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Anti-Corruption Dec/17/2018: Transport Ministry staff charged with covering up a missing 428mln // Yerevan municipality & ministry staff charged with illegal construction // Mayor's office finds more schools with shady finances // Court protects Pashinyan's free speech // more below...

All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Another Monday, another pile of քաք that դուրս եկավ ջրի եռես․ Take it away...
//
During the investigation of South-Caucasus Railways company's tax shortcomings, the SIS has uncovered evidence of other crimes. An employee of Ministry of Transportation is facing abuse of power charges.
On February of 2008, Ministry of Transport authorized the lease of Armenian railways to a Russian company for the duration of 30 years, in exchange for 174bln various investments in the infrastructure. The Ministry was authorized to audit the railway company once a year to make sure the contract was being followed through.
Ministry signed a 40mln contract with a third party auditing company for the job. On 2015, the auditors submitted the 2008-2013 audit results, which showed 428mln in under-delivered investments by the railway giant.
The former deputy Minister of Transportation (2nd guy in charge) then allegedly covered-up the audit results and did not notify the law enforcement of the missing 428mln. Criminal case is launched.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958448.html
//
Yerevan municipality and the law enforcement have begun a criminal investigation against employees of municipality, various Ministries and government funded organizations, for abuse of power and negligence, which led to illegal building constructions since 2009. The suspects falsified documents on 2012, which also caused harm to residents.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958400.html
...
Mayor Hayko Marutyan says they've discovered some schools with as many as 9 deputy directors, all receiving salaries for something that should have been done by others. In some schools, the number of registered teachers was higher than the actual teachers, while the salaries for the non-existent ones were distributed among others. The municipality plans to end the illegal practices. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958425.html
//
Ministry of justice will launch a new websites on January, which will allow residents to anonymously inform about bribery and other forms of corruption. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958446.html
//
Robert Kocharyan had earlier sued Nikol Pashinyan with an attempt to prevent him from publicly discussing his arrest and trial case. The judge has just denied the plaintiff's request, citing the fact that it would limit Pashinyan's freedom of speech granted by the Constitution. https://hraparak.am/post/860666114
//
PM's spokesman says Pashinyan has always brought up the issue with weapons supplies from Russia to Azerbaijan during meetings with Putin, after Belarus president Alexander Kuklashenko complained that only Belarus was being "unfairly criticized for a few Polonez weapon sales". https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958382.html
//
Electoral Committee has certified the Parliamentary Election results. The numbers haven't changed.
QP 88, BHK 26, Bright Armenia 18 seats.
4 out of those 88 QP seats will be held by ethnic minority MPs, who are always part of the government.
The results can be challenged until December 21st.
http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/150728
//
There is a public feud between BHK and Bright Armenia party leaderships. The Bright's Edmon Marukyan responds to attacks by suggesting that BHK's "oligarch" Tsarukyan should quit politics like the other large businessmen have.
Accuses Tsarukyan of anti-competitive practices in the casino industry. Says BHK has always been pro-Serj and helped him on multiple occasions in past.
He plans to check every Parliamentary session to make sure Gagik Tsarukyan is present, or otherwise has the required valid documents showing a reason for absence. (Tsarukyan rarely attends Parliament despite being an MP).
Says BHK was one of the parties that received 300 uniforms during March 1st 2008, which were worn by hired thugs to commit various crimes. (SIS had earlier released a document as part of the new investigation, showing how people received money and gear to act as pro-Serj/Kocharyan mob).
Says BHK is using its news network Kentron to propagate a smear campaign against Bright Armenia.
The feud begun when Marukyan pressured Tsarukyan during the Parliamentary debate on live-TV, criticizing the thin line between his business and politics.
https://youtu.be/lrPxLyU5fzg?t=349
...
BHK responds to Marukyan. Says the law doesn't prevent businessmen from being politicians, and that "Tsarukyan isn't an oligarch because he doesn't use his political power to enrich himself".
Says the law passed earlier gave investors who invested $100mln in the economy more favorable conditions regarding the casino business, and that no one is preventing others from making such investments too. Says Tsarukyan's casinos cannot be a monopoly because another businessman was given identical casino privileges, but isn't using them.
Says they support the March 1st investigation. Denies the Marukyan's claim that Kocharyan is the real founder of BHK. Calls Marukyan "too small of a person" to be subject of Tsarukyan's center of attention, in response to Marukyan's claims that BHK sent him threats about not being able to walk on the streets on the daylight.
http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/150772
...
BHK member Enfiajyan (who was earlier caught using fake social media accounts and apparently violating election observing laws), calls for Edmon Marukyan to be arrested for allegedly lying to the Parliament on 2012 about being a resident of Armenia for at least 5 years. (the law requires MPs to be permanent residents for 5 years prior to serving in Parliament).
https://factor.am/108836.html
....
Informed Citizens denies Enfiajyan's claims that Marukyan broke the law on 2012. Says the law passed on 2011 does not define a temporarily relocated person (Marukyan studied abroad for over a year) as someone who isn't a "permanent resident".
Moreover, the law was clarified on 2016, and it explicitly states that if the person went abroad for an education needed for the public office job, the time spent abroad does not disqualify him. Absence for up to 2 years for any reason also does not disqualify the person, even if it was for non-education reasons.
https://fip.am/5470
//
Food safety committee suspends manufacturer TUKASA for producing pelmeni and kotlets with high amounts of food bacteria. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958373.html
//
Human's Rights Office had earlier challenged several 2017 laws in the Constitutional Court. The Court has just ruled the laws as unconstitutional. The Office says this will strengthen businesses's property and several other rights. http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/150747
//
Russian and Armenian troops conducted a training involving military drones in the mountains. In another location, 100 Russian soldiers were conducting a joint training involving 50 tanks and other vehicles. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958459.html ---- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958462.html
...
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov says Yerevan and Moscow are working on an agreement that will provide transparency around the work conducted by foreign medical laboratories in Armenia, to assure they aren't being used by the American military. It appears that some outlets have erroneously reported it as an agreement that prohibits military bases in general.
Foreign labs in Russia's neighboring nations (mostly Georgia and Ukraine) are currently a hot topic of discussion in Russia. Conspiracy theories have been circulated suspecting that western powers might be using them to cause biological harm to Russian farmers and their harvest, and to spread uncommon flue traces. The theories were fueled after Russia was hit by an unusually strong flue epidemic which came earlier than usual.
Few months ago, Armenian labs allowed Russian experts to enter the facilities and become familiarized with the work that was being done. The Russian experts did not find anything concerning.
http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/263612/ ------ www.aysor.am/am/news/2018/12/17/Երևան-Լավրով/1504961
//
All-Armenia fund will allow 171 Tavush families to receive solar energy next year, in addition to improving farming and providing new breeds of kettle for higher productivity https://hetq.am/hy/article/99331
//
The government has authorized imports of certain medications that haven't been fully tested in Armenia yet, but have met the basic safety checks by the international medical bodies. Beginning next year, children will receive these cancer medications for free. The latest tuberculosis, HIV and malaria drugs also fall under the category. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVb9I-vmGnI
//
Tourism grew 76%. Armenia became the #1 New Year travel destination for Russians. 12% cheaper air fares and low cost accommodations have contributed to the spike. There is a general trend of Russians traveling more towards neighboring nations than EU.
Tourism from China and India has doubled. 20% increase from USA. A decrease was seen from Iran due to their internal economic problems.
https://youtu.be/aVb9I-vmGnI?t=83
//
Ayy you're not gonna believe this one. There are no training pools in Armenia for synchronized diving sport. The athletes jump individually, then during a competition in another country, they get an opportunity to jump together. That is essentially the only training they get together.
Despite that, the team won a bronze medal in European championship, and a silver medal in an international competition held in Ukraine.
http://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/150776
//
Boxer Arman Darchinyan wins bronze in international competition held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958335.html
...
Boxer Levon Hakobyan wins WBC champion's title http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/263601/
...
Boxer Artyom Dalakian (17-0, 12 КО) defends his WBA boxing championship title against Grigorio LeBron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FXorl6h9oA ------- https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958350.html
//
Soccer Federation chief Arthur Vanetsyan says he has negotiated with a world famous soccer player to have him move to Armenia and help train teams and improve the sport in the country. Vanetsyan isn't allowed to reveal his name until January. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/958372.html
(my money is on Yuri Djorkaeff)
//
London Chess Tournament is underway. Levon Aronyan played a tie once more against the world championship runner-up Fabiano Caruana. The winner takes the 3rd place. https://www.a1plus.am/1654271.html
//
Peto
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tarzfJ204eY
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2020 Is Hindsight, America's Last Great Hurrah

In the past, Chris Hedges has forecast the fall of America by 2030. Perhaps, perhaps not. Almost undoubtedly there will be a United States of America come January 1st, 2030 -- barring some nuclear holocaust. But what it is has been so hollowed out by decades of grift and corporate self-interest, it will be about as recognizable as Imperial Rome was to the Roman Republic. Institutional forms merely carried forward as but a facade.
But it has become clear to me 2020 has been America's last great Hurrah. By Hurrah, I mean the artificial propping up of the stock market and the upper middle class crowded around it like an enclave of apes around a monolith they worship but fundamentally don't understand, entranced to madness while the elites pull the levers of the enigmatic machine. What started as an actual economic tool, had been transformed into a retirement fund like houses for a privileged generation or two, and now is merely a casino where the house always wins -- although the ones playing seem wholly oblivious to the fact unlike in Las Vegas.
Others are cheering on Joe Biden as the next savior, much as Obama should have been. His cabinet picks show a man trying to reconstruct 2016 BAU. The man himself seems primed to be the next Jimmy Carter. For those too young to remember, that nice guy was as useful as using cat's whiskers to push a car. Mr President-Elect is a gerontocrat from another era well past his prime, the boomer's last gasp and grasp at maintaining power. It's already quite evident his administration will likely be run by teams of underlings in a multi-sided tug of war with each other, no one at the helm. This is not unique, Reagan was somewhat the same way and before him Woodrow Wilson after a stroke. But the illusion of the President being someone with his hand on the wheel was maintained, who knows what will occur when that public perception is shattered? Weekend at Bernies was fun and games when it was a random rich guy that had no fundamental power over a nation.
Today I was at possibly the last institution of American greatness, one thing most citizen's loved and could agree on. The Post Office. Established by Ben Franklin. Semi-privatized by Reagan. Stifled by Congress. Stopped neither by snow, rain, heat nor gloom of night -- it has finally been brought to its knees these last six months. Not Corona. But by a Trump desperate to win an election and decades long Republican yearning to privatize yet another public service, one that is largely self-funded but to a small fraction of what it costs to keep the military. Avowed corporatists dreaming of bringing the "free market" to streamline and inevitably force private monopolized pricing, especially on rural America. Elderly with drugs. Those running small businesses. Communities out in boondocks that will never get UPS/Fedex service, the PO being their single lifeline out into the greater world. America's last great institution has fallen. Sorting machines scrapped. Its upper tier fired or shuffled. Immense delays never seen in the past so systematically. Corona conveniently blamed.
The regionalism of the Hunger Games was an inspired bit of foreshadowing from fiction to where we're headed in the near future. In all likelihood, an increasingly autocratic North-East Corridor tail wagging the rest of the dog just as Goldman Sachs & Friends dictated $9T bailout the NYSE casino. No ideology is at play, nor any greater political theory other than The Rich Make the Rules, So Let the Rich Get Richer. Merely through disparate wealth and power and connections. In a sense, America has always centered this way regionally dating from the original Colonies and cemented in the 19th Century. It's just merely never been explicitly formalized.
Decades from now, when people ask when the peak of the US came and some may expect to hear 2020 or 2030ish perhaps. Corona or some other clear delineation like the fall of the Berlin Wall may exist. But those are just visual symptoms. The actual answer by most metrics will be 1945 and the immediate postwar. A result of a culmination of moves from early 19th Century towards hemispherical hegemony and empire. The rest of the industrialized world devastated, it served as uncontested factory and Superpower to the world. Exports were at max. Unemployment was low, wages were high. Its Universities had been bolstered by Europe's top talent since the early 1930s. It had exclusive access to the Atom Bomb. And was at the very cusp of computing which would pay major dividends later. By most metrics, America dominated everyone else.
"Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.”
What we have left is just an afterimage placed over a husk that hasn't been dispelled quite yet. Like a major corporate stock too many bet on long after the company has slumped in reality because they remember the good times which feeds their hopium. YHOO. Sears. USA. Company or nation, the story of once-dominant interests mostly repeat as human nature stays the same.
Enjoy your 2021. A delirious "Return to the Mean" will be the main theme in most people's minds. Use that tidbit as you wish.
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The USA PATRIOT Act: The Story of an Impulsive Bill that Eviscerated America's Civil Liberties

The USA PATRIOT Act provides a textbook example of how the United States federal government expands its power. An emergency happens, legitimate or otherwise. The media, playing its dutiful role as goad for greater government oversight, demands "something must be done." Government power is massively expanded, with little regard for whether or not what is being done is efficacious, to say nothing of the overall impact on our nation's civil liberties.
No goals are posted, because if targets are hit, this would necessitate the ending or scaling back of the program. Instead, the program becomes normalized. There are no questions asked about whether the program is accomplishing what it set out to do. It is now simply a part of American life and there is no going back.
The American public largely accepts the USA PATRIOT Act as a part of civic life as immutable, perhaps even more so than the Bill of Rights. However, this act – passed in the dead of night, with little to no oversight, in a panic after the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor – is not only novel, it is also fundamentally opposed to virtually every principle on which the United States of America was founded. It might not be going anywhere anytime soon, but patriots, liberty lovers and defenders of Constitutional government should nonetheless familiarize themselves with the onerous provisions of this law, which is nothing short of a full-throttle attack on the American republic.

What’s Even in the USA PATRIOT Act?

What is in the USA PATRIOT Act? In the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11, then Rep. John Conyers cracked wise about how no one had actually read the Act and how this was in fact par for the course with America's laws. Thus, before delving into the deeper issues surrounding the PATRIOT Act, it is worth discussing what the Act actually says. Here’s a brief look at the 10 Titles in the PATRIOT Act:
Most of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to sunset four years after the bill was passed into law. However, the law was extended first by President George W. Bush and then by President Barack H. Obama. The latter is particularly scandalous given that, at least in part, a rejection of the surveillance culture that permeated the Bush Administration was responsible for the election of Obama in 2008.

Passing the USA PATRIOT Act

Next, it’s important to remember the environment in which the USA PATRIOT Act was passed: Post-9/11. It is not the slightest bit of exaggeration to label the environment in which the PATRIOT Act was passed as “hysterical,” nor is “compliant” a misnomer for the Congress of the time. Opposition to the Act was slim and intensive review of one of the most sweeping Acts of Congress in American history was nonexistent.
All told, Congress took a whopping six weeks drafting, revising, reviewing and passing the PATRIOT Act. That’s less time than Congress typically spends on totally uncontroversial and routine bills that don’t gut the Fourth Amendment. The final vote found only 66 opponents in the House and one (Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold) in the Senate. The entire passage of the PATRIOT Act, from start to finish, took place behind closed doors. There were no committee reports or hearings for opponents to testify, nor did anyone bother to read the bill.
“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” is the bloated and overwrought full name of the bill, crafted by a 23-year-old Congressional staffer named Chris Cylke. This ridiculous name puts the focus not on the surveillance aspects or the erosion of basic civil liberties enshrined in Western society since the Magna Carta, but on patriotism. At the time of its creation, the messaging was very clear: Real patriots support massive intrusions on civil rights. As President George W. Bush said at the time, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This sentiment very much seemed to apply to American citizens.
While the argument that if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t fear investigation is anathema in a Constitutional republic with regard to citizens, it should be standard operating procedure when it comes to our organs of government. If we cannot expect transparency from the United States Congress – elected officials charged with representing the will of the people and protecting the Constitution – then we certainly can’t expect it anywhere else.

The Unfortunate Growth of the USA PATRIOT Act

It’s no surprise to those in the liberty movement that given an inch, the government (in particular the military-intelligence community) took a mile. Even the nebulous definition of “terrorism,” largely centered around a long litany of acts rather than the motivation behind them, has expanded to include receiving military training from a proscribed organization (without actually committing any terrorist acts or even acts of violence of any stripe) as well as “narcoterrorism” – the latter particularly convenient, as the United States government continues its losing “War on Drugs.”
Indeed, in many ways, the War on (Some) Drugs was the template for the War on Terror. Both wars have no defined enemy, no defined terms of victory. Instead, they are waged against a nebulous concept, while enjoying bipartisan support for their ever-expanding budgets. What’s more, it didn’t take long for the Feds to start using the USA PATRIOT Act for things it was never intended for, including prosecuting the War on Drugs.
Perhaps the silliest application of the USA PATRIOT Act is the prosecution of Adam McGaughey. McGaughey maintained a fansite for the television series Stargate SG-1. The Feds charged him with copyright infringement and computer fraud. In the course of their investigation, the FBI leveraged the PATRIOT Act to get financial records from his website’s ISP. This was made possible by the USA PATRIOT Act amending the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, allowing for search and seizure of ISP records.
The New York Times discovered in September 2003, that the USA PATRIOT Act was being used to investigate alleged drug traffickers without what would otherwise be sufficient probable cause. These were investigations into non-terrorist acts using a law ostensibly designed to investigate terrorism. There was some suspicion that the Act was being used to investigate crimes occurring before the Act was passed, violating the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution.
In one of the biggest power grabs (excluding virtually everything we know from Edward Snowden – more on that below), the FBI sent tens of thousands of “national security letters” and procured over one million financial records from targeted businesses in Las Vegas. These businesses were primarily casinos, car rental bureaus and storage spaces. The data obtained included financial records, credit histories, employment records and even people’s personal health records.
The FBI maintains and databases this – and, indeed, all information collected through the USA PATRIOT Act – indefinitely. In the good old days before the PATRIOT Act, the Feds were compelled to destroy any evidence they collected on someone later found not guilty of a crime. Note that the aforementioned data collection brought to public attention by Edward Snowden (which, again – we’re getting to that) falls under this provision. Not only is the government collecting obscene amounts of private and personal information about you, they’re also storing it indefinitely with no plans to stop.
What’s more, the FBI has approached public libraries to turn over the records for specific terminals, collecting information not about specific users who might be under investigation, but about anyone who has ever used the computer at the public library. Libraries, to their credit, have been very much at the forefront of resistance against the PATRIOT Act, with some litigating compliance despite operating on small budgets and others posting “canary letters,” which effectively say “The FBI Hasn’t Been Here Yet.” The removal of such a letter would warn patrons that the FBI has been sniffing around in their records.
Indeed, the greatest criticism of the PATRIOT Act is the simplest and perhaps most obvious: Why does an Act ostensibly passed to fight terrorism so drastically expand the government’s power to investigate virtually everyone else? The PATRIOT Act is not merely unconstitutional, it is an unprecedented expansion of state power in the Anglosphere, a culture based on restricted government and the primacy of individual rights.
An excellent example of this is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expansion. Most people are familiar with the term “FISA court,” but very few people actually know what it is – a special federal court created under the Carter Administration that grants approval of electronic surveillance of both citizens and resident aliens in the event that they are accused of acting in the service of a foreign power. The last part of this sentence is very important: The FISA courts are not simply for allowing surveillance of anyone that it might be expedient to collect information about. The scope of their powers is very, very limited.
Or was.
The PATRIOT Act lowