Binary Options Day Trading - Tutorial and Best Brokers 2020
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Sympathy for the Drow - De-Vilifying the Dark Elves
The "Evil" races in DnD have always rubbed me kinda the wrong way. Partly once I learned that a lot of them come from racist stereotypes (Orcs, Drow, and Goblins in particular) and also just because it doesn't make sense to me. Even Nazi Germany had variation and dissenters and it only lasted for 12 years. Why would a clearly evil society never change over hundreds of years? In my opinion, a story is only as good as it's villains. So, I've set out to try and make the traditionally evil races slightly more believable and even sympathetic in places. Now, I've not been a DM very long, only like three years. But the first campaign I ever ran was through Curse of Strahd which paints the Vistani (an itinerant society heavily based on the real world Romani) as a conniving group of thieves, murders, and vampire-worshipers. Thankfully, I found through reddit and other sites how to steer away from the racists depictions of the Vistani and making them seem like, at worst, opportunists. So, I hope to be able to do that with some other of the classic DnD antagonist races. I've read some other phenomenal post on here about evil races that totally inspired me as well. There's a great twopart post about Decolonizing D&D which I adore. The post about alignment is easily my favorite. There's a couple great ones on Orcs and Yuan-Ti too so if some of my ideas are lifted from them, I hope y'all consider it flattery instead of theft. So, here are some primer notes before I get into it. For creating the Dark Elves, I tried to keep as much as I could from the books. Obviously some stuff has to get thrown out the window though. I also tried to standardize calling them Dark Elves instead of Drow partly because I feel like Drow has a much nastier sound to it and calling them Dark Elves follows the naming convention with the High and Wood Elves. I tried to model them after real-life matriarchal societies like the Mosuo people of China and their pantheon after real deities like the Greeks, Romans, and Norse. I also quickly realized that building a society is inseparable from geography. Where a people are from effects their language, values, mythology, history, and family structure. I've tried to outline details I think are necessary to making this society realistic while leaving it open ended enough to be place-able in different worlds with relative ease. All that aside, lets get into the meat of it.
The Dark Elves: Elven Outcasts
The Elves are a varied and magical people that come from many planes and many environments within them. But none are met with more distrust and fear than the Dark Elves. Easily set apart from their cousins by their charcoal or pitch-black skin, pink-red eyes, hair of grays and whites, and shorter stature, these people have earned a reputation as killers, thieves, demon worshipers, and liars. But history is a cruel mistress, something the Dark Elves know better than most.
The Divine Divide
As the legends go, when the world was still young, Corellon Larethian lived on the Plane of Arvandor with his fellow Primal Elves. They were wild and mutable, emotional and free in all things. They changed shapes at will, gave and took freely to and from the world, and never stayed in any location too long. They wandered to and fro, scattering their peoples across almost every plane. However, this unbridled freedom was not without a price. Arguments, feuds, and small scale wars were incredibly common between them. Some elves would find themselves stranded on far off planes after most of their companions impulsively decided to leave. Their self serving impulses drove them to often completely disregard the needs or wants of others if they went against their own desires. And their reckless revelry was wreaking havoc on the natural world with Elven parties decimating whole planes of edible plants, wild game, and drinkable water. One such Primal Elf began to see the destruction of their ways and talked to other elves about their actions. Slowly, this Elf by the name of Lolth amassed a small following of devotees that saw the negative ramifications of their inconsiderate freedom. Lolth and her followers agreed to take on fixed forms to show recognition of the dangers that impulsivity could bring. Lolth led this small group of devotees to Corellon to ask for his support. Now, Corellon did not lead these Primal Elves: he was just as wild as the best of them and did not take kindly to others telling him what to do. But he was the First Elf ever born and was universally respected amongst the Primal Elves and if Lolth could convince him, others would surely follow. Corellon listened to her proposition and agreed that they should change to prevent more destruction and conflict, but refused to order his kinsfolk into any action. He was an Elf, same as all of them, and he wouldn’t dare order around his family. He balked when Lolth asked him to take a concrete form as a show of solidarity and brushed her off as a killjoy. Lolth was unsatisfied with this outcome and her following set out to convince each Elf to change their ways to preserve the beauty of the worlds. However, without the support of Corellon, many elves refused her offer. Her anger grew with each failure and her opinion of Corellon turned sour, something she made no attempt to hide from her Elven siblings. Now, Corellon is a proud god and once he caught wind that Lolth was bad mouthing him in an attempt to win over others, he became enraged. He railed against Lolth calling her a snake-tongued thief and Lolth called him incompetent and cruel. Their tempers flared and all the elves chose sides between Corellon’s freedom and Lolth’s stability. During this great debate, the Primal Elves turned to violence. The Dark Elves maintain that Corellon’s side threw the first blow, while the High Elves claim that it came from Lolth’s side. No matter the source, this violent outburst soured relations between Lolth and Corellon forever after. He cast her and her followers out of Arvandor and barred her from ever returning. He also cast all but his most trusted kin from Arvandor, forcing them all to live lives on other worlds out of fear of another perceived insurrection. Thus, the Seldarine remain in Arvandor to judge the souls of Corellon’s faithful when they die and Lolth takes refuge in Arcadia with her pantheon where she minds the souls of the Drow. Corellon’s faithful call her pantheon the Dark Seldarine, while her faithful call it the Myrkalfar.
Myrkalfar: The Spider Mother’s House
Lolth the Spider Queen is the unquestioned head of the Myrkalfar, with all other deities seen as her divine family. Lolth is considered at times to be fickle or even cruel, but her ire is never gained without good reason. A very involved deity, her followers constantly search for signs of her favor or scorn in everyday life. When a Dark Elf contemplates a risky or controversial decision, they consult priestesses or perform their own rites which often gives them direct and succinct answers. She serves as an example to matriarchs of Drow families as demanding yet understanding, punishing yet guiding. She asks for a lot of her priestesses, demanding they be an unflinching example of everything a strong leader should be. The Myrkalfar is often presented as a divine household, with Lolth as the matron. Keptolo is the consort of Lolth and considered to be the ideal of what a male should be. Beautiful and kind, strong and hard working, he helps Lolth in everything she does. Sometimes he serves as a messenger, other times as an agent of redemption, sometimes as a divine healer. When a Dark Elf is tasked with a divine charge, he is usually the one to deliver the message and guide them through their charge. He serves also as a fertility deity and is often worshiped by women or men seeking a child. Outsiders see him as a weak and subservient husband to Lolth, but his faithfulness to his matron is considered a virtue and his status as a “husband” is relatively alien to the Dark Elves as they have no binding marriage in their society. If Keptolo is the agent of Lolth’s mercy, Kiaransalee is the agent of her vengeance. She is the eldest daughter of Lolth and Keptolo and one that Dark Elves pray to when they feel wronged. Only the most binding and serious contracts are signed under her name. To break an oath made under her name is sure to bring destruction. She is also the governor of the dead, judging the souls of those passed in the afterlife. She opposes the mindless undead created by mortals, but spirits and revenants that return to finish unresolved business amongst the living are considered under her protection. Should a Dark Elf encounter a returned spirit that is seeking vengeance, it’s their duty to leave them on their way and pray that the spirit isn’t there for them. This reverence of certain undead is something many outsiders consider downright evil. Selvetarm is the Dark Elven warrior goddess and youngest daughter of Lolth. Often depicted with eight arms, she represents the pinnacle of hand to hand martial prowess, but often is without restraint. She serves as both an inspiration for warriors, and a warning. Vhaeraun is the eldest son of Lolth and governs ambition and stealth. Both of these traits are not necessarily vilified, but worship of him is highly scrutinized. Haughty and rash, tales of him often include deceiving his fellow gods for good and ill and more often than not are cautionary ones. He’s depicted as wearing a mask, either as some punishment for endangering Lolth and her family or to hide his identity for various schemes, possibly both. Malyk is Lolth’s youngest son and a youthful deity of change and growth. He’s often seen as a bouncing young boy that Lolth and her family have to reign in from wild misadventures. His freedom and curiosity is often seen as a double edged sword, both gaining him great riches but also putting him in tremendous peril. He has strong ties to sorcerers and when a child is born with innate magical talent, he is often the one thanked for it. He serves as an outlet for a Dark Elves youthful chaotic nature, but also warns them of the ramifications of their actions. Ghaunadur is a strange figure in the pantheon. Their place in the family is a bit of a mystery, sometimes called the sibling of Lolth, or her child, or even as Lolth’s parent. What makes them truly unique is that they are a formless deity, something that Lolth once warred with Corellon over. The legends go that when Ghaunadur joined Lolth, they refused to give up their changeable nature. When questioned, Ghaunadur pointed to the slimes, oozes, and formless creatures of the world and said that they wished to protect them from the Elves and the Elves from them. Lolth agreed, cementing their position as the deity of the changing forms of nature. Their favored creature is the ooze, but they govern all natural creatures. Dark Elves often pray to Ghaunadur to protect them from the creatures that lurk in the depths of the forest. Zinzerena is Lolth’s sister and is the goddess of poisons, illusions, and magic. Viewed as an elderly and patient figure, she often serves as council to Lolth in desperate times. She’s said to be the mother of all poisons and venoms and her teachings are all about finding the wisest solution to a problem. Zinzerena teaches that even though the spider is small, it’s bite can still fell a panther. Despite her perceived age, she’s considered the younger sister of Lolth and is thought to be incredibly quick and nimble: a reminder that not everything is as it seems. Eilistraee is Lolth’s niece and daughter of Zinzerena. Considered the black sheep of the pantheon, she serves as a goddess of redemption and moonlight. Dark Elves that turn their back on their family or scorn traditions will sometimes find themselves turned to Driders, half-spider half-Dark Elf creatures shunned by all. Eilistraee is said to watch over these creatures and if they are repentant, offer them challenges that they could complete to redeem themselves. Lolth often views her with contempt or mistrust, but never hates her and maintains her place in the pantheon. Dark Elven faithful rarely worship her as the others. She’s also one of the only deities of the Myrkalfar to claim no animosity toward the Seldarine and their faithful. Spiders are the sacred animal of Lolth and are often used as an example of social order and the importance of family bonds. Each strand of silk serves the web as whole. More literally, the giant spiders of the Underdark are multifaceted and incredibly useful creatures. Serving as beasts of burden, war steeds, meat producers, household guardians, and silk producers, they are present in almost every facet of society. Their silks are used in everything from wound dressings to armor to architecture. To kill or steal another family's spider is considered akin to stealing a member of the family. Smaller and more poisonous spiders are often kept in temples and their webs are used as divining tools for priestesses.
