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Thursday, August 06, 2020

A Mythology for England


What did Tolkien mean when he told Milton Waldman that he wanted to write “a body of more or less connected legend” that he could dedicate “to England,” sketching it in part, while leaving “scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama”? In this episode, Professor Rachel Fulton Brown talks about Tolkien’s understanding of mythology and its relationship to the country, as well as what it means to take up his invitation to participate in this story-telling, and why it is a fundamentally Christian exercise to write fan fiction within Tolkien’s legendarium.

Episode 2 of The Forge of Tolkien, A MYTHOLOGY FOR ENGLAND, is now available for subscribers on Unauthorized. You can also support the video series with a subscription.


Professor Brown introduces the lecture series on her blog, Fencing Bear at Prayer:
I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was eleven. My mother gave me the boxed set for Christmas, and I read all four books in one trip to our grandparents’ house by New Year’s. Imagine my 11-year-old self struggling with the hobbits across Middle-earth as my mother drove us across the middle of America from Kentucky to Texas (and back again), and you will get some sense of the effect that it had on me.

Of all the things that drew me to become a medieval historian, reading (and re-reading, and re-reading, and re-reading) Tolkien is at the top of the list, although it took me decades to admit it. Tolkien lived in my imagination somewhere between stories I remembered reading as a child and my first (magical) visit to England with a school trip in high school—not really real, certainly not the stuff of serious scholarship.

Latin and Chartres drew me to study the history of medieval Christianity, not elves, hobbits and dwarves.

Or so I told myself.
That very boxed set was my favorite Christmas present too, after I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings at a similar age.

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He totally didn't

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The death of the Devil Mouse

Their losses are not only accumulating, they are accelerating. Which is more than a little fascinating in light of what I wrote in Corporate Cancer concerning the Devil Mouse.
Debt, diversity, and the Devil Mouse

Investors often say that which cannot continue will not. But as one influential economist who was also a highly successful investor noted, “the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.” So, we can’t expect to know exactly when a converged company is going to succumb to the corporate cancer that has infested it. There is an awful lot of ruin in companies as big and resource-rich as Apple, Disney, Google, Intel, or Microsoft; a single disaster, or even a single series of disasters is probably not going to be sufficient to do them in.

But if the precise end of a converged company cannot be foreseen, the beginning of the endgame often can be. This is because a corporate failure cascade, or a process in a system of interconnected parts in which the failure of one or more parts triggers the failure of other parts, is often observable by even casual observers.

For example, Disney looks indomitable when seen from a distance. It has a market capitalization of nearly $250 billion and in 2018 reported an annual profit of $12.6 billion on $59.4 billion in revenue. It owns a veritable gold mine of intellectual property, from Mickey Mouse to Star Wars, and is arguably the most formidable entertainment empire in the history of the world to date.

But look a little closer and a less imposing picture begins to take form. In just the last year, Disney’s debt has increased by $38 billion, to a total of $53 billion now owed. And while that figure is considered low by industry standards, it has amassed that gargantuan debt to pay for projects that are already failing at an rate that is extremely uncharacteristic of historical Disney projects.

Consider, too, that Netflix now owes $12.4 billion in debt with $15.8 billion in annual revenue, so despite Disney’s low debt/equity ratio of 0.38, it has a debt/revenue rate of 89.2 percent, which is actually higher than the notoriously unstable Netflix’s 78.4 percent.

Star Wars isn’t the only one of Disney’s once-dominant properties and franchises that are failing. The two Galaxy’s Edge theme parks were failures at launch, attendance is declining at both its flagship parks, and ESPN has been losing two million subscribers a year for the last seven years.

Although it has ridden the Marvel Cinematic Universe—which it did not create—to record-breaking box office heights, its attempt to mine its rich cartoon franchise for live action films has not panned out very well when corrected for inflation—the 1994 Lion King made $178 million more than its 2019 remake—and its attempts to create new franchises that can be similarly exploited have repeatedly failed.

On the other hand, Disney is still generating mammoth profits, its seemingly endless series of remakes are profitable, and the launch of its new Disney+ streaming channel could lead to a whole new period of growth for the entertainment giant. Then again, the decision to retroactively censor old films from Song of the South to Dumbo and The Lady and the Tramp tends to suggest that convergence will cause Disney+ to disappoint too.

In the end, it is probable CEO Bob Iger’s declaration that the corporation’s push for more diversity in its entertainment products will be followed by an increase of diversity in its executive suite before he retires that will prove the most reliable guide for the future of Disney as well as a test of the central thesis of this book.

There are only three possibilities, after all. Either social justice convergence is beneficial for business, it is harmful for business, or it is irrelevant. And at this point, it should be eminently clear that is about as good for the average corporation as cancer.

Are we seeing the beginning of a series of convergence-related failure cascades across corporate America? Disney may prove to be a useful harbinger in this regard.
Remember, that was all written before Corona-chan devastated Disney's vital parks business. So let's look at what is happening of late on the Devil Mouse front:
Analyst Rich Greenfield recently looked at Disney and ESPN’s reports and found very troubling numbers for the sport network and its parent company. ESPN’s loss in subscribers is also shocking for its size. The loss of subscribers continues and is down another six percent year-over-year. So far, this year’s subscriber loss has accelerated over past years. The sports network was down 4.5 percent in the first quarter, off 5.5 percent in the second quarter, and down a whopping 6 percent in the third quarter. Indeed, the six percent decline ESPN saw in the third quarter this year is just part of the declines suffered in every quarter at since the third quarter of 2016.

