where people have won tens of thousands of dollars in that exact scenario. Much to my shock, I won nothing. In that game, you don't win anything for triggering the bonus. So I actually *lost* $45 on getting the bonus. I cashed out and left immediately.
Anyway, last week I hit a modest $4500. It was exciting...but not as exciting as I thought it should be. I was cool, calm, and...detached. The wins didn't mean much to me, and the losses mean absolutely nothing. My wife and I are in the EXTREMELY fortunate position that losing $500 or so every week or two at the casino is affordable. I'm not ignorant to how lucky we are to be in this position.
After getting paid out, I played a bit longer. But that hand pay drove home the realization that I had a few months ago: it was time to stop gambling. If I can't get pumped about a big win like that, and if I'm not even phased a little bit by losing, it's just not worth gambling any more. I used to go for entertainment, but even now gambling doesn't provide that much.
As I sit now, I am up roughly $18K over three years of slots. Not bad, but not life changing. Enough that I bought my wife a Burberry and Louis Vuitton handbag on separate occasions. The rest if stashed in savings or in an investment account somewhere. But I am 100% committed to being done. At least for 2021, and probably longer.
If anyone is interested in hearing my thoughts on how to win...I don't have any insight to share. It's luck. I got lucky. I know I got lucky. The usual tropes about setting win and loss thresholds is good advice. Sometimes I chased payouts and hit them. Sometimes I chased and lost. But I managed to hit more than miss, and for that I'm lucky. And thankful.
Anyway. I don't have a major takeaway or anything. I don't have many people I can talk about this with in my personal life, so I figured I'd share a bit of my story here.
If you do gamble, please do so responsibly. Good luck, and try to have fun. If you're not having fun, it's probably not the right way to spend your time or money.
EDIT:
I just wanted to say to anyone who reads this in the future that I appreciate the nice responses and PMs from people. It's nice to share a positive experience with others! I sincerely hope that if any of you choose to play in the future, you choose to do so responsibly. Gambling can be a hugely problematic lifestyle for some people. Stay safe. (end of preaching here).
I also want to take a second to address some comments from some people about slots being skill based. This is 100% false. The concept of slots being skill based in any way is demonstrably untrue with three seconds of reasonable thinking. If we accept that there is a hypothetical slot game which is based on skill and not pure luck, what are the consequences of that? First of all, this information would leak out. There would be no way to contain it. If one person can solve the system, another an as well. Subsequently, someone would write a book on the subject. Think about all the poker and blackjack strategy books out there. These are games where skillful play can increase your odds of winning. Last I checked, there aren't any books or Supersytem-level analyses from prominent individuals willing to stake their names and reputations on publishing a "slot technique" book. There's a reason for this. And also - think about this: casinos still carry blackjack tables for a reason: they still have an edge to win. If there is a surefire way for individuals to win when playing slots, casinos would 100% for sure take these games out of circulation. Casinos are not in the business of giving away money. Any claim there is a foolproof way to win money playing slots does not make sense when critical thinking is applied to the circumstances.
Slots are not like card games. Finding and playing only games where there is a "must win by" progressive is not the same thing as skillful play. That's more akin to something like card counting in blackjack. Many people who design slot machines and engineer the software behind the scenes have posted on Reddit and elsewhere that wins are based on random number generators running behind every spin. There is literally no skill involved - you win or lose each spin based on pure random luck.
I am saying this because there are a number of people who come to this subreddit to look for ways to cheat the system and get easy money. I see posts like this fairly often, and I'm only browsing this subreddit occasionally. Gambling is not, and should not, be a way for anyone looking to make a quick buck. If you're looking to get an edge playing slots because you need to pay bills or make a quick buck, you are already in serious trouble. Do not buy into the delusion that you can get an edge or guarantee a win. People saying this are snake oil salesmen who do not care for you or your well-being.
Anyway. I'm going to stop monitoring this post. I'm still open to receiving PMs or messages, but I've had my fun with this so far. I could do with fewer trolls, but this is the internet. I knew what to expect. Bon chance, everyone!
submitted by Creepy_Zucchini6387 to gambling [link] [comments]

Class Trial 66: The Murder of Sonia Nevermind - Part 2: 2ndMIX

What if, like, there was an alternate universe where bears could beat the crap out of chimps?
And it would be, just. Wow. The animal mind is really something else.
A beary good buddy of mine the other day went hunting for elk out in the Pacific Northwest.
Don't know why he couldn't keep a straight face. Might've been the DMT.
Hey, Jamie! Pull that Trial thread up!

Truth Bullets

Truth Bullet Supplements

* Click HERE to access all available and relevant Trial supplements, including visual aids.