The recorded history of the Dark Elves is full of contradictions from High Elf and Dark Elf sources. What historians can agree on is when the Elves of the Prime Material arrived, the followers of Lolth secluded from their Wood and High cousins and retreated into the Azelarien, also known as the Green Sea in Common. A massive forest, nearly 1 million square miles of dense and vibrant trees, that grows denser and darker the farther in one ventures. For countless eons, the High, Wood, and Dark Elves lived in relative harmony in their own corner of the world. High Elves lived near the forests in towns and villages, the Wood Elves lived in the lightly forested outlands of the Green Sea, and the Dark Elves lived deep in the central forests which was so dense that very little light reached the forest floor. As time passed and their villages turned to cities, the High Elves began expanding into the forest, chopping some down to build homes and heat their furnaces. This began pushing into the territory of the Wood Elves and eventually the Dark Elves as well. These two peoples formed a shaky alliance to push back the expansive tide of the far larger High Elven armies. This alliance proved successful however and the High Elven forces began losing ground. What happened next is a matter of some debate. High Elven historians attest that the Dark Elven armies used Wood Elven soldiers as unwitting bait to lure the High Elven armies into a trap, thus causing a schism between them. Dark Elven historians state that the Wood Elven armies turned on them after the Wood Elves met in secret with High Elven leaders and bargained for their independence. Some Wood Elven historians claim that after a brutal defeat on the field, they were met by High Elven dignitaries that offered them clemency if they turned on their allies. They initially refused, but after the dignitaries threatened to make the same offer to the Dark Elves, they had no choice but to accept. No matter the cause, the histories agree that the Wood Elves turned on their erstwhile allies and helped push the Dark Elves into a rapid loss of ground. Facing the might of the two armies with their own relatively small one, the Dark Elves were beaten into a hasty retreat into their own territory. Losing every open encounter, the Dark Elf matrons developed a new strategy of combat. The armies switched from training as many as quickly as they could, to training only a select few in multiple different forms of combat and magic. As the High and Wood Elves advanced into their territory, they quickly found their supply lines cut out from under them, their soldiers ambushed while sleeping, their scouts captured, and their leaders assassinated. And even if they would make it to a Dark Elf settlement, they would find it abandoned and booby-trapped, warned by their fast and silent scouts. If the Dark Elves couldn’t face their enemies head-on, they would weaken them with quick and decisive strikes. Eventually, the war ground to a stalemate. The High Elves couldn’t push into the Dark Elf territory far enough to capture any cities of note without taking severe casualties and the Dark Elves were only managing to hold the invading armies back and couldn’t muster a force strong enough to push back to the enemy capital. Thus, the war cooled into a tense peace. The leaders came together to draw borders, but neither side fully forgave nor forgot one another’s actions. High and Wood Elves viewed the change in tactics by the Dark Elves as an unethical violation of the standards of war. The Dark Elves felt a particular animosity toward the Wood Elves, considering them backstabbers in their darkest hour.
Dark Elf Families: Matrons of Order
The Dark Elf society, to an outsider, looks like an oppressive and cruel society of slave traders and backstabbers. But the truth is more subtle. The Dark Elves value tradition and filial piety above almost all else. To a Dark Elven citizen, their family name is their most valuable possession and they are taught from a very young age that to look after their parents and their younger siblings is the highest virtue. Ancestors that have achieved great things often have shrines in a household alongside the gods themselves. A Dark Elf going against the will of their family is considered one of the highest taboos and often causes them to be outcast from Dark Elven society as a whole. Dark Elf society is matrilineal meaning that the eldest woman in each family is revered as the household leader and receives great respect from her family and society. This also means that the males of the society don’t inherit wealth as frequently as the females. Dark Elven families are quite large, often with multiple generations along with aunts, uncles, and cousins living in the same household. New children almost always reside with their mother. Males of the society are expected to care not for their own biological children, but for the children born to their sisters, aunts, or nieces. This results in a striking amount of sexual freedom for both men and women, but is often viewed from the outside as promiscuity. The Dark Elves do not marry in the traditional sense, instead favoring long term partners with one another that can end at any time with no concerns to material wealth or ownership. However, to become a member of a Dark Elf family is not entirely a matter of heritage. When a family that cannot support another child has one, they are often adopted by more well to do families and raised as one of their own. These adopted children are considered just as legitimate as if they were born into the family. Also, should a family lose all their heirs or become destitute, they often ask to become assimilated into other families for their own safety. The latter is considered a morose ceremony as the members of the smaller family forsake their surnames. To take in such a family is both an extreme honor and grim burden, as it means ending another family's line. The borders of Dark Elven civilization only goes so far as there are trees so many newer up and coming families have expanded underground, a difficult and slow endeavor. This has put multiple houses at odds with one another for territory. However, Dark Elves do not tolerate open hostility between families as they have a very strong sense of collective identity. Dark Elves do not war against fellow Dark Elves, same as a spider does not fight its own web. This leads to many tensions and conflicts needing to be resolved in other ways. Most families will attempt a diplomatic solution, but when that isn’t an option, sabotage and coercion is the favored outlet. Murder is considered a bridge too far by most houses, but subterfuge in almost every other facet is, while not accepted, tolerated. Legends of Lolth’s rebellion and the tension of their enclosed territory have imbued the Dark Elves with a strong sense of symbiosis with nature and conservancy. Sustainable living is the cornerstone of Dark Elf society. In the wild, no creature is killed or plant destroyed unless it’s a matter of self defense or necessary to survival.
Dark Elven Sex and Gender
As with many Elven peoples, sexuality is seen as a fluid and non-binary matter. Same sex relationships are usually seen as just as acceptable as male-female relationships. Since Dark Elves have no marriage structure, same sex life partners are common and widely accepted. Inheritance is passed along by the family as a whole, not linearly, meaning some houses may have matrons with no direct biological descendants while still serving at the elder matron. Power dynamics in relationships are still a factor, with the elder female in a gay relationship considered slightly above their partner socially and is seen as the inheritor in cases of property or genealogy. Male same sex relationships are accepted with little controversy. Since children are passed down their mothers line, the males have no social obligation to sire an heir as with other societies. Transgender and transexual Dark Elves are met with slightly more controversy. Lolth’s rejection of the Primal Elves mutable forms is sometimes cited against transgender and transexual Dark Elves. Ghaunadur, however, is considered the patron god of these people and teaches that just as they are part of nature, they can change their forms. Many of these people join the religious order of Ghaunadur, serving in various roles both in religious ceremonies and as forest guides. Some even consider them to be blessed by Ghaunadur and are highly sought after in forays into the forests for protection. Children born to transgender Dark Elves are still expected to be a part of their eldest mother’s family or eldest father if no woman is part of the union.