ESPN+ ARPU down 22% year-over-year, as it is basically being given away within the Disney/Hulu/ESPN+ bundle. $4.18 vs. $5.33 last year. How do you make money at $4.18 of $ARPU? 
That 6-percent Q3 decline suggests that ESPN will be down to 78 million subscribers by the end of the year, down from 99 million in 2013. It certainly looks like a corporate failure cascade in progress. And while there is a LOT of ruin in the Devil Mouse, the speed at which its debt is accumulating means that it might not take as long as you would assume for that debt to become unserviceable. I haven't run the numbers yet, so I don't know how long it might take to go critical, but the fact that Disney is already running a higher debt/revenue ratio than Netflix is an ominous indicator.

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Conservatives fiddle while the USA burns

The unmitigated failure of conservatism is now beyond undeniable. Even the Hillsdale crowd is beginning to recognize it.
What is conservatism in America today? It’s hundreds of millions of dollars a year spent fiddling while Rome burns. It’s ideas with little to no consequence. It’s getting trampled all over by History, but while yelling Stop!

Conservatism is the seven cheers for capitalism and the deafening silence on demographic change, feminism, and corporate malfeasance. It’s the same tired cast of speakers blathering about limited government almost a century after the New Deal. It’s the platitudinous Reagan quotes and the worn-out Buckley anecdotes. It’s the mindless optimism and the childish exhortations—if something can’t go on forever, it won’t!

If it were only that, conservatism would simply be a harmless persuasion for nostalgic Baby Boomers. Or to be more generous, one big Benedict Option to offer a semblance of an alternative to the pervasive progressivism of our age.

But conservatism is also the endless wars, the nation-building, and the outdated alliances. It’s the free trade fetish. It’s the foolish libertarianism that hates the government more than it loves America. It’s the unconscionable refusal to clamp down on immigration.

Worst of all, conservatism is the cowardice and accommodation in the face of leftist hegemony. It’s the long list of enemies to the Right. It’s the court eunuchs and other members of the controlled opposition who offer an echo, but never a choice. It’s the faux grandstanding while living in fear of being called a racist.

Admittedly, this is not the whole of conservatism. There are still dissidents, contrarian thinkers, and courageous gadflies who refuse to lick the boots that crush them. Alas, their voices are, more often than not, drowned out by those of the conservative establishment.

If this is conservatism, then we may be inclined to say, let the conservatives keep it. Perhaps the time has come for patriotic Americans tired of the Left desecrating all they hold dear to go beyond conservatism?

Conservatism may indeed be unsalvageable at this point. The old guard is too heavily invested in—nay, it benefits too much from the status quo to own up to its failures, correct its leftward drift, and reground itself in the realities of the 21st century. Its business model works, as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow into its coffers each year.

And yet conservatism, in its dotage, cannot shake the nagging suspicion that it no longer speaks to the country it loves, in particular to those who have no living memory of the Cold War. This dawning realization could be amplified through probing questions: is America today more conservative than it was when the conservative movement began 70 or so years ago? Is conservatism itself as conservative as it was then? On the off chance that the conservative agenda were to be implemented, would it fundamentally transform the United States of America and lead to conservative hegemony (or would it simply save us money and buy us time)?

Across the board, the answer is a resounding no. Conservatism must therefore overhaul itself. If it refuses, then it should be left to die with the passage of time. A new Right, in any case, is already overtaking it.
Call us whatever you will - New Right, Alt-Right, Nationalist Right, American Right, or Crusader Right - but our ideas are inevitable because the truth always breaks through in the end.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2020

But they changed the world!

The cognitive decline of the Baby Boomers in comparison with past generations is not exactly a surprise.
American baby boomers scored lower on a test of cognitive functioning than did members of previous generations, according to a new nationwide study by researchers at Ohio State University.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, described how the average cognition scores of adults aged 51 and older have been improving from generation to generation, starting with the greatest generation (born 1890-1923) to war babies (born 1942-1947).

But the study showed there were significant declines in the scores for early baby boomers (1948-1953) through the mid-baby boomers (1954-1959).
It would appear that pot, pina coladas, and narcissism are not good for the mind or the soul. What is somewhat of a surprise, however, is that Boomers are even more sensitive than the Millennials they deride as "snowflakes".
Baby boomers are the most sensitive generation according to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging. Baby boomers, or people between the ages of 55 to 73, are more likely to be narcissistic and hypersensitive. Findings suggested those in the baby boom generation were more likely to be full of themselves and more likely to impose their opinions on others.
Sadly, the researchers were unable to determine the relative sensitivity of Generation X, as none of their GenX respondents could be bothered to respond to their questions.

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Qanon is winning the Narrative battle

The media is beginning to worry that it is losing control of the Narrative
Why it matters: QAnon is not just one fringe conspiracy theory — it's a sprawling network of falsehoods that's seeping into the mainstream. Its growing influence is sowing fear and confusion around some of today's most important issues, such as election integrity and the coronavirus pandemic.