Cast - Main Course

Reserve Course

You all are doing a good job so far playing with the evidence. Keep doing that.
submitted by roflcopterpilotx to DanganRoleplay [link] [comments]

10 More Overlooked Single Player Indie Games

Here’s a link to the first post with 10 other overlooked indie games.
Introduction
We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games. I'm going to order them according to Metacritic Critic Ratings. Some of the games at the bottom have pretty low critic ratings. I personally disagree with the low scores of these games, but it's only fair that you hear from more than just me.
Price will include a link to the U.S. store page of the game. Price is in U.S. dollars.
1. Inertial Drift
2. Pumpkin Jack
3. Pato Box
4. Ultra Hat Dimension
5. Penarium
6. SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
7. Tamashii
8. Daggerhood
9. The Bunker
10. Cybarian: The Time-Traveling Warrior
Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games?
If you’re looking for more indie games to play, see my post here:
submitted by Underwhere_Overthere to xboxone [link] [comments]

Class Trial 66: The Murder of Sonia Nevermind - Part 1: 1stMIX

Let’s suppose, hypothetically, just for the sake of the argument, that you were in need of an explanation of the rules of the Class Trial.
And, further, let’s assume that I am the one capable of providing you, in this hypothetical scenario, with such an explanation.
It must, without a doubt, logically follow that this explanation would be summarized as “you all need to find out who murdered Sonia Nevermind.”
Okay gang? The idea that it would amount to anything other than that is just silly. It’s just... wrong!
Axioms don’t care about your attitudes!

Truth Bullets

Cast - Main Course

Reserve Course

Click [HERE](LINK) to visit the Summary Sheet. (not posted as of now)

In the Summary Sheet, you can easily access alibis, catch up on key moments, and inspect materials supplementing the currently available Truth Bullets.
The Trial has finally started! Let’s get this show on the road. You have seven days to solve this case (ends 12/24 at 1900 UTC-5, 12/25 0000 UTC). I may make comments here as the Trial progresses.
submitted by roflcopterpilotx to DanganRoleplay [link] [comments]

The Pretty Idiot's Guide to Human Space: Rugen (part 1)


The salvo of coilgun shells smashes into the complex of bunkers on the opposite riverbank, sending a spray of charred dirt, sandbags, and timber flying into the air. A sloped bastion caves in, burying the rifle pits at its base. One leg of a watchtower is blasted away and the whole thing sways drunkenly before twisting and collapsing across the trenches, the flagpole on its roof somehow landing upright and leaving the enemy's blue-and-gold standard waving in the debris-laden breeze.

The Human artillerymen beside me let out a cheer and jump up and down, slapping each other's outstretched hands.

The army of Humans watching from beyond the battery all jump around and cheer, too, their yells loud even compared to a half-dozen high explosive shells.

And... so do the Human gunners on the hillside across the river, and the army behind them. They all cheer and applaud. Even though they are, in fact, the enemy whose defenses are getting blasted into pieces the size of a poet's paycheck by the aforementioned coilguns. So... I cheer my lovely green head off right along with them, because things are exploding and stuff is burning and apparently the Humans on this planet just generally approve of that sort of thing.

My name is Solontha reValthinna, and I'm the Felra who goes to the places nobody else wants to and learns about them the hard way so you can learn about them the easy way. That's my angle as an author, and that's why I'm the Pretty Idiot.

----

"Solontha, darling, I've got just the destination for your next Pretty Idiot's Guide!"

My business agent only sounds that chirpy when she's found some new way to try to get me killed. I'd like to think it's because the more trouble I get into, the better the resulting books turn out. That, or she still hasn't forgiven me for that topless dance I did at the Publishers' Guild dinner party she took me to. In my defense, they provided the liquor. I just happened to drink a lot of it.

Also in my defense, my topless dancing is godlike.

"Not back to the Tarq Imperium, I hope? They said they'd shoot me if they ever caught me inside their borders again."

My agent clucked at me. "They said no such thing. They just heavily implied it. And that was only because you wrote that they were a bunch of pointlessly brutal totalitarian fuckwads."

I snorted. "That's right. And it was the 'fuckwad' part that they objected to."

"Nobody likes being called a fuckwad, Solontha. Fuckwads least of all. But, no, I'm thinking we send you to write about a Human planet this time."

Humans? Interesting... The few I've known, I've mostly liked. Well, I don't hate them, anyway. And they look kind of like us Felra, at least a little bit. If you took a Felra and eliminated everything behind her forelegs -- and kept her from dying from lack of some important organs, obviously -- you would have something that still doesn't look particularly like a Human. So, dye her green skin an earthier color, replace her beautiful tresses of feathery-branching tvan with coarser, single-stranded hair, remove one pair of breasts, and take a digit from each hand. She still doesn't look quite Human. Make her face a bit rounder and flatter, thicken her bone structure, and Congratulations! You've surgically converted a Felra into something that could possibly maybe pass for a Human in really poor lighting. Also, you're a sick fuck for doing such a thing.

Point being, Humans are sufficiently similar enough to us that they can be cute, in a goofy bipedal sort of way. And immersing yourself in an alien culture can be more rewarding if you can also immerse yourself in some attractive alien nookie along the way. Any aspiring travel writers who are reading this can consider that a pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot.

"So, any particular Human world? Somewhere with casinos, maybe? Or some place run by the Church of Giving Money, Liquor, and Carnal Pleasure to Sexy Alien Visitors?"

That last bit caught my agent off-guard. "Is that an actual religion?"

"If it was, do you think I'd still be working?"

"Of course you would. You love travel, trouble, and remunerated smart-assery too much to just quit." Ah, I'm such a lucky Felra. Most agents charge extra for that kind of quality banter. "The place I've got in mind for you is Rugen, a frontier-level colony world well off the outer fringe of the Arm."

"The tail-tip of nowhere, in other words. And what's the attraction for a Pretty Idiot to play tourist there? Societal collapse? Rampaging Felra-eating predators? Pandemic-level clown outbreak?"

"How about the longest-running ongoing war in the Known Galaxy? Two hundred eighty-seven common years and no end in sight."

Yow. I'm passingly familiar with war, having wandered through five or six of varying size and awfulness while sightseeing -- and writing about said sightseeing -- and three centuries is a lot of war, especially confined to one planet. I could only imagine how that could twist and scar a world and its people. The devastation. The tragedy of wasted lives and resources. The sheer dysfunctionality of societies raised for generation after generation on bitter vengeance and the never-ending march towards victory and a peace they can no longer even properly conceptualize. A world of bloodlust, paranoia, and the threat of sudden brutal death staining every moment of every day. Why, the possibilities for misery were endless.

It sounded perfect for a vacation getaway.

----

I took regular commercial liners as far as Thielbarra, but had to buy passage from there to Rugen on an independent freighter that was slightly more reputable than a spaceport prostitute, just not as hygienic. There were only three other passengers headed to my destination, including a Kreevin botanical researcher who ignored everybody and a not-very-sober Zharg who worked for one of the big interstellar communications providers and who must have fucked up his job just badly enough to get sent to an isolated hole-in-the-void posting, but not quite badly enough to be fired. I ended up sharing a cabin with the only other quadruped, an adorably optimistic Iraitrian missionary who was going to Rugen to set up a temple to the Harmonious Gods and try to get a congregation going.

Being the cynical agnostic wretch that I am, I just had to ask how much demand she thought there would be for a doctrine of cooperative religious pacifism in the middle of a war zone.

"You offer food to the starving, not to those with bellies already full," she told me. "Our beliefs are meant to be applied in the world, not just agreed with in the temple."

And did she expect to end the war all by herself?

"I hope to make a difference to someone. Whether it's by teaching the Way, by being an example, or just by offering a person who needs it a roof, a meal, and a sympathetic ear. If even one person considers their life to be better for having known me, my mission will be worthwhile."

Damn. I had been entertaining myself with the idea of flirting mercilessly with her for the whole trip, but all that earnestness. All that simple, undeniable goodness. Even my cynicism and libido combined couldn't look that in the face.

So I flirted with the ship's captain, instead. Not that there was any real challenge in it, as despite Felra not being four-armed lizard people, Jixavan males are completely enamored of our tails, which are both more voluptuous and generally more exposed than those of their own females. Pro-tip from the Pretty Idiot: if you're a Felra and need to manipulate a Jixavan guy, buy one of those tail-stockings their women wear. Even the biggest ones will be too tight and short for you, so cut a bunch of slashes in it and pull it as far up your tail as it will go. Then wear a skirt short enough to expose the top hem of the tail-stocking and enjoy your newfound powers of persuasion. I ended up getting twenty percent off my fare and three marriage proposals.

Captain Akothin had made a few runs to Rugen before, so I was able to ask him some questions about the place. If you've never read one of my Pretty Idiot's Guides before, part of my schtick, if you will, is lack of prior research regarding the places I go. My self-imposed limitation is that I can only obtain information by seeing for myself or asking someone with firsthand experience. No encyclopedias or hyperweb research. That media stuff is, at best, quarter-truths and agenda-driven grazershit, anyway. By going into a place without 'knowledge' of it, I go with fewer preconceptions. That's the 'Idiot' part of the title. The 'Pretty' part is because I am. And if you have to face life as an idiot, it really does help to be a pretty one.

The good captain had never actually made planetfall on Rugen, always conducting business from orbit. Sensible. Boring, but sensible. I therefore confined my inquiries to spacers' matters. Like, were we going to have any issues with pirates or paramilitaries on our way in-system?

"No pirates. Not enough shipping in or out for those guys to make a living raiding it and too far from any active lanes to make a useful base. Pirates operating across star systems have to really watch their fuel expenditures." Captain Akothin then proceeded to give a suspiciously well-considered dissertation on how to turn a profit in space piracy, which I will not share here but have filed away for future reference should too many of my books bomb on the market. And as for paramilitary ships affiliated with the warring factions? "I've never seen any."

What about orbital defenses? Would there be minefields to be tensely navigated? Would we be subject to stop-and-search by military patrol craft? "Rugen's a frontier-level system." The captain looked at me like I was a moron, albeit a moron with an incredibly sexy and distracting tail. "There ain't even a transshipment station, just a few cheapo weather and comm satellites. I just put the ship in a parking orbit and they send shuttles up. But it's not like the shipments are ever so big you'd need an orbital dock anyway, and shuttles are fine for passengers. Of course, that also means no orbital repair yard and no fuel depot, but that's not much worry since Rugen is just a long detour off our Thielbarra-to-Rialto route and I always do a refuel and refit at Thielbarra for safety's sake and, um, will you marry me?"

----

The shuttle ride down was as uneventful as such things generally are and afforded a chance to take in the view of Rugen from medium-high orbit. It was not a particularly exciting planet seen from 18,000 miles above its equator -- under the sparse clouds, some smallish seas, broad smears of iron-red in the right places to be deserts, accented by patches and streamers of an odd green that was almost an indecisive blue, and some blink-and-you'd-miss-them polar caps. But the thing is, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference how many planets you've seen out the porthole, or how much of an undifferentiated dirtball the one below you is. There is no such thing as 'ordinary' when it comes to the sight of a whole damn world suspended in space right in front of you. It's a moment of magic, every single time, and anybody who says otherwise is lying, or is a soulless shithead. Or, since those aren't mutually exclusive, they could be both, like a corporate journalist or a Rybathi.

I used the flight time to mentally review what firsthand knowledge of Humans I possessed. Pro-tip-slash-caveat: members of a species often behave very differently in their own polities than they do in foreign or more cosmopolitan settings. Expatriates or visitors to your world are typically trying to get along in your society and tend to adjust their behavior accordingly. Their behavior when they are in the majority and they get to decide what's normal may be radically different. That said, there were a few truths I felt comfortable in ascribing to Humans in general based on experience.

For starters, sexual dimorphism. Humans born biologically male or female remain that sex, unless medically altered. Females are usually smaller and are the ones with slightly inadequate breasts. Males tend to be bigger, stronger, and coarser-looking and, like most mammaloid males, have completely inadequate breasts. This dimorphism leads to the most basic social structures being built around male-female pairings and their offspring -- family -- rather than the looser pack-based structure of Felra. These family structures appear to have a relationship similar to, though vastly more complicated than, the Felra mother-daughter bond. Basically, if you wrong a Human, you may face retribution not just from her, but from her entire bloodline. Except sometimes you won't, because, like I said, complicated.

Second, though many Galactics tend to use the terms 'Human' and 'Terran' as synonyms, Humans emphatically do not. Among Humans, the word 'Terran' refers specifically to an inhabitant of the Terran Commonwealth, the oldest, largest, and apparently most detested Human stellar nation. Humans who are not Commonwealth natives tend to have negative reactions to being called 'Terrans'. In this context, the term 'negative reactions' seems to cover a range from 'cold and profane verbal correction' to 'assault with a power-nailer'. Maybe this trip would offer a chance to find out why that might be? I'd also been told that actual Terrans react poorly to being called 'Human', though I've never met any Commonwealth Terrans and can't say for sure if that's true.

Third, Humans tend to be territorial, and therefore possessive. They have a strong impulse to guard things they have laid claim to. Don't try to make use of anything a Human regards as their own without asking permission first, even if you intend to give it right back. This impulse extends quite strongly to their romantic or sexual partners as well and attempting to bed, or even flirt with, a Human who has been claimed by another will tend to be met with hostility. You could try asking for permission, I guess, but that just seems to lead to socially awkward hostility. And if you don't know why socially awkward hostility is worse than the regular kind, then obviously you've never been in a fistfight with a drunken Dahu who was sporting a clingy wet kilt and a massive erection.

next

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Class Trial 66: The Murder of Sonia Nevermind - Part 3: 3rdMIX

Physics, ciphers, and motives, oh my!
I'm beary impressed. Divine intervention really is a mystery-solving tool!

Truth Bullets

Truth Bullet Supplements

* Click HERE to access all available and relevant Trial supplements, including visual aids.

Cast - Main Course

Reserve Course

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