immediate consequences

In case anyone was wondering about the immediate, real world consequences of Trump’s idiocy. This is my former linguistics department, where I went to grad. school. And the worst part is there’s no counterargument. If a student asks, “Will I be able to safely study here in the United States?”, all we can do is lie, or tell the truth and say, “I don’t know. I hope so, but I don’t know.”

i’ve been wrestling with this idea that riley - unlike pretty much everyone else in the cluster - doesn’t have her own storyline this season. the other sensates have career issues, family drama, burgeoning romances, identity crises… meanwhile riley and will are on the run, living in abandoned holes, their lives completely consumed by the threat of BPO.

and while everyone in the cluster contributes to that fight - for much of season 2, it’s riley and will who are living with the most immediate/severe consequences of it. will’s arc of the season is undoubtedly an identity one. his internal struggles are prominent throughout he season. will is a shell of the man he once was, forced to become dependent on drugs and live in hiding. riley’s entire life now revolves around keeping the two of them (and indirectly, the rest of the cluster) alive. everyone helps, but with will unconscious much of the time, riley is the one living this 24 hours/day.

so… i think it’s fair to say that riley’s arc this season is inextricably intertwined with will’s and, at times, subsumed by will’s. riley and will are an inseparable entity now - and that entity is on the run, living a half-life, living the life of a fugitive.

but i resist the idea that riley had no arc of her own. because when i look at season 2 riley… i see a fighter, a leader, a nurturer, an explorer, an investigator. i see riley surprising everyone around her over and over again with her aptitude, her courage, and her resilience. i see someone who pushes back when confronted with ideas she disagrees with, someone who stands up for what she feels is right. 

and the emergence of that riley? from someone who, not that long ago, genuinely wanted to give up? is a story. it’s an arc. and it’s a beautiful one. season 2 is the story of riley remembering to “look up,” and revealing all the incredible things she can accomplish when she does. 

Type Speciality

Remember when you were a kid playing Pokémon and you always questioned why gym leaders stuck to a specific type? Surely it made them weaker? Well, that may be so, but it makes them weaker in the same way that a long-range sniper is less skilled than someone who can make Michelin-star food whilst also being a flourishing assassin. Different types warrant different skills and handling, so it makes sense for most to specialise in one. Obviously, temperament and training methods will vary from Pokémon to Pokémon depending on both its species and its own personality, but generalisations can be made for each type.

Normal Type:

Normal is probably considered the easiest type to train, though that statement doesn’t always ring true (there’s a big difference between battling with a furret and a slaking, if you get what I mean). Generally, however, normal types will be selected for young, beginner trainers to get them used to the process of giving commands and training without resistance, before allowing them to progress onto the slightly more skittish or defiant types such as electric and dark. 

Fire Type:

Fire types don’t have bad temperament, but they require a trainer who is willing to take them out onto an isolated area in order to battle with them safely (though most gyms probably provide suitable training grounds for all types). They can be highly energised, so their trainer needs to be active and resilient, but generally don’t respond well to hard, strict commands; they are willing to accept a trainer as their master, but want to be treated like friends.

Water Type: 

As some water types are incapable of surfacing, this makes a portion of them difficult to train with. Nonetheless, those incapable of breathing above water can still be utilised; most trainers will teach these Pokémon to respond to gesture-based signals rather than audible commands, as this will allow them to communicate without sound (this technique, however, is probably used by many skilled trainers in order to avoid alerting the opponent to their move choice). Still, I imagine that the most popular water choices are those that can breathe both above and below water (vaporeon, quagsire, dewgong, gyarados etc.), as they can battle more effectively with Pokémon of other types.

Grass Type:

One of the calmest types available. Harsh commands are not needed, but rather encouragement and persuasion. I feel that Pokémon belonging to this type may be somewhat slow to progress at first, taking a fair amount of time to become strong, but the moment they break that barrier they become a force to be reckoned with. So, in short, grass training takes patience, just as waiting for the growth of crops does.  

Electric Type:

Unsurprisingly, electric types are the most energetic. Their speed needs to be honed and their pent-up energy released; electric type trainers have to exercise their Pokémon frequently as well as train them, though the two activities often coincide. Some Pokémon of this type can possess short attention spans, but providing that their training is engaging and varied they are generally eager to cooperate.

Psychic Type:

Psychic trainers have to be prepared to forge very deep and emotional bonds with their Pokémon, as psychic types are incredibly sensitive to their owner’s moods and often react to them accordingly. Gardevoir, for example, will often pick up on emotions and mimic them, and Pokémon such as spoink and reuniclus probably attempt to cheer their trainers when they are sad. Psychic Pokémon are, on average, more intelligent than members of other types, which makes them highly responsive to training but also more questioning of the methods used. They are also rather sensitive to harsh commands and criticism, but are deeply loyal and trusting. They will have faith in their trainers even when requested to do acts they are unsure of, and so will flourish when used by those who know how to bring out the best in them. 

Dark Type:

Dark types, by contrast, need an incredibly firm hand. If they get their own way too frequently, they will become defiant, mischievous and unresponsive to commands; their place in the pecking order must be established swiftly when obtained. Once the master-Pokémon relationship is enforced, they will gain respect for their trainer and bond with them. Due to this relationship, they tend not to improvise in battle, not unless their trainer gives them a framework within which they can do so, as they find it difficult to distinguish between spontaneity and defiance. They are so duly trained to be obedient that they become reluctant to act of their own accord, but this mentality can be changed over time. Once a dark type chooses to follow only your commands, you know that it respects you, and so from then on you can train it to be more independent. It’s all about building up the layers.

Ghost Type:

Ghost types reside, training-wise, at some point on the spectrum between dark and psychic. Whilst they don’t need as strict dictation as the former, they aren’t as sensitive as the latter. Mischievous ghost types such as gengar and misdreavus require the same kind of treatment that one would give to naughty children, whereas calmer ones such as froslass, mismagius and gourgeist warrant gentler instruction. Either way, ghost types are sneaky in battle and, unlike dark Pokémon, will often take the initiative and act beyond their trainer’s commands. This improvisation is a trait often associated with psychic Pokémon; however, ghost types are more likely to be spontaneous in a way that their trainers dislike. Psychic types generally make better judgements of their trainers’ overall strategies in battle, whereas ghost Pokémon tend to make decisions based on their immediate consequences. Nevertheless, some of these peculiar, unprecedented actions have been known to win matches.

Flying Type:

Flying type is the one faction of Pokémon for which a generalisation cannot really be made, as members of this type often belong primarily to another. However, their training methods are still very defined; a flying trainer must have a huge sense of spacial awareness, and must be able to tutor their Pokémon on how to carry out long commands (flying up and then diving down to attack) and respond to non-audible signals - if they are to attack from the air effectively, they will be out of earshot of their trainer.

Fighting Type:

In order to seriously train fighting types, the trainer has to be physically fit themselves; Pokémon of this type will bond better with those who train alongside them. They also rest fairly little and need frequent, organised training sessions, and do not respond well to irregularity. A psychic type would be comfortable to train intermittently, but a fighting one would dislike the lack of order. Moreover, they also benefit from repetitive training - executing a move over and over again, for example, until they are competent at it. Funnily enough, well-trained fighting types are some of the least hectic Pokémon in battle, as they perform best when their skills are honed individually and with precision; they are not brutishly forceful as many would believe.  

Bug Type:

Pokémon of this type are known to acquire skills quickly but lack the power that other types bear. As a general trend, many bugs (beedrill, butterfree, beautifly, vivillon) reach the pinnacle of their strength quickly and find it hard to build on that, so bug trainers have to focus on perfecting strategy to bring out the best in them. Where a dragon trainer can sometimes rely on power alone to win battle, bug trainers cannot. It’s all about detail - status conditions, stat boosts, slowly weakening the opponent before dealing a final blow. That isn’t to say that powerful bug types don’t exist - species like scizor and heracross are formidable opponents - but they generally lack the overwhelming force of other types. They are not, however, to be underestimated. 

Rock Type:

Rock types are known for their brawn rather than their brains. To bring out the best in them, trainers need to be patient and unruffled, adept at giving simple, direct commands. Rock Pokémon can be stubborn, but treating them with a firm hand is not advised. Whilst dark types may refuse to cooperate to undermine their trainer’s authority, unresponsive rock types are usually just fed up, fatigued, or irritable with their own performance, so it is best to either comfort them or leave them alone. On the upside, rock types do not dislike repetitive training and have among the best muscle memory of any type. If an attack was tutored appropriately, they should remember it for the rest of their life, even if they go years without using it. This gives rock trainers a certain flexibility that makes up for their Pokémon’s inability to improvise.

Ground Type:

Ground types bear similarities to rock types but are generally less rigid and more independent-minded. Ground trainers typically focus on overwhelming their opponents with strong, straightforward attacks, raising their Pokémon to hit hard and take hard hits. They aren’t the most challenging type to raise due to their docile nature, but there is a certain knack to finding the balance between offence and defence in ground types that a lot of trainers don’t have. 

Poison Type:

Poison is a type that goes in and out of fashion in the battle industry. Such types are far friendlier and more intelligent than they appear, willing to accept their place in the trainer-Pokémon hierarchy and respond to their master’s commands. They aren’t as free with improvisation as other types, but they have been known to make extra attempts to poison foes without being asked to - they think beyond their trainer’s commands without deviating too far from them. However, despite their many benefits, poison types just aren’t practical to own - some carry health risks, some are toxic to the touch, and most of them stink to high heaven.         

Steel Type:

Like flying types, steel Pokémon are difficult to generalise as so many belong to different types. A notable characteristic is that they can be unyielding and take time to form bonds with, but aside from that, there isn’t a great deal that makes them unique - most rock or ground trainers would have little difficulty raising steel Pokémon. A trainer’s decision to specialise in steel is likely to come from their appreciation of the type rather than their having a particular knack with it.

Ice Type:

Ice is frequently referred to as a ‘quiet’ type, as ice Pokémon rarely respond well to brash commands and do best when trained one-on-one rather than in pairs or trios. They mostly require gentle, sensitive coaching if they are to warm to their trainers, which means that they sometimes flounder in high-pressure tournaments and cannot cope with the chaos of double battles. Some think that the fragility of the type in battle may be a consequence of insufficient domestication. At any rate, half-ice types seem better suited to a competitive climate.        

Fairy Type:

Another favourite with children, fairy types have all the cooperation and friendliness of normal types but twice the power. Their attention spans can be somewhat lacking, but this flaw is often countered by determination; fairies are typically more eager to please their trainers than any other type. However, this eagerness robs them of the independence and instinct of psychics, as they are reluctant to do anything beyond their commands for fear of upsetting their trainer. Any successful improvisation must be positively reinforced if they are to have a degree of autonomy, but mistakes are never to be scolded. Fairy types are too sensitive to respond to criticism. Reward-based training is the most effective way to bring out their power. 

Dragon Type:

This type is possibly the hardest of all to train, hence why dragon taming tends to run in families. To be an effective dragon trainer, one needs to find a balance between dominance and respect, as dragons take orders only from those who recognise their power without being intimidated by it. The most successful dragon specialists start young, with milder species like dratini and noibat, before building up to more defiant kinds. Raising a dragon from birth is the best way to generate the necessary mutual respect.  

Some regard dragon taming as a lifestyle - an expensive one, at that. Aside from the skill needed to cope with such powerful beasts, the money required to buy, feed, house and train them is far greater than most can afford. Some aspiring trainers gain access to dragon types through scholarships or scouting, but often too late for them to specialise effectively. For now, it remains a type for the elite. 

anonymous asked:

Hi! You said you kinda wanted to elaborate on your tony stark post (the one about his flaws) so I was hoping you'd be willing to? I'm interested in what you have to say!

Yes hello my new favourite person I have been waiting to meet you.

What I wanted to elaborate on is the distressing trend of equating flaws to mistakes. 

This is really freaking common especially nowadays and especially on tumblr. I cannot count the amount of times someone did/said something bad years ago, realised their mistake, apologized for it, and moved on only for some jerk with a bone to pick go through their blog and dig up all that nonsense again, and that is the exact mentality we see when people talk about Tony’s “flaws”. 

People will say things like “hey, remember when Tony got drunk in the suit and almost killed people?” to just shut down any conversation about his flaws. They do that all the time. They give no context, no character motivation as to why, and they say it when the context of the argument itself is inappropriate. For example, I’ll talk about the helicarrier scene and how I personally see Steve cutting into this man he doesn’t know in extremely personal ways as an indicator that Steve was very much in the wrong in that scene, and Tony Stark being on the defensive the whole time shows that Tony was, well, defending himself. The person I am then having that conversation with will say “hey, remember that time Tony kicked a one night stand out? He deserved it.” Just….out of the blue….The conversation had nothing to do with that. Why are they bringing it up now? So I will say something like “Um, that happened in the past. It has nothing to do with what we’re talking about and he is a changed man in a monogamous relationship.” and immediately we have the trademark “Yup, typical Tony Stan. Not willing to admit his flaws.” that makes me want to throw my hands up. 

Mistakes  ≠ flaws

Which is why I believe there is so much vitrol spewed towards this character because this, in and of itself, is a mentality shared by, oh, about 65% of tumblr. They cannot possibly believe that an individual can change, can learn from their mistakes. Which sucks because that is what the entirety of Iron Man is about in the mcu. Learning from your mistakes. Changing yourself. Becoming something better. Becoming the person who helps instead of hurts.

People will say “you aren’t willing to admit his flaws” and from what I have observed, that is never true. You, dear antis, refuse to admit his growth.

The second thing I wanted to elaborate on is context.

As I mentioned in the earlier example, one thing they will always reference is Iron Man 2, because Iron Man 2 is littered with mistakes. And, uh, you want to know why there is a disproportionate amount of mistakes in Iron Man 2 then the rest of the franchise? He was dying. He was being poisoned by the thing he would later describe as “a terrible privilege” and he refused to tell anyone. That is the context. He was acting like a man about to die and it shows. But us? We can scream that Tony was dying until we’re blue in the face but the only response we’ll get from the people who irrationally hate him? “Good. He should have died.” They do not care about context. It’s why their token line is always “War Profiteer!” and will scream it any time they get the chance.

Tony has made a lot of mistakes, but he always learns and he always grows.

First Iron Man: Negligent in managing his company. Mistake. He then takes control of his company, cleans up the mess of illegal stashes of his weapons, and defeats the guy who was dealing under the table. I.E Learns to become responsible for his company.

Second Iron Man: Get’s rip-roaring drunk, fights his best friend and lies to his girlfriend which causes a huge rift. Mistakes. Cleans up his act, fights together with his best friend in a badass team-up, tells his girlfriend the truth and in the third Iron Man sees that the exact same thing is happening and right away tells her the truth. “I’m a piping hot mess.” I.E learns to be responsible to himself and his loved ones.

Avengers 1: No mistakes. None. He was rude but as we already established, that’s a character flaw of his, not a mistake.

Iron Man 3: Was rude to a man at a party once. Here we have an example about how this flaw gave birth to a mistake. He was rude at a party once, but he is consistently rude. The only reason this qualifies as a mistake is because he didn’t know he was talking to a whiny entitled piss-baby who decides to become a terrorist when Tony doesn’t give him the time of day.

An actual mistake made in Iron Man 3 is when he threatens a terrorist on tv ignoring the context of literally just walking out of a hospital and seeing his friend almost dead. Mistake. Which he then immediately faces consequences for, and then apologizes for. “That was selfish and stupid.” I.E learning to recognize and control his impulses.

Now we get to the fun bit. Ultron.

Age of Ultron: Didn’t tell his team he and Bruce were creating Ultron. Mistake, but oh boy very subjectively. 

Creating Ultron was not a mistake. Anyone who tells you that selectively ignored about 50% of the movie. Bruce and Tony were working on ultron way before the sceptre came into their lives and ultimately creating a peace-keeping AI would be amazing. Which, uh, is exactly what happened. Tony and Bruce created a peace-keeping AI that is good and kind and wise and is going to be instrumental in their fight against thanos. The only mistake made there is that they shouldn’t have been messing around with the sceptre in the first place, and considering they know that and, uh, the sceptre has mind-altering powers it’s pretty safe to assume the sceptre played a hand in their behaviour. Considering the sceptre literally created ultron, I am not surprised.

The actual mistake made in the movie was not trusting his teammates. That is a theme throughout the movie. “Sometimes my teammates don’t tell me things.” and “together.” making this very apparent. The mistake of this movie is not trusting his teammates, something he learns and understands by the end of the movie with his own echo of steve’s quote “together”. Now, remember when I said that this was subjectively a mistake? 

Because the lesson he learns here, wasn’t a lesson at all.

Civil War: Didn’t tell Wanda before telling Vision to keep her on lockdown. Mistake. Not keeping her on lockdown. That makes sense any way you slice it. It’s just the lack of communication that was the mistake. (seriously though the lack of communication is a mistake shared by literally every character in this movie). Bringing Peter in to the conflict. Mistake. Even though Peter was only supposed to “keep your distance web ‘em up.” he still brought a kid into a super conflict. He can’t do anything to fix his mistake with Wanda but in the next movie we very much see Tony take responsibility for this kid and make sure he isn’t needlessly throwing himself at danger. He supports him and helps him when he needs it and is overall perfect in that movie. No Mistakes in Spiderman: Homecoming (though don’t tell those bastards at tv tropes that or they’ll bite your head off).

Here is where we get to the fun stuff because that lesson he learned in the last movie? About trusting his teammates? Throw that out the window. Trusting his teammates is the mistake. Thinking they had his back was the mistake. Thinking they would never lie to him because they just learned what lying can do to a team was a mistake.

Trusting Steve was a mistake.

Trying to kill Bucky. Mistake?

I would say so just because I would be upset if Bucky died. But its like trying to say that a bear who mauled a man to death for killing her cub made a mistake. It’s like saying a kid who’s grown shouldn’t hurt the person who abused them just because they too were abused, that they didn’t mean it. It’s like asking a man with PTSD watch someone choke his mother to death to then let that man go. It’s impossible. People are emotional and loving but that can turn deadly in a heartbeat if you hurt the ones they love. It is innately human to respond this way. People will go to the ends of the earth to protect the ones they love and you think them already being dead is going to stop them? No. Tony going after Bucky maybe was a mistake, but a mistake he had no control over. It would take a ridiculously mentally strong individual and Tony is already compromised, same with everyone on the team. Though I will hate Wanda for the bizarre direction her wrath took, I will never begrudge her wanting revenge for her parents, even years later. Because that’s what humans do

As a mental exercise I ask everyone who seriously thinks Tony could have resisted the temptation to protect his family with; What if the situation was reversed? What if Bucky had to watch a video of Tony killing Steve? What if he knew vaguely that someone had hacked his suit but what if they hadn’t for this instance? What if this was all Tony? If Tony didn’t exist, Steve would be alive right now. And if Bucky looks into Tony’s eyes, he will see guilt and resignation, just as Tony saw in Buckys. Why didn’t someone just tell him if he’s so innocent?

So, no, I don’t think there was a single force on earth that could have stopped Tony from attacking Bucky. Mistake? Eh. I’ll let you decide that.

