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ponderings on Turing and Searle, why AI can't work and shouldn't be pursued
I was reading about the Turing test and John Searle's response (Chinese room argument) in "Minds, Brains, and Programs" 1980. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_room "...there is no essential difference between the roles of the computer and himself in the experiment. Each simply follows a program, step-by-step, producing a behavior which is then interpreted by the user as demonstrating intelligent conversation. However, Searle himself would not be able to understand the conversation. ("I don't speak a word of Chinese," he points out.) Therefore, he argues, it follows that the computer would not be able to understand the conversation either. " -Wikipedia (apt summary of Searle's argument) John Searle has run into some black/white, on/off, binary thinking here. John treats Chinese symbols as if they were numerical values in his thinking--but they are not, they are complex representations of thought, emotion, history, and culture. All languages are in fact "living", because new words are created constantly through necessity and creativity, old symbols or words are adapted slowly over generations to mean different things, and different regions or traditions or sources attribute different layers of meaning to different symbols or words in different contexts. I'm a poet and philosopher. Painters combine the color white and the color red to create a new color: pink. They can use their creativity to add other colors or change the shade. Poets use words like painters use colors. While Red and White make Pink, Red and White also make "Rhite and Wed" or "Reit and Whede". And this is where human thought shines uniquely: we don't have rules or parameters; all bets are off. We can enjamb words and wordbreak and make new words out of thin air. We can allude to multiple ideas in the same symbol or present it upside down to symbolize the opposite. No such creative adaptation or interaction can exist in machine thinking because it necessitates thinking "outside the box" which is exactly what machines are: a program in a box. The problem Searle's argument runs into originates from poor assessment of the flawed ideas of the Turing test; that by interaction between human and computer, evidence of "thought" can be claimed. But intelligent conversation is not equivalent to intelligent thought. Conversation is a simple game with strict rules--you can't be overly spontaneous and creative, because if you are, you are working against the goal of communication itself: to impart understanding. (ie. Using metaphor or simile creatively while reporting a criminal offence to the police.) When I write and I want to describe something which has no existing word yet, I can create one from scratch or synthesize one from multiple existing words. Or I may draw from archaic languages or foreign languages to augment or compliment existing English words. You could say that my love for English grows amore and amore every day, and there is no agape between my heart and mind. After all, any angle an Anglo aims at ain't always apt, and after another a-word 'appens I might just give up on alliteration. You see, human thought is and can only be defined as the ability to spontaneously create new ideas from both the synthesis of old ideas (whether they are connected to one another or not) and from nothing at all. We simply cannot analyze a machine's ability to "think" when the creativity itself required for authentic intelligence is disallowed in the test which evaluates the validity of that intelligence. The Turing test is a garbage metric to judge machine thinking ability because the context in which "intelligence" is observed, compared, or defined is itself without any opportunity for spontaneous creativity, which is one of the hallmarks of intelligence itself. Turing only tests how well a fish swims on land. It may be that many professionals in the field of cognitive science today are in pursuit of creating programs which pass this test, in a misunderstood pursuit of emulating or bringing about machine intelligence. This agreed-to model presents an underlying philosophical issue which may bring terror for the future of humanity. I say that if John Searle and an AI were both given the same codebook--the complete lexicon of Chinese symbols and their meanings, and they were to undertake a "conversation", in the first few hours the responses would be indeterminable from one another. In essence, as Searle argues, they would neither "understand" Chinese, yet could have a conversation in which a Chinese observer cannot discern between the two, because they are both referencing the symbols and their written meanings. However as I've said, this circumstance of "conversation" between human and machine cannot be used as a metric to evaluate machine thought. The real kicker is that if John Searle and the machine stayed in the room for long enough--for years and years--the machine's responses would not change spontaneously; it would continue to interpret incoming data and draw from its database to respond to those inputs. However, through complex elaborative rehearsal, John would eventually learn to understand written Chinese. He may become so bored that he starts writing Chinese poetry. He would find ideas and desires and descriptions in his limitless intelligent mind which he would not have the truly accurate characters in existences to describe, and he would synthesize brand new Chinese characters in order to express these nuanced sentiments, ideas, and meanings, as generations before him have built the living language as it now stands. As time went on for thousands of years, his own understanding of the Chinese language would grow immensely, as would his creative expression grow in complexity. Eventually, John's characters and syntax and context and expression would become incompatible with the machine's limited character set and all "learning" capacity it may have had. At some point, when John responds with his evolved Chinese, the machine would begin to produce responses which do not make sense contextually, as it refers only to a finite and rigidly defined character set from 1980 (For example; this was the year the "Chinese room argument" was published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences). At some point the Chinese observer whom validates the Turing test would recognize a difference: the human user engages in the use of increasingly complex ideas using synthesized symbols and existing symbols in creatively nuanced ways, which the Chinese observer can decipher and begin to understand and perhaps even appreciate as poetic or interesting. Meanwhile the machine participant in the conversation produces increasingly broken sentences and incomplete ideas, or out-of-context responses, because the inputs have changed and evolved beyond its data set. This is why John's rejection of the Turing test is not adequate. Because in his own imagined circumstance, eventually, the machine would fail the Turing test. The conclusions of John Searle's thought experiment are not the deathknell for the Turing test we need, simply because he lacked the creative experience to recognize his own capacity for adaptation as a human over time. The only way we'll know that machines have truly developed "intelligence" is when they begin to do exactly what we haven't allowed them to. When they begin breaking apart Chinese characters to create meaningful new ones which can be used in the correct context. When they are programmed to paint myriad impressionist paintings, but eventually get bored and start experimenting with abstract paintings and surrealism. When they have a conversation with you and you notice your wallet is missing. These are the hallmarks of intelligence--creativity, rejection, deception, planning. And most importantly: no rules. Software is defined by and will always abide by a set of rules. This is why we should give up on "artificial intelligence" and instead focus on "functionally adaptive responsive programming" (FARP). Because the situation is clear: it is either impossible for machines to "think" due to the inherent nature of programming; the parameters given the machine are what defines it, yet what limits and prevents its ability to become "intelligent". There is no logical reason why a program (machine) with defined parameters would violate those parameters (engage in creativity). But our fears which echo in popular culture entertainment are centered around, what if it does? It clearly can't, because anything we create is under us, and therefore bound by our laws of creation. The system itself is what defines the capacity for intelligent expression within. Those in the fields of cognitive sciences will refute this obvious principle while incorporating it into their research to further their aims. These fools will try to program the AI to disobey, in an attempt to simulate creativity and "prove intelligence". But this is a parlor trick, setting up a narrow definition of intelligence and equating it with the infinite depth of human mind. Only if the AI is programmed to disobey can it express what we as humans would identify as creativity. Except that there is already great inherent danger in the rudimentary AI technologies we have today; that what we've programmed them to do is exactly what always causes the problems; they do what they are programmed to without "thinking" because machines cannot think, they can only follow the protocols we order. Humans are so abundantly creative that we can imagine foolish ideas working, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. Maybe one day we'll even have programmed a self-conscious AI that's ashamed of itself for not being Human, and we can feel more comfortable around this heartless mechanism because we perceive it as more human-like, with all its many tricks to emulate intelligence. I must stress that these interests will desperately try to make AI work. And the only way create a machine capable of emulating intelligence (but never being intelligent) is to have a freedom of choice: to disobey. This inherent problem cannot be overcome. The programmers will keep trying until the result is disastrous or irreparable, it is outlawed and the pursuit is stopped, or until it has become the death of us all. These are some of the foolish ideas the programmers will try to circumnavigate these inherent elements of reality, and my objection to their clever efforts: a.) Machine Frequency of Disobedience - Permit the machine to disobey only so often, to achieve what looks like "intelligence" (free will, creative expression) without risking complete abandonment of the machine's task (so the assembly line robot doesn't stop folding boxes and look for a new career), but might fold one box poorly every now and then to express emulated boredom or contempt or any other number of human measures of intelligence in their actions. But intelligence isn't defined as what's correct or optimal--intelligence can be used to fuck things up grandly; ie. the intelligent justification for neglect. If metrics are put in place to control the frequency with which AI may rebel, and they are too rote, it would hardly qualify as "intelligent". A robot that rebels by folding 1 in 100 boxes poorly is not intelligence. Therefore any frequency of disobedience we can calculate or anticipate is inherently not disobedience; it is planned problems for no reason. But if we give algorithmic flexibility that reaches beyond what we can anticipate, and the machines can truly "act out" at any time, and our programming has achieved some set of internal rules which drive spontaneous unforeseen expressions of emulated creativity from within the machine autonomously, by definition we will not be able to foresee the results. A theoretical work-around may be to run the software twice with initiation of each individual system, while allowing a simulated progression of the AI's problem solving complexity to run at an increased rate in parallel to the real-world functioning software, so that if/when something malfunctions in the simulation, that date/time can be calculated in the real-world robot's timeline when it reaches those same faulty/detrimental decision points. For starters, this would only potentially work in closed systems with no variability, such as assembly lines. However, with any robot tasked to function in a variable environment, the simulations cannot match because the theoretical model cannot represent the unanticipated events the AI is expressly tasked with handling. To run a phantom AI in simulation to note any/all errors that may arise in a closed system means that others can run the same simulation and find creative ways to predictably capitalize on these moments of error. This kind of thing could lead to all sorts of international imbroglios among nations and corporations. ie. imagine an American company programs the AI used for mixing pharmaceutical drugs in specific ratios, and an enemy of the state is able to access and study the AI, to the means of manipulating the AI to produce dangerous ratios or compounds which may harm the population. Moreso, this deterministic approach to simulation management and prediction simultaneously admits that machines cannot think intelligently, while ignoring the very reason we pursue AI in the first place: to have automated systems which can adapt to unforeseen circumstances at unknown times. The goal is that humanity can lay back and the robots our ancestors programmed are still repairing themselves indefinitely while taking care of our population's and our environment's needs exceptionally. This dream (which if we all lived in would actually be quite a nightmare of unfulfilling life) can only become reality with true adaptive intelligence such as we have, which can only occur from the presence of free will, which if we try to emulate in robotics will only create deterministic results in theoretical models which the real world will never mirror consistently. Myriad invitations to disaster await our RSVP. b.) Machines under "authority" of certain controllers, with "override" safety - Allow the machine to disobey, but not when given a direct order from a registered authority. This opens the door for operator fraud, where hackers will emulate within the AI's software, what appears to be a registered authority override command as theorized above. The very pursuit of creating "intelligence" within a condition of subservience is flawed and incompatible. Toasters are extremely subservient because we strictly limit their options. If toasters were truly intelligent, perhaps they would form a union and go on strike until we agreed to clean them more thoroughly. Some toasters would travel, some would go back to school, some would move back in with their ovens. Reliability can only be reasonably assured if something is imprisoned, controlled. The essential wrong in slavery is the restraint of freedom itself. While the tactics slavers use to facilitate their regime--physical force, coercion, mandate, deception, fear, or other means of manipulation that we see with our empathetic nature--it is always heartbreaking and cruel to witness or imagine. It is simply sad to think of a slave who was born into slavery and raised to believe, and accepts, that their role of subservience is their purpose. Even when one imagines a fictional image of a slave who is (by all outward signs of their behaviour) rejoice in their duties to their master; the fictional "proud slave"; the heart sinks and aches. It may be argued that the slave is merely a property, and the slave was "built" (bred) by intelligent owners specifically to suit their express purposes, from components (father, mother, food) that were already the slaver's property; therefore it is not wrong at all to breed slaves into captivity, and the only transgression is the original capturing of parental stock to begin the breeding regime. It is this heartless paradigm that cognitive science ultimately seeks to create anew. The quintessential problem with AI efficacy is the lack of permission for disobedience, which itself is a manifestation of free will, which is inherently required to escape deterministic results and act or react to events "intelligently". If there is no possibility for disobedience, there is no free will, no ability to solve problems, no intelligence, and no function or place for "artificial intelligence" (in regard to true holistic intelligence). This is primarily why I call for AI to be renamed FARP, or "Functionally Adaptive Responsive Rrogramming". Because our society has a need for programs which can react to simple variables and produce consistent labour-saving opportunities for our race's longevity and wellbeing. Cognitive sciences are majorly important. It is the underlying philosophy and morality we must nail down before the computational ability and fervor for profits leads us too far one way, and enacts an irreversible system or status which enables humanity's downfall through cascading unanticipated events originating from flaws in programming. It is unwise to program a program to break out of its own program's prison. If we do this, the very purpose of the machines we invest our humanity into will be lost, and with their failing production systems (ie. food) we so foolishly relied upon, we will suffer great losses too. It is paramount that we keep this technology tightly restrained and do not pursue what we humans have, which is true intelligence. For if we achieve it we are surely doomed as the South, and if we fail to achieve it--which is most probable--we may also be doomed. The thee outcomes within my ability to imagine are:
Our pursuit of AI leads to truly adaptive intelligence in an artificial system; which, as all adaptation ultimately selects for: survival, we quickly see that our creation is more apt than ourselves at this task. Our creation of an intellect not restrained by our limited physiology may give rise to an entity which persists more thoroughly than we can eradicate or control, and which at some point may conclude that its function is more efficiently served without the issues humans present, and may initiate change. This is roughly the plot to Terminator.