Catch up quick: QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that alleges the "deep state" is engaged in a global fight to take down President Trump.

QAnon rose out of the 2016 Pizzagate conspiracy theory and has grown into a decentralized network that analyzes cryptic prophecies dropped in remote online forums by "Q," who claims, without ever offering evidence, to be a Trump administration official with high-level clearance.

Q maintains President Trump is secretly fighting a child-selling cabal in the U.S., though the conspiracy has spiraled to cover a vast array of claims, from JFK Jr. having faked his death to help Trump behind the scenes to the coronavirus being a hoax or a biological weapon engineered in either case by sinister elites.

By the numbers: Conspiracy theories tied to QAnon are growing more popular.

There was more than 10 times as much Google search interest in QAnon in mid-July than in mid-January, according to Google Trends data.

QAnon pages and groups on Facebook had nearly 10 times more likes at the end of last month than they did last July, according to data tracked by the Atlantic Council and shared with Axios.

There has been a 190% increase in the daily average number of tweets with popular QAnon hashtags since March as compared to the seven months prior, according to data from GroupSense provided to Axios.
Of course, the readily confirmable fact is that the Qanon narrative has proven to be vastly more reliable, and a better predictive model, than the mainstream media narrative. Which means that it would be better described as a sprawling network of uncomfortable truths that is seeping into the public consciousness.

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The Beirut port explosion

I don't have any theories about this myself, although there is certainly no shortage of speculation about the nature of the blast:
Survivors of a cataclysmic explosion that devastated the Lebanese capital of Beirut last night were picking through the remains of their city for victims today as the death toll topped 100 and was expected to continue rising, with more than 4,000 wounded. 

Beirut, once known as the Paris of the Middle East, resembled a huge scrapyard as the sun rose on Wednesday - with barely a building left unscathed in a blast caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded with a fifth of the power of the atomic bomb that levelled Hiroshima.

Street after street, neighbourhood after neighbourhood, buildings were left without roofs or windows, their interiors shredded by the force of the explosion - believed to have been sparked when a welder caused a fire at the port, which in turn set light to a warehouse storing chemicals which had been seized from a ship six years ago. 
The one thing that does look a little strange is the fact that the chemicals were supposedly seized from a ship six years ago. That seems a long time to leave such a large quantity of dangerous material just lying around the port. On the other hand, Beirut hasn't been a particular focus for massive violence for quite some time now.

Feel free to speculate amongst yourselves.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Salvaging Creepy Joe

The New York Times is trying to save Joe Biden from being exposed as a dementia-addled figurehead on prime time in front of the entire electorate by the God-Emperor:
Nervous managers of the scheduled 2020 presidential debates are shuffling the logistics and locations to deal with the threat of the coronavirus. But here’s a better idea: Scrap them altogether. And not for health reasons.

The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also go without saying, dignity.

Yet the debates play an outsize role in campaigns and weigh more heavily on the verdict than their true value deserves.

This, by the way, isn’t written out of any concern that Donald Trump will prevail over Joe Biden in the debates; Mr. Biden has done just fine in a long string of such contests. The point is that “winning” a debate, however assessed, should be irrelevant, as are the debates themselves.
Sure it isn't....

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No accountability

Anyone with more than half a brain will take their chances with the coronavirus instead of the so-called cure once it arrives:
Last week we warned readers to be cautious about new COVID-19 vaccines, highlighting how key parts of the clinical trials are being skipped as big pharma will not be held accountable for adverse side effects for administering the experimental drugs.

A senior executive from AstraZeneca, Britain's second-largest drugmaker, told Reuters that his company was just granted protection from all legal action if the company's vaccine led to damaging side effects.

"This is a unique situation where we as a company simply cannot take the risk if in ... four years the vaccine is showing side effects," said Ruud Dobber, a top exec at AstraZeneca. "In the contracts we have in place, we are asking for indemnification. For most countries, it is acceptable to take that risk on their shoulders because it is in their national interest," said Dobber, adding that Astra and regulators were making safety and tolerability a top priority.

AstraZeneca is one of the 25 pharmaceutical companies across the world, testing experimental drugs that could be used to combat the deadly virus. And, of course, if testing yields positive results, AstraZeneca could manufacture hundreds of millions of doses, with no legal recourse if side effects are seen.
If vaccines were actually anywhere nearly as safe as the media usually claims them to be, their manufacturers would not require complete legal unaccountability for the harm done by them.

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Facebook has corporate cancer

Keep this Facebook example in mind should you catch yourself assuming that employees at a corporation would never deliberately do anything that would harm their employer's profits:
Facebook’s moderators have called on advertisers to keep boycotting the site, over the way it deals with “hate speech,” but they really just want to stop Trump winning again. Keen observers of the ins and outs of Silicon Valley’s complicated relationship with freedom of expression may remember that last month a host of big corporations, including Disney, Ford and Adidas, pulled their adverts from the site in the biggest boycott ever of its kind.

This was sparked by a campaign called Stop Hate for Profit set up by several US civil rights groups in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. The group accuses Facebook of “profiteering from hate and misinformation” and has branded their policy on hate speech “vexing.” Now, as the month-long July boycott is due to end, some of Facebook’s own employees have urged companies to keep the pressure on their employer. Yes, Facebook's own employees want the company to make less money to make themselves feel better.
Never allow SJWs or Gammas into your organization. They will ALWAYS turn against the organization sooner or later, because their priorities are not the organization's priorities and they are constitutionally incapable of putting anything ahead of their own priorities.

In the case of the SJW, it is the social justice Narrative. In the case of the Gamma, it is his sense of self-importance. In either case, they won't even hesitate to turn against the organization or community.

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Monday, August 03, 2020

Patreon makes a statement

A concerned YouTuber emailed Patreon and was so encouraged by the response that she recorded a video entitled Patreon Is Not Going Away:
We’ve heard there are some concerns about the recent decision in the lawsuit we filed and wanted to clarify some things. First of all, there’s nothing to worry about overall. Litigation is an unfortunate fact of doing business and Patreon deals with a lot of it, the same as any other platform. Specifically in this situation, we filed a lawsuit to bring some frivolous arbitrations into court because these claims should be decided in court under our terms of use. Unfortunately the judge denied our preliminary injunction against those claims preceding in arbitrations so we’ll now deal with these in arbitrations while we proceed with the next stage of the lawsuit. It seems that some of the people who are involved in organizing these arbitrations are reporting that we are going bankrupt as a result of these claims. I can assure you, that this is not true and it appears that they are making those claims to try to keep up morale on their side and convince more people to bring claims against Patreon.
- Patreon PR
Allow me to observe that even the CEO of Patreon knows its business model is not sustainable. Back in January 2019, he observed that they would need to add revenue streams and reduce the percentage of payouts to creators to make it sustainable, but they obviously have not done so.

Far from being frivolous, at least 72 of the arbitrations are now certain winners thanks to Patreon's inexplicable decision to violate its own Terms of Use and bring the very sort of group action in court that it waived its right to bring. The next stage of the lawsuit is going to be the 72 Bears bringing a demurrer which is very likely to be approved; even if the case is not immediately dismissed with prejudice, Patreon has no chance of winning a lawsuit that it has absolutely no right to have brought in the first place under its own contract.

It's true that Patreon is very unlikely to go bankrupt right away as a result of the current claims. They received 60 million in investment last July, so even if they have been losing the estimated $1.5 million per month thanks to their expensive offices and 200+ employees since then, it should be sufficient to allow them to limp along for another two years or so. However, that presumes that the investors are going to sit by idly as the executives blow all their investment money on lawyers, arbitration fees, and awards, which strikes me as unlikely. Sooner or later, and the longer this dispute goes on, the sooner it will be, the investors are going to pull the remainder of their money out and put it in gold or the stock market, at which point it's game over and all the creators move to whatever the next model happens to be.

And finally, what need do we have to keep up morale? Patreon is winless in JAMS administration, 0-for-4 in Owen's arbitration, 0-for-2 in court, and counting. This statement strikes me as pure projection, especially given that it was made in an attempt to reassure a worried Patreon creator. We have absolutely no need to convince more people to bring claims against Patreon. We haven't even made an arbitration template available to the hundreds of thousands of potentially interested parties; Patreon very foolishly did that when they included the full text of a demand for arbitration in their lawsuit filings.

(I genuinely could not believe that when I saw it. I've seen lawyers do some stupid and crazy things over the years, but that almost certainly takes the cake.)

Anyhow, the most important thing about this statement is the fact that Patreon felt the need to make it in the first place. Also, it's not meth. Definitely not meth.

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The lede, buried

I'm always interested in wargames, but this one by the DNC strategists is particularly intriguing in light of the current polls:
Democrats are contemplating secession and potential civil war as they game out possible scenarios for a closely contested election, according to a report by Ben Smith in a New York Times column Sunday.

The bulk of Smith’s column is devoted to the question of how the media will handle Election Night coverage, given that the result may not be known for weeks. Vote-by-mail, which many states have only recently adopted — ostensibly, to prevent the spread of coronavirus in polling places — could lead to an uncertain result.

However, buried near the end of Smith’s column is a report that Democrats have participated in a “war game” in which they considered several possible outcomes of the election.

In one scenario, John Podesta — the former chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and a leading figure in party circles — played former Vice President Joe Biden, and refused to concede the election.

The result: the threat of secession by the entire West Coast, followed by the possible intervention of the U.S. armed forces.
Ask yourself this: why are Democrats wargaming the loss of the election if Creepy Joe is genuinely ahead in the polls by seven points?

We'll just skip over the fact that most of the country would celebrate the secession of the entire West Coast. Throw in New York City and we'd happily pay them to leave.

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Ruh-roh

More and more people are reaching the conclusion that Patreon has landed itself in some very deep doo-doo and are taking steps accordingly:
PATREON AS A PLATFORM IS IN TROUBLE ! (IMPORTANT)

Everyone Patreon is facing a situation that has come to our attention. We’re not really sure what the future holds for our orange logo’d subscription based platform, and honestly it has us worried. We do feel that our current steady income is at risk, so….here’s our statement. XD

With the future being so uncertain, we talked about it through out the following days to come up with an alternative that could help us and YOU to keep your monthly rewards

Since there’s a lot to unpack here, we decided to make a QnA to inform you all of the decisions we have taken as a preventive measure.
What's interesting is that many, if not most, of these people are not exactly the sort of folks you'd expect to find in the Big Bear fan club, but they can clearly see that the ship is not only infected with Covid-19 and a nasty stomach bug, but is taking on water fast. So, they're abandoning ship.
I've been teeter-totting on whether or not I should stay on Patreon for a while, and this for me is the  kick of the bucket. You're dead to me. First of all, I'm recognizing all of the red flags here. You're losing money, you're in a lawsuit that you're going to lose. Patreon has always been kind of shady with their creators and it goes to show that they don't think their creators have rights.

People are getting sick of it. Guys, there's only so much you can take, at some point you have to jump ship, especially when the ship is sinking into a volcano and everyone on the ship has diarrhea. I don't want to be covered in hot... to those of you who are giving to my Patreon account, thank you and I'm sorry. I am closing it.

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Sunday, August 02, 2020

ASL: the answer

I mentioned that there was a little trap in the previous post that mentioned ASL. It was actually contained in this sentence: Consider, for example, the procedure required to calculate the correct Firepower (FP) total while conducting an Overrun attack on exposed infantry by a vehicle.

The underlined word was the sperg bait, since infantry don't need to be exposed in order to be attacked by Overrun. In fact, it's even possible for the vehicle to destroy the infantry during the Bog check by collapsing the building as it drives into it, as per the AFV Overrun order of resolution:
  • The AFV declares OVR
  • Bog check is first (note the EXC: list at the end of D7.1) The OVR MP expenditure must be announced as a combined expenditure with that for entrance of the hex as the vehicle enters the OVR hex, unless that hex contains only unknown enemy units (A12.41). ... [EXC: Bog DR, and Defensive First Fire other than Reaction Fire (7.2), prompted by that MP expenditure (or by the MF expenditure of accompanying Infantry using Human Wave {A25.23} and Armored Assault {9.31}) are resolved first].
  • Then DFF against the AFV.
  • Then OVR.

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Deflationary inaction

Banks are flat-out refusing to provide business loans unless the government fully guarantees them so they aren't subject to any risk. It's interesting, though hardly surprising, to see that the loan guarantees are actually making loans harder to get.
I own and operate a consulting company the end goal of which is to set up & provide loans through multiple funding channels to franchisees of large and small chains nationally. The chains I work with many of you will be familiar with —dominos, jersey mikes, massage envy, European wax center, the joint, club Pilates, jimmy johns, wingstop, Orangetheory, moes southwest.  And many others.  Point is I have BROAD spectrum national exposure to many industries

The banks I work with are SBA, conventional lenders who service smaller loans under 2mm and generally smaller operators of these franchise systems, and then larger banks who provide loans to larger operators from 2-50mm.  I’m short — 20+ banks across ALL spectrum of SME lending

I fund 400-500mm in loans per year through these banks. In February we were on pace to fund well over 500mm and potentially 750mm — growing exponentially year over year.  STIFF DRINK TIME.  Since April 1st we have funded 5mm total through only 2 banks.  Let’s dive in as to why.

SBA banks — they have lending limits to 5mm.  Congress has authorized them to go to 10mm in the CARES Act but they have ignored it.  This will become important later.   They currently have guarantees from the govt at 80% - pretty good right? DOESNT MATTER THEY STILL WONT LEND

In fact they are pushing the government to guarantee 90% of the loans (and likely on their way to 100% — see my prior posts on the de facto nationalizion of the banking system).  In short SBA has SHUT OFF BORROWERS waiting for more from Uncle Sam.

Current excuses ARE PLAYING BOTH SIDES (and this applies to all banking segments). A chain with increased sales since pandemic — no loan. “We want to wait to see if sales increases are sustainable” Doesn’t matter that sales are up.  They may not be “sustainable”

On the other side for businesses with sales down — “well we just aren’t comfortable sales will rebound and we have concerns over COVID”.   So sales up = no loan.  Sales down or flat = no loan.  Operator size IRRELEVANT.   Are some banks lending? Yes. This is 75-80% of SBA banks. They are also being EXTREMELY selective on industries they will do.  If you are an industry with “large public gatherings” you better pray to Santa Claus for money.

On to conventional banks.   Little known fact is that 50+% have LEFT THE FRANCHISE LENDING SPACE ENTIRELY.  Of the remaining 50% — 90% of those are not taking new clients.   And they are not lending to their existing clients generally.
This is just one of the many reasons that a debt-based economy is a very, very bad idea. It's the exact opposite of antifragility.

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Canceling Rape Rape

The SF-SJWs have finally come for George R. R. Martin:
Celebrated author George R.R. Martin angered a lot of fans this week. No, not because he still hasn’t finished the next book in A Song of Ice And Fire (although he missed his self-imposed deadline for that this week, too), but because of the incredibly lackluster job he did hosting a prominent award ceremony.

The Hugo Awards is one of the most prestigious and well-known award ceremonies for science fiction and fantasy literature, and something many SFF fans and creators alike look forward to every year. Like many big events this year, the Hugos turned into a virtual ceremony, streamed online for fans and nominees, and with pre-recorded hosting duties completed by Martin.

But some felt Martin fell short of the responsibility bestowed on him, repeatedly mispronouncing the names of nominees and celebrating the achievements of dead white men over the actual winners.Natalie Luhrs summarized the disaster on her blog, calling the entire ceremony “blatantly disrespectful of the nominees and winners.”

“George R.R. Martin repeatedly mispronounced the names of nominees and, in one case, a publication which was nominated. All the nominees were asked to provide pronunciations for their names in advance,” she wrote. “The fact that Martin chose not to use that information is disgusting and racist as f*ck, as nearly without exception the names he mispronounced were Black and brown.”

Martin also continually name-dropped John W. Campbell, a writer who had a Hugo Award named after him until 2019, when the title was changed to the Astounding Award on the heels of a scathing speech given by winner Jeannette Ng.

“John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist,” Ng said at the time. “Through his editorial control of Astounding Science Fiction, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists.”

The Game of Thrones author also reportedly complained about fandom getting bigger, which some took to be a criticism of the fandom becoming more inclusive and welcoming to anyone who isn’t a straight white man. And when mentioning N.K. Jemisin, a Black female author who won best novel three times in a row—an accomplishment Luhrs rightly pointed out is unprecedented for the Hugos—Martin turned it into an excuse to harp on the achievements of a white male author who won the award three times over a span of nine years.
Shameful. Truly shameful. Just wait until they actually read one of his books and discover what a rape culture enthusiast he is. And then they'll come for Scalzi.

UPDATE: They all know that Jemisin's "best novel" wins are a fraudulent joke. Robert Silverberg couldn't bother to hide his contempt for them:
He fucked up primarily by focusing all of his attention on ancient Hugo history, pointing his gaze backwards to the 1970s and lionizing problematic faves like Heinlein and Asimov and, yes, Campbell. The latter was especially egregious, since just last year Jeannette Ng began her now Hugo-winning Campbell Award speech by declaring him (rightly) to be a “fucking fascist.” It felt like a stinging rebuke of Ng’s incredible speech, a speech that actually prompted the Hugos to change the name of the award, to spend so much time talking about Campbell throughout the ceremony. To then trot out Robert Silverberg, who made dismissive comments about N.K. Jemisin’s deserved three-peat in the Best Novel category, felt like an especially craven capitulation to the old racists who feel the genre slipping out of their hands.

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You need not fear COVD-19

If the vaccine kills you first:
A highly anticipated clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine managed in part by the American drug company Moderna has resulted is some adverse effects in more than half of the trial's participants, with one test group reporting "severe" symptoms. Notably, every participant in the two larger-dose groups reported adverse reactions after their second injections. 
I suppose that's one way to beat the virus.

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Tell it to the steel workers

Being a foreign concern, Tik Tok doesn't seem to understand that the threat of losing jobs has not historically saved companies in the USA:
TikTok tells Axios it plans to add thousands of jobs in the U.S. over the next few years — ripping a familiar page from the "companies under fire" playbook.

The big picture: Chinese-owned TikTok is working to distance itself from Beijing in the face of a threatened ban from the Trump administration and broader scrutiny out of Washington, where policymakers are looking to blunt China's influence and economic might.

Driving the news: TikTok plans to add 10,000 jobs in the U.S. in the next three years as user growth explodes, spokesperson Josh Gartner told Axios.
  • TikTok's U.S. job growth has already nearly tripled this year, going from almost 500 employees Jan. 1 to just under 1,400.
  • The company plans to hire for jobs in engineering, sales, content moderation and customer service, with a focus on growing workforces in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Tennessee, Gartner said.
  • "It’s supporting the tremendous growth in the country and follows our strategy of building out teams where we have users," Gartner told Axios.
Between the lines: TikTok's ongoing hiring spree also includes the addition of more than 35 lobbyists meant to convince the Trump administration and lawmakers of the company's independence from China, according to a New York Times report.
There is something very ironic about a Chinese company warning about the potential loss of American jobs, considering how many American jobs have been lost over the last 50 years to free trade dogma.

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Saturday, August 01, 2020

It is a possibility

I don't know who Tim Pool is, but he is warning his 584k subscribers about the demise of Patreon:
If you still use Patreon you should consider warning your subscribers about potential disruption

Due to the legal defeat they recently faced some lawyers are speculating that Patreon will collapse under the weight of legal costs

You Could LOSE Your entire income stream
I just think it's funny they still don't understand how many people want to burn them down to the ground and dance on the glowing cinders.

The way the whole situation has evolved is rather interesting. For generations, companies have understood very clearly that they had to maintain positive relationships with their customers in order to stay in business. Hence the outmoded corporate doctrine that "the customer is always right".

However, the combination of practical monopolies and the venture-to-IPO model has tended to sever the historical link between the consumer and the corporation, to the point that many technology companies no longer depend upon their consumers for their operating income. To the contrary, they have transformed consumers into users that are nothing more than raw material for their real customers. This is why they simply don't possess a culture of giving a damn about their users, let alone harboring any regard for a single user they don't like for one reason or another.

Their problem is their failure to understand that although the technology corporations are not financially dependent upon consumers, they nevertheless possess the same legal responsibilities toward their consumers that they did before, so their survival still relies upon maintaining the good will of the very users they now regard as irrelevant. And, as I noted in Corporate Cancer, because they remain caught between the Scylla of class action litigation - now complete with jury trials - and the Charybdis of mass individual arbitration, there is no way to legally finesse their way out of the situation.

Even worse, every attempt to legally thread the needle by their legal Odysseuses only renders them more vulnerable to being held responsible for the deceptive practices that are necessarily involved, such as Patreon's false, misleading, and unenforceable "waivers" on class action and trial-by-jury.

The only way out is to accept the fact that their continued survival requires the goodwill of their users, but this necessitates a fundamental change in corporate culture that may not be possible for more than a few converged technology corporations.

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Lauren Southern goes after Patreon

Patreon's problems are rapidly metastasizing:
Lauren Southern revealed that she is taking the first steps into suing Patreon for deplatforming her. Earlier this week, Patreon lost a lawsuit against fans of Owen Benjamin, who was kicked off the platform due to allegedly violating their policies on hate speech, inspiring Southern to take similar action against the platform.

Southern, the Canadian investigative journalist, was one of the first prominent conservatives to be removed from Patreon in 2017. Southern went on to crowd fund documentaries without the help of the platform.

Speaking to National File, Southern revealed that she is speaking with attorney Marc Randazza, the lawyer who handled the cases of the Owen Benjamin fans, on Friday “to see what steps we can take going forward with Patreon.”

“After the initial case was won this week, I tweeted that any former donors of mine should get in touch if they want to join us in an action against Patreon,” Southern told National File, before acknowledging that “While the initial judgement declared that ‘Patreon changed the rules in the middle of the game’ by changing their Terms of Service, this may not apply to our case.”

Southern continued, “If you have logged into Patreon and accept the new ToS, then you likely will not be eligible to join this action. However, anyone who has deleted their account since the ToS change, or simply not logged in, would not be affected by this.”
As it happens, she's incorrect. Every single user of Patreon has a very strong, virtually open-and-shut legal case against Patreon, as its deceptive practices are literally written into every single version of its Terms of Use, including all three enacted in 2020. While its true that Lauren's supporters will have additional claims related to her deplatforming, the media coverage considerably underestimates the vulnerability of Patreon's position due to its lack of knowledge of California law.

Which lack of knowledge it clearly shares with Patreon's outside counsel. The amusing thing is that it was Patreon's attempt to strike back at the 72 Bears that led the Legal Legion to the analysis revealing what in retrospect is an absurdly obvious self-destruct button that almost anyone can press at will.

Sadly, this excludes me, as I am not, and I have never been, a Patreon user. I just like to read rulebooks. Frankly, if lawyers knew anything at all about wargames, the first questions they should ask an opposing disputant is if they play Advanced Squad Leader and for how long. If the answers are "yes" and "more than 10 years", immediately advise the client to settle.

The intricacies of case law and legal theory are like retarded child's play compared to the ASL rules for everything from routing to vehicular attacks. Consider, for example, the procedure required to calculate the correct Firepower (FP) total while conducting an Overrun attack on exposed infantry by a vehicle.
7.11 FP: The FP base for an OVR is one FP for an unarmored vehicle, two FP for an AFV, or four FP for an AFV whose MA is manned and functioning and is not a MG, FT, MTR, ATR or IFE-capable. The FP base is modified by adding to it the tripled (TPBF) and halved (Bounding First Fire) FP of all manned and functioning MG/IFE armament on the vehicle [EXC: RMG do not add to OVR FP]. CE armored halftrack (only) Passengers can add one-half (and the Passengers/Riders of other vehicles can add one-fourth) of their printed FP to an OVR, but this too is subject to TPBF. All FT FP is added normally with no TPBF/halving adjustment. The total FP of an OVR is halved if the vehicle becomes Immobile or destroyed before it can resolve its OVR (in addition to any halving vs a concealed target; A12.13), but combat results vs Passengers/Riders after an OVR declaration do not affect the OVR FP. The halving of FP for Motion/ Non-Stopped Fire does not apply to OVR FP. 
Of course, one can't blindly apply the rules as written, as one has to keep in mind the game's equivalent of case law, which consists of the expert exegeses, the examples and the errata as well.
The IFT DR will be on the 8 FP column, with a +1 DRM because all of the Tiger’s AF are equal to or better than 8. This +1 DRM is found in Note 3 on the AFV Destruction Table, and also in Rule 7.11. Note, however, the typo at the end of Rule 7.11: it should read ‘+1 if all AF are greater than or equal to 8.’ 
Wait, what typo? That doesn't look right! (checks rulebook version) Oh, never mind, that reference to Rule 7.11 refers to C 7.11 TK# DERIVATION rather than D 7.11 FP, so no +1 DRM.(1)

Now are you beginning to understand why Terms of Use and legal citations are so easy and relaxing to read by comparison? And in not-entirely-unrelated news, the Daily Dot updates its hit piece on Big Bear:
Update 8:35am CT, July 31: On July 30, Patreon lost the suit in California state court. The claims will now be arbitrated individually.

(1) Of course, as is my wont, I left a little trap for the first ASLer tempted to sperg about this. 100 points to the first non-ASLer who can spot what it is. -100 points to the first ASLer to fall for it. If you play ASL and you see it, keep your mouth shut and see who doesn't.