Slavery Amongst the Dark Elves
While the Dark Elves do take slaves, their slavery doesn’t look the same as many other societies. When a family becomes indebted to another and they cannot pay off the debt, a member of their family, usually male, will be sent to work for the owed family. They give him room and board and are expected to care for him as if he were one of their own. He’ll work for them for an agreed upon amount of time before returning to his native family. Injury or misuse of this person is often grounds for them to leave and the debt to be nullified. Children born to servant fathers needn’t worry about inheriting their father’s status since they’re considered to be their mother’s child. On the rare occasion that a female servant has a child while in servitude, the child is returned to the mother’s family to be raised by her family while she works off the remaining debt. Some trade of servants does occur between houses, with indentured servants being traded for goods or services or even other servants of special skills, but the family of the servant reserves the right to veto such a trade for any reason. During their frequent clashes with external armies, the Dark Elves do sometimes take prisoners of war, though very rarely are they used for slave labor. They never bring them back to major settlements, often keeping them on the outskirts of their territory to prevent them from learning critical knowledge of their territory. Most prisoners are held as bargaining chips to be traded for passage, supplies, or captured Dark Elves. Captured military leaders are sometimes brought to Dark Elven cities to be tried for their crimes against their people.
Dark Elven Government: Independent Houses
Unlike many other cultures, the Dark Elves lack a centralized government. Societal etiquette govern the standard for how certain crimes and disagreements should be handled, but each family unit acts as its own governing body. Disagreements within families are thus resolved internally. Inter-family disputes are resolved in multiple different ways. Most often, the two matrons of the family will meet and agree on terms to fairly compensate both sides. In cases when these talks deteriorate, the High Priestess of Lolth is often called to serve as the mediator and serves as the ruling body between disputes. Her rulings are final and indisputable, as she is considered the mouthpiece of Lolth’s will. In times of crisis, historically the many houses of the Dark Elves have convened to discuss threats to all of Dark Elven society. This is uncommon as it’s difficult logistically to gather all the matrons in the same place at the same time, so often houses are represented by either the second eldest woman of the family or the eldest daughter of the matron. The High Priestess of Lolth often resides over these meetings as an arbiter in the event of split decisions or in delivering guidance from Lolth herself. There's my take on the Dark Elves. Any comments, suggestions, questions, outrages, and critiques are welcomed. This is my first comprehensive look at a whole race so if I've missed things, I'll try and patch them up. I'd like to do similar things for Orcs, Goblinoids, Kobolds, and others so those might be seen soon. Thanks!
Since 1983, I have lived, worked and raised a family in a progressive, egalitarian, income-sharing intentional community (or commune) of 100 people in rural Virginia. AMA.
Hello Reddit! My name is Keenan Dakota, I have lived at Twin Oaks, an income-sharing, intentional community in rural Virginia for 36 years, since 1983. I grew up in northern Virginia, my parents worked in government. I went to George Mason University where I studied business management. I joined Twin Oaks when I was 23 because I lost faith in the underpinnings of capitalism and looking for a better model. I have stayed because over time capitalism hasn't looked any better, and its a great place to raise children. While at Twin Oaks, I raised two boys to adulthood, constructed several buildings, managed the building maintenance program, have managed some of the business lines at different times. Proof this is me. A younger photo of me at Twin Oaks.Here is a video interview of me about living at Twin Oaks.Photo of Twin Oaks members at the 50th anniversary. Some things that make life here different from the mainstream:
The labor system - all work is considered equal, whether you are earning income for the community or not. Cooking/cleaning counts the same as planning the annual budget. Also, you don't have to do the same job all week - your day can be a mix of indoor and outdoor work, you have freedom to arrange your day, and you can gain skills in a wide array of tasks and trades.
Non-gender binary, queer and trans people are very welcome at Twin Oaks. People introduce themselves with their pronouns and a significant number of our members go by they/them.
Verbal consent culture is very important here. It is not okay to touch anyone without asking.
Nudity and partial nudity is allowed in some parts of the farm, such as in the sauna, swimming hole, on the hiking trails, etc.
Our social norms prohibit using phones in common areas when other members are present, with the exception of a few cafe-style spaces.
Every day we provide a home-cooked, plant-based lunch and dinner with options for special diets including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and no onions & garlic.
Raising kids here is easier. Some of the time that parents spend raising their children counts towards their labor quota. Many of the kids are home-schooled or "unschooled", and they spend more time outside than in front of a screen. The kids have no problem passing the state's annual standardized test to move onto the next grade level.
We have a shared clothing resource called Commie Clothes, which is like a free thrift store. Borrow something and then return it dirty, and it gets washed and re-hung up.
More about Twin Oaks: Twin Oaks is an intentional community in rural central Virginia, made up of around 90 adult members and 15 children. Since the community's beginning in 1967, our way of life has reflected our values of cooperation, sharing, nonviolence, equality, and ecology. We do not have a group religion; our beliefs are diverse. We do not have a central leader; we govern ourselves by a form of democracy with responsibility shared among various managers, planners, and committees. We are self-supporting economically, and partly self-sufficient. We are income-sharing. Each member works 42 hours a week in the community's business and domestic areas. Each member receives housing, food, healthcare, and personal spending money from the community. We have open-slots and are accepting applications for new members. All prospective new members must participate in a three-week visitor program. Applicants to join must leave for 30 days after their visit while the community decides on their application. We offer a $5 tour on Saturdays of the property, starting in March. More info here. Ask me anything! TL;DR: Opted out of the rat-race and retired at 23 to live in the woods with a bunch of hippies. EDIT: Thanks for all the questions! If you want some photos of the farm, you can check out our instagram. EDIT2: I'm answering new, original questions again today. Sort by new and scroll through the trolls to see more of my responses. EDIT3: We DO have food with onion & garlic! At meals, there is the regular food, PLUS alternative options for vegan/vegetarian/no gluten/no onions & garlic. EDIT4: Some of you have been asking if we are a cult. No, we are not. We don't have a central leader or common religion. Here are characteristics of cults, FYI. Edit: Yikes! Did I mention that I am 60? Reddit is not my native land. I don't understand the hostile, angry and seemingly deliberately obtuse comments on here. And Soooo many people! Anyway, to the angry crowd: Twin Oaks poses no threat to anyone, we are 100 people out of a country of 330 million? Twin Oaks reached its current maximum population about 25 years ago, so not growing fast, or at all. Members come and go from Twin Oaks. There are, my guess is, 800 ex-members of Twin Oaks, so we aren't holding on to everyone who joins—certainly, no one is held against their will. Twin Oaks is in rural Virginia, but we really aren't insular, isolated, gated or scared of the mainstream culture. We have scheduled tours of the whole property. Local government officials, like building inspectors, come to Twin Oaks with some frequency. People at Twin Oaks like to travel and manage to do so. I personally, know lots of people in the area, I am also a runner, so I leave the property probably every day. There are lots of news stories about Twin Oaks over the years. If you are worried about Twin Oaks, maybe you could go read what the mainstream (and alternative) media have to say. Except about equality Twin Oaks is not particularly dogmatic about anything. (I know some people at Twin Oaks will disagree with that statement.) Twin Oaks isn't really hypocritical about Capitalism, Socialism, or Communism, we just don't identify those concepts as something that we are trying to do. Twin Oaks is not trying to DO Communism, we are trying to live a good life with equally empowered citizens—which has led us to try to maintain economic parity among members. Communists also do that. In making decisions in the community I don't remember anyone trying to support or oppose an idea due to excess or insufficient Communism, Socialism, or Capitalism. In most practical senses those words aren't useful and don't mean anything. So, no need to hammer Twin Oaks for being insufficiently pure, or hypocritical. Twin Oaks is very similar to the Kibbutz in Israel. If anyone has concerns or questions about what would happen if places like Twin Oaks suddenly became much larger and more common, read about the history of the Kibbutz, which may have grown to possibly 1% of the population at their largest? There was and is no fight with Capitalism from the kibbutz—or with the State. My point is—not a threat. To the other people who think that the ideas of Twin Oaks are interesting, I want you to know it is possible to live at Twin Oaks (or places like Twin Oaks) and happily live ones entire life. There is no central, critical failing that makes the idea not work. And plenty of upside. But do lots of research first. Twin Oaks maintains a massive web site. (Anyway, it takes a long time to read.) But what I would like to see is more people starting more egalitarian, income-sharing communities. I think that there is a need for a community that is designed and built by families, and who also share income, and provide mutual support with labor and money. If you love this concept, maybe consider gathering together other people and starting your own. Ideologically speaking: -Ecology: the best response to ecological problems is for humans to use fewer resources. The easiest way to use fewer resources is to share resources. Living communally vastly cuts down on resource use without reducing quality of life. -Equality: ideologically speaking, most people accept the idea that all humans have equal rights, but most social structures operate in ways that are fundamentally unequal. If we truly believe in equality then we ought to be willing to put our bodies where our ideology is. In a truly equal world, the issues of sexism and racism and all other forms of discrimination would, essentially, not exist. -Democracy: Twin Oaks uses all manner of decision-making models and tools to try to include everyone and to keep people equally empowered. There is no useful word for this. We do use a majority vote sometimes, as a fallback. But sometimes we use consensus. We sometimes use sociocracy (dynamic governance). The word "Isocracy" (decision-making among equals), would be useful to describe Twin Oaks' decision-making model, but Lev in Australia has written an incomprehensible "definition" on Wikipedia, that he keeps changing back when someone corrects it. -Happiness: The overarching goal of all ideologies is to make people happy, right? I mean, isn't it? Capitalism is based upon the belief that motivation is crucial to human aspiration and success (and therefore more happiness). Under Capitalism, equality is a detriment because it hinders motivation (less fear of failure, or striving for success). Twin Oaks believes that humans are happier when they are equal, and equally empowered. So the place to start up the ladder of happiness is to first make everyone equal. Well, Twin Oaks is mainly still working on that first step. EDIT5: Some have asked about videos - here are links to documentaries about Twin Oaks by BBC, VICE and RT.