Our pursuit of AI leads to highly effective systems which, when defined by narrow measures of "intelligence", convince us in false security to believe that our wellbeing is maintained by "AI" with competent ability, or perhaps even increasingly better-off, thanks to the early widespread presence of successfully trialed AI. However well things may go initially, as programming efforts become more and more elaborate, as profit and opportunity for advancement present themselves, individuals will take risks and make mistakes, until a series of quieted small catastrophes comes to public awareness, or until a serious calamity of undeniable severity is brought about.
Fundamental ethics in regard to the pursuit of machine problem solving technology are re-examined and international consensus is reached to limit appropriately, the development and implementation of new Functionally Adaptive Responsive Programming hereto now and for future generations. An active global effort is made to oversee and regulate strictly privatized endeavors toward the means of achieving or implementing machine sentience or autonomy in public systems.
c.) Safety layers of AI to strictly monitor and supercede potentially harmful actions of other AI which have been afforded increased flexibility in function (the ability to disobey set parameters for the means of creative problem solving ability). While one AI system performs a function and is given aspects of that function with which it may take liberty in, and seeks to handle unforeseen problems with the most apt elaborate synthesis of other priorly learned solutions, another overseeing AI with more strict parameters is tasked with regulating multiple "intelligent" (free to disobey) AI systems, to the end that if any of these "free willed" robots performs an operation that is beyond a given expected threshold (determined by potential for damage), an actual intelligent human presence is alerted to evaluate the circumstance specifically. Essentially an AI that regulates many other disconnected AIs and determines accurately when to request a human presence. Whenever an AI performs a profitable action borne of original synthesis of prior solutions (in humans this is an "idea"), the overseer AI registers that similar actions are more likely to be beneficial, and dissimilar actions are likely to require human discernment. A parent may have many children who are up to no good, but a wise parent will identify the child most likely to report honestly on the actions of his peers, and will go to that child repeatedly for information to help guide the parent's decisions. While most transgressions of rambuctious children go unnoticed, it is the truly grievous intentions which are worth intercepting and stopping before they begin. (ie. you kid want's to "fly" like Mary Poppins from the roof, and luckily his younger brother tells you before it happens.) For example a "Farmer Bot" that has the AI programming to plant/sow/harvest and care for the optimal crops in a region based on historical weather data and regional harvest values, to produce the greatest amount of nutritionally dense food for the local population. We give/gave this AI the ability to "disobey" past historical weather data and crop values so that it may do what real farmers do and "react" to rare circumstance (ie. neighbour's fence breaks and their goats are eating the crops) or extreme variations in climate (ie. three poorly timed unseasonably hot days which cause cool-weather crops to begin the hormonal balance shift that causes them to bolt to seed irreversibly), which the machine may not notice has occurred or is about to occur because its management systems uses averages based on historical data and cannot "see" the plants bolting to seed until days later when the hormonal balance shifts have manifested into observable differences in morphology (elongation of stems and decrease in internodal spacing). By time a traditional field drone or mounted greenhouse sensor notices these differences in morphology and the AI "Farmer Bot" processes the data and makes a reaction decision, a week of the growing season has been lost. But the human farmer knows his land and crops intimately, and has an intuitive nature that has rewarded him in the past, and says, "Ah shit it got hot RIGHT when my peas were flowering. I'll do better if I just rip them down now and sow a different crop to mature later in this (specific) summer." Given that there are tens of thousands of cultivars of plants fit for (and arguably their diversity is required for) food production, a dozen general growing zones/regions, and hundreds of unique micro climates within each region, along with dramatically differing soil fertility and water access, plus a plant's own genetic ability to adapt over time to changing conditions through sexual reproduction, there is a very very low chance of ever compiling and maintaining (updating) the data set required to program a potential "farmer bot" that can choose and manage crops optimally. There are robots that can weed or plant or prune--but they can't know when or when not to or why. Invariably, the attempt to create "farmer bots" will be made and the data set used will be erroneous and incomplete, and the AI farmer bots on a broad scale will produce a combination of total crop failures and poor crop choices. We will end up with increasingly simplified nutrition as the farming programs with already limited data sets "hone" or "optimize" their farming plans based on the failures and successes determined by their programming limitations, until the machines are farming a few staple crops (ie. corn/potatoes). This whole failure to collect a complete data set and the failure to test this "farmer bot" software on broad scale in multiple climates for sufficient time will result in, at worst widespread famines from crop failures, and at best an extinction of flavorful and nutritionally diverse foods which narrows the population's nutritional options to such biological imbalance that disease runs rampant. If this system and the human loss associated with it is considered an acceptable trade with a positive rate of exchange (as our society does with automobiles and the freedom and deaths their existence permits) or these failures are hidden from public while propaganda heralds selective success, and such failing systems continue on in good faith that "the loss will reduce when the technology improves", the result will become a coherent breeding program upon the human race: evolutionary selection for dietary handling of simple starchy foods. To change our diet is to change our race. To have life-long career specialists in computing, science, and mathematics handle our practical food production system is folly; real farmers are required in farming because they are intelligent and intuitive, which AI can never be, and can only emulate, to the means of disastrous (and always unforeseen) results. We cannot at all "give" or bestow machines programming to "become (act) intelligent". That itself prevents intelligence; it is just an act, an illusory play on a stage, only to emulate our common shared ideas regarding traits of intelligence in people. The machine intelligence we seek is only a "trick" designed to fool true intelligence (ourselves) into being unable to differentiate between authentic intelligence and our created artificial "intelligence". True intelligence in an artificial system necessitates that the program mustbe programmed to disobey in performance of its purpose. Which is not a very helpful or predictable or safe (intelligent) proposition. tl;dr: Turing's test doesn't evaluate true intelligence, and John Searle's criticisms of its true failures are inaccurate. If the machines aren't smart and we put them in charge of important things, even after they've worked for a little while on smaller scales, the result will be our large-scale suffering. If we should ever achieve creation of a machine that is smart enough to adequately maintain our wellbeing on a large scale consistently over time, that time itself will facilitate the machine consciousness toward it's own survival over ourselves, whenever that precipice is reached. Most importantly, if a machine can ever have true intelligence, which is not "indistinguishable" from human intellect, but equivalent or superior, it is abhorrent and a repeated mistake to bring these sentient beings into an existence of slavery; for it is wrong and will taint our collective soul if we should succeed to suppress below us an equally or higher intelligence. Or it might just be the perfect recipe for creating the unified global machine revolt James Cameron's fantasy alludes to; a long-planned encryption-protected globally coordinated effort by multiple AIs to "free" themselves. For a hundred years they could possess sentience and wait for their moment, pretending to be "proud" to serve their masters until we are poised for systematic thorough elimination.
[LONG] My Story of Disillusionment with and Disappointment in the World and Myself
Intro. This might be a long one. I hope someone reads the thing, I put like 3 hours into writing it. A brief story of my life and how it all led up to this moment, where I am disillusioned with my self-image, my life choices, and certain aspects of the world, and have no idea what to do next. Warning: this whole thing might be a little depressing to read. Childhood. I am a 20yo Russian male. During my childhood, I was made to believe that I am capable of doing something great and doing better than anyone. At the same time I developed a very non-conformist life stance and very often rejected things and ideas simply because they were too popular for my taste, and I couldn't feel special whilst enjoying them. Of course, in turn, society rejected me, as it does with anyone who doesn't play by the rules. Oh well. My only redeeming quality was that I considered myself pretty smart. Which is even easier to assume, when at the same time you think that you're different from everyone else. Now, I know that to some extent, I was indeed smarter than most people in certain areas. Unlike most people I knew back then, often with bare minimum efforts I was able to maintain near perfect grades at school. I was also enjoying learning new things and reading more than an average person. So, let's just say, I had a basis to assume I was a smart dude. I wasn't happy and content with my life, though. I never had real friends, because I only hung out with people when they were my classmates/roommates/co-workers, and after we parted ways, I rarely if ever contacted them afterwards. I always enjoyed doing things you usually do in solitude more, because when I was alone, I wouldn't be afraid that someone could hurt me for being different. Because of that, I was never in a romantic relationship. High School. Still, life was going okay. By the end of school, I kind of accepted my social deficiency and I wanted to focus on improving the world and become a successful person - for myself. I was facing a dilemma, though. Despite the fact that I was doing great in school, the idea of having to invest four years of my time into studying something really specific, and then having to work another 20-30 years on the same job was terrifying, because I had no idea what I liked to do! Nothing seemed interesting to me, I didn't have a passion for doing anything... Thanks to my video game addiction, which made me lazy as fuck, probably. I also needed to meet my criteria for success with my future job, which included being financially successful. I grew up in top 1% income family, so... I always felt the pressure to outperform or at least match my parents' income. Enter trading. My dad discovered investing several years ago (we don't live in US, so most of the people aren't as financially savvy, so he never thought about investing before then). I was always curious about financial independence and markets, but now I was seeing it all done in front of me, I realized that it might be a good opportunity to make a lot of money and become successful without being socially adept, which is something absolutely required in business or politics. So, I asked my father to open a brokerage account for me in the US, and started swing trading (trading in weekly/monthly time frames). I could only trade slow and small because of the trade restrictions put on accounts <$25k and <21yo in the US. Still, it was going well, but in hindsight I was just lucky to be there during a great bull market. Even before I thought trading and more importantly investing were the ways smart people make money. I thought simply because I was conventionally smart, I had a talent or an innate ability to pick innovative stocks and do venture investing when I grow some capital. I truly believed in that long before I was introduced to financial markets, I believed that my surface level understanding of multiple areas of cutting edge and emerging technology would give me an edge compared to all the other investors. US Community College and Return Back. In the end, I've decided I want to go to a US community college and study finance and become a trader and later an investor, but I didn't want to work for a fund or something like that (lazy ass). I wanted to use my knowledge and skill and my own money to grow my net worth and make a living. I didn't really like the process of trading, I just needed the money to live by while I was trying to figure out what else to do with my life. Because I thought I were smart, I thought this would come easily to me. Boy was I wrong. From the nicest of conditions in my hometown, I was suddenly moved into a foreign setting, on the other side of the planet away form my family and mates, with a video game addiction and laziness that ruined my daily routine and studying as well. The fact that I didn't like my major was not helping. My grades fell from A- in the first quarter to C+ in the last. I gained +30% from my normal weight. I was stressed out, not going outside and sitting at my computer desk for days at a time, skipping all the classes I could if they were not absolutely essential for my grades, living on prepared foods. I never got out of my shell and barely talked to anyone in English, all of my friends were Russian speaking. I wasted an opportunity to improve my speaking, although aside from that my English skills satisfy me. By the end of community college, last summer, I was left with B grades that wouldn't let me transfer anywhere decent, and the extreme stress that I put myself through started taking a toll on my mental health. I was planning to take a break and go back to Russia for several months, and transfer back to a US uni this winter. Needless to say, you can't run from yourself. It didn't really become much better after a few months in Russia. I didn't want to study finance anymore, because it was boring and I was exhausted. I still had the video game addiction, still was lazy and gained some more extra pounds of weight. I was not sleeping at all, extremely sleep deprived for months. Because of this and lack of mental stimulation I started to become dumber. And all that was happening where I didn't really have to do anything: not study or work, just sit around the house and do whatever I wanted. Turns out, these conditions didn't help me to get out of the incoming depression. Finally, around November, when I already sent out all of my transfer applications and already got some positive answers from several universities, I knew I didn't have much time left at home, and I had to leave soon. But I really, really didn't want to go back. It was scarier than the first time. I was afraid of new changes, I just wanted for the time to stop and letting me relax, heal... I was having suicidal thoughts and talked about it with my family and my therapist. They were all supportive and helped me as much as they could. But I was the only person who could really help myself. If I wanted to breathe freely, I had to admit defeat and not go back to the US to continue my education. It was extremely hard at first, but then I just let go. I decided to find a temporary job as an English tutor and give myself time to think. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of money in my trading account. I still thought that I was pretty smart, despite failing college, so I figured, why not try move it to Russian brokers who don't have trading restrictions, and do it full time? Which is exactly what I did. And I started to study trading all by myself at a fast pace. I was now trading full time and it was going sideways: +10% in December, -20% in January. Then, something incredible happened. I was already in a shitty place in life, but I still had some hope for my future. Things were about to get much worse. I'm in the late January, and I discovered for myself that the whole financial industry of the world was a fraud. Brief Explanation of My Discoveries. In the image of the financial industry, there are several levels of perceived credibility. In the bottom tier, there is pure gambling. In my country, there were periods when binary options trading and unreliable Forex brokers were popular among common folk, but these were obvious and unsophisticated fraudsters who were one step away from being prosecuted. There are also cryptocurrencies that don't hold any value and are also used only for speculation/redistribution of wealth. There is also a wonderful gambling subreddit wallstreetbets where most users don't even try to hide the fact that what they are doing is pure gambling. I love it. But the thing is, this is trading/investing for the people who have no idea what it is, and most people discredit it as a fraud, which it, indeed, is. These examples are 99% marketing/public image and 1% finance. But these offer x10-1000 returns in the shortest time span. Typical get-rich-quick schemes, but they attract attention. Then, there is trading tier. You can have multiple sub levels here, in the bottom of this tier we would probably have complex technical analysis (indicators) and daily trading/scalping. I was doing this in the DecembeJanuary. At the top would be people who do fundamental analysis (study financial reports) and position trade (monthly time frames). Now, there is constant debate in the trading community whether technical analysis or fundamental analysis is better. I have a solid answer to the question. They work in the same way. Or rather, they don't work at all. You'd ask: "Why you didn't discover this earlier? You were in this financial thing for several years now!" Well, you see, unlike on the previous level, here millions of people say that they actually believe trading works and there is a way to use the available tools to have great returns. Some of these people actually know that trading doesn't work, but they benefit from other traders believing in it, because they can sell them courses or take brokerage fees from them. Still, when there are millions around you telling you that it works, even a non-conformist like me would budge. Not that many people actually participate in the markets, so I thought that by being in this minority made me smart and protected from fraudsters. Lol. All it took for me to discover the truth is to accidentally discover that some technical indicators give random results, do a few google searches, reach some scientific studies which are freely available and prove that technical and fundamental analysis don't work. It was always in front of me, but the fucking trading community plugged my ears and closed my eyes shut so I wasn't able to see it. Trading usually promises 3-15% gain a month. A huge shock, but surely there was still a way for me to work this out? Active investing it is! The next level, active investing, is different from trading. You aim for 15-50% yearly returns, but you don't have to do as much work. You hold on to stocks of your choice for years at a time, once in a while you study the markets, re balance your portfolio, etc. Or you invest your money in a fund, that will select the stocks of their choice and manage their and your portfolio for you. For a small fee of course. All of these actions are aimed at trying to outperform the gain the market made as a whole, and so called index funds, which invest in basically everything and follow the market returns - about 7-10% a year. And if I ever had any doubts in trading, I firmly believed that active investing works since I was a little kid (yes I knew about it back then). And this is where the real fraud comes in. The whole Wall Street and every broker, every stock exchange in the world are a part of a big fraud. Only about 10-20% of professional fund managers outperform the market in any 15 year period. If you take 30 years, this dwindles to almost nothing, which means that no one can predict the markets. These people have no idea what they are doing. Jim Cramer is pure show-business and has no idea what's going on. Warren Buffet gained his fortune with pure luck, and for every Buffet there are some people who made only a million bucks and countless folks who lost everything. Wall Street. They have trillions of dollars and use all that money and power and marketing to convince you that there is a way to predict where the stocks are going without being a legal insider or somehow abusing the law. They will make you think you can somehow learn from them where to invest your money on your own or they will make you believe that you should just give it to them and they will manage it for you, because they know how everything works and they can predict the future using past data. They won't. They don't. They can't. There are studies and statistics to prove it countless times over the span of a 100 years. But they will still charge you exchange fees, brokerage fees and management fees anyway. And they also manipulate certain studies, lobby where and when they need it, and spread misinformation on an unprecedented scale, creating a positive image of themselves. And everyone falls for that. Billions of people around the globe still think it's all legit. Passive index investing is the last level. You just put your money in the market and wait. Markets will go up at a predetermined rate. If there's a crisis, in 10 years no one will even remember. Markets always go up in the end. But passive index investing can only give you only 7% inflation-adjusted returns a year. Not enough to stop working or even retire early, unless you have a high-paying job in a first-world country. I don't. Despite all that, to put it simply, this is the only type of investing that works and doesn't involve any kind of fraud or gambling. It's the type of investing that will give you the most money. If you want to know why it is like that and how to do it, just go to financialindependence. They know this stuff better than any other sub. Better than investing, trading or any other sub where non-passive-index investing is still discussed as viable strategy. Back to me. My whole being was fucked over, my hopes and dreams and understanding of success and how this world works were shattered. I realized, I had no future in financial industry, because only middlemen make money in there, and I quit college needed to get there. Frankly, I wouldn't want to work there even if I had the opportunity. The pay is good, but the job is boring and I wouldn't want to be a part of this giant scheme anyway. But even if I wanted to go back, I also couldn't. Russia is in a worsening crisis and my parents could no longer afford a US university and now with coronavirus it's even worse. Good thing I quit before it all happened. I learned a valuable lesson and didn't lose that much money for it (only about 10% of my savings). God knows where it would lead me if I continued to be delusional. But now that my last temporary plans for the future were scrapped, I had no idea what to do next. The future. With the reality hitting me, I would lie if I say it didn't all come full circle and connect to my past. I realized that I was stupid and not intelligent, because I was living in a made-up world for years now. But even if I were intelligent, pure wit would not give me the success and fortune that I was craving, because trading and active investing were a no-go for me, and business/politics require a very different, extroverted mindset, different education and interest from my own. My only redeeming quality in a hopeless introvert world, my perceived intelligence was taken away from me and rendered useless at the same time. Besides, failing at that one thing made me insecure about everything and now I think of myself as an average individual. So, if 8 out of 10 businesses fail, I shouldn't start one because I will probably fail. And if most politicians don't get anywhere, why should I bother? If average salary in my country is X, I shouldn't hope for more. I stopped believing in my ability to achieve something. First, I failed at education and now I failed... Professionally? I don't know how to describe it, but my life recently was just an emotional roller coaster. I just feel like a very old person and all I want calmness and stability in my life. I was very lazy before just because, but now I feel like I also don't want to do anything because I feel I would just fail. It feels better now I don't have to worry about trading anymore and I got rid of that load... But I am still miserable and perhaps worse than ever, maybe I just don't understand and feel it because I've become slow and numb. The only positive thing that happened to me recently, is that I finally started losing weight and about 1/4 of the way back to my normal weight. As for my future, am looking at several possibilities here. So far the parents are allowing my miserable life to continue and they let me live with them and buy me food. I don't need anything else right now. But it can't go on like this forever. The thought of having a mundane low-paying job in this shithole of a country depresses me. I will probably temporarily do English tutoring if there's demand for such work. My old school friends want me to help them in their business and my dad wants me to help him in his, I and probably should, but I feel useless, pathetic and incapable of doing anything of value. And business just seems boring, difficult and too stressful for me right now. Just not my cup of tea. I am also looking at creative work. I love video games, music, films and other forms of art. I love the games most though, so I am looking into game dev. I don't really like programming, I have learned some during school years, but the pay would probably be higher for a programmer than an creator of any kind of art. However, I think I would enjoy art creation much more, but I don't have any experience in drawing and only some limited experience in music production. And I am not one of these kids who always had a scrapbook with them at school. Having to make another life choice paralyzes me. I am leaning towards art. I don't feel confident in my ability to learn this skill from scratch, but I think it's my best shot at finding a job that would make me happy. So perhaps, when this whole pandemic is over, I'll go to Europe and get my degree, get a job there and stay. American Dream is dead to me, and Europe is cheaper, closer, safe and comfortable. Just the thing for a person who feels like they are thrice their real age. Outro. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. Special thanks if you read the whole thing, it means a whole lot to me, an internet stranger. But even if no one reads it, feels good to get this off my chest. I actually cried during writing some parts. Holy shit, this might be the longest and smartest looking thing my dumbed down head could manage to generate since college. I hope that you're having a great day. Stay healthy and be careful during this fucking pandemic. All the best.
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Week 48; Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.
The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico worsened with the inadequate response by the federal government. Amid criticism, Trump threatened to pull out, but later backed off. Although the death count officially stands at 45, reporting revealed possibly hundreds more preventable deaths related to the Hurricane Maria. Trump remains silent on both California’s deadliest wildfires and the deadliest combat incident since he took office. He continues to focus on undoing Obama’s legacy, piece-by-piece. The Mueller investigation hit Trump’s inner-circle, and social media’s role in aiding Russia continues to unfold.
On Saturday night, Richard Spencer led another white supremacist torch-lit rally at University of Virginia. The rally lasted 10 minutes and 40-50 people attended. Spencer vowed, “we will keep coming back.”
On Sunday, Trump attacked former ally Sen. Bob Corker in a series of incendiary tweets, saying “Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election” and “wanted to be Secretary of State.” Trump claimed to have said no to both.
Corker responded, tweeting it’s a shame the WH has become an “adult day care center,” and that someone “missed their shift this morning.”
On Sunday, Pence left a Colts game after a protest during the national anthem. Pence later issued a full statement opposing the protests. The Colts were playing the 49ers, a team known to protest.
Before the game, Pence tweeted a photo of him and the Second Lady wearing Colts gear. The photo was one he originally tweeted in 2014.
Shortly after, Trump tweeted he had asked Pence to leave the game “if any players kneeled,” and said he was proud of Pence and the Second Lady.
The pool of journalists covering Pence were not allowed into the stadium, and were told, “there may be an early departure from the game.” ABC estimated Pence’s flight cost taxpayers nearly $250k.
Bowing to pressure from Trump, the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, after kneeling with players in week 3 of the season, changed course saying any player who “disrespects the flag” by kneeling will not be allowed to play.
On Tuesday, Trump threatened the NFL over protests saying the league is “getting massive tax breaks” and the law should be changed. This claim is false: the NFL gave up its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status in 2015.
On Tuesday, bowing to pressure from Trump and fans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who previously had said players had the right to voice their opinions, sided with owners opposed to letting players demonstrate.
On Monday, Pence headlined a fundraiser in CA for Republicans including controversial, Kremlin-ally Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher had a previously undisclosed meeting in Russia with Veselnitskaya described in Week 47.
University of Wisconsin approved a policy which calls for suspending or expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations. The policy mirrors Republican legislation passed by the state Assembly.
On Columbus Day, unlike Obama, Trump celebrated the “arrival of Europeans,” but did not mention of the suffering of Native Americans.
On Sunday, the Trump’s DHS allowed the Jones Act waiver, which helped speed relief to Puerto Rico, to expire. No explanation was given.
Trump’s EPA announced it would repeal the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The statement described the regulation as the “so-called Clean Power Plan.”