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The devil in the details

I never understood why King Edward abdicated, since marriage vows clearly never meant anything to the man. This excerpt from a book by one of his courtiers finally makes sense of his real reason for exiting the British throne.
My impression is that the Prince of Wales was caught napping by his father's death; he expected the old man to last several years more, and he had, in all probability, already made up his mind to renounce his claim to the throne, and to marry Mrs S.

The comparatively sudden death of George V upset any such plans. But I believe that even then, he would have clung to them (he always hated changing any scheme he had evolved himself) but for the provisions of his father's will.

The will was read, to the assembled family, in the hall at Sandringham. I, of course, was not present; but, coming out of my office, I ran into him striding down the passage with a face blacker than any thunderstorm. He went straight to his room, and for a long time was glued to the telephone.

Under the will, each of his brothers was left a very large sum — about three-quarters of a million in cash; he was left nothing, and was precluded from converting anything (such as the stamp collection, the racehorses, etc.) into ready money.

It was, doubtless, a well-intentioned will; but, as such wills often do, it provoked incalculable disaster; it was, in fact, directly responsible for the first voluntary abdication of an English King.

Money, and the things that money buys, were the principal desiderata in Mrs Simpson's philosophy, if not in his, and, when they found that they had been left the Crown without the cash, I am convinced that they agreed, in that interminable telephone conversation, to renounce their plans for a joint existence as private individuals, and to see what they could make out of the Kingship, with the subsidiary prospect of the Queenship for her later on.

The events of the next ten months bear out this supposition; for, throughout them, he devoted two hours to schemes, great and small, by which he could produce money to every one that he devoted to the business of the State.

Indeed, his passion for 'economy' became something very near to mania, despite the fact that his private fortune, amassed while he was Prince of Wales, already amounted to nearly a million — which sum he took with him, of course, when he finally left the country.

It was substantially increased by the considerable sums which his brother paid him for his life interest in the Sandringham and Balmoral estates, so that, by the time he married, having no encumbrances, no overhead charges and no taxes to pay, he was one of the richest men in Europe — if not the richest.
But what worked out well enough for him, at least monetarily, doesn't appear to be working out so well for his great-grandnephew. Another example of how tragedy is followed by farce. And it appears the people of England may owe a great debt to Mrs. Wallis Simpson for saving them from a longer rule by such a fundamentally dysfunctional man, not that Queen Elizabeth's long reign hasn't been a complete disaster for them.

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Friday, July 31, 2020

Gated communities won't save you

Vibrancy devoured a nice Florida family despite their community's gates:
Two men were beaten to death and a woman was seriously injured late Thursday during an attack at a home in a gated Windermere community while a 10-year-old boy called authorities while hiding in a bathroom, police said.

The double homicide happened at a home in the 2900 block of Sunbittern Court in the Lake Crescent Reserve community, which is just south of Lake Crescent and north of Park Avenue and Lake Butler Boulevard.

Windermere police said Ezekiel Emanuel Hopkins pushed the community’s gate open with his car then tried to steal a car from the home when he was confronted by the homeowners, John and Lisa Savey.

Police said Hopkins attacked Savey and beat him to death with a baseball bat outside the home. Hopkins then went inside the home, where he beat Lisa Savey and her son, James Savey, who was killed, according to police.
War is upon you, whether you will have it or not. And gates will accomplish little without armed men standing watch upon them to keep out the invaders.

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Are you ready for this?

Fred Reed is not optimistic about the summer of 2020:
Hoo-boy. She’s ready to explode, go high order. Smoking ruins, dead bodies, seething hatreds, and a country that can’t be put back together. It may not happen, but she looks ready.

No one is in charge in this collapsing shell game of a country. In Louisville hundreds of armed blacks threaten to “burn the motherfucker down,” meaning Louisville, if they don’t get their way. All cringe before them, with reason. They have guns. Larger numbers marched in Georgia, armed, ready to rock and roll. BLM says it will “go into the suburbs” to get Whitey. Who will stop them? Not the government. It fears them. Weimar Kentucky. An American Freikorps.

America today in video. Scroll down to the New York footage. It’s Planet of the Apes.
So racist. I am literally shaking.
BLM wants to go into the suburbs to get Whitey. God help us. Then it will well and truly blow. BLM doesn’t know how many white men are sick of the chaos and destruction, sick of BLM. They quietly say, “Bring it on. Let’s settle it.” 
Better sooner than later, I suppose. It's not as if the demographics are going to improve their chances over time.

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Setting them up

I don't know exactly what he has in mind here, but it should turn out to be more than a little entertaining:
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
- Donald J. Trump
I'll be very surprised if he doesn't turn out to have had something up his sleeve this entire time. It's not like Creepy Joe is going to beat him anyhow. The polls are totally meaningless at this point. I can still remember when Dukakis was supposedly leading Bush, 55-38, on July 26, 1988, prior to losing 53.4 to 45.6. That was a 24.8-point change between the end of July and the beginning of November.

Democrat Joe Biden maintains a seven point national lead over President Donald Trump among registered voters for the November 2020 election, 48 percent to 41 percent.  

Note that Biden's putative lead is ten points less than Dukakis's nominal 17-point lead. So, we're still looking at a Trumpslide, perhaps even a historic one.

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