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Swaps* (*But Were Afraid To Ask)
Hello, dummies It's your old pal, Fuzzy. As I'm sure you've all noticed, a lot of the stuff that gets posted here is - to put it delicately - fucking ridiculous. More backwards-ass shit gets posted to wallstreetbets than you'd see on a Westboro Baptist community message board. I mean, I had a look at the daily thread yesterday and..... yeesh. I know, I know. We all make like the divine Laura Dern circa 1992 on the daily and stick our hands deep into this steaming heap of shit to find the nuggets of valuable and/or hilarious information within (thanks for reading, BTW). I agree. I love it just the way it is too. That's what makes WSB great. What I'm getting at is that a lot of the stuff that gets posted here - notwithstanding it being funny or interesting - is just... wrong. Like, fucking your cousin wrong. And to be clear, I mean the fucking your *first* cousin kinda wrong, before my Southerners in the back get all het up (simmer down, Billy Ray - I know Mabel's twice removed on your grand-sister's side). Truly, I try to let it slide. Idomybit to try and put you on the right path. Most of the time, I sleep easy no matter how badly I've seen someone explain what a bank liquidity crisis is. But out of all of those tens of thousands of misguided, autistic attempts at understanding the world of high finance, one thing gets so consistently - so *emphatically* - fucked up and misunderstood by you retards that last night I felt obligated at the end of a long work day to pull together this edition of Finance with Fuzzy just for you. It's so serious I'm not even going to make a u/pokimane gag. Have you guessed what it is yet? Here's a clue. It's in the title of the post. That's right, friends. Today in the neighborhood we're going to talk all about hedging in financial markets - spots, swaps, collars, forwards, CDS, synthetic CDOs, all that fun shit. Don't worry; I'm going to explain what all the scary words mean and how they impact your OTM RH positions along the way. We're going to break it down like this. (1) "What's a hedge, Fuzzy?" (2) Common Hedging Strategies and (3) All About ISDAs and Credit Default Swaps. Before we begin. For the nerds and JV traders in the back (and anyone else who needs to hear this up front) - I am simplifying these descriptions for the purposes of this post. I am also obviously not going to try and cover every exotic form of hedge under the sun or give a detailed summation of what caused the financial crisis. If you are interested in something specific ask a question, but don't try and impress me with your Investopedia skills or technical points I didn't cover; I will just be forced to flex my years of IRL experience on you in the comments and you'll look like a big dummy. TL;DR? Fuck you. There is no TL;DR. You've come this far already. What's a few more paragraphs? Put down the Cheetos and try to concentrate for the next 5-7 minutes. You'll learn something, and I promise I'll be gentle. Ready? Let's get started. 1.The Tao of Risk: Hedging as a Way of Life The simplest way to characterize what a hedge 'is' is to imagine every action having a binary outcome. One is bad, one is good. Red lines, green lines; uppie, downie. With me so far? Good. A 'hedge' is simply the employment of a strategy to mitigate the effect of your action having the wrong binary outcome. You wanted X, but you got Z! Frowny face. A hedge strategy introduces a third outcome. If you hedged against the possibility of Z happening, then you can wind up with Y instead. Not as good as X, but not as bad as Z. The technical definition I like to give my idiot juniors is as follows: Utilization of a defensive strategy to mitigate risk, at a fraction of the cost to capital of the risk itself. Congratulations. You just finished Hedging 101. "But Fuzzy, that's easy! I just sold a naked call against my 95% OTM put! I'm adequately hedged!". Spoiler alert: you're not (although good work on executing a collar, which I describe below). What I'm talking about here is what would be referred to as a 'perfect hedge'; a binary outcome where downside is totally mitigated by a risk management strategy. That's not how it works IRL. Pay attention; this is the tricky part. You can't take a single position and conclude that you're adequately hedged because risks are fluid, not static. So you need to constantly adjust your position in order to maximize the value of the hedge and insure your position. You also need to consider exposure to more than one category of risk. There are micro (specific exposure) risks, and macro (trend exposure) risks, and both need to factor into the hedge calculus. That's why, in the real world, the value of hedging depends entirely on the design of the hedging strategy itself. Here, when we say "value" of the hedge, we're not talking about cash money - we're talking about the intrinsic value of the hedge relative to the the risk profile of your underlying exposure. To achieve this, people hedge dynamically. In wallstreetbets terms, this means that as the value of your position changes, you need to change your hedges too. The idea is to efficiently and continuously distribute and rebalance risk across different states and periods, taking value from states in which the marginal cost of the hedge is low and putting it back into states where marginal cost of the hedge is high, until the shadow value of your underlying exposure is equalized across your positions. The punchline, I guess, is that one static position is a hedge in the same way that the finger paintings you make for your wife's boyfriend are art - it's technically correct, but you're only playing yourself by believing it. Anyway. Obviously doing this as a small potatoes trader is hard but it's worth taking into account. Enough basic shit. So how does this work in markets? 2. A Hedging Taxonomy The best place to start here is a practical question. What does a business need to hedge against? Think about the specific risk that an individual business faces. These are legion, so I'm just going to list a few of the key ones that apply to most corporates. (1) You have commodity risk for the shit you buy or the shit you use. (2) You have currency risk for the money you borrow. (3) You have rate risk on the debt you carry. (4) You have offtake risk for the shit you sell. Complicated, right? To help address the many and varied ways that shit can go wrong in a sophisticated market, smart operators like yours truly have devised a whole bundle of different instruments which can help you manage the risk. I might write about some of the more complicated ones in a later post if people are interested (CDO/CLOs, strip/stack hedges and bond swaps with option toggles come to mind) but let's stick to the basics for now. (i) Swaps A swap is one of the most common forms of hedge instrument, and they're used by pretty much everyone that can afford them. The language is complicated but the concept isn't, so pay attention and you'll be fine. This is the most important part of this section so it'll be the longest one. Swaps are derivative contracts with two counterparties (before you ask, you can't trade 'em on an exchange - they're OTC instruments only). They're used to exchange one cash flow for another cash flow of equal expected value; doing this allows you to take speculative positions on certain financial prices or to alter the cash flows of existing assets or liabilities within a business. "Wait, Fuzz; slow down! What do you mean sets of cash flows?". Fear not, little autist. Ol' Fuzz has you covered. The cash flows I'm talking about are referred to in swap-land as 'legs'. One leg is fixed - a set payment that's the same every time it gets paid - and the other is variable - it fluctuates (typically indexed off the price of the underlying risk that you are speculating on / protecting against). You set it up at the start so that they're notionally equal and the two legs net off; so at open, the swap is a zero NPV instrument. Here's where the fun starts. If the price that you based the variable leg of the swap on changes, the value of the swap will shift; the party on the wrong side of the move ponies up via the variable payment. It's a zero sum game. I'll give you an example using the most vanilla swap around; an interest rate trade. Here's how it works. You borrow money from a bank, and they charge you a rate of interest. You lock the rate up front, because you're smart like that. But then - quelle surprise! - the rate gets better after you borrow. Now you're bagholding to the tune of, I don't know, 5 bps. Doesn't sound like much but on a billion dollar loan that's a lot of money (a classic example of the kind of 'small, deep hole' that's terrible for profits). Now, if you had a swap contract on the rate before you entered the trade, you're set; if the rate goes down, you get a payment under the swap. If it goes up, whatever payment you're making to the bank is netted off by the fact that you're borrowing at a sub-market rate. Win-win! Or, at least, Lose Less / Lose Less. That's the name of the game in hedging. There are many different kinds of swaps, some of which are pretty exotic; but they're all different variations on the same theme. If your business has exposure to something which fluctuates in price, you trade swaps to hedge against the fluctuation. The valuation of swaps is also super interesting but I guarantee you that 99% of you won't understand it so I'm not going to try