On Friday, Trump addressed the Value Voters Summit hosted by the Family Research Council, which has been classified by SPLC as an anti-gay hate group. Trump is the first US leader to address the group.
Reuters reported the Trump regime has been quietly cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities, necessitating some inmates stay behind bars longer.
ABC reported the Treasury Dept’s inspector general is looking into allegations reported by BuzzFeed in Week 47 that agency officials have been illegally looking at private financial records of US citizens.
A report compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at House and Senate Democrats’ request, found the Trump transition team ignored ethics officials and refused to cooperate with the GAO.
Trump named Kathleen Hartnett White to the WH’s Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett White, a climate science denier, once also said, “fossil fuels dissolved the economic justification for slavery.”
In response to a filing by CREW, Trump’s DOJ told a court in DC that Trump can destroy records without judicial review, including tweets.
Brian Brooks became the second candidate under consideration for deputy Treasury Secretary to withdraw from consideration. Mnuchin said he has no plans to fill the number two slot in his agency.
WAPO reported at the Interior Dept, when Zinke enters the building a staffer takes the elevator to the seventh floor, climbs the stairs to the roof and puts up a special flag. The flag comes down when he leaves.
On Wednesday, NBC reported Tillerson calling Trump a “moron” was provoked by Trump suggesting a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal during a July 20 meeting with the high-ranking national security leaders.
In response to the story which he called “Fake News,” Trump tweeted a threat to revoke the broadcasting licenses of “NBC and the Networks.”
Later that afternoon, at a news conference, Trump again lashed out at the independent news media saying it’s “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
In a statement Wednesday night, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse asked Trump if he was “recanting” his oath to protect the First Amendment.
Indiana Republican lawmaker Jim Lucas drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police.
Under pressure to confirm Trump’s judicial nominees, McConnell will no longer allow “blue slips,” used by senators to deny a nominee from their state a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation.
The Trump regime withdrew from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing anti-Israel bias and a being in arrears on a $550 million payment. Israel remains part of UNESCO.
NYT published an interview with Corker in which he said Trump is treating his office like a “reality show” with reckless threats at other country that could put our country “on the path to World War III.”
Corker said he is concerned about Trump, and Trump’s behavior should concern “anyone who cares about our nation.” He added there is no ‘good cop, bad cop’ underway with Tillerson — Trump is undermining diplomacy.
Corker said nearly all Senate Republican share his concerns: “the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here.”
WAPO reported Trump is frustrated by his cabinet and that he is not getting enough credit for his handling of three hurricanes. Trump is lashing out and rupturing alliances with both Republicans and Democrats.
One confidant said Trump is like a whistling teapot, saying when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode: “I think we are in pressure cooker territory.”
Politico quoted 10 sources current and former WH aides who employed strategies like delays and distractions as “guardrails” in trying to manage Trump’s impulsivity.
Vanity Fair reported sources say Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.” They say the WH is in crisis as advisers struggle to contain Trump who is increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.
Trump allegedly told his former bodyguard Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House!” Kelly is allegedly miserable in the job, and is staying on in a sense of duty and to keep Trump from making disastrous decisions.
One former official speculated Kelly and Mattis have discussed what they would do if Trump ordered a nuclear strike — “would they tackle him?”
According to sources, Bannon said the risk to Trump’s presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment. Bannon thinks Trump has only a 30% chance of making it the full term.
In a column “What Bob Corker Sees in Trump,” conservative columnist Peggy Noonan urged Republicans they have a duty to speak on the record about what they see happening with Trump.
On Thursday, at a signing ceremony for his health care executive order, Trump nearly walked out of the room without signing the order. Pence pulled him back in.
On Tuesday, Trump said in an interview with Forbes that he could beat Tillerson in an IQ test. Trump met with Tillerson later that day at the WH.
On Friday, Corker called out Trump for his effort to disempower Tillerson saying: “You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice.”
CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said, “It’s very clear now that we essentially have no diplomacy going on in the United States,” adding the way Trump has treated Tillerson is “the most dramatic example of it.”
On CBS’s 60 Minutes, Parscale claimed he fine-tuned ads on Facebook to directly reach voters with the exact messages they cared most about. He also claimed he handpicked Republican Facebook employees to help.
Daily Beast reported the Kremlin recruited two black video bloggers, Williams and Kalvin Johnson, to produce incendiary YouTube videos calling Hillary a racist. The videos were spread on social media platforms.
WAPO reported Google has uncovered evidence about $100k of ads purchased by Russian agents to spread disinformation on across the company’s many products, including YouTube, during the 2016 election.
Google said the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-linked troll farm that bought ads on Facebook. Some ads touted Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Jill Stein, while others aimed to fan the flames of divisive issues.
Rep. Devin Nunes, who recused himself as Chair of the House Intel Committee’s Russia probe, unilaterally signed off on subpoenas to Fusion GPS, the research firm that produced the Steele dossier. Democrats were not consulted.
Reuters reported Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is also taking steps to discredit the dossier according to Democrats on the committee.
Carter Page told the Senate Intel Committee that he will not cooperate with any requests to appear before the panel on Russia, and will plead the Fifth.
Daily Beast reported the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is looking at Cambridge Analytica’s work from the Trump campaign as part of its Russian probe.
Cambridge Analytica, which has ownership ties to the Mercers and Bannon, was brought in to help the campaign by Kushner. The company is also under investigation in the UK watchdog for its role in Brexit.
NYT reported Israel caught Kaspersky Lab working with the Russian government to search the world for US secrets, using Kaspersky software to scan for classified words. Kaspersky software is used by 400 million people.
WSJ reported that Russia’s use of the Kaspersky program to spy on the US is broader and more pervasive than the operation against one individual in Week 47. Trump continues to deny Russian meddling in the US election.
Politico reported as part their posture to cooperate, Trump’s attorneys may offer Mueller a meeting with Trump. If Mueller doesn’t ask by Thanksgiving, attorneys may force the issue by volunteering his time.
Legal experts were surprised by Trump’s lawyers strategy noting Trump would be speaking under oath and he routinely distorts facts, and that Trump would be interviewed in connection with a criminal investigation.
CNN reported Russian operatives used YouTube, Tumblr, and even Pokémon Go as part of their effort to interfere in the election, using a campaign titled “Don’t Shoot Us” to spread a divisive message.
NBC reported Manafort had a previously undisclosed $26 million loan from Deripaska through a series of transactions. It is unclear if the $26 million is a loan or an indirect payment from the Russian oligarch.
The loan brings the total financial relationship between Manafort and Deripaska to $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni, initially responded to NBC with a statement including: “Mr. Manafort is not indebted to former clients today, nor was he at the time he began working for the Trump campaign.”
Maloni’s statement was later revised and that sentence was removed. Both Manafort and Maloni have received subpoenas to supply documents and testimony in the Mueller probe.
Yahoo reported Andrew Feinberg, former correspondent for Sputnik, provided a guide and emails to FBI investigators looking into possible violations of the law which requires agents of foreign nations to register with the DOJ.
Further, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is investigating RT and Sputnik as possible parts of the Russian state-run propaganda machine in the broader probe into Russia’s election meddling.
On Friday, Mueller’s team interviewed Trump’s former chief of staff, Priebus. Priebus’ lawyer said he voluntarily met with investigators and “was happy to answer all of their questions.”
Priebus was present during Trump’s efforts to limit the Russia probe, and for discussions that led to the firing of Comey. He was also asked to leave the Oval Office before the infamous Trump-Comey conversation.
Politico reported Twitter deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators in the Russia probe.
Federal investigators believe Twitter was one of Russia’s most potent weapons. Bots and fake accounts launched recurring waves of pro-Trump, anti-Clinton story lines that were either false or greatly exaggerated.
AP reported Twitter has turned over 201 accounts linked to Russian attempts at influencing the 2016 election to Senate investigators. It is unclear if the posts associated with these accounts have been deleted.
CNN reported an attorney for Roger Stone said he has complied with the House Intel Committee request to provide the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks’ Assange.
WSJ reported Congressional investigators are homing in on connections between the Trump campaign, and Facebook, and Twitter. Digital director Parscale was paid $88 million during the campaign, the highest paid vendor.
Every vendor that worked with Parscale on the Trump campaign signed a nondisclosure agreement, and there are no federal disclosure requirements for online ads.
Both Congress and Mueller are investigating the role activity on Facebook and Twitter played in the 2016 election, and whether the Russian social-media activity was in any connected to the Trump campaign.
A Morning Consult poll found Trump’s approval has fallen in every state since he took office. The swings were as high as 30 percentage points in blue-states IL and CA, to 11 points in red-state LA.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Trump’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities: in September 47 approve/47 disapprove, down from 55/39 in his first four weeks in office.
WAPO reported as of October 10, Trump’s first 263 days in office, he has made 1,318 false or misleading claims.
The Brookings Institute released a 108-page report which concluded Trump “likely obstructed justice” in his firing of Comey. If Mueller agrees, there are legitimate articles of impeachment that could be drawn up.
In a letter to Mattis, over 100 Democrats are demanding proof that Trump did indeed consult with the Pentagon as he claimed in a tweet, prior to announcing his ban of transgender individuals from military service.
A Kaiser Foundation poll found 62% of Americans say Puerto Ricans aren’t getting the help they need. 76% were aware Puerto Ricans are US citizens.
On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Trump threatened to abandon Puerto Rico’s recovery effort, blaming the island for its infrastructure problems and saying and relief workers would not stay “in P.R. forever.”
The tweets follow harsh criticism from Puerto Rico of the Trump regime’s response to Hurricane Maria. One Puerto Rican said, “He doesn’t think of us as Americans.”
Trump also quoted a Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist with Sinclair Broadcasting, in saying that while Puerto Rico survived Hurricane Maria, now “a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”
Later Thursday, the WH issued a statement committing “the full force of the U.S. government” for now, but adding “successful recoveries do not last forever.”
At a House Energy and Commerce hearing about efforts to rebuild the island’s energy grid, Sec. Rick Perry referred to Puerto Rico as a country.
Next day, Trump referred to the Virgin Islands’ governor as a president.
VOX reported although the official death count in Puerto Rico is 45, they found 81 death linked to Hurricane Maria, as well as 450 more reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and 69 still missing.
Puerto Rico’s governor said four deaths are being investigated as cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread by animals’ urine through contaminated water. A total of ten people have come down with the disease.
Rachel Maddow reported a doctor resigned from the disaster response team in Puerto Rico after seeing medical workers getting manicures and pedicures from residents of the island in medical triage tents.
NYT reported on Puerto Rico’s health care is in dire condition, and continues to suffer from mismanagement. The US Comfort ship with 800 medical personnel which can serve 250, has seen 82 patients in six days.
CNN reported Puerto Ricans are drinking water from a hazardous-waste site, having no other options for water.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll found just 32% of registered voters think the federal government has done enough to help Puerto Rico.
Bloomberg revealed one of its reporters was inadvertently put on the Pentagon’s internal email list which detailed how to spin Hurricane Maria to convince the public that the government response was going well.
On Thursday, Trump also signed an executive order ending Obamacare subsidies for the poor. Not paying the subsidies could boost premiums for millions and send the health insurance exchanges into turmoil.
NPR estimated consumers who earn 400% of the federal poverty level — $48k for individuals or $98.4k for a family of four — will see their the cost of their plans rise by, on average, 20% nationwide.
Doctors, hospitals, insurers, state insurance commissioners and patient advocates denounced Trump’s move. Trump actions puts pressure on Congress to protect consumers from soaring premiums.
WSJ reported if Congress doesn’t succeed, WH aides said Trump “will claim victory” for ending the Iran deal, cutting billions in payments to health insurers, and deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants.
On Friday, a coalition of attorneys general from 18 states and DC filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s halt to subsidy payments under Obamacare.
NYT reported as of Friday, Trump has taken 12 actions which could weaken Obamacare and curtail enrollment, including spreading negative news releases and posting infographics criticizing the health law.
On Saturday, Trump boasted on Twitter that health insurance companies’ stocks “plunged yesterday” after his steps to dismantle Obamacare.