In conclusion, Tony makes a lot of mistakes, but every single time he picks himself up and becomes something better. Every. Single. Time. So when someone says “he has a lot of flaws!” tell them no, he has made a lot of mistakes. Flaws? He has about the same as any other human being, but more often than not the only flaw they care about is that he is Tony Stark, and that they believe there is something fundamentally bad about that. It’s usually only 1 of 2 reasons. 1) they hate the mentally ill. I have seen numerous posts about how Tony is “whiny” (lmao could you imagine?) or 2) He got in the way of the most popular marvel ship, Stucky. It is almost always this reason. They will scream their “facts” about why they hate him and we keep saying how that doesn’t make any sense and if, hey, you want to dislike a character you don’t have to make up bullshit! Just say you don’t like them! That’s fine! No one will begrudge you that. But it’s obvious after a time that all the people leaving nasty messages in out inboxes and telling us to kill ourselves always have a steve or bucky icon and a common ship in their bio. There are a few other reasons. Sometimes someone is just plain anti-marvel and hates all the characters, and hey, at least I can respect that. At least they aren’t hypocrites. And then there are a few that just genuinely dislike Tony, and as I mentioned above, That’s fine! These are also the people who, like, won’t talk about his flaws because they aren’t jerks who think their two cents about a character is needed if they don’t like them. They just stan who they like and leave other people alone. I love them. 

Tony is flawed, but so is everyone else. Steve is a stubborn, arrogant, patronising ass. Natasha is controlling and manipulative. Thor is a piece of work, he’s basically just as rude as Tony and just as arrogant and bull-headed as Steve. There are more, but I’m sure you get my point. They all have flaws. But I have never seen a single person go up to a cap fan and demand they list the ways Steve is flawed. I have never seen anyone scream about how Steve fans never admit his flaws, even though, uh, they never do and he has many. I have never seen the vitrol and hate spewed in my direction for loving a fictional character anywhere else in the marvel fandom, save for maybe Shaaron Carter. People will create entire blogs just to harass Tony fans. They will take pictures of him and put red Xs through them as their icon like how fucking Extra is that?

This post is just to remind everyone that every single goddamn Tony fan will admit his mistakes, as long as you admit he’s changed. If you can’t do that? If you are so caught up in sending death threats over fictional characters that you can’t fathom in your mind that people can change? Then we really only have one thing to say to you.

Tony Stark is perfect and has never done anything wrong ever in his life.

An In-Depth Explanation + Discussion of Morty Smith’s (Rick and Morty) Canon “Disability” - ADHD and Autism

In the popular Adult Swim cartoon, Rick and Morty, it is clearly and distinctly said that Morty Smith, the second half of the show’s two main characters, has a (context: learning) disability!

I ended up making a GIFset of evidence from throughout the shows current two season run supporting this statement, and bringing forth the speculation that said disability(s) is both ADHD and Autism!

I’ve gotten many question, comments, and criticism in the short time that the post has been up and have decided to answer them all here!

I’ll be explaining my post in-depth, GIF by GIF, with the episodes and context included, as well as citations to relevant articles/etc. to back them up/explain the symptoms (as well as ones not shown in the original post). 

It is rather long, so using “Ctrl + F” (Windows) or “Command + F” (Mac) to find the specific symptom/explanation you’re looking for is advised!

Explanation is under the cut!

Keep reading

breadstyx  asked:

Making players roll a while in advance (example: making everyone do a CON check at the entry of the cave and 'storing' it until they enter the part where the air is poisonous to apply the consequences then without re-rolling), good idea because the surprise will be greater if they don't know something's coming up or bad idea cause the immediate consequences of the roll is part of the tension?

It sounds good to me

on monty and killing

Yep, can’t stop myself, here’s some more 100/monty meta. When the kids make sure Tsing dies in the elevator shaft, Miller, Jasper, and Harper all watch; Monty looks down at the ground.

When Bellamy, Clarke, and Monty irradiate Mount Weather, Clarke and Bellamy stare at the camera feeds as the mountain men die; Monty monitors the oxygen levels.

And in 4.02, when Monty makes way for the slaves to kill his father’s murderer, he once again turns away, choosing not to watch.

Monty is responsible for so much death, but most often indirectly, as an immediate consequence of his actions but not the result of his own hand. Monty kills in order to protect his people, but he can’t bring himself to kill for revenge, and he can’t bring himself to meet it head on. As he tells Bellamy in 3.02, he has to be okay. That extra layer of self-imposed separation from the brutal reality of his choices is, I think, what allows Monty to keep going, to keep making terrible decisions with bloody consequences.

The only person Monty has killed straight on is his mother. And each time, because this boy has had to do this twice, he looks right at her as he does it. He keeps staring at her long after he shoots her in the forest. 

And even though Raven is right there, Monty is the one to press the button deleting his mother’s code from the City of Light, eyes locked on the screen as he presses the button.

This makes sense: Monty’s mom matters to him in ways the others don’t. (Also, to be fair: it’s hard to shoot someone without looking at them.) But even more so, it means Monty’s fully shouldering responsibility for this death in a way he doesn’t seem ready or able to with the others. This boy who refuses to watch the slaves kill his father’s murderer (even as he paves the way for them to do so), who constructs walls to distance himself from the harsh realities of his choices so that he can keep going, takes complete responsibility for killing his own mother. That’s the kill he forces himself to witness.

There’s a lot of talk about whether Monty is or is not a cinnamon roll, but it’s more complicated than that. He makes choices that cost lives (like saving the generator over the slaves) because he believes he has to, because he’s separated himself to an extent from the reality of those choices. Monty is incredibly, profoundly brave, because he is so fundamentally wired against the things he’s been forced by circumstance to do, and yet he finds the strength to do them anyway. But there’s probably only so long, I expect, before the cracks in his armor start to eat away at him.

A guy I kind-of know from college found out I like Thrawn, and he texted me on Facebook about it, and now we’re in a weird game where I’m trying to figure out exactly how much of his soul he’s given to Thrawn and he’s trying to decide if I’m a Real Fan™ or not.

I briefly considered linking him the dance fic just to see if he’d start screaming in terror, but decided to let him keep his life for now.

He made a sloppy “so artistically done” reference (twice) that I didn’t react to outside of an emoji so he asked me if I recognized the quote.

😂😂😂

there’s an interesting dynamic between lup and barry

lup is generally the firecracker, the one more likely to start shit than barry “afraid of mongeese” bluejeans

but lup is also gonna turn tail the fastest when shit goes south, while barry treats death like an inconvenience at best

if there’s no immediate consequences to dying and being resurrected multiple times from the white ring core, then i bet barry’s the one who uses it to its full advantage in collecting as much info as possible about the Hunger

BREXIT: what the heck does it all mean?

A lot of people have no clue why Europe is currently in a state of uproar and the only word people seem to be saying is “Brexit” so here’s a not-so-quick and easy-breezy explanation on the past 24 hours of CHAOS that has ensued:

The European Union (EU): an organisation of European countries that follows similar laws, allows for freedom of movement/labour, easy travelling (@people who planned on doing Eurotrips, not sure if you can count the UK in that anymore!) and trade with each other. The EU is important because before it was formed, the European continent was ravaged by 2 world wars, and a division because of the Cold War. This organisation has provided all the stability we’ve seen in the past 20-odd years.

So what the heck is a “Brexit”? Basically, the UK has just voted to leave the EU. 52/48 majority. Now this doesn’t seem like a TERRIBLE thing, but there are some serious immediate political and economic consequences.

Economic implications:

- The British pound crashed from 1.5 to 1.3 in 6 hours, the lowest value in 30 years, which in turn affected the US dollar which affects all other global currencies. I wish I was joking but I’m not: South Africa, Poland, Norway, Mexico. Hungary, Australia, Switzerland all saw their currencies plummet. Countries that don’t rely on exports as their means of production cannot have a devalued currency. IT’s not good. The Japanese Yen which has been strengthening reached an all-time high which is terrible because Japan is trying to reverse its deflationary state. The Bank of Japan is now out of options and Japan literally STOPPED TRADING IN BRITISH STOCKS/INVESTMENTS.

- A devalued GBP could cause the BoE to implement quantitative easing by lowering interest rates, leading to other countries around the world doing the same. this could potentially loop back into a recession though.

- The UK leaving the EU means its market has gone down a LOT in size making them a less attractive destination for trade partners/investors. They’re going to have to draw up new trade agreements with basically the whole world since all their trade was previously tied to the EU. This will be tricky because countries liked having a market with a population of ~500 million compared to the UK’s size of ~50 million.

- GDP will go down. Retirement income will go down. The British economy is currently in a state of panic. The global economy is basically, fucked. For now at least.

The thing is, given the precarious nature of the economy right now with markets out of control and stagnant growth practically everywhere, it was a really really bad time to have this referendum - a lot of countries have been banking on a “Bremain” before making their next move when it comes to monetary/fiscal policy. The IMF has predicted that 2016/2017 will see the worst years for growth, but we might see upward growth trends from 2018 onwards.

- Scotland showed an overwhelming majority of votes to remain in the EU. It’s likely that they’re going to call for a referendum (again) to leave the UK.

- Northern Ireland also wanted to stay in the EU.

- Wales voted Leave but with a slim majority. 

UPDATE: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her parliament should have the right to hold another vote “if Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of Europe, effectively against our will.” Sinn Fein called for a referendum to reunify Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

So how does it get worse?

- David Cameron has just announced that he will be resigning in 3 months which means that extreme conservatives who managed to sway the vote in favour of Leave could come to power. That’s right. We’ll be stuck to suffer with the likes of Johnson. 

- Brexit triggered a lot of nationalist/extreme right-wing movements in the rest of Europe. Some leaders already calling for referendums for “Frexit” (France), “Itexit” (Italy) and ”Nexit” (Netherlands). We may see more in the next few days. A disintegration of Europe is risky business because Europe has not been able to remain stable until the EU was formed. This could give way for an assertive Russia too, who is, as most countries would be, looking to gain more power over weak/vulnerable European states. This will trigger US skepticism and we all know how that goes. 

SO HOW DID THE GOVERNMENT LET THIS HAPPEN?

Basically David Cameron only backed the idea of the referendum because he was desperate to gain support from anti-EU parties like UKIP during the general elections last year. Except now he’s resigning. So. 

During the campaign, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson (conservatives) and Nigel Farage (UKIP) stressed on tightening immigration laws if the UK leaves the EU because “immigration/refugees have been a big problem for the UK as its reducing jobs being given to UK locals/residents” and they think the UK is becoming “overcrowded” so the Leave campaign was like WE WILL TIGHTEN OUR BORDERS! YEAH! Except now they’ve likely displaced millions of UK citizens living/working in the rest of the EU. Also there is a possibility that lots of jobs have been moved too. Let’s see how they figure that one out.

Additionally, they talked about the economic benefits because if the UK were to leave, they would be able to allot the money that goes to the EU to other things like the NHS (national healthcare) etc. The Leave campaign went on about how the UK spends 350 million pounds a week on the EU but actually it spends less than half of that, so really, their campaign was built on scaremongering and lies. EDIT: Farage has announced the 350mil will NOT be spent on the NHS.

EDIT: more Brexit arguments included EU regulations/fees/etc that they believed were restricting Britain and weren’t allowing Britain to flourish independently

EDIT: People have mentioned the fact that unstable EU economies were relying on capital inflow the “Big 3″ (UK, France, Germany). This is true and this was being used as an argument - however, leaving is a Pyrrhic Victory! the UK will most likely have to spend MORE rebuilding its independent economy. However, once markets stabilise, we will see.

Article 50, aka the means of exiting will be triggered in 3 months when the new Prime Minister is announced (most likely one of the extreme conservatives who are riding high on their “Independence Day” fuckery which is even more proof of xenophobic, colonialist bullshit) after which the UK will have 2 years to complete its official withdrawal so hopefully that will provide short-term stability.

updateeee here’s a quick summary of brexit consequences published by TIME magazine – again don’t take it at face value http://time.com/4381275/brexit-vote-biggest-impacts-referendum/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

UPDATE:: this is a really good bloomberg article that’s concise and very quickly sums up what the immediate consequences were: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-24/a-quick-guide-to-brexit-and-beyond

Adding Horror Elements to Your Writing

Truly terrifying your readers takes skill. Not only do you have to focus on getting the pacing absolutely right, you also need to understand what makes something scary. When you’re writing, you can’t rely on cheap thrills like in most horror films.

Here are a few tips on adding horror to your story:

Let us know the stakes

We need to know what’s at risk for your character if you want to scare us. We need to know the immediate consequences for your character. We don’t want to be guessing what your character is afraid of happening. Let us know what will happen if they fail.

Develop your characters

No one will care about your horror novel OR any of your novels if you don’t develop your characters. This is often a mistake with beginning horror writers (and well-established ones)—they don’t make us care about their characters. We need to know who they are first before we care about what they might lose.

Write with emotion

Horror truly requires writing with emotion. As a writer, you need to be able to put yourself in the place of your character. You need to be able to describe their fear because that will make your writing more terrifying for your readers. They need to feel what your character is feeling emotionally.

Use all your senses

Focus on using all your senses when writing horror. Smells, sounds, and tastes will all add to the creepiness of your novel. Saying something smells like rotting flesh really adds to your story. Explaining that footsteps sound like heartbeats will build tension. Always consider everything that’s happening in the room and use it to improve your novel.

Have your character make mistakes

Sometimes fear in horror novels comes from characters doing something we know they shouldn’t. What if they accidently killed someone and tried to hide it? What if they got up in the middle of the night to investigate a noise? Build the tension by letting your characters make poor choices.  

Give your readers hope

If your readers have no faith in your character from the beginning, your novel won’t be very exciting. Simply putting a character through awful situations does not make a good horror story. We need to believe they can survive. That’s what keeps us reading.

Create new monsters

Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas. Turn a vampire into something else by reconstructing our ideas of what a vampire should be. Create a new monster entirely. If there’s something from a nightmare that frightened you, develop it.

Don’t tell us when to be scared

This is when show, don’t tell really comes in handy. You can’t tell your readers, “Amy was really scared.” You need to show us why she’s scared. Simply stating that a character is frightened does nothing to scare your readers. Show us what’s happening and we will know why your character is terrified.

-Kris Noel

anonymous asked:

On the whole tone thing, it really bothered me in H*mecoming how light it was when it came to actual death? Like, a dude gets killed and it's just like "Oops!" *pause for laughter* And I'm just sitting there thinking that they literally just disintegrated a dude and they're playing it off as a joke. I don't want to hear anything about the guy being a criminal because that shouldn't matter!

this is what I was talking about a long while ago when I was saying how m.arvel doesn’t really talk about body counts or respect body counts until it suits their narrative. Unlike other movies, like s.tar tr.ek and b.vs, m.arvel doesn’t really recognize the damage that heroes cause until its time for Emotional Shit. 

Example

Think of when you last watched a.vengers in 2012. Think of how many innocent people died during the chitauri attack. But, the consequences of these movies weren’t acknowledged until four years later, in c.ivil w.ar. cause suddenly, they needed a reason for conflict. That’s when our mysterious death toll gets pulled out of someone’s ass. 

Now, I don’t know if you have seen the 2009 St.ar tr.ek movie ! But, after v.ulcan is destroyed, you get a pretty exact number of how many died during the attack. the consequences are immediate, and the characters react to it immediately. While these two situations have a slightly different context, its the same principle. 

Also, we don’t see personal connections to the chi.tauri attack until jj came out, and that lady was angry at jessica because her parents were killed by the superheroes. 

In B.vs, the effects of zo/d and supes attack was shown immediately, with the death of the little girl’s mother, and b/ruce running straight into the dust and seeing the horse, the security guard and the children trying to get through. 

Though these all have different contexts, it’s the same idea. m/arvel doesn’t show any respect towards the human loss until it finally suits them. and its why their movies are so emotionally lacking. there’s no human presence. just heroes, whom we are supposed to view as gods. 

anonymous asked:

Hi:) I hope I'll make sense because English is not my first language but I want to write a story that would make the reader feel like there reading a letter or someone's diary. Any tips? Thank you.:)

Hi!

Alright, there are a few things that are significant about this style of story. I would first recommend reading different stories and books written in this style to get a good idea of what it looks like. 

Tips~!

1. Voice is going to be a major element to this style of story. “Voice” simply put is the individual tone in a which narrator tells their story. All stories should have some level of voice, but it is particularly important for stories written in first person, and of particularly particular importance to have a strong voice in diary/letter type story. 

Think about the way different people talk and write. Different people use different vocabulary and different phrasing. You also need to take into consideration their background, where they learned to speak or write, and so on. Another important part of having great voice is having a thoroughly developed main character.

2. Speaking of Main Characters… Again, main characters are always, always important, but in this kind of story, you really have to be inside their head. Everything you write comes out of their perspective, not yours or any other character. When they are recording their thoughts in something as private as a diary or letter, they are likely to be more honest and straightforward about their opinions. The events of the story are going to be told through their own tinted glasses. 

You can use this to your advantage in a number of ways, including: increased emotions, better understanding of character relationships, and using their limited perspective to up the mystery and use what they do and don’t know to the advantage of the plot.

3. ~~~Emotions~~~: Briefly covered in the previous tips, but emotional value will be prevalent. One reason for that is that often people will simply be more honest and detailed when writing about their feelings. This is especially the case with a diary, in which case there is no real expected audience, and the writer feels more at liberty to state their mind.

In a letter format, there may be an expected audience, but there is still no immediate reaction to anything they say, like their may be in a verbal conversation, which releases that inhibition about what we say.

4. Timeline: Most diaries and letters are headed with a date. This means that the timeline of your plot is key. You have to decide several factors- how often do they write? Do they write about everything or are they only prompted to write by specific events? This will also affect the pacing of the story. You have to think realistically about how often your character will write. Particularly with letters, think about mail delivery time and whether they wait for responses before writing again.

5. Diaries, Specifically: There are a few things to keep in mind about diaries. One, they are written generally for no specific audience. Typically, the writer is not aiming to address or inform any specific person. Perhaps they speculate sometimes about the kind of person that might one day pick it up and read it, but as a general rule it is something that the writer is writing simply for themselves, whether to organize their thoughts, keep a record of their life, etc. On that note, another thing to think about when writing a diary story is that people often have a reason for starting a diary, and for continuing to write in it. Find that reason for your character. Is it therapeutic? For historical reasons? A place to share secrets? In lieu of a friend or confidante? Determining this reason is a major part of the character’s drive.

6. Letters, Specifically: Contrary to diaries, letters are interesting because they typically do have a very specific audience in mind. Because of this, when you are writing a story that is in a letter format, it’s important to know who the person receiving the letter is, and what relationship they have to the character. How do they know each other? How often do they write one another? Why are they apart? Do they ever write back? How often? 

(If you imagine that this other character does respond, you can include this either by including their own letters in full, or simply having your main character refer to their previous response as they “carry on the conversation”.)

They also may have some more awareness their audience’s potential reaction to their words. Again, they will still likely be more honest due to the lack of immediate consequences, but they still will have that person in mind and likely imagine a little bit how they might feel about a certain piece of news, even if they don’t see it personally. 

7. Personalization: Part of developing your character particularly in this format is that there are a number of things you can do with a letter or diary. Every choice your character makes concerning this record is telling about their personality. Do they write in pen or pencil or something else? How do they write the date? Do they ever forget to or not care to? How do they address the letter? Do they ever in close other small objects into the letter or tuck things into the pages of the diary? Do they ever draw things? What do they have the time/ability to do considering their current situation?

8. Keeping the Plot Going: The most important thing to remember is that all these individual entries or letters end up recounting one larger story. Something ties these different days and moments and events together, and ultimately that will reach all the way through a plot arc. This is simpler than you might think. Chances are, if you have already figured out why the character is writing, you might already be onto the plot. Like any story arc, there are going to be different events that ultimately make up the rising action and climax and so on. The difference is just that your character is the one recording all these events as they unfold.

9. Addressing the Dialogue Problem: One issue that writers deal with when writing this sort of story is the issue of dialogue. Obviously, since the character is recording these events after they have happened, they probably don’t remember every detail or every word that was spoken. That’s what makes their “voice” so important. One way to address the recounting of dialogue is to think about the way that people tell stories verbally. You may notice that there is a lot of “and then he said, and then she said” followed by an approximation of what this person said. We don’t usually recite what they said word-for-word, of course. But when we say “and then he said”, we still deliver the message of what that person said, sometimes with the “tinted glasses” attached. 

Keep in mind the kinds of things that your character would most care to note when remembering a past situation. It might help to practice “summing up” a brief story yourself, and then thinking about the kinds of details you made sure to mention when telling that story as briefly as possible.

Okay, as usual I am getting really long here so I’m gonna wrap this up, but I hope this gives you some helpful stuff!

~Penemue

LAW # 3 : CONCEAL YOUR INTENTIONS

JUDGEMENT

Keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions. If they have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense. Guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough smoke, and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

PART I: USE DECOYED OBJECTS OF DESIRE AND RED HERRINGS TO THROW PEOPLE OFF THE SCENT

If at any point in the deception you practice people have the slightest suspicions to your intentions, all is lost. Do not give them the chance to sense what you are up to: Throw them off the scent by dragging red herrings across the path. Use false sincerity, send ambiguous signals, set up misleading objects of desire. Unable to distinguish the genuine from the false, they cannot pick out your real goal.

TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW

Over several weeks, Ninon de Lenclos, the most infamous courtesan of seventeenth-century France, listened patiently as the Marquis de Sevigné explained his struggles in pursuing a beautiful but difficult young countess. Ninon was sixty-two at the time, and more than experienced in matters of love; the marquis was a lad of twenty-two, handsome, dashing, but hopelessly inexperienced in romance. At first Ninon was amused to hear the marquis talk about his mistakes, but finally she had had enough. Unable to bear ineptitude in any realm, least of all in seducing a woman, she decided to take the young man under her wing. First, he had to understand that this was war, and that the beautiful countess was a citadel to which he had to lay siege as carefully as any general. Every step had to be planned and executed with the utmost attention to detail and nuance.

Instructing the marquis to start over, Ninon told him to approach the countess with a bit of distance, an air of nonchalance. The next time the two were alone together, she said, he would confide in the countess as would a friend but not a potential lover. This was to throw her off the scent. The countess was no longer to take his interest in her for granted—perhaps he was only interested in friendship.

Ninon planned ahead. Once the countess was confused, it would be time to make her jealous. At the next encounter, at a major fête in Paris, the marquis would show up with a beautiful young woman at his side. This beautiful young woman had equally beautiful friends, so that wherever the countess would now see the marquis, he would be surrounded by the most stunning young women in Paris. Not only would the countess be seething with jealousy, she would come to see the marquis as someone who was desired by others. It was hard for Ninon to make the marquis understand, but she patiently explained that a woman who is interested in a man wants to see that other women are interested in him, too. Not only does that give him instant value, it makes it all the more satisfying to snatch him from their clutches.

Once the countess was jealous but intrigued, it would be time to beguile her. On Ninon’s instructions, the marquis would fail to show up at affairs where the countess expected to see him. Then, suddenly, he would appear at salons he had never frequented before, but that the countess attended often. She would be unable to predict his moves. All of this would push her into the state of emotional confusion that is a prerequisite for successful seduction.

These moves were executed, and took several weeks. Ninon monitored the marquis’s progress: Through her network of spies, she heard how the countess would laugh a little harder at his witticisms, listen more closely to his stories. She heard that the countess was suddenly asking questions about him. Her friends told her that at social affairs the countess would often look up at the marquis, following his steps. Ninon felt certain that the young woman was falling under his spell. It was a matter of weeks now, maybe a month or two, but if all went smoothly, the citadel would fall.

A few days later the marquis was at the countess’s home. They were alone. Suddenly he was a different man: This time acting on his own impulse, rather than following Ninon’s instructions, he took the countess’s hands and told her he was in love with her. The young woman seemed confused, a reaction he did not expect. She became polite, then excused herself. For the rest of the evening she avoided his eyes, was not there to say good-night to him. The next few times he visited he was told she was not at home. When she finally admitted him again, the two felt awkward and uncomfortable with each other. The spell was broken.

Interpretation

Ninon de Lenclos knew everything about the art of love. The greatest writ ers, thinkers, and politicians of the time had been her lovers—men like La Rochefoucauld, Molière, and Richelieu. Seduction was a game to her, to be practised with skill. As she got older, and her reputation grew, the most important families in France would send their sons to her to be instructed in matters of love.

Ninon knew that men and women are very different, but when it comes to seduction they feel the same: Deep down inside, they often sense when they are being seduced, but they give in because they enjoy the feeling of being led along. It is a pleasure to let go, and to allow the other person to detour you into a strange country. Everything in seduction, however, depends on suggestion. You cannot announce your intentions or reveal them directly in words. Instead you must throw your targets off the scent. To surrender to your guidance they must be appropriately confused. You have to scramble your signals—appear interested in another man or woman (the decoy), then hint at being interested in the target, then feign indifference, on and on. Such patterns not only confuse, they excite.

Imagine this story from the countess’s perspective: After a few of the marquis’s moves, she sensed the marquis was playing some sort of game, but the game delighted her. She did not know where he was leading her, but so much the better. His moves intrigued her, each of them keeping her waiting for the next one—she even enjoyed her jealousy and confusion, for sometimes any emotion is better than the boredom of security. Perhaps the marquis had ulterior motives; most men do. But she was willing to wait and see, and probably if she had been made to wait long enough, what he was up to would not have mattered.

The moment the marquis uttered that fatal word “love,” however, all was changed. This was no longer a game with moves, it was an artless show of passion. His intention was revealed: He was seducing her. This put everything he had done in a new light. All that before had been charming now seemed ugly and conniving; the countess felt embarrassed and used. A door closed that would never open again.

Do not be held a cheat, even though it is impossible to live today without being one.
Let your greatest cunning lie in covering up what looks like cunning.
Ballasar Gracián, 1601-1658

OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW

In 1850 the young Otto von Bismarck, then a thirty-five-year-old deputy in the Prussian parliament, was at a turning point in his career. The issues of the day were the unification of the many states (including Prussia) into which Germany was then divided, and a war against Austria, the powerful neighbor to the south that hoped to keep the Germans weak and at odds, even threatening to intervene if they tried to unite. Prince William, next in line to be Prussia’s king, was in favor of going to war, and the parliament rallied to the cause, prepared to back any mobilization of troops. The only ones to oppose war were the present king, Frederick William IV, and his ministers, who preferred to appease the powerful Austrians.

Throughout his career, Bismarck had been a loyal, even passionate supporter of Prussian might and power. He dreamed of German unification, of going to war against Austria and humiliating the country that for so long had kept Germany divided. A former soldier, he saw warfare as a glorious business.

This, after all, was the man who years later would say, “The great questions of the time will be decided, not by speeches and resolutions, but by iron and blood.”

Passionate patriot and lover of military glory, Bismarck nevertheless gave a speech in parliament at the height of the war fever that astonished all who heard it. “Woe unto the statesman,” he said, “who makes war without a reason that will still be valid when the war is over! After the war, you will all look differently at these questions. Will you then have the courage to turn to the peasant contemplating the ashes of his farm, to the man who has been crippled, to the father who has lost his children?” Not only did Bismarck go on to talk of the madness of this war, but, strangest of all, he praised Austria and defended her actions. This went against everything he had stood for. The consequences were immediate. Bismarck was against the war—what could this possibly mean? Other deputies were confused, and several of them changed their votes. Eventually the king and his ministers won out, and war was averted.

A few weeks after Bismarck’s infamous speech, the king, grateful that he had spoken for peace, made him a cabinet minister. A few years later he became the Prussian premier. In this role he eventually led his country and a peace-loving king into a war against Austria, crushing the former empire and establishing a mighty German state, with Prussia at its head.

Interpretation

At the time of his speech in 1850, Bismarck made several calculations. First, he sensed that the Prussian military, which had not kept pace with other European armies, was unready for war—that Austria, in fact, might very well win, a disastrous result for the future. Second, if the war were lost and Bismarck had supported it, his career would be gravely jeopardized. The king and his conservative ministers wanted peace; Bismarck wanted power. The answer was to throw people off the scent by supporting a cause he detested, saying things he would laugh at if said by another. A whole country was fooled. It was because of Bismarck’s speech that the king made him a minister, a position from which he quickly rose to be prime minister, attaining the power to strengthen the Prussian military and accomplish what he had wanted all along: the humiliation of Austria and the unification of Germany under Prussia’s leadership.

Bismarck was certainly one of the cleverest statesman who ever lived, a master of strategy and deception. No one suspected what he was up to in this case. Had he announced his real intentions, arguing that it was better to wait now and fight later, he would not have won the argument, since most Prussians wanted war at that moment and mistakenly believed that their army was superior to the Austrians. Had he played up to the king, asking to be made a minister in exchange for supporting peace, he would not have succeeded either: The king would have distrusted his ambition and doubted his sincerity.

By being completely insincere and sending misleading signals, however, he deceived everyone, concealed his purpose, and attained everything he wanted. Such is the power of hiding your intentions.

KEYS TO POWER

Most people are open books. They say what they feel, blurt out their opinions at every opportunity, and constantly reveal their plans and intentions. They do this for several reasons. First, it is easy and natural to always want to talk about one’s feelings and plans for the future. It takes effort to control your tongue and monitor what you reveal. Second, many believe that by being honest and open they are winning people’s hearts and showing their good nature.They are greatly deluded. Honesty is actually a blunt instrument, which bloodies more than it cuts. Your honesty is likely to offend people; it is much more prudent to tailor your words, telling people what they want to hear rather than the coarse and ugly truth of what you feel or think. More important, by being unabashedly open you make yourself so predictable and familiar that it is almost impossible to respect or fear you, and power will not accrue to a person who cannot inspire such emotions.

If you yearn for power, quickly lay honesty aside, and train yourself in the art of concealing your intentions. Master the art and you will always have the upper hand. Basic to an ability to conceal one’s intentions is a simple truth about human nature: Our first instinct is to always trust appearances. We cannot go around doubting the reality of what we see and hear—constantly imagining that appearances concealed something else would exhaust and terrify us. This fact makes it relatively easy to conceal one’s intentions. Simply dangle an object you seem to desire, a goal you seem to aim for, in front of people’s eyes and they will take the appearance for reality. Once their eyes focus on the decoy, they will fail to notice what you are really up to. In seduction, set up conflicting signals, such as desire and indifference, and you not only throw them off the scent, you inflame their desire to possess you.

A tactic that is often effective in setting up a red herring is to appear to support an idea or cause that is actually contrary to your own sentiments. (Bismarck used this to great effect in his speech in 1850.) Most people will believe you have experienced a change of heart, since it is so unusual to play so lightly with something as emotional as one’s opinions and values. The same applies for any decoyed object of desire: Seem to want something in which you are actually not at all interested and your enemies will be thrown off the scent, making all kinds of errors in their calculations.

During the War of the Spanish Succession in 1711, the Duke of Marlborough, head of the English army, wanted to destroy a key French fort, because it protected a vital thoroughfare into France. Yet he knew that if he destroyed it, the French would realize what he wanted—to advance down that road. Instead, then, he merely captured the fort, and garrisoned it with some of his troops, making it appear as if he wanted it for some purpose of his own. The French attacked the fort and the duke let them recapture it. Once they had it back, though, they destroyed it, figuring that the duke had wanted it for some important reason. Now that the fort was gone, the road was unprotected, and Marlborough could easily march into France.

Use this tactic in the following manner: Hide your intentions not by closing up (with the risk of appearing secretive, and making people suspicious) but by talking endlessly about your desires and goals—just not your real ones. You will kill three birds with one stone: You appear friendly, open, and trusting; you conceal your intentions; and you send your rivals on time-consuming wild-goose chases.

Another powerful tool in throwing people off the scent is false sincerity. People easily mistake sincerity for honesty. Remember—their first instinct is to trust appearances, and since they value honesty and want to believe in the honesty of those around them, they will rarely doubt you or see through your act. Seeming to believe what you say gives your words great weight. This is how Iago deceived and destroyed Othello: Given the depth of his emotions, the apparent sincerity of his concerns about Desde mona’s supposed infidelity, how could Othello distrust him? This is also how the great con artist Yellow Kid Weil pulled the wool over suckers’ eyes: Seeming to believe so deeply in the decoyed object he was dangling in front of them (a phony stock, a touted racehorse), he made its reality hard to doubt. It is important, of course, not to go too far in this area. Sincerity is a tricky tool: Appear overpassionate and you raise suspicions. Be measured and believable or your ruse will seem the put-on that it is.

To make your false sincerity an effective weapon in concealing your intentions, espouse a belief in honesty and forthrightness as important social values. Do this as publicly as possible. Emphasize your position on this subject by occasionally divulging some heartfelt thought—though only one that is actually meaningless or irrelevant, of course. Napoleon’s minister Talleyrand was a master at taking people into his confidence by revealing some apparent secret. This feigned confidence—a decoy—would then elicit a real confidence on the other person’s part.

Remember: The best deceivers do everything they can to cloak their roguish qualities. They cultivate an air of honesty in one area to disguise their dishonesty in others. Honesty is merely another decoy in their arsenal of weapons.

PART II: USE SMOKE SCREENS TO DISGUISE YOUR ACTIONS

Deception is always the best strategy, but the best deceptions require a screen of smoke to distract people attention from your real purpose. The bland exterior—like the unreadable poker face—is often the perfect smoke screen, hiding your intentions behind the comfortable and familiar. If you lead the sucker down a familiar path, he won’t catch on when you lead him into a trap.

OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW I

In 1910, a Mr. Sam Geezil of Chicago sold his warehouse business for close to $1 million. He settled down to semi-retirement and the managing of his many properties, but deep inside he itched for the old days of deal-making. One day a young man named Joseph Weil visited his office, wanting to buy an apartment he had up for sale. Geezil explained the terms: The price was $8,000, but he only required a down payment of $2,000. Weil said he would sleep on it, but he came back the following day and offered to pay the full $8,000 in cash, if Geezil could wait a couple of days, until a deal Weil was working on came through. Even in semi-retirement, a clever businessman like Geezil was curious as to how Weil would be able to come up with so much cash (roughly $150,000 today) so quickly. Weil seemed reluctant to say, and quickly changed the subject, but Geezil was persistent. Finally, after assurances of confidentiality, Weil told Geezil the following story.

JEHU, KING OF ISRAEL, FEIGNS WORSHIP OF THE IDOL BA’AL

Then Jehu assembled all the people, and said to them, “Ahab served Ba‘al a little; but Jehu will serve him much more. Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Ba’al, all his worshippers and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Ba‘al; whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshippers of Ba’al. And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Ba‘al. ”So they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent throughout all Israel; and all the worshippers of Ba’al came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Ba‘al, and the house of Ba’al was filled from one end to the other…. Then Jehu went into the house of Ba‘al … and he said to the worshippers of Ba’al, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshippers of Ba‘al.“Then he went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, and said, ”The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.“ So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, ”Go in and slay them; let not a man escape. ” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Ba’al and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Ba‘al and burned it. And they demolished the pillar of Ba’al and demolished the house of Ba‘al, and made it a latrine to this day. Thus Jehu wiped out Ba’al from Israel.

OLD TESTAMENT, 2 KINGS 10:18-28

Weil’s uncle was the secretary to a coterie of multimillionaire financiers. These wealthy gentlemen had purchased a hunting lodge in Michigan ten years ago, at a cheap price. They had not used the lodge for a few years, so they had decided to sell it and had asked Weil’s uncle to get whatever he could for it. For reasons—good reasons—of his own, the uncle had been nursing a grudge against the millionaires for years; this was his chance to get back at them. He would sell the property for $35,000 to a set up man (whom it was Weil’s job to find). The financiers were too wealthy to worry about this low price. The set-up man would then turn around and sell the property again for its real price, around $155,000. The uncle, Weil, and the third man would split the profits from this second sale. It was all legal and for a good cause—the uncle’s just retribution.

Geezil had heard enough: He wanted to be the set-up buyer. Weil was reluctant to involve him, but Geezil would not back down: The idea of a large profit, plus a little adventure, had him champing at the bit. Weil explained that Geezil would have to put up the $35,000 in cash to bring the deal off. Geezil, a millionaire, said he could get the money with a snap of his fingers. Weil finally relented and agreed to arrange a meeting between the uncle, Geezil, and the financiers, in the town of Galesburg, Illinois.

On the train ride to Galesburg, Geezil met the uncle—an impressive man, with whom he avidly discussed business. Weil also brought along a companion, a somewhat paunchy man named George Gross. Weil explained to Geezil that he himself was a boxing trainer, that Gross was one of the promising prizefighters he trained, and that he had asked Gross to come along to make sure the fighter stayed in shape. For a promising fighter, Gross was unimpressive looking—he had gray hair and a beer belly—but Geezil was so excited about the deal that he didn’t really think about the man’s flabby appearance.

Once in Galesburg, Weil and his uncle went to fetch the financiers while Geezil waited in a hotel room with Gross, who promptly put on his boxing trunks. As Geezil half watched, Gross began to shadowbox. Distracted as he was, Geezil ignored how badly the boxer wheezed after a few minutes of exercise, although his style seemed real enough. An hour later, Weil and his uncle reappeared with the financiers, an impressive, intimidating group of men, all wearing fancy suits. The meeting went well and the financiers agreed to sell the lodge to Geezil, who had already had the $35,000 wired to a local bank.

This minor business now settled, the financiers sat back in their chairs and began to banter about high finance, throwing out the name “J. P. Morgan” as if they knew the man. Finally one of them noticed the boxer in the corner of the room. Weil explained what he was doing there. The financier countered that he too had a boxer in his entourage, whom he named. Weil laughed brazenly and exclaimed that his man could easily knock out their man. Conversation escalated into argument. In the heat of passion, Weil challenged the men to a bet. The financiers eagerly agreed and left to get their man ready for a fight the next day.

As soon as they had left, the uncle yelled at Weil, right in front of Geezil; They did not have enough money to bet with, and once the financiers discovered this, the uncle would be fired. Weil apologized for getting him in this mess, but he had a plan: He knew the other boxer well, and with a little bribe, they could fix the fight. But where would the money come from for the bet? the uncle replied. Without it they were as good as dead. Finally Geezil had heard enough. Unwilling to jeopardize his deal with any ill will, he offered his own $35,000 cash for part of the bet. Even if he lost that, he would wire for more money and still make a profit on the sale of the lodge. The uncle and nephew thanked him. With their own $15,000 and Geezil’s $35,000 they would manage to have enough for the bet. That evening, as Geezil watched the two boxers rehearse the fix in the hotel room, his mind reeled at the killing he was going to make from both the boxing match and the sale of the lodge.

The fight took place in a gym the next day. Weil handled the cash, which was placed for security in a locked box. Everything was proceeding as planned in the hotel room. The financiers were looking glum at how badly their fighter was doing, and Geezil was dreaming about the easy money he was about to make. Then, suddenly, a wild swing by the financier’s fighter hit Gross hard in the face, knocking him down. When he hit the canvas, blood spurted from his mouth. He coughed, then lay still. One of the financiers, a former doctor, checked his pulse; he was dead. The millionaires panicked: Everyone had to get out before the police arrived-they could all be charged with murder.

Terrified, Geezil hightailed it out of the gym and back to Chicago, leaving behind his $35,000 which he was only too glad to forget, for it seemed a small price to pay to avoid being implicated in a crime. He never wanted to see Weil or any of the others again.

After Geezil scurried out, Gross stood up, under his own steam. The blood that had spurted from his mouth came from a ball filled with chicken blood and hot water that he had hidden in his cheek. The whole affair had been masterminded by Weil, better known as “the Yellow Kid,” one of the most creative con artists in history. Weil split the $35,000 with the financiers and the boxers (all fellow con artists)—a nice little profit for a few days’ work.

SNEAK ACROSS THE OCEAN IN BROAD DAYLIGHT

This means to create a front that eventually becomes imbued with an atmosphere or impression of familiarity, within which the strategist may manoeuvre unseen while all eyes are trained to see obvious familiarities. “THE THIRTY-SIX STRATEGIES.” QUOTED IN THF JAPANESE ART OF WAR.

THOMAS CLEARY, 1991

Interpretation

The Yellow Kid had staked out Geezil as the perfect sucker long before he set up the con. He knew the boxing-match scam would be the perfect ruse to separate Geezil from his money quickly and definitively. But he also knew that if he had begun by trying to interest Geezil in the boxing match, he would have failed miserably. He had to conceal his intentions and switch attention, create a smoke screen—in this case the sale of the lodge.

On the train ride and in the hotel room Geezil’s mind had been completely occupied with the pending deal, the easy money, the chance to hobnob with wealthy men. He had failed to notice that Gross was out of shape and middle-aged at best. Such is the distracting power of a smoke screen. Engrossed in the business deal, Geezil’s attention was easily diverted to the boxing match, but only at a point when it was already too late for him to notice the details that would have given Gross away. The match, after all, now depended on a bribe rather than on the boxer’s physical condition. And Geezil was so distracted at the end by the illusion of the boxer’s death that he completely forgot about his money.

Learn from the Yellow Kid: The familiar, inconspicuous front is the perfect smoke screen. Approach your mark with an idea that seems ordinary enough—a business deal, financial intrigue. The sucker’s mind is distracted, his suspicions allayed. That is when you gently guide him onto the second path, the slippery slope down which he slides helplessly into your trap.

OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW II

In the mid-1920s, the powerful warlords of Ethiopia were coming to the realization that a young man of the nobility named Haile Selassie, also known as Ras Tafari, was out-competing them all and nearing the point where he could proclaim himself their leader, unifying the country for the first time in decades. Most of his rivals could not understand how this wispy, quiet, mild-mannered man had been able to take control. Yet in 1927, Selassie was able to summon the warlords, one at a time, to come to Addis Ababa to declare their loyalty and recognize him as leader.

Some hurried, some hesitated, but only one, Dejazmach Balcha of Sidamo, dared defy Selassie totally. A blustery man, Balcha was a great warrior, and he considered the new leader weak and unworthy. He pointedly stayed away from the capital. Finally Selassie, in his gentle but stem way, commanded Balcha to come. The warlord decided to obey, but in doing so he would turn the tables on this pretender to the Ethiopian throne: He would come to Addis Ababa at his own speed, and with an army of 10,000 men, a force large enough to defend himself, perhaps even start a civil war. Stationing this formidable force in a valley three miles from the capital, he waited, as a king would. Selassie would have to come to him.

Selassie did indeed send emissaries, asking Balcha to attend an afternoon banquet in his honor. But Balcha, no fool, knew history—he knew that previous kings and lords of Ethiopia had used banquets as a trap. Once he was there and full of drink, Selassie would have him arrested or murdered. To signal his understanding of the situation, he agreed to come to the banquet, but only if he could bring his personal bodyguard—600 of his best soldiers, all armed and ready to defend him and themselves. To Balcha’s surprise, Selassie answered with the utmost politeness that he would be honored to play host to such warriors.

On the way to the banquet, Balcha warned his soldiers not to get drunk and to be on their guard. When they arrived at the palace, Selassie was his charming best. He deferred to Balcha, treated him as if he desperately needed his approval and cooperation. But Balcha refused to be charmed, and he warned Selassie that if he did not return to his camp by nightfall, his army had orders to attack the capital. Selassie reacted as if hurt by his mistrust. Over the meal, when it came time for the traditional singing of songs in honor of Ethiopia’s leaders, he made a point of allowing only songs honoring the warlord of Sidamo. It seemed to Balcha that Selassie was scared, intimidated by this great warrior who could not be outwitted. Sensing the change, Balcha believed that he would be the one to call the shots in the days to come.

At the end of the afternoon, Balcha and his soldiers began their march back to camp amidst cheers and gun salutes. Looking back to the capital over his shoulder, he planned his strategy—how his own soldiers would march through the capital in triumph within weeks, and Selassie would be put in his place, his place being either prison or death. When Balcha came in sight of his camp, however, he saw that something was terribly wrong. Where before there had been colorful tents stretching as far as the eye could see, now there was nothing, only smoke from doused fires. What devil’s magic was this?

A witness told Balcha what had happened. During the banquet, a large army, commanded by an ally of Selassie’s, had stolen up on Balcha’s encampment by a side route he had not seen. This army had not come to fight, however: Knowing that Balcha would have heard a noisy battle and hurried back with his 600-man bodyguard, Selassie had armed his own troops with baskets of gold and cash. They had surrounded Balcha’s army and proceeded to purchase every last one of their weapons. Those who refused were easily intimidated. Within a few hours, Balcha’s entire force had been disarmed and scattered in all directions.

Realizing his danger, Balcha decided to march south with his 600 soldiers to regroup, but the same army that had disarmed his soldiers blocked his way. The other way out was to march on the capital, but Selassie had set a large army to defend it. Like a chess player, he had predicted Balcha’s moves, and had checkmated him. For the first time in his life, Balcha surrendered. To repent his sins of pride and ambition, he agreed to enter a monastery.

Interpretation

Throughout Selassie’s long reign, no one could quite figure him out. Ethiopians like their leaders fierce, but Selassie, who wore the front of a gentle, peace-loving man, lasted longer than any of them. Never angry or impatient, he lured his victims with sweet smiles, lulling them with charm and obsequiousness before he attacked. In the case of Balcha, Selassie played on the man’s wariness, his suspicion that the banquet was a trap—which in fact it was, but not the one he expected. Selassie’s way of allaying Balcha’s fears—letting him bring his bodyguard to the banquet, giving him top billing there, making him feel in control—created a thick smoke screen, concealing the real action three miles away.

Remember: The paranoid and wary are often the easiest to deceive. Win their trust in one area and you have a smoke screen that blinds their view in another, letting you creep up and level them with a devastating blow. A helpful or apparently honest gesture, or one that implies the other person’s superiority—these are perfect diversionary devices.

Properly set up, the smoke screen is a weapon of great power. It enabled the gentle Selassie to totally destroy his enemy, without firing a single bullet.

Do not underestimate the power of Tafari. He creeps
like a mouse but he has jaws like a lion.
Bacha of Sidamo’s last worlds before entering the monastery

KEYS TO POWER

If you believe that deceivers are colorful folk who mislead with elaborate lies and tall tales, you are greatly mistaken. The best deceivers utilize a bland and inconspicuous front that calls no attention to themselves. They know that extravagant words and gestures immediately raise suspicion. Instead, they envelop their mark in the familiar, the banal, the harmless. In Yellow Kid Weil’s dealings with Sam Geezil, the familiar was a business deal. In the Ethiopian case, it was Selassie’s misleading obsequiousness—exactly what Balcha would have expected from a weaker warlord.

Once you have lulled your suckers’ attention with the familiar, they will not notice the deception being perpetrated behind their backs. This derives from a simple truth: people can only focus on one thing at a time. It is really too difficult for them to imagine that the bland and harmless person they are dealing with is simultaneously setting up something else. The grayer and more uniform the smoke in your smoke screen, the better it conceals your intentions. In the decoy and red herring devices discussed in Part I, you actively distract people; in the smoke screen, you lull your victims, drawing them into your web. Because it is so hypnotic, this is often the best way of concealing your intentions.

The simplest form of smoke screen is facial expression. Behind a bland, unreadable exterior, all sorts of mayhem can be planned, without detection. This is a weapon that the most powerful men in history have learned to perfect. It was said that no one could read Franklin D. Roosevelt’s face. Baron James Rothschild made a lifelong practice of disguising his real thoughts behind bland smiles and nondescript looks. Stendhal wrote of Talleyrand, “Never was a face less of a barometer.” Henry Kissinger would bore his opponents around the negotiating table to tears with his monotonous voice, his blank look, his endless recitations of details; then, as their eyes glazed over, he would suddenly hit them with a list of bold terms. Caught off-guard, they would be easily intimidated. As one poker manual explains it, “While playing his hand, the good player is seldom an actor. Instead he practices a bland behavior that minimizes readable patterns, frustrates and confuses opponents, permits greater concentration.”

An adaptable concept, the smoke screen can be practiced on a number of levels, all playing on the psychological principles of distraction and misdirection. One of the most effective smoke screens is the noble gesture. People want to believe apparently noble gestures are genuine, for the belief is pleasant. They rarely notice how deceptive these gestures can be.

The art dealer Joseph Duveen was once confronted with a terrible problem. The millionaires who had paid so dearly for Duveen’s paintings were running out of wall space, and with inheritance taxes getting ever higher, it seemed unlikely that they would keep buying. The solution was the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., which Duveen helped create in 1937 by getting Andrew Mellon to donate his collection to it. The National Gallery was the perfect front for Duveen. In one gesture, his clients avoided taxes, cleared wall space for new purchases, and reduced the number of paintings on the market, maintaining the upward pressure on their prices. All this while the donors created the appearance of being public benefactors.

Another effective smoke screen is the pattern, the establishment of a series of actions that seduce the victim into believing you will continue in the same way. The pattern plays on the psychology of anticipation: Our behavior conforms to patterns, or so we like to think.

In 1878 the American robber baron Jay Gould created a company that began to threaten the monopoly of the telegraph company Western Union. The directors of Western Union decided to buy Gould’s company up— they had to spend a hefty sum, but they figured they had managed to rid themselves of an irritating competitor. A few months later, though, Gould was it at again, complaining he had been treated unfairly. He started up a second company to compete with Western Union and its new acquisition. The same thing happened again: Western Union bought him out to shut him up. Soon the pattern began for the third time, but now Gould went for the jugular: He suddenly staged a bloody takeover struggle and managed to gain complete control of Western Union. He had established a pattern that had tricked the company’s directors into thinking his goal was to be bought out at a handsome rate. Once they paid him off, they relaxed and failed to notice that he was actually playing for higher stakes. The pattern is powerful in that it deceives the other person into expecting the opposite of what you are really doing.

Another psychological weakness on which to construct a smoke screen is the tendency to mistake appearances for reality—the feeling that if someone seems to belong to your group, their belonging must be real. This habit makes the seamless blend a very effective front. The trick is simple: You simply blend in with those around you. The better you blend, the less suspicious you become. During the Cold War of the 1950s and ’60s, as is now notorious, a slew of British civil servants passed secrets to the Soviets. They went undetected for years because they were apparently decent chaps, had gone to all the right schools, and fit the old-boy network perfectly. Blending in is the perfect smoke screen for spying. The better you do it, the better you can conceal your intentions.

Remember: It takes patience and humility to dull your brilliant colors, to put on the mask of the inconspicuous. Do not despair at having to wear such a bland mask—it is often your unreadability that draws people to you and makes you appear a person of power.

Image: A Sheep’s Skin.
A sheep never marauds,
a sheep never deceives,
a sheep is magnificently
dumb and docile. With a
sheepskin on his back,
a fox can pass right
into the chicken coop.

Authority: Have you ever heard of a skillful general, who intends to surprise a citadel, announcing his plan to his enemy? Conceal your purpose and hide your progress; do not disclose the extent of your designs until they cannot be opposed, until the combat is over. Win the victory before you declare the war. In a word, imitate those warlike people whose designs are not known except by the ravaged country through which they have passed. (Ninon de Lenclos, 1623-1706)

REVERSAL

No smoke screen, red herring, false sincerity, or any other diversionary device will succeed in concealing your intentions if you already have an established reputation for deception. And as you get older and achieve success, it often becomes increasingly difficult to disguise your cunning. Everyone knows you practice deception; persist in playing naive and you run the risk of seeming the rankest hypocrite, which will severely limit your room to maneuver. In such cases it is better to own up, to appear the honest rogue, or, better, the repentant rogue. Not only will you be admired for your frankness, but, most wonderful and strange of all, you will be able to continue your stratagems.

As P. T. Barnum, the nineteenth-century king of hum-buggery, grew older, he learned to embrace his reputation as a grand deceiver. At one point he organized a buffalo hunt in New Jersey, complete with Indians and a few imported buffalo. He publicized the hunt as genuine, but it came off as so completely fake that the crowd, instead of getting angry and asking for their money back, was greatly amused. They knew Barnum pulled tricks all the time; that was the secret of his success, and they loved him for it. Learning a lesson from this affair, Barnum stopped concealing all of his devices, even revealing his deceptions in a tell-all autobiography. As Kierkegaard wrote, “The world wants to be deceived.”

Finally, although it is wiser to divert attention from your purposes by presenting a bland, familiar exterior, there are times when the colorful, conspicuous gesture is the right diversionary tactic. The great charlatan mountebanks of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe used humor and entertainment to deceive their audiences. Dazzled by a great show, the public would not notice the charlatans’ real intentions. Thus the star charlatan himself would appear in town in a night-black coach drawn by black horses. Clowns, tightrope walkers, and star entertainers would accompany him, pulling people in to his demonstrations of elixirs and quack potions. The charlatan made entertainment seem like the business of the day; the business of the day was actually the sale of the elixirs and quack potions.

Spectacle and entertainment, clearly, are excellent devices to conceal your intentions, but they cannot be used indefinitely. The public grows tired and suspicious, and eventually catches on to the trick. And indeed the charlatans had to move quickly from town to town, before word spread that the potions were useless and the entertainment a trick. Powerful people with bland exteriors, on the other hand—the Talleyrands, the Rothschilds, the Selassies—can practice their deceptions in the same place throughout their lifetimes. Their act never wears thin, and rarely causes suspicion. The colorful smoke screen should be used cautiously, then, and only when the occasion is right.

vox.com
A clear guide to what the hell is going on with the Senate health care bill(s)
7 things you need to know.
By Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott at Vox:

The twists in the Senate health care debate this week have been dramatic, unpredictable, and rapid-fire. Just a few days ago, it seemed like the whole plan had been put on hold.

But now Senate Republicans are frantically rushing ahead, hoping to put some kind of bill up for a vote early next week. It’s a mad dash to the finish line, the end of a six-month debate in Congress and a seven-year Republican promise to repeal Obamacare.

It’s been a busy, confusing week. Here’s where things stand right now.

There are two bills in play — one to repeal Obamacare, one to replace it

One reason the debate has gotten hard to follow: Senate Republicans are considering two health care bills right now.

One is the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the repeal-and-replacement plan that Republicans has been discussing and drafting in private for the past two months. That’s the health care bill you’ve been hearing about for most of the Senate debate.

The other is the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, an updated version of 2015 legislation that repeals all funding for Obamacare’s insurance expansion but keeps its regulations on insurers. It was released Tuesday.

Neither bill has the votes to pass. But the Senate is still trying.

Earlier this week, the Senate health care push seemed dead. Monday night, two more Republican senators came out against the current version of the BCRA, bringing the total to four, enough to block the bill. Then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would instead vote soon on the repeal-only legislation.

But by midday Tuesday, three Senate Republicans said they would oppose the repeal bill, enough to stop that bill as well. McConnell said the Senate would vote soon nonetheless, perhaps just to bring the six-month health care saga to an end.

Then the White House intervened. President Trump told senators at the White House Wednesday to keep working on the BCRA. (Trump has been all over the place: He has endorsed repeal only, letting Obamacare fail, and repeal and replace this week alone.)

Vote counts haven’t changed for either bill. But Senate Republicans are still discussing the BCRA.

One bill would lead to 22 million fewer people with insurance. The other: 32 million.

The BCRA, the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, would do a few big things:

  • It would scale back Obamacare’s financial assistance for people who buy private coverage.
  • Insurers could sell health plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations — for example, they could charge people more based on preexisting conditions or offer insurance that doesn’t cover maternity care or hospitalization.
  • It would eventually end Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and overhaul the entire Medicaid program by instituting a hard federal spending cap.
  • It provides about $200 billion to stabilize the insurance market, but experts have said that likely isn’t enough money to offset the negative effects.

The most recent version of the BCRA hasn’t yet been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office. But the CBO found that the original version would lead to 22 million fewer Americans having health insurance in 2026, versus Obamacare, and out-of-pocket costs would rise dramatically. Medicaid spending would be cut by $772 billion over 10 years, versus current law, and 15 million fewer people would be enrolled in the program.

The ORRA, on the other hand, would repeal broad swaths of Obamacare and not replace any of it:

  • Tax subsidies for private coverage, Medicaid expansion, taxes on the wealthy and health care industry, and the law’s individual mandate would be repealed.
  • Obamacare’s insurance regulations would not be repealed, however, because the Senate can’t do that and bypass the possibility of a filibuster.
  • Repeal would happen in two years.

Republicans say they would craft a new replacement plan in the two years before repeal takes full effect, though experts warn that passing the bill would have immediate consequences for the insurance market.

Without a replacement, the CBO projected that the ORRA would lead to 32 million fewer Americans having health insurance in 2026, that insurance premiums would double over the next 10 years, and that most of the country would have no health plans available on the individual market.

[…]

John McCain’s newly diagnosed brain cancer will make it even harder for a bill to pass

Republicans are using a Senate process that prevents Democrats from filibustering, so they need only 50 votes to pass a bill. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.

Right now, neither bill has the votes to pass. At least six senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said they’d oppose the most recent version of the BCRA.

At least four senators — Collins, Capito, Murkowski, and Rob Portman of Ohio — have said they would oppose the ORRA.

But after Sen. John McCain’s cancer diagnosis, there are effectively only 51 Republicans in the Senate for the foreseeable future. (It’s not clear how long McCain will be out.) That means two Republican “no” votes are enough to scuttle the plan.

The evidence, however, suggests that Trump’s unlikely victory is better understood as the death rattle of White Christian America—the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—rather than as its resuscitation. Despite the election’s immediate and dramatic consequences, it’s important not to over-interpret Trump’s win, which was extraordinarily close. Out of more than 136 million votes cast, Trump’s victory in the Electoral College came down to a razor-thin edge of only 77,744 votes across three states: Pennsylvania (44,292 votes), Wisconsin (22,748 votes), and Michigan (10,704 votes). These votes represent a Trump margin of 0.7 percentage points in Pennsylvania, 0.7 percentage points in Wisconsin, and 0.2 percentage points in Michigan. If Clinton had won these states, she would now be president. And of course Clinton actually won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, receiving 48.2 percent of all votes compared to Trump’s 46.1 percent. The real story of 2016 is that there was just enough movement in just the right places, just enough increased turnout from just the right groups, to get Trump the electoral votes he needed to win.