and explain it here although I encourage you to google it if you're interested. Because they're OTC, none of them are filed publicly. Someeeeeetimes you see an ISDA (dsicussed below) but the confirms themselves (the individual swaps) are not filed. You can usually read about the hedging strategy in a 10-K, though. For what it's worth, most modern credit agreements ban speculative hedging. Top tip: This is occasionally something worth checking in credit agreements when you invest in businesses that are debt issuers - being able to do this increases the risk profile significantly and is particularly important in times of economic volatility (ctrl+f "non-speculative" in the credit agreement to be sure). (ii) Forwards A forward is a contract made today for the future delivery of an asset at a pre-agreed price. That's it. "But Fuzzy! That sounds just like a futures contract!". I know. Confusing, right? Just like a futures trade, forwards are generally used in commodity or forex land to protect against price fluctuations. The differences between forwards and futures are small but significant. I'm not going to go into super boring detail because I don't think many of you are commodities traders but it is still an important thing to understand even if you're just an RH jockey, so stick with me. Just like swaps, forwards are OTC contracts - they're not publicly traded. This is distinct from futures, which are traded on exchanges (see The Ballad Of Big Dick Vick for some more color on this). In a forward, no money changes hands until the maturity date of the contract when delivery and receipt are carried out; price and quantity are locked in from day 1. As you now know having read about BDV, futures are marked to market daily, and normally people close them out with synthetic settlement using an inverse position. They're also liquid, and that makes them easier to unwind or close out in case shit goes sideways. People use forwards when they absolutely have to get rid of the thing they made (or take delivery of the thing they need). If you're a miner, or a farmer, you use this shit to make sure that at the end of the production cycle, you can get rid of the shit you made (and you won't get fucked by someone taking cash settlement over delivery). If you're a buyer, you use them to guarantee that you'll get whatever the shit is that you'll need at a price agreed in advance. Because they're OTC, you can also exactly tailor them to the requirements of your particular circumstances. These contracts are incredibly byzantine (and there are even crazier synthetic forwards you can see in money markets for the true degenerate fund managers). In my experience, only Texan oilfield magnates, commodities traders, and the weirdo forex crowd fuck with them. I (i) do not own a 10 gallon hat or a novelty size belt buckle (ii) do not wake up in the middle of the night freaking out about the price of pork fat and (iii) love greenbacks too much to care about other countries' monopoly money, so I don't fuck with them. (iii) Collars No, not the kind your wife is encouraging you to wear try out to 'spice things up' in the bedroom during quarantine. Collars are actually the hedging strategy most applicable to WSB. Collars deal with options! Hooray! To execute a basic collar (also called a wrapper by tea-drinking Brits and people from the Antipodes), you buy an out of the money put while simultaneously writing a covered call on the same equity. The put protects your position against price drops and writing the call produces income that offsets the put premium. Doing this limits your tendies (you can only profit up to the strike price of the call) but also writes down your risk. If you screen large volume trades with a VOL/OI of more than 3 or 4x (and they're not bullshit biotech stocks), you can sometimes see these being constructed in real time as hedge funds protect themselves on their shorts. (3) All About ISDAs, CDS and Synthetic CDOs You may have heard about the mythical ISDA. Much like an indenture (discussed in my post on $F), it's a magic legal machine that lets you build swaps via trade confirms with a willing counterparty. They are very complicated legal documents and you need to be a true expert to fuck with them. Fortunately, I am, so I do. They're made of two parts; a Master (which is a form agreement that's always the same) and a Schedule (which amends the Master to include your specific terms). They are also the engine behind just about every major credit crunch of the last 10+ years. First - a brief explainer. An ISDA is a not in and of itself a hedge - it's an umbrella contract that governs the terms of your swaps, which you use to construct your hedge position. You can trade commodities, forex, rates, whatever, all under the same ISDA. Let me explain. Remember when we talked about swaps? Right. So. You can trade swaps on just about anything. In the late 90s and early 2000s, people had the smart idea of using other people's debt and or credit ratings as the variable leg of swap documentation. These are called credit default swaps. I was actually starting out at a bank during this time and, I gotta tell you, the only thing I can compare people's enthusiasm for this shit to was that moment in your early teens when you discover jerking off. Except, unlike your bathroom bound shame sessions to Mom's Sears catalogue, every single person you know felt that way too; and they're all doing it at once. It was a fiscal circlejerk of epic proportions, and the financial crisis was the inevitable bukkake finish. WSB autism is absolutely no comparison for the enthusiasm people had during this time for lighting each other's money on fire. Here's how it works. You pick a company. Any company. Maybe even your own! And then you write a swap. In the swap, you define "Credit Event" with respect to that company's debt as the variable leg . And you write in... whatever you want. A ratings downgrade, default under the docs, failure to meet a leverage ratio or FCCR for a certain testing period... whatever. Now, this started out as a hedge position, just like we discussed above. The purest of intentions, of course. But then people realized - if bad shit happens, you make money. And banks... don't like calling in loans or forcing bankruptcies. Can you smell what the moral hazard is cooking? Enter synthetic CDOs. CDOs are basically pools of asset backed securities that invest in debt (loans or bonds). They've been around for a minute but they got famous in the 2000s because a shitload of them containing subprime mortgage debt went belly up in 2008. This got a lot of publicity because a lot of sad looking rednecks got foreclosed on and were interviewed on CNBC. "OH!", the people cried. "Look at those big bad bankers buying up subprime loans! They caused this!". Wrong answer, America. The debt wasn't the problem. What a lot of people don't realize is that the real meat of the problem was not in regular way CDOs investing in bundles of shit mortgage debts in synthetic CDOs investing in CDS predicated on that debt. They're synthetic because they don't have a stake in the actual underlying debt; just the instruments riding on the coattails. The reason these are so popular (and remain so) is that smart structured attorneys and bankers like your faithful correspondent realized that an even more profitable and efficient way of building high yield products with limited downside was investing in instruments that profit from failure of debt and in instruments that rely on that debt and then hedging that exposure with other CDS instruments in paired trades, and on and on up the chain. The problem with doing this was that everyone wound up exposed to everybody else's books as a result, and when one went tits up, everybody did. Hence, recession, Basel III, etc. Thanks, Obama. Heavy investment in CDS can also have a warping effect on the price of debt (something else that happened during the pre-financial crisis years and is starting to happen again now). This happens in three different ways. (1) Investors who previously were long on the debt hedge their position by selling CDS protection on the underlying, putting downward pressure on the debt price. (2) Investors who previously shorted the debt switch to buying CDS protection because the relatively illiquid debt (partic. when its a bond) trades at a discount below par compared to the CDS. The resulting reduction in short selling puts upward pressure on the bond price. (3) The delta in price and actual value of the debt tempts some investors to become NBTs (neg basis traders) who long the debt and purchase CDS protection. If traders can't take leverage, nothing happens to the price of the debt. If basis traders can take leverage (which is nearly always the case because they're holding a hedged position), they can push up or depress the debt price, goosing swap premiums etc. Anyway. Enough technical details. I could keep going. This is a fascinating topic that is very poorly understood and explained, mainly because the people that caused it all still work on the street and use the same tactics today (it's also terribly taught at business schools because none of the teachers were actually around to see how this played out live). But it relates to the topic of today's lesson, so I thought I'd include it here. Work depending, I'll be back next week with a covenant breakdown. Most upvoted ticker gets the post. *EDIT 1\* In a total blowout, $PLAY won. So it's D&B time next week. Post will drop Monday at market open.
So how’s your quarantine going? I’ve been playing a fair amount of C:S lately and thought I might speculate on what could be improved in Cities: Skylines 2. Besides, it’s not like I have anything better to do. What C:S gets right and wrong Besides great modability and post-release support, C:S combines an agent based economy with a sense of scale. It also has the kind of road design tools that SC4 veterans would have killed for. District based city planning for things like universities was one of the best innovations in the genre in years, and the introduction of industry supply chains, while clunky and tacked on, brought much needed depth to the game. C:S suffers most notably from a lack of revisit rate to previously constructed things. Build a power plant: forget about it. Build a port: forget about it. Build a downtown: forget about it. The player isn’t incentivized to revisit old parts of the city to upgrade and improve them. The district system for universities and industry was a fantastic innovation that demonstrated how to do this concept well, and consequently they are some of the most fun and engaging parts of the game. The biggest criticism of C:S, despite its powerful design tools, is that it feels like a city painter. The systems feel rich at first, but become very formulaic after a few hours. There are no hard trade-offs. Providing every inch of your city with maximum services will not bankrupt you, nor will an economy of nothing but the rich and well-educated collapse from a lack of unskilled labor. In the end, every city dies of boredom once the player exhausts the game’s relatively shallow well of novelty. The biggest areas for Improvement
Balancing Competing Interests
A real city has not only doctors and engineers, but clerks and factory workers. Consider a system that requires balancing the needs of different economic strata to make a thriving city. Here's one example:
Poverty - Working Class - Middle Class - Professional - Elite
Working class are the backbone of the economy, but they need affordable housing and good public transit. Without adequate care though, they slide into poverty causing spikes in crime and declining health. Middle class and professional workers bring in higher taxes and work in better quality jobs, but if property values go too high, your city can attract too many elites--which consume prime real estate, have excessive demands, and are needed in scant few industries.
Providing good services for all citizens should be a real challenge, requiring thoughtful choices on how to provide them efficiently. Balancing for different economic strata also incentivizes building areas with different character. City’s need low-income tenements, middle class suburbs, and high-income downtowns.
C:S was meant to be played on an 81-tile map. It is a drastic improvement over the cramped origami-like vanilla experience. Small towns start to make sense to support farming and mining communities and the urban core acts as a natural hub for manufacturing and logistics. In short, the city begins to look and feel much more natural.
Systems have gotten a lot more powerful since C:S was first released, and a redesign with better multi-core support and a larger map should be a priority. A larger region map recontextualizes the experience from city-builder to region builder. A four-times larger map could fit several urban cores, expansive farmlands, quaint mining towns, and national parks. Most importantly, it provides the appropriate scale to implement a more complex economy.
The industries DLC, despite being simple and clunky, did a lot of things right in improving economic complexity. CIties aren’t just where people live; they make stuff. A key decision for the player as they design their city should be “what does my city do?” A region with plentiful iron could make for a thriving mining town, and a city with steel and auto industries. Beaches and national parks could make for a tourism industry. A well-educated population could attract a banking and finance industry, or maybe make for a national capital with legions of bureaucrats.
The government systems could also use a bit more depth. Where is the city hall? How does a law enforcement system work without a courthouse or an education system without a board of education? These should have some role to play. City halls could define the various municipalities of a region (growing more grandiose as the city grows) while other government buildings could define the police/fire/school districts of a region.
One of my biggest gripes with C:S is the repeat frequency of tall buildings. While each asset is creatively designed, the effect is ruined by seeing two of the same assets in close proximity. This can be addressed one of a few ways besides simply making more. First, tall buildings should be very few in number, difficult to achieve, and a reward for good stewardship. SC4 doesn't suffer from this problem as much mainly because getting more than a handful of skyscrapers is quite an achievement. Additionally, procedural generation is a clear next-gen feature for city-builders. Some seriously impressive work has been done in this area.
Architecture is also an extremely important element in the aesthetic of a city and should be a key tool available to the player. C:S has a modern style, which tends to feel sterile and lacks a sense of place. Paris without Parisian architecture doesn’t feel like Paris. Ideally, the player should be given the option to select architectural standards to apply to growables and city buildings within a given district. There’s endless fodder for DLC. 1930s New York City, DC Neoclassical, 1900s San Francisco, Parisian, Victorian, East Asian Traditional, Neo-futurism, etc.
The square based zoning system is obsolete and does not take advantage of the free-form road design tool. Imagine instead a zoning system that, coupled with procedural building generation, could produce results like this.
Also, the spectrum between rural farmhouses and high-rise apartments doesn’t fit well into the current low/high density binary, making the lack of medium density zoning kind of an odd choice that should be remedied.
Utilities should be an opportunity for creativity and problem solving. C:S utilities are just drudgery. Power and water distribution is a rote task that isn't interesting or challenging. Power systems are complex, with boilers, turbine halls, switchyards, transformers, and substations. Even a light implementation of this would improve upon the old two step formula of:
1) see low power notification 2) place a new power plant.
Instead a “power plant district” could be defined where turbines, water intakes, and resource depots are placed. More turbines could be added or upgraded to alternate energy sources (coal > gas > nuclear) as the city expands. The plant itself becomes an opportunity for creative expression that grows as the city grows.
Power distribution could be made more interesting by adding two elements: switchyards and substations. Switchyards distribute high voltage lines to substations and substations service local areas. The city-builder Workers and Resources has an interesting, if overcomplicated implementation of this concept. Designing a renewable energy grid to deal with cyclical power generation would also make for an interesting challenge.
Water grids could follow a similar formula, with a water extraction/treatment “district” and a network of reservoirs (water towers, underground cisterns, etc.) and pumping stations to maintain pressure. The combination of both these systems would also make for a more interesting underground as sustaining large urban areas would require a fair amount of planning and space management.
Each transit station should have a “configure” option. This could include aesthetic options such as choosing architectural styles (modern, traditional, neoclassical, etc.) and more practical options such as fitting a station along a curved road, adding new platforms, or connections to other transit types. Ideally a single “transit station” option could be turned into everything from a rural railroad platform to a grand central station with bus, tram, and metro connections. Transport Fever 2 has a great implementation of this concept.
Keeping with the philosophy of drawing the player’s attention back to developed areas of the city, logistic hubs (ports, railyards, and airports) should be highly configurable as well and be shaped over time by growing demand. For instance, a regional airport should be accessible early on, but gradually turn into an international hub. The same should apply to ports and railyards that expand in realistic ways due to the practical need for expanded capacity.
Planning tools (place stuff down in “ghost” form and tweak it before actually paying for it)
More powerful tools to build/tweak junctions and intersections (move-it, NEXT, CSUR, etc.)
Vehicle choices for mass transit lines
Bridge stacking / customization
Paintable town squares/parks/markets (good luck fitting anything into a triangular city block currently)
More interesting terrain (marsh, forest, jungle, mountains, etc.)
[Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!
Source There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it?
Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario?
DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do?
DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
the below is a reply to the above
Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies?
DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea
DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
the below is a reply to the original answer
What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua?
DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever?
DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029?
DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years?
Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
the below is a reply to the above
How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories?
In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth?
DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth?
DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems?
DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
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There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money.
DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface?
DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
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Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out?
Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect?
PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
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Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth?
DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
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Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth?
PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers?
Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
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So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers?
I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to?
Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
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Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
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Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that.
DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken?
Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space?
DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment?
DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand?
As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
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DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids.
Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
What are your favourite sci-fi series?
DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
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Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
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When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object.
The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction?
Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
Will 2020's climax be a really big rock?
DVK: Let's hope not...
Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise?
The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
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Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed?
Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth?
DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time!
DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid?
The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"?
It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
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That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List?
Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
What inspired you to go into this field of study?
I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
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DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option?
DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission?
DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is??
DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness?
At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field?
It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
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DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years?
Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite?
No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit?
DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.
If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that.
DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
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Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020
Good Saturday morning to all of you here on wallstreetbets. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week and month ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020.
Wall Street braces for more market volatility as wild swings become the ‘new normal’ amid coronavirus - (Source)
The S&P 500 has never behaved like this, but Wall Street strategists say get used to it. Investors just witnessed the equity benchmark swinging up or down 2% for four days straight in the face of the coronavirus panic. In the index’s history dating back to 1927, this is the first time the S&P 500 had a week of alternating gains and losses of more than 2% from Monday through Thursday, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Daily swings like this over a two-week period were only seen at the peak of the financial crisis and in 2011 when U.S. sovereign debt got its first-ever downgrade, the firm said. “The message to all investors is that they should expect this volatility to continue. This should be considered the new normal going forward,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped north of 1,000 points twice in the past week, only to erase the quadruple-digit gains in the subsequent sessions. The coronavirus outbreak kept investors on edge as global cases of the infections surpassed 100,000. It’s also spreading rapidly in the U.S. California has declared a state of emergency, while the number of cases in New York reached 33. “Uncertainty breeds greater market volatility,” Keith Lerner, SunTrust’s chief market strategist, said in a note. “Much is still unknown about how severe and widespread the coronavirus will become. From a market perspective, what we are seeing is uncomfortable but somewhat typical after shock periods.”
So far, the actions from global central banks and governments in response to the outbreak haven’t triggered a sustainable rebound. The Federal Reserve’s first emergency rate cut since the financial crisis did little to calm investor anxiety. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a sweeping spending bill with an$8.3 billion packageto aid prevention efforts to produce a vaccine for the deadly disease, but stocks extended their heavy rout that day. “The market is recognizing the global authorities are responding to this,” said Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report. “If the market begins to worry they are not doing that sufficiently, then I think we are going to go down ugly. It is helping stocks hold up.” Essaye said any further stimulus from China and a decent-sized fiscal package from Germany would be positive to the market, but he doesn’t expect the moves to create a huge rebound. The fed funds future market is now pricing in the possibility of the U.S. central bank cutting by 75 basis points at its March 17-18 meeting.
Where is the bottom?
Many on Wall Street expect the market to fall further before recovering as the health crisis unfolds. Binky Chadha, Deutsche Bank’s chief equity strategist, sees a bottom for the S&P 500 in the second quarter after stocks falling as much as 20% from their recent peak. “The magnitude of the selloff in the S&P 500 so far has further to go; and in terms of duration, just two weeks in, it is much too early to declare this episode as being done,” Chadha said in a note. “We do view the impacts on macro and earnings growth as being relatively short-lived and the market eventually looking through them.” Deutsche Bank maintained its year-end target of 3,250 for the S&P 500, which would represent a 10% gain from here and a flat return for 2020. Strategists are also urging patience during this heightened volatility, cautioning against panic selling. “It is during times like these that investors need to maintain a longer-term perspective and stick to their investment process rather than making knee-jerk, binary decisions,” Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
If you're like us, you've heard a lot of people reference the recent equity declines as a sign that the market is pricing in some sort of Armageddon in the US economy. While comments like that make for great soundbites, a little perspective is in order. Since the S&P 500's high on February 19th, the S&P 500 is down 12.8%. In the chart below, we show the S&P 500's annual maximum drawdown by year going back to 1928. In the entire history of the index, the median maximum drawdown from a YTD high is 13.05%. In other words, this year's decline is actually less than normal. Perhaps due to the fact that we have only seen one larger-than-average drawdown in the last eight years is why this one feels so bad. The fact that the current decline has only been inline with the historical norm raises a number of questions. For example, if the market has already priced in the worst-case scenario, going out and adding some equity exposure would be a no brainer. However, if we're only in the midst of a 'normal' drawdown in the equity market as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to put the economy into a recession, one could argue that things for the stock market could get worse before they get better, especially when we know that the market can be prone to over-reaction in both directions. The fact is that nobody knows right now how this entire outbreak will play out. If it really is a black swan, the market definitely has further to fall and now would present a great opportunity to sell more equities. However, if it proves to be temporary and after a quarter or two resolves itself and the economy gets back on the path it was on at the start of the year, then the magnitude of the current decline is probably appropriate. As they say, that's what makes a market!
Take a good luck at today's moves in long-term US Treasury yields, because chances are you won't see moves of this magnitude again soon. Let's start with the yield on the 30-year US Treasury. Today's decline of 29 basis points in the yield will go down as the largest one-day decline in the yield on the 30-year since 2009. For some perspective, there have only been 25 other days since 1977 where the yield saw a larger one day decline.
That doesn't even tell the whole story, though. As shown in the chart below, every other time the yield saw a sharper one-day decline, the actual yield of the 30-year was much higher, and in most other cases it was much, much higher.
To show this another way, the percentage change in the yield on the 30-year has never been seen before, and it's not even close. Now, before the chart crime police come calling, we realize showing a percentage change of a percentage is not the most accurate representation, but we wanted to show this for illustrative purposes only.
Finally, with long-term interest rates plummetting we wanted to provide an update on the performance of the Austrian 100-year bond. That's now back at record highs, begging the question, why is the US not flooding the market with long-term debt?
Today's decline is pretty much a continuation of what has been a one-way trade for the commodity ever since the US drone strike on Iranian general Soleimani. The last time prices were this low was around Christmas 2018.
With today's decline, crude oil is now off to its worst start to a year in a generation falling 32%. Since 1984, the only other year that was worse was 1986 when the year started out with a decline of 50% through March 6th. If you're looking for a bright spot, in 1986, prices rose 36% over the remainder of the year. The only other year where crude oil kicked off the year with a 30% decline was in 1991 after the first Iraq war. Over the remainder of that year, prices rose a more modest 5%.
Despite strong market gains on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the on-the-run 10-year Treasury yield ended the day below 1% for the first time ever and has posted additional declines in real time, sitting at 0.92% intraday as this blog is being written. “The decline in yields has been remarkable,” said LPL Research Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “The 10-year Treasury yield has dipped below 1%, and today’s declines are likely to make the recent run lower the largest decline of the cycle.” As shown in LPL Research’s chart of the day, the current decline in the 10-year Treasury yield without a meaningful reversal (defined as at least 0.75%) is approaching the decline seen in 2011 and 2012 and would need about another two months to be the longest decline in length of time. At the same time, no prior decline has lasted forever and a pattern of declines and increases has been normal.
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield lower?
A shrinking but still sizable yield advantage over other developed market sovereign debt
Added stock volatility if downside risks to economic growth from the coronavirus increase
A larger potential premium over shorter-term yields if the Federal Reserve aggressively cuts interest rates
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield higher?
A second half economic rebound acting a catalyst for a Treasury sell-off
As yields move lower, investors may increasingly seek more attractive sources of income
Any dollar weakness could lead to some selling by international investors
Longer maturity Treasuries are looking like an increasingly crowded trade, potentially adding energy to any sell-off
On balance, our view remains that the prospect of an economic rebound over the second half points to the potential for interest rates moving higher. At the same time, we still see some advantage in the potential diversification benefits of intermediate maturity high-quality bonds, especially during periods of market stress. We continue to recommend that suitable investors consider keeping a bond portfolio’s sensitivity to changes in interest rates below that of the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index by emphasizing short to intermediate maturity bonds, but do not believe it’s time to pile into very short maturities despite the 10-year Treasury yield sitting at historically low levels.
U.S. Jobs Growth Marches On
While stock markets continue to be extremely volatile as they come to terms with how the coronavirus may affect global growth, the U.S. job market has remained remarkably robust. Continued U.S. jobs data resilience in the face of headwinds from the coronavirus outbreak may be a key factor in prolonging the expansion, given how important the strength of the U.S. consumer has been late into this expansion. The U.S. Department of Labor today reported that U.S. nonfarm payroll data had a strong showing of 273,000 jobs added in February, topping the expectation of every Bloomberg-surveyed economist, with an additional upward revision of 85,000 additional jobs for December 2019 and January 2020. This has brought the current unemployment rate back to its 50-year low of 3.5%. So far, it appears it’s too soon for any effects of the coronavirus to have been felt in the jobs numbers. (Note: The survey takes place in the middle of each month.) On Wednesday, ADP released its private payroll data (excluding government jobs), which increased by 183,000 in February, also handily beating market expectations. Most of these jobs were added in the service sector, with 44,000 added in the leisure and hospitality sector, and another 31,000 in trade/transportation/utilities. Both of these areas could be at risk of potential cutbacks if consumers start to avoid eating out or other leisure pursuits due to coronavirus fears. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, payrolls remain strong, and any effects of the virus outbreaks most likely would be felt in coming months.
“February’s jobs report shows the 113th straight month that the U.S. jobs market has grown,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “That’s an incredible run and highlights how the U.S. consumer has become key to extending the expansion, especially given setbacks to global growth from the coronavirus outbreak.” While there is bound to be some drag on future jobs data from the coronavirus-related slowdown, we would anticipate that the effects of this may be transitory. We believe economic fundamentals continue to suggest the possibility of a second-half-of-the–year economic rebound.
Down January & Down February: S&P 500 Posts Full-Year Gain Just 43.75% of Time
The combination of a down January and a down February has come about 17 times, including this year, going back to 1950. Rest of the year and full-year performance has taken a rather sizable hit following the previous 16 occurrences. March through December S&P 500 average performance drops to 2.32% compared to 7.69% in all years. Full-year performance is even worse with S&P 500 average turning to a loss of 4.91% compared to an average gain of 9.14% in all years. All hope for 2020 is not lost as seven of the 16 past down January and down February years did go on to log gains over the last 10 months and full year while six enjoyed double-digit gains from March to December.
Today’s big rally was an encouraging sign that the markets are becoming more comfortable with the public health, monetary and political handling of the situation. But the history of these “emergency” or “surprise” rate cuts by the Fed between meetings suggest some caution remains in order. The table here shows that these surprise cuts between meetings have really only “worked” once in the past 20+ years. In 1998 when the Fed and the plunge protection team acted swiftly and in a coordinated manner to stave off the fallout from the financial crisis caused by the collapse of the Russian ruble and the highly leveraged Long Term Capital Management hedge fund markets responded well. This was not the case during the extended bear markets of 2001-2002 and 2007-2009. Bottom line: if this is a short-term impact like the 1998 financial crisis the market should recover sooner rather than later. But if the economic impact of coronavirus virus is prolonged, the market is more likely to languish.
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Adobe Inc. $336.77
Adobe Inc. (ADBE) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.23 per share on revenue of $3.04 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.29 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of approximately $2.23 per share. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 29.65% with revenue increasing by 16.88%. Short interest has decreased by 38.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 7.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 10.9% above its 200 day moving average of $303.70. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Monday, February 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,109 contracts of the $400.00 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. (DKS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.23 per share on revenue of $2.56 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.28 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 57% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 14.95% with revenue increasing by 2.73%. Short interest has decreased by 29.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 20.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% below its 200 day moving average of $39.75. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 848 contracts of the $39.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 14.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.3% move in recent quarters.
Broadcom Limited (AVGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $5.34 per share on revenue of $5.93 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $5.45 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 5.65% with revenue increasing by 2.44%. Short interest has decreased by 15.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 15.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.7% below its 200 day moving average of $291.95. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Tuesday, February 25, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,197 contracts of the $260.00 put expiring on Friday, April 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.9% move in recent quarters.
Thor Industries, Inc. (THO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:45 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.79 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.84 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 62% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 16.92% with revenue increasing by 38.70%. Short interest has decreased by 12.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 5.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% above its 200 day moving average of $62.53. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.1% move in recent quarters.
ULTA Beauty (ULTA) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $3.71 per share on revenue of $2.29 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $3.75 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 73% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 2.77% with revenue increasing by 7.78%. Short interest has increased by 8.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 0.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 9.5% below its 200 day moving average of $283.43. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 15.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.7% move in recent quarters.
Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.06 per share on revenue of $173.06 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.04) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 67% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for a loss of $0.07 to $0.06 per share on revenue of $172.00 million to $174.00 million. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 19.0% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 4.3% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Dollar General Corporation (DG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:55 AM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.02 per share on revenue of $7.15 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.05 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 76% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 9.78% with revenue increasing by 7.52%. Short interest has increased by 16.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 1.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.7% above its 200 day moving average of $149.88. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, February 28, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,013 contracts of the $182.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.
Stitch Fix, Inc. (SFIX) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.06 per share on revenue of $452.96 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $447.00 million to $455.00 million. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 50.00% with revenue increasing by 22.33%. Short interest has decreased by 4.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 16.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.1% below its 200 day moving average of $24.01. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 19, 2020 there was some notable buying of 4,026 contracts of the $35.00 call expiring on Friday, June 19, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 28.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 15.2% move in recent quarters.
Sogou Inc. (SOGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.09 per share on revenue of $303.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 58% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $290.00 million to $310.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 28.57% with revenue increasing by 1.78%. Short interest has increased by 6.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 27.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.7% below its 200 day moving average of $4.57. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 3.8% move on earnings in recent quarters.
DocuSign (DOCU) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.05 per share on revenue of $267.44 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.08 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $263.00 million to $267.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 600.00% with revenue increasing by 33.90%. Short interest has decreased by 37.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 12.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 31.9% above its 200 day moving average of $63.71. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, March 4, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,698 contracts of the $87.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 8.5% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 10.0% move in recent quarters.
Superposition: Transcript of Audio Essay Episode 35
Hi. It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio essay on the topic of superposition. Now, to those of you in the know, superposition is an odd word, in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schrodinger's cat and the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time rigorously, so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system on which its life depends are a mixture of two distinct states, that are somehow commingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now, I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life, as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies. For example, whenever you have a non-quantum system that is altered by its observation, that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall's chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent quantum theorist who would analogize chimps to electrons, and Goodall to our mission observable, executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics-envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation such as this. However, I have changed my mind in the case of superposition, as I would now like to explain. To begin with, superposition isn't a quantum phenomenon. For example, imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia, and that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a superposition, because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other. The analog of the physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple-choice question found on a landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here, it is easy to see the danger of this set up. Assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs, what happens when you get a question that doesn't include your situation as an answer? What if the landing card asked, is all of your change in A) euros or B) Swiss francs, with no other options available? Well, this as stated, is a completely classical superposition problem, having nothing to do with quantum theory. Were you to have such a classical question asked of you like this, there would have been no way for you to answer. However, if the answer were on the multiple-choice menu, there would be no problem at all, and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets. So, if the state in question isn't on the multiple-choice menu, the classical world is forced to go mute, as there is no answer determined by the system; whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices, the answer is then completely determined by the system’s state at the time that the question was asked. Oddly, the quantum world is, in a way, exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. In order to understand this, we’ll have to introduce a bit of jargon. So long as the system (now called the Hilbert space state) is on the list of answers (technically called the system of Eigenvectors) corresponding to the question (now called a quantum observable) the question will return a completely deterministic answer (technically called the Eigenvalue corresponding to the state Eigenvector.) These are, in a sense, good questions in quantum theory, because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple-choice options. So, if that is completely deterministic, well then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminacy that we hear so much about? What if I told you that it were 100% confined to the situation which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is, quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions, where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple-choice answers. When the landing card asked if all your change were completely in euros or only in francs, the classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in euros, so no answer could be determined. But if your pocket change were somehow quantum, well then you might find that 75% of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros, and would bewilderingly turn into pure francs 25% of the time just by virtue of your being asked for a measurement by the landing card. In the quantum theory, this is due to the multiple-choice answers of the so-called observable, represented by the landing card question, not being well-suited to the mixed state of your pockets in a superposition between euros and francs. In other words, quantum theory gets probabilistic only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminacy appears to come from asking bad multiple-choice questions in both the classical and quantum regimes, in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer. Quite honestly, I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way, so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous, and accommodating really bad questions. For some reason, they don't like the idea of calling an observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer, a bad question. But that is precisely why I do like it. It points out that the quantum is deterministic where the classical theory is deterministic, and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. And this is because it is weirdly willing to answer questions that are, in a sense that can be made precise, bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery, but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is, why would a quantum system overcompensate for the lousy questions being posed, when the classical system seems to know not to answer? So why bring any of this up? Well, the first reason is that I couldn't resist sneaking in a personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered. But the second reason is that I have come to believe that we are wasting our political lives on just such superposition questions. For example, let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now on this podcast using superposition; as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization there is no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born, there is no question that it has a right to live. Yet, pro-choice and pro-life activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born, or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg. You can guess my answer here. The question of, is it a baby's life or a woman's choice, is agreed-upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple-choice answers in those two cases. However, during the process of embryonic development, something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically. Somehow, a non-sentient blastula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science, which as yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in utero is in a changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning, and tilted heavily towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists, rather than the embryologists and developmental biologists, to hand us the life versus choice observable, with its two terrible multiple-choice options. If we had let the embryologist set the multiple-choice question, there would be at least 23 Carnegie stages for the embryo, before you even get to fetal development. But instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system, we are instead permanently deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger's embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives. So, does this somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not. All it does, is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics, that we would allow our society to be led by those activists who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience. We don't even think to ask, who are these people who have left us at each other's throats, debating an inappropriate multiple-choice question that can never be answered? Well, in the spirit of The Portal, we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit. And I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems, brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naïve activism a fairly impoverished worldview. The activist mindset is always trying to remove nuanced selections that might better match our world’s needs from among the multiple-choice answers, until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs, yes or no? Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated equally? Should we embrace capitalism, or choose socialism? Racism: systemic problem or convenient excuse? Is China a trading partner or a strategic rival? Has technology stagnated, or is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed? Has feminism gone too far, or not far enough? In all of these cases, there is an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers and agreement, with simple multiple-choice political options that foreclose all hope. And in general, we can surmise when this has occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature, where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divide us, handed us by activists. So, I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness, and it may be governing your life at a level that you never considered. Think about where you are most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself, when I listen to the debates at my dinner table, am I hearing a set of multiple-choice answers that sound like they were developed by scholars interested in understanding, or by activists who are pushing for an outcome? If the latter, think about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middlebrow binaries, dilemmas and trilemmas. Instead, try asking a new question. If my loved ones and I trashed the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers, activists and the news media, could we together fashion a list of multiple choice answers that we might agree contain an answer we all could live with, and that better describes the true state of the system? I mean, do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really want to talk about psilocybin and heroin in the same breath? Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression, or that it governs every aspect of our lives? Before long, it is my hope that you will develop an intuition that many long-running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binaries that can only represent the state of our world as a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers that you never would have chosen for yourself.
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