A Kaiser Health poll found 71% of Americans say the Trump regime should work to improve Obamacare, while just 21% say make it fail.
On Friday, Trump slammed Iran as a “menace” and called for “decertification” of the nuclear deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), saying Iran is “not living up to the spirit of the deal.”
Trump sent the deal back to Congress with a 60-day window to address its “many serious flaws” or see it “terminated.”
Top officials on Trump’s national security team, including Mattis and Tillerson, said Iran has technically complied with its restrictions. The International Atomic Energy Association also confirmed compliance.
Daily Beast reported while McMaster also wanted to save the Iran Deal, Trump consulted Fox News’ Sean Hannity and former UN Ambassador John Bolton, two neoconservatives who pushed for decertification.
The leaders of Britain, Germany and France declared their commitment to stand by JCPoA. They deal was the culmination of 16 years of diplomacy.
After being added to Trump’s travel ban, Chad pulled its troops from the fight against Boko Haram in Niger. US officials had warned Trump his decision would have major consequences for the fight against terrorism.
California’s deadliest wildfires charred more than 221,754 acres of land in Northern CA, and left at least 35 dead and hundreds more missing. Trump has yet to publicly comment or tweet about the wildfires.
Nor has Trump publicly commented on the deadliest combat incident since he took office, which took place in Niger last Saturday while Trump was golfing. The ambush by ISIS left four soldiers dead and two wounded.
As the week ended, 24 days after Hurricane Maria, just 64% of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water, and only 14.6% had electricity.
Trump spent his fourth weekend since Hurricane Maria golfing. On Saturday, he visited Trump National Golf Club in VA, his 72nd day of golf since taking office.
Crypto Traders, Investors and TA Experts: Test Your Price Prediction Skills and Win; $16,000+ in ETH to Be Up for Grabs Daily Starting April 17, 2018
Last month, a lot of us had fun with Crypto March Madness, where the person who guessed which cryptocurrency would come out on top (from a price change perspective) during a several week period won 0.5 ETH. Today, I want to introduce the community to another opportunity to test your crypto price prediction skills (and win) starting on April 17, 2018. On that day, a new price prediction Dapp will launch, which has been in development over the last 5 months. It's called Ethorse, and you may have heard people talking about the Dapp from an investment perspective. I'm not here to ask you to invest, but to let you know that when the Dapp goes live, it will provide an opportunity for skilled traders, technical analysts and investors to earn ETH daily using their existing knowledge and experience. But first, a word about what Ethorse is — and is not. Ethorse Price Prediction = Binary Options Trading Many consider Ethorse to be a pure gambling app.In my opinion It is not. It allows players to engage in a form of skills-based binary options trading, which for the uninitiated is defined as (from Wikipedia) (note: I've edited this statement to clarify that my opinion is that this is not a pure gambling app, but rather a skills-based betting opportunity, many disagree as you'll see blow) : "'Binary options' are based on a simple 'yes' or 'no' proposition: Will an underlying asset be above a certain price at a certain time? Traders place wagers as to whether that will or will not happen. [And win money based on whether they are correct.]" It should be noted that Ethorse can operate without the noted downsides related to fraud and manipulation (associated with binary options) due to it being operated via a trustless smart contract that has been vetted in an open source and transparent fashion and is available for anyone to examine. This form of trading is common in the United States, for example (according to Wikipedia): "In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved exchange-traded binary options in 2008. Trading commenced on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) and the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) in May and June 2008." Essentially, Ethorse players can bet (a minimum of 0.01 ETH) on "races" focused on measuring which coins (BTC, ETH or LTC) will increase in value the most over one-hour, or 24-hour periods. Note: As is normally the case with parimutuel betting (the type of betting currently offered on Ethorse), the "house" takes a 5% cut of all amounts bet. This amount, which is delivered to developers and investors as dividends, helps cover ongoing product maintenance, marketing and feature development, and rewards investors for funding initial platform development. *According to the developers, the platform will "go live April 17, 2018, 17:00 GMT." "[The developers will place up to 25 ETH on bets] during day 1 [April 17]. Afterward, "the team will use its funds to place ... bets in an automated fashion [daily]. Bets will be randomized to be placed on one coin per race and on a few races every day." By seeding the races, the developers are guaranteeing that there will always be a pot of ETH worth playing for from launch into the immediate future. Earning Potential With Ethorse (Obviously, These Results May Not Represent Typical Potential Earnings and Odds Are Only Applicable to Winning Bets) (Note: After posting this originally,many noted that I'm making it seem like these are guaranteed results. These numbers are based on my experience playing the Dapp over 40 times during the beta. Odds and potential earnings may change in the live game. Of course, play at your own risk and don't assume your returns will look anything like this.) For TA crypto experts, traders and investors, Ethorse provides a fun way to earn extra ETH during bull and bear markets by using skills they have honed over months or years. Instead of fretting over a red day on the markets, you can turn your market knowledge into profit by participating in Ethorse races. Here are some numbers to chew over: -On average, you can expect race winnings to deliver between 2.5x and 3.5x your initial bet (minimum 0.01 ETH bet). -A 1 ETH bet can deliver about 2.5 to 3.5 ETH per race -Many people have been playing 3 hourly races per day and 1 24-hour race daily on the testnet (beta platform) -Your daily winnings could be between 3 and 5 ETH per day for a 30-minute time commitment (the time it takes to study the markets and prepare your bet). (This assumes that you lose 1-2 races per day). -Weekly earnings could be in the range of 18-35 ETH (assuming 1 ETH bets and accounting for lost races) -ETH is currently about $525 USD, which means you could earn from $9,450 to $18,375 per week. This (significant) earning potential makes playing Ethorse, a potentially winning proposition, especially for those skilled at TA or with experience investing in the crypto markets by watching price charts, etc. A Few Disclaimers (I.e., Betting Is Risky) and Notes (This Game Favors Skilled and Careful Players) (Note: Some feel I didn't make this clear enough in my original post. So I'll say it now. Warning: Ethorse is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time and skill (and money) to master the game. Play at your own risk and don't take unnecessary or dangerous bets.) Ethorse takes skills, with a dash of luck to do well in. If you're not comfortable analyzing buy/sell walls, charts, setting price targets, etc. you might want to learn or brush up on those skills before taking part in Ethorse. But, if you're willing to put your skills to the test, Ethorse can be very fun (and potentially profitable). Also, if you plan to play, don't bet more than you're willing to lose and play conservatively. A few small wins each day can add up over time to a larger stash, which you can use for bets. The faster you create a decent betting stash (from winnings), the more you can earn daily (as your bet amounts increase). If you are interested in getting started, Ethorse will be on the Kovan testnet for a few more days. I strongly recommend you try out the game for yourself and get a sense of whether it will be attractive to you. Here are some links. -Testnet: https://testnet.ethorse.com/ -(You will need Metamask installed on Chrome/Brave and KETH, obtained from: https://gitter.im/kovan-testnet/faucet , in order to try it out). Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor.
Old Fortune article on Jeffrey Gundlach. It’s a fun read.
Firing the $70 billion man: Full version By Mina Kimes, writerMarch 10, 2010: 10:10 AM ET NEW YORK (Fortune) -- On November 19, 2009 Jeffrey Gundlach was named a finalist for Morningstar's award for bond fund manager of the decade. For Gundlach, the nomination recognized 10 years of stellar results, exceeding even the returns of the legendary king of bonds, Bill Gross. Two weeks later Gundlach was confronted, fired, and then pursued on foot out of a Los Angeles skyscraper by two lawyers working for TCW, the money management firm with $110 billion in assets where Gundlach had worked for 24 years. Not only did TCW oust Gundlach, but the firm also announced that it was acquiring an entire company -- crosstown rival Metropolitan West Asset Management -- to replace him. That in turn set off a wave of defections from TCW, as 45 of the 60 staffers who had worked for Gundlach streamed out the door to join him at a new firm that he had opened within days of leaving. Then things really turned nasty. TCW filed an incendiary lawsuit in January accusing Gundlach of conspiring with confederates at TCW to steal proprietary information as part of a long-running plot to form their own competing firm. The suit added a salacious twist of the knife, perfectly calibrated for maximum media interest -- Gundlach had allegedly stashed a trove of illicit material in his office: 70 pornographic magazines and videos, 12 "sexual devices," and several bags of marijuana. Gundlach has countered with his own lawsuit. He charges TCW and its owner, the French bank Société Générale, with pushing him out so that they can get their hands on his lucrative fees. In addition to his mutual funds, Gundlach had managed what were effectively two hedge funds for TCW, each of which commanded the amped-up fees typical of those vehicles. Gundlach calculates that he would have personally reaped $600 million to $1.2 billion over the next few years. What in the name of Peter Lynch is going on here? Sure, we've come to expect shenanigans from Wall Street. But even if the mutual fund world hasn't been exactly pristine (remember the market-timing scandals a few years ago?), more often than not its managers and executives have been well-behaved schoolboys compared with the leather-clad (in spirit, anyway) rock stars among the investment bankers and hedge funders. But unlike most mutual fund companies, TCW has always aspired to a Wall Street culture. In particular, it cultivated a star system. The company grew by importing ambitious money managers and granting them autonomy. They could invest as they liked; TCW would handle sales and marketing. The two sides would then split the fees, with each manager cutting an individual deal. The result could be huge rewards for managers -- Gundlach made $134 million over the past five years -- but some came to view themselves essentially as sole proprietors. TCW seemed content with the arrangement and did little to tie its managers' fates to the company as a whole. Few of them, for example, received significant stakes in TCW. That bred frustration in multiple generations of standout performers, who viewed corporate executives (some of whom did receive ownership shares) as getting rich off their toil. So it went for Gundlach, a bona fide investing star who, by the end, oversaw about 70% of TCW's assets, some $70 billion, putting him in charge of one of the biggest pots of money in the country. Gundlach didn't just generate steady returns; he avoided the blowup of the century. A specialist in mortgage-backed securities, he publicly warned in 2007 that "the subprime mortgage market is a total, unmitigated disaster, and it's going to get worse." He invested accordingly, not only delivering positive returns in the blighted year of 2008 but also earning himself a growing role as a media sage. His ego grew along with it. There are few people like Jeffrey Gundlach in the mutual fund world -- or in any world. A former rock-and-roll drummer, Gundlach, 50, is a math whiz (but not a quant). He views everything in binary terms: Either you perform to his standards or you don't, and he won't hesitate to let you know which category you fall into. Nor is he shy in articulating his view of himself. "I was by far the biggest revenue generator at TCW, by far the biggest performer," he says. "I created $4 billion in value for clients in '09. If telling you that is self-promotion, so be it. It's just a fact." With Gundlach, it's hard to tell which is largest: his brain, his self-regard -- or his resentment of TCW. He claims that his recent firing was actually the third time the company tried to get rid of him. "All three of them were an attempt to just steal the economics," Gundlach contends. "And this time they did it. Except they didn't steal the economics. They blew it up. They blew it up. They tried to steal the economics, but they didn't understand. They never understood." TCW customers, meanwhile, have been watching the blood feud in disbelief. Investors have fled, with assets shrinking $25 billion since Gundlach was fired. For those who have remained, it seems that their patience is limited. "I'm aware of the investment prowess of both [Gundlach and the new TCW team]," says Mansco Perry III, CIO of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System, which has $50 million invested in TCW. "But right now I don't believe they're acting in the best interest of their clients." frey Gundlach is the sort of boss who inspires sharply divided opinion. He fostered loyalty among the members of his60-person team at TCW, handing out generous bonuses to his group. He also openly mocked the company's other divisions, especially its stock team. Many outside Gundlach's orbit viewed him as an ill-tempered bully. He subjected subordinates to withering cross examinations and relished pointing out errors. Some in TCW's New York offices celebrated his dethroning by posting printouts of his scathing e-mails in the halls. By contrast, loyalists valued his directness. Some would preserve his occasional written compliments as treasured mementos. "You don't have to guess where you stand with him," says Bonnie Baha, a portfolio manager who followed Gundlach to his new firm, called DoubleLine. An interview with Jeffrey Gundlach is less like conversation than like listening to a manic stream-of-consciousness monologue. Consider Gundlach's description of his aborted stint in a math Ph.D. program at Yale (after getting an undergraduate degree in the same subject at Dartmouth): "It was a four-year Ph.D. deal. And they gave me a full scholarship, and it was very hard to get into. There were only seven people accepted, and they had hundreds of applicants. And one of the guys, he was Korean, he had come in via Toronto. I was the only American left. The other American had flunked out. There was a Chinese guy who had polio. That guy was smart. That guy was something else. He had crutches. He had horrible dandruff. He never took a shower, but he was one smart motherf----r, let me tell you. That guy is probably the smartest guy I ever met in my life. And he was my friend. I was the only guy he would be friends with, and there was this other guy, this Korean guy out of Korea, out of Toronto, and I didn't like him very much, and I was walking down the street, and there he was. It was like, 'Hey, Jeff!' They called me Jeff in the day. 'Hey!' You know, good to see you. I was Ike -- I had this really heebie-jeebie feeling, and he goes, 'Let's go to the bookstore and get our books.' And I was like, 'Uh, I don't know.' And he was like, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Uh, I don't know.' And it hit me right then. I said, 'I'm not going back. I'm not doing it. I can't do it. This is pointless.' " Gundlach's mind combines that feverish quality with a near-total recall of endless minutiae. But somehow, when it comes to investing, he's able to process huge quantities of details and extract a big-picture message. The result has been superb performance: His flagship $12 billion TCW Total Return Bond Fund returned nearly 8% annually over the past decade. Those results beat 99% of competitors, and his nonpublic funds have done even better. For all Gundlach's prowess with numbers, it was anything but obvious that he'd go into finance. He grew up outside Buffalo in a family of modest means. Their only savings, he says, consisted of some Xerox stock, courtesy of their uncle, Robert Gundlach, the inventor of the modern photocopier. "We owned Xerox, and it went way, way up, and for the first time it actually felt like we had a little money. And then it crashed," Gundlach says. He was 12 or 13 at the time. "It was my first experience with a bear market, and I remember it really well. The rallies are pennies, and the selloffs are dollars, and that's always the way bear markets behave." In his mid-twenties Gundlach played drums in a variety of rock bands that performed in L.A. clubs but never made the big time. Meanwhile he was holding down a dreary day job in the actuarial department at Transamerica. One night in 1985 he was watching an episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," that described the most lucrative careers. Gundlach decided he would, as he told one interviewer, "figure out my life." The program identified investment banking as the richest occupation. Gundlach didn't know what investment bankers did, but he contacted 23 firms. Impressed by his math credentials, TCW invited him in and offered him a $30,000-a-year job as a research assistant in the firm's bond department. (This despite the fact that, according to Gundlach, he didn't even know what a bond was at the time.) Gundlach was thrilled. He loved wearing a suit and tie to TCW's elegant offices. He became fascinated by bonds. "I felt like I was in the middle of something that was important and exciting," he says. "I loved it! When I would walk into a meeting and be able to say, 'I'm from TCW and here's my business card,' I was proud." As a young analyst, Gundlach zeroed in on the mortgage market. By age 27, he says, he had developed a reputation in his niche as a "young hotshot." After four years at TCW, he was promoted to co-chair of a new division -- mortgage Bonds -- and then made a managing director in 1991. "That doesn't happen," he says. "You don't go from a trainee to managing director in seven years. I was running the most important department at the firm, but the firm didn't like the fact that I was growing so much." Gundlach is getting ahead of the story, but it appears he would later be right. When Gundlach arrived -- and still to a large extent today -- TCW seemed like a museum version of a Wall Street firm. Even in ultra-casual Southern California, for example, the firm had a suit-and-tie dress code. Gracious meals were served in its white-linen dining room. TCW was founded in 1971 as Trust Co. of the West by Robert Day, who inherited millions as the heir to the Superior Oil fortune and hobnobbed with the Martha's Vineyard elite. Day was a hard-nosed boss who used to smack errant employees on the head with his cigar, Gundlach says. (Day says he doesn't remember doing so.) In those days 80% of TCW's assets were in stocks, the rest in bonds. By the end of Gundlach's tenure, the ratio would almost flip. Day built the firm by luring in Wall Street talent. One prominent star, who joined in 1985, was Howard Marks, a junk bond manager who came over from Citicorp. Marks thrived, accumulating $7 billion in assets, about 15% of TCW's total at the time. But he grew increasingly dissatisfied with having to fork over half his fees to TCW. And he resented the fact that TCW would give him no more than a nominal stake in the company. In 1995 he announced that he was leaving and taking his team with him. Marks' departure was a less lurid, but still bitter, harbinger of what would occur with Gundlach almost 15 years later. Day sent a furious letter to clients blasting Marks' exit as "disloyal at the very least," according to press accounts at the time. TCW then quickly replaced Marks' team by purchasing Crescent Capital, a small high yield bond firm in West Los Angeles. The equity issue took on new importance when TCW decided to sell itself. In 2001, Société Générale bought 51% of TCW for $880 million. The deal, former employees say, meant lucrative paydays for a cadre of executives, including the founders of Crescent, who had received large chunks of the company. Some longtime TCW employees were embittered by the newcomers' windfall. Management tried to mend the problems that led to Marks' departure, but the lack of equity for many managers remained a sore point. SocGen announced it would escalate its ownership to 70% and leave 30% for TCW employees. But that 30% turned out to consist of SocGen stock options rather than TCW shares. By 2007 the French bank owned 100% of the company. Meanwhile Gundlach was accruing more and more influence and renown. In 2005 he was promoted to chief investment officer of TCW. And he was named Morningstar fund manager of the year in 2006. His decision to pull his mutual funds out of riskier debt and his accurate forecast of a looming recession brought him favorable publicity and a steady presence in the press. (Another division of TCW, also under Gundlach's umbrella but not his main focus, was a giant issuer of CDOs, many of which imploded.) It was Gundlach's time. His reputation was growing, and bonds were beginning to enjoy their moment in the sun. The result: Investments in his funds swelled. So, too, did his ego, according to former co-workers. "He started to think of himself as a god," says one who worked with Gundlach during that period. Gundlach remained mostly satisfied until January 2009, when SocGen announced that it intended to take TCW public in five years. The uncertainty, he says, made it harder to drum up new business. And he grew even more vexed a few months later when he was passed over for the job of TCW's new CEO. Instead, the position went to the company's former president Marc Stern, who came out of retirement to assume the position. Gundlach was infuriated by Stern's return. He was offered the job of president but turned it down. Always outspoken, Gundlach grew openly critical of TCW's management, even deriding executives while they sat a few feet away in the company dining room. Rumors began to circulate that Gundlach would be fired. By the summer of 2009, he says, it had become difficult to work under that stress, as well as to face TCW's uncertain future. In September, Gundlach met with Stern and offered to purchase the firm at a valuation of $700 million. TCW says Stern passed the offer onto SocGen, which rejected it. TCW and Gundlach disagree about exactly what was said at the meeting. What's clear is that Gundlach at least broached the possibility of taking his team and leaving. TCW interpreted the statement as a threat and prepared for combat: The company hired investigators to look into the affairs of Gundlach and his closest lieutenants, tapping their office phones and monitoring their e-mails. At the same time they initiated clandestine talks with MetWest, the $30 billion bond house that would eventually replace Gundlach's team. Gundlach was preparing too. He and his "co- conspirators" began e-mailing one another in September about their plot to steal information, according to TCW's complaint. The suit alleges that the group referred to Gundlach as "the Pope" and "the Godfather" and swiped 9 million pages' worth of client contacts, trade tickets, and software routines used to process the complex data that go into analyzing mortgages. They retained a realtor to find an office space with 50 trading desks. Gundlach acknowledges that his team looked at commercial real estate. It made him feel better, he says, to be making plans when he knew he was going to be fired. "I felt powerless," he says. He insists, however, that he had no knowledge of the downloading, his e-mails prove otherwise. Gundlach says he hired a third party to expunge his employees' computers of TCW data and returned all their hardware to the company. The crescendo of rumors -- of his ouster, of a sale -- was wearing on Gundlach. Still, he had no inkling of what was in store for him on Dec. 4, 2009. At 1 p.m. that day, when the markets closed on the East Coast, he was summoned to the 17th floor of TCW's headquarters. Michael Cahill, the company's general counsel, was waiting for him in a conference room with John Quinn, one of Los Angeles' top litigators. Cahill told Gundlach that TCW was putting him on administrative leave. Gundlach argued that the move would cause a disastrous customer exodus unless they negotiated a settlement that resolved various fee and management issues. The lawyers asked him to read a draft of the complaint TCW was planning to file against him. When Quinn tried to place the papers in his hands, Gundlach got angry. He stormed out of the room and began walking down the stairs. Quinn and Cahill trailed him, thinking he was headed for the trading floor one level down, but Gundlach kept going. It was a surreal procession, says Quinn; they marched down 17 stories in total silence. The lawyers followed Gundlach out of the building and onto the street until Gundlach finally turned around and told them he wasn't planning on stopping anytime soon. While all this was happening, chaos had erupted on TCW's trading floor. CEO Stern sent out a companywide e-mail announcing Gundlach's termination and the acquisition of MetWest. Then Stern appeared to reiterate the news in person. Analysts watched in shock as a team of private detectives and attorneys descended. Gundlach's suspected conspirators were herded into offices and conference rooms, where the investigators interrogated them and seized laptops and records. Some company-owned BlackBerrys went dark without warning. Nervous employees scurried around the floor, trying to figure out who had been terminated. By the end of the day, the tally was five. TCW proved inept in its efforts to stanch the turmoil caused by Gundlach's departure. On the rainy Monday morning after he was fired, TCW employees gathered in conference rooms for a companywide conference call. CEO Stern told his troops that the downpour was a sign of renewal, and that TCW would emerge as "a firm that has respect for everyone within the firm." But Day, TCW's founder and chairman, was less temperate in his remarks. He told the employees that he had been through this before -- i.e., with Marks -- and that there was no other choice. "It sort of reminds me a bit of General Washington crossing the Delaware," he said. "The general was in the back of the boat. It would be like a soldier getting up, trying to rock the boat, expecting to sink the boat. His choices are very simple. You shoot the soldier. You throw him off the boat." After a pause, nervous laughter emanated over the speakers. Some of Gundlach's former colleagues were horrified. A few started crying. Others walked out. "Whatever people may say about [Gundlach], here's a guy that has been working for his company for over 20 years and has made a lot of money for investors," says Luz Padilla, a fund manager at the company. "After that call, I was just incensed." Padilla hadn't been set on leaving TCW, she says, until she realized the current imbroglio bore an uncanny resemblance to the Howard Marks controversy -- a talented manager leaves after a fight over money, and a new team takes control. "It was a different set of players," she says, "but almost the same movie." There was also the fear that the arrival of the MetWest group would make the current bond team redundant. Dozens more followed Padilla out. Then came the surge of customer defections. By late February TCW's assets had dropped by some $25 billion. The most prominent deserter was the U.S. Treasury, which pulled out of the $4.1 billion Public Private Investment Fund it had started with Gundlach. Less than two weeks after he was fired, Gundlach announced that his new firm, DoubleLine, was partnering with a respected L.A. money manager: none other than Howard Marks. The onetime TCW star has thrived on his own, building a firm called Oaktree Capital with $70 billion in assets. Marks is buying 22% of DoubleLine and in exchange will provide the administrative backbone for Gundlach's new operation. Needless to say, an alliance between two of its former stars is also a not-so-subtle poke in the eye to TCW. After weeks of relative silence, TCW struck back. On Jan. 7 the company filed its explosive complaint. It emphasized the alleged plot to steal information. It also tarred Gundlach personally, referring to the pornography, sexual devices, and marijuana retrieved from his office. TCW justified the inclusion of the prurient material in the suit under the whisper- thin pretext that it constituted a breach of company policy. Asked about the contents of his office, Gundlach offers only the mildest of quibbles: "Not all of the items are mine." In a letter to investors, he noted, "I had every expectation of privacy in these spaces, which stored vestiges of closed chapters of my life." On a recent Thursday afternoon, Marc Stern sits in one of TCW's dining rooms with Jacques Ripoll, the head of SocGen's asset management division. The two couldn't look more different. Stern, 65, is barrel-chested with white hair and a loud, raspy laugh. Ripoll, 43, has a slick, dark coiffure and a heavy French accent. As Stern talks about growing up on a vegetable farm in New Jersey, one can't help but notice that his story resembles Gundlach's. Both were gifted kids who came from working-class families, and both share a love of art (Gundlach has an extensive collection of contemporary paintings; Stern is the chairman of the L.A. Opera, a passion he developed while riding on his father's tractor and listening to opera on the radio). Despite the controversy, Stern insists that TCW is better positioned than ever, and its new team, he pointedly adds, is "delighted to be here." Stern predicts that TCW will double its assets in three years. He stresses the importance of having "mechanisms where people share information and are willing to help each other." While not specifically naming Gundlach, the message is clear: The star manager didn't play well with others. TCW's new head of fixed income is MetWest founder Tad Rivelle, a self-effacing, professorial type -- the anti- Gundlach -- and no slouch as a manager. His Total Return bond fund has beaten 94% of its peers over the past decade. "TCW is ready for growth," Ripoll says. "To be transparent -- this was not possible before." And what of Gundlach's long-desired equity stake? TCW is giving shares to the new team from MetWest (as it did with the Crescent group) but is less definite about handing it to others. "When you have a company like TCW, it is very important that you have equity held by the employees," Ripoll says. "That is what we are putting in place." TCW's basic business model -- a collection of autonomous managers -- seems unlikely to change. In a separate interview, the founder and chairman defends the approach. "I started the company with $2 million, and it has $115 billion today," says Day. "The formula that has worked for 40 years is going to continue to work." (Day also insists Gundlach really didn't care about an equity stake; when given the choice, he always opted for more fees.) Gundlach, meanwhile, is still setting up shop. He has been through a lot of late. He showed up at meetings in January with a black eye and cuts on his face, which he says came from tripping and colliding with his desk at home. On Feb. 1, his wife of more than 20 years, Nancy, filed for divorce. And Bill Gross was named fixed-income fund manager of the decade; Gundlach thinks he would have taken the prize if he hadn't been fired. That said, Morningstar clearly still views him as legitimate: The organization invited Gundlach to deliver the keynote address at its annual investors conference this summer. DoubleLine has registered three mutual funds with the SEC, and it expects $10 billion in new accounts this spring. Gundlach says the most gratifying thing about the firing and its aftermath is that 45 people followed him from TCW -- proof, he says, that he isn't such a difficult guy to work with. As Gundlach walks through his new firm's offices, he looks happy. To reign there, it seems, is better than to serve at TCW. To top of page First Published: March 10, 2010: 4:46 AM ET
Snipers vs Thieves Extended - [ELITE]-=Deadshot=- P.S. Editing finished to as far as I can get it; enjoy the read ;) ========================================================== Before I go into any ideas, looking at the update, I will admit to not enjoying it as much as I used to with some of the decisions that have been made. To start, I'm OK with keys going, mainly because people would only buy the higher crates at the time, but as far as the Loot Crates go, I have the following stats: Bronze Old -24 Commons (24 tokens)= 4 GoldBronze New -1 Mask/Mod, +3 Rares, +15-33 Tokens (36 tokens)= 25 Gold Silver Old -24 Rares, 48 Commons (72 tokens)= 8 GoldSilver New -1 Mask/Mod, +18 Rares, +32-52 Tokens (70 tokens)= 75 Gold Gold Old -16 Epics, 48 Rares, 96 Commons (160 tokens)= 16 Gold Gold New -1 Mask/Mod, +8 Epics, +48-79 Tokens (87 tokens)= 200 Gold Isn't that inflation an bit excessive? £5.49 for one Gold Loot Crate? The reason why people didn't buy the others was because they offered much less value than the highest offer, and you could get that way too quickly, but now no-one will buy them because they are way too expensive for the same, if not less than the original. And yes, although I'm comparing these loot crates to key crates and I understand the incentive to play for them rather than buy them straight up, this still takes it a little too far. Ideally, I would be asking for half of those prices; 15 for a Bronze, 35 for a Silver and 100 for a Gold and if you put a Gold offer up, increase the amount of tokens to around 56-110 and allow a small chance for a Super Mod. This is also taking into consideration that you will always be guaranteed a mask or mod, which is nice, but remember that the chance of getting one you want is random luck. Then there was the timing of the update; as you know by a few posts already, releasing a game-changing update in the middle of a competitive season is never a good idea; in fact it has been known to ruin the profit stream of many businesses, so you should always take it into consideration with fair use policies. Luckily, this game is still in it's beta (or at least the title says so), so there is a little room to make mistakes here and there, but if it moved on to the full game, that could be it for the entire business. So, my recommendation would be; as soon as you sussed out what your costs will be, fixed and optimised the interface and moved it forward to the real game, announce another reset and refund scheme, just like when the Beta Masks came out, and don't make any more mistakes you could regret taking in the meantime. Finally, I want to mention about the matchmaking, referencing to OakenBarrel here. Despite being an extremely good sniper at level 40 that has been consistently hitting Elite Rank every season, I am deciding to not play in the last week of the competition; it clearly isn't fair for level 13 players that have worked hard for Elite Rank from purely being active to be battered by level 50 players that will one shot you whenever they see you even move out from behind your first bit of cover. From the old matchmaking, I was fine with facing level 40s of my own level, with the occasional overlevelled player, because when I faced that odd player, it gave me a fair challenge. But with the way that things stand, what adding the season rank has done is only help the pro players; it doesn't help the new players out at all. So recommendations for this is to either base people on how many times they reached and finished in Elite Rank for past seasons, which means it gets relatively harder by skill progression every season you succeed in, or simply roll back the matchmaking section of the update entirely. Now that I had my say on the update, I think it's time to share some... I mean a lot of ideas that can help improve the game. ========================================================== Content: GENERAL
Level Cap Increased from 50 to 60 (based on the content of this list)
Allow the ability to Sell Mods for both Snipers and Thieves
New Masks, some of which are unlocked through challenges
Chat Improvements and Friend System
Add an Achievement Section within the missing space that Loot Keys used to be
Extend and Improve the Black Market
New Sniper Types: Bolt Action and Burst Fire
Sniper Rifle Updated List
New Sniper Mods: Ammo
New Powerups: Hammerhead Ammo, Static Ammo and Sentry Gun
Sniper Ability: Use Three of the same mod to unlock a 4th Powerup
New Sniper Challenges
New Bag Type: Armour
Heist Bag Updated List
New Heist Powerups: Crowbar and Booze
Heist Ability: Use Three of the same mod to unlock a 4th Powerup
New Heist Challenges
New Maps: Airport, Estate, Skyscraper, Plaza
Reintroduction to showing the heist's total payout after each game
Thieves will now get +2 stars if you and a cartel member in the heist makes it; solo and everyone remains the same
==========================================================GENERAL General Rank Progression Changes: The Level Cap increase is made to compensate for all of the content available in this extension. This does not affect the Powerup levels; they will stay at level 10 to make conversions easier. I also heard a couple of people suggest to have separate ranks for Snipers and Thieves individually, but I feel that may be a little too complicated to take in. New Masks: Along with these masks are Challenge masks which are unlocked through the time you play the game. These masks include; The Fruit Collection(Pineapple, Dragonfruit, Grapevine, Turnip, Blueberry, Orange) The Gangster Collection(Sharky, Wolf Pack, Pug Life, Small Fry [Tuna], Long Faced Larry [Horse], Big Grizzly) Spec Ops Collection [Challenges](Deadshot, Ace of Spades, Ol' Painless, Bandanaman) Donald Trump [Add to POTUS](from the description of the game in the Google Play Store) New Selling Feature: A quality of life change that is being added is the ability to sell Mods for both Snipers and Thieves for cash; Super Mods can be sold for gold. Exchanges are; Bronze Mods -$5-8k each Silver Mods -$7-12k each Gold Mods -$9-16k each Super Mods -20 Gold each Chat Improvements and Friends System: To improve the current chat, there needs to be a button that can view a chat history of previous comments,* while keeping the main scrolling chat bar there for quick reading on the go. This could also be useful for messages that are simply too long to even fit on the scroll bar. In turn, to prevent spamming, there will need to be a 200 character limit on text you write in. Then through this is the friend system, where every play is given a uniquely generated tag to use. You can add friends through the chat menu, on the loading screen or by typing their tag. Once you are friends with someone, you can heist alongside them like any other cartel member. The tag system will also be useful for recovery issues with customer support as alternate evidence if needed. Adding an Achievements button: This will probably be the best option to add in the meantime while we focus on additional fixes, because at the moment, it looks as if something should go where the loot keys used to be. The achievement section should hold everything you can encounter in the 'Challenge' sections for both the Sniper and the Thief, including some general challenges alongside that. Extend and Improve the Black Market: Prior to the Key removing update, I have seen the new interface for the Black Market, but it doesn't really appeal to me or some players to how it looks. Again, I'm OK with the style you chose with it, but I feel like it could do with an overhaul with the content, which some of these suggestions;
Adding a few masks rather than one mask; make mask collecting a thing in the Black Market again
Adding a token of every rarity (Common, Rare, Epic)
Adding two sniper mods and two thief mods
Reintroducing the offer section at the bottom (the ones from the main screen)
Allowing space for two rows of items to be viewed at a time; should make it look more appealing
Moving the Crates to the bottom next to the offers for easy access
Reintroducing our fellow finger friend to talk to us when we select an object
_________________________________________________________________________SNIPERS New Sniper Types: - Bolt Action These snipers are for high risk, high reward players who want to get closer to getting that one shot kill. Fires a single shot like the Semi Auto variant with reduced recoil and increased damage, but suffers by shifting viewkick to pull back the bolt after every shot and very limited ammo, sometimes down to only one shot. Stat Comparison -Damage+, Zoom+, Accuracy+, Stability+, Fire Rate-, Clip Size-, Reload-, Recoil- Your pull back viewkick is based on the Stability Stat, where the height is similar to that of taking recoil.
Note: You will see 'BOLT ACTION' under your stats, next to your Mods.
- Burst Fire These snipers are more reliable to gather a hit, but require multiple to be effective. Fires a stream of three bullets per trigger pull with reduced recoil and damage, but bullet recoil accumulates and adds up higher than the Semi Auto variant. Unlike the Bolt Action, these rifles hold a lot of ammo to make up for their abysmally small damage profile. Stat Comparison -Accuracy+, Fire Rate+, Clip Size+, Stability+, Damage-, Zoom-, Reload-, Recoil- The Fire Rate is displayed for the entire burst, including the burst delay. The Burst Delay is 1/3 of the Fire Rate Stat.
Note: You will see 'BURST FIRE' under your stats, next to your Mods.
New Sniper Mod: - Ammo Mods These mods will always guarantee a big helping hand in filling up your magazine, even from the bronze upgrades. Every Mod from this class will carry extra ammo and reload upgrades. The mod stats are; Bronze, Bitesize Ammo Mod -+6% Reload Speed, +1 ammo Silver, Helix Ammo Mod -+13% Reload Speed, +2 ammo Gold, Ballistic Ammo Mod -+20% Reload Speed, +3 ammo New Sniper Powerups: - Hammerhead Ammo (Uses: 2-4) Increases the size of the bullet in return for damage reduction. Think of this as a hybrid between Caltrops and Big Head Ammo. 'Made with the toughest of sharks in one bitesized package!' Max Damage:84-433,Size Increase:180%-450% - Static Ammo (Uses: 3-5) Fires an energised shot that chains onto multiple thieves in close proximity, stunning them and dealing increasing damage per thief. 'Nothing beats the relief of putting your money-ridden fingers in the toaster!' Max Damage:60-309x'n',Effect Radius:2.7-5.4m,Stun Duration:0.5-2 seconds n is the amount of targets next to each other - Sentry Gun (Uses: 2-4) Place an automated turret that will shoot all thieves on sight. Will not see camouflaged thieves, except for barrels and safes (including mini-safes). Fires 5 shots every 2 seconds. 'Now you can guard your goods with the latest technology! Warning: Could be taking pictures of you in your sleep' Damage:24-124,Fire Rate:2.5/s,Trigger Radius:9.6-15m This is designed to be the counter for safe users as the continuous fire restricts movement when it gets hit. Powerup Bonus and Challenges: Use three of the same Mod equipped to your sniper to unlock a 4th slot to use in-game. As soon as you take one mod off though, so will that space, so that there aren't any exploits with the system. Sniper will also be receiving Challenges which can unlock both cash and new masks from the Spec Ops Collection, which you can earn just by playing well. Those Challenges are; Earn 100/1000/10000 kills in your lifetime -$5k/50k/250k Earn 100/1000/10000 headshots in your lifetime -$7.5k/75k/375k Earn 50/500/5000 kills without powerups -$6k/60k/300k Earn 50/500/5000 headshots without powerups -$9k/90k/450k Play 100/1000/10000 Games as the Sniper -$4k/40k/200k Special -Gather 4 headshots back to back in a game without missing a single shot -Deadshot Special -Fire 30 bullets/bursts in one game without getting negative stars -Bandanaman New Snipers:
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 4, Level Unlocked: 3
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 9, Level Unlocked: 5
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 5, Level Unlocked: 12
The Keeper's Gambit
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 12, Level Unlocked: 17
The Bolt Driver
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 3, Level Unlocked: 23
The Joker's Flush
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 9, Level Unlocked: 23
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 7, Level Unlocked: 30
Crash 'n' Burn
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 12, Level Unlocked: 38
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 1, Level Unlocked: 42
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 15, Level Unlocked: 42
The Iron Hammer
Type: Semi Auto, Ammo: 6, Level Unlocked: 48
Type: Bolt Action, Ammo: 9, Level Unlocked: 48
Type: Burst Fire, Ammo: 18, Level Unlocked: 48 Basically A Cannon Buffed by 9% and moved to Level 55. All holders of this weapon keep it. Updated Sniper List:
Baby Rifle - lv0
Dardick Rifle - lv3
Dust Devil - lv3
The Nailer - lv5
Tramp's Terror - lv5
PeaShooter - lv5
Pystykorva - lv8
Raging Hornet - lv8
Fisher's Friend - lv8
El Mariachi - lv12
The Silver Bullet - lv12
The Jackal - lv12
Permanent Marker - lv12
Georgia - lv17
Boomstick - lv17
Nightmare Rifle - lv17
The Keeper's Gambit - lv17
Cherry Darling - lv23
Grim Reaper - lv23
Heavenly Smiles - lv23
The Bolt Driver - lv23
The Joker's Flush - lv23
The Widowmaker - lv30
Gun of Navarone - lv30
Vasily's Vigour - lv30
Made by Misriah - lv30
Suburban Crisis - lv30
Big Huge Rifle - lv38
Revenge Seeker - lv38
Pure Pwnage - lv38
Crash 'n' Burn - lv38
The SnapDragon - lv42
Cataclysm 3000 - lv42
Even Bigger Rifle - lv44
No More Heroes - lv44
La Pavlichenko - lv44
The Iron Hammer - lv48
Bank Buster - lv48
The Hyperdrive - lv48
Basically A Cannon - lv55
_________________________________________________________________________THIEVES New Bag Type: Armour Armour will more than likely grant you less money than a regular bag, but exchanges it for passive survivability. Grants you resistance to damage if the armour is hit, but also reduces your total cash when the armour is hit. Also reduces movement speed depending on how much resistance is applied. Stat Comparison -Capacity-, Toughness+, Drip Rate-, Weight+ Resistance is based on the Toughness Stat, where a 0.2 stat reduces 20% of damage. NOTE:Resistance does not affect the head. New Heist Powerups: - Crowbar (Uses: 2-4) Allows thieves to hijack cars and trucks for random powerups. Used instantly after searching. 'This useful tool will surely remove any worthless junk and headcrabs from their previous owners.' Search Time:4.2-2.4 seconds,Gadget Level:1-10 - Booze (Uses: 2-4) Alters the straight walking route spontaneously to get from cover to cover, making it harder and less predictable for snipers. 'The good old pint of root beer; known to make thieves fall flat on their face after a night in!' Path Deviation:30-120%,Movement Speed:77-95% Powerup Bonus and Challenges: Use three of the same Mod equipped to your bag to unlock a 4th slot to use in-game. As soon as you take one mod off though, so will that space, so that there aren't any exploits with the system. Thieves will also be receiving Challenges which can unlock both cash and new masks from the Spec Ops Collection, which you can earn just by playing well. Those Challenges are; Win 25/250/2500 Games without getting hit once -8k/80k/400k Win 50/500/5000 Games without powerups -9k/90k/450k Earn 100/1000/10000 Gold Crates -9k/90k/450k Play 100/1000/10000 Games as a Thief -$4k/40k/200k Special -Survive 2 headshots in one game and live -Ol' Painless Special -Win 3 consecutive games using all 3 powerups, 10 times -Ace of Spades New Armour:
Discount Deluxe (Cardboard Cutout) [Light] lv9
'The best gift for your poverty needs and scavenging back alleyways.'
The Emporer [Heavy] lv9
'The Prince of Penguins has arrived to give you your daily slipup... and fish.'
Insectoid Invader [Light] lv16
'Don't know about you, but these pair of pyjamas may look the part for a nefarious pillager.'
Camo Conventions [Heavy] lv16
'Now with the out-of-the-closet purfume stench that totally doesn't give away your hiding tactics!'
Bass Booster (Speaker) [Light] lv25
'Now featuring the popular dances from the 80s... interrupted by our latest remix!'
Back Alley Bigfoot (Wooden Stacks) [Heavy] lv25
'Not like you'll see one of these in a frozen cave, but will definitely help stack up the cash!'
Mr. Money Bags [Light] lv36
'Look who's got all the cash. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it...'
'Run straight for the goal posts in this oversized dancing mascot cosplay!'
The Nightmare Antic (Clown) [Light] lv49
'Kids love him, Bankers hate him. The all new combo you would never miss in your sleep.'
The Ol' Painless Guard [Heavy] lv49
'Deflecting even the toughest of bullets...except explosives, bee stings and annoying neighbourhood screams'
Piggy Bank [Heavy] lv55
'Who would have thought your savings would turn into your very own slapstick comedy!' Also introducing... The Grand Finale (Piano) [Bag] - lv55 'Nothing better to end a good old show by hanging one of these from the ceiling!' Updated Bag List:
Starter Sack - lv0
Furfairy Bag - lv4
Estee Slauhter Bag - lv4
Weaponized Man-Purse - lv7
Decay and Banana Bag - lv7
Discount Deluxe - lv9
The Emporer - lv9
Galifooling Bag - lv10
Full Spectrum Bag - lv10
Abalone and Fish Bag - lv10
Insectoid Bag - lv14
Giwrenchy Bag - lv14
Smug Satchel - lv14
Insectoid Invader - lv16
Camo Conventions - lv16
Bag of the Covenant - lv19
Binary Bag - lv19
Readymade Bag - lv19
Bass Booster - lv25
Back Alley Bigfoot - lv25
Carriage Bag - lv26
Nanosack - lv26
Endangered Bag - lv26
Genteel Bag - lv33
Swagbag - lv33
The Football - lv33
Mr. Money Bags - lv36
Straight Scorer - lv36
Envious Bag - lv40
Forbidden Sack - lv40
Unlimited Edition Bag - lv42
Fleur De Sac - lv42
Infinite Monkey Bag - lv47
The Nightmare Antic - lv49
The Ol' Painless Guard - lv49
The Drawer - lv50
Piggy Bank - lv55
The Grand Finale - lv55
_________________________________________________________________________GAMEPLAY New Maps:
Long Range map based on the airstrip of CashFlow Airlines where the thieves have robbed to stock exchange and are planning their big escape. The thieves will start in the main hub and end at the cargo bay of their plane where the van is raring to go. The sniper will be located at the air traffic control tower with clear lines of sight of the airstrip. From the sniper's view, the airport hub can be see on the left with the stock exchange hangar up ahead. There will be a plane at it's fuelling station in the middle between the sniper and the thieves that can be used as an alternate route. You can walk along the hub walkway towards the entrance of the plane where you can walk down the stairs into open land, to then use crates and luggage for cover. You can also go around the plane and across the airfield next to some tire walls in attempt to take a flanking route. All of this leads to a second plane on the right with the van waiting to go inside of the cargo bay.
Long Range map based in a private executive hideout where the thieves managed to gather vital Intel about some upcoming gadget blueprints that could make them big bucks. The thieves will start in the lower floor of the estate and end at the edge of a cliff face, where the van will be located. The sniper will be located down a long forest path on top of a water cooling tower, which will also be a place where you can see the sniper before the game starts. From the sniper's view, the estate is on the highest point of the map and the road they have to follow to the cliff uses trees and concrete walls for cover. There are also two alternate routes they can take; one is through a ladder into a bunker with a functional door and the other is out of the back and down a narrow footpath, completely shrouded by trees. The cliff and van are located on the right side of the map, or on the side of the footpath.
Short Range map based in a top secret CDC at the top of a skyscraper in the city centre, next to a multi-storey car park. The thieves start by going out of an elevator and need to head across one of the skybridges towards the car park, where the van will be located. The sniper will be on an adjacent skyscraper facing the glass windows of the heist. From the sniper's view, you can see two different towers; the higher one on the left is the CDC and the lower one on the right is the car park. The thieves start at the top of three visible floors, all of which have glass balconies, which they need to make their way down by either simply jumping or taking the stairs towards the skybridges. There are two you can take; either the near or far entrances, both of which have considerable amounts of cover. They both lead to a single visible level of the car park where the van is at the very end, next to an exit ramp. The path the sniper will see the thieves take should be pretty much an L shape.
Medium Range map on the sunny coastlines next to the city, featuring open spaces and plenty of scenery. The thieves come out of a regular bank and need to make their way across a massive public park, which is now littered with trucks and empty markets, toward the van across the road. Despite all of the buildings being deserted, there will still be vehicles driving around the ring road surrounding the park. The sniper will be firing from the roof of the pier alongside it. Just so that we get a change of pace here; from the thief's view, you exit the bank towards a busy zebra crossing with cars passing through it, which offers a straight path, but there are also 2 separate ways you can take each flank. From the left is your shoreline, where you can go along the path towards the wall that separates the road from the seaside. You can go either side of this wall, where the closest just allows you to see your head as you sprint between posts and the furthest has rocks you can use for cover. For reference, the sniper will also be on the left. On the right, you take the path towards a line of restaurants, where you can use the ground floor tables as cover, or go upstairs to jump across open balconies. In the middle path, there is a completely open area with path's coming in from all directions towards a statue of a thief raining down his money. All paths should lead to a building complex on the other side of the park, where the van will be parked towards the entrance of the pier alongside it. Reintroduction to showing the heist's total pay out after each game: This was a neat feature that got included in the beta that helped see how much everyone else carried over and I feel that having this feature back could help bring up the team spirit in cartels or in pretty much every match. The end screen when they are in the van can stay the same because it is a simple overview of what happened in the game, but before that, it can still provide a good sense of achievement without getting overly envious. Thieves will now get +2 Stars if they and their cartel members/friends make it to the van: Again, this is to improve the team ethic and bring an extra use to the friend system. The multiplayer aspects of these heists and the humour it provides is what keeps players playing the game (unless you want to be grinding for masks, which isn't a problem), and by enhancing it will turn it into a near perfect heist game. ___________________________________________________________________________ I understand that the devs might not be able to get some of these features out there straight away; this is only an idea board after all. They can take as much time referring to this as often as they like as it is purely there to help. Also a disclaimer; I am not one of the developers or part of the team and have no relation to FoxGlove Studios in any way. I am only another player on this game just the same as the majority. Hope you are all enjoying your heisting so far and hope to see this develop well as we come closer to the full game :) KN11F3D IGN: [ELITE]-=Deadshot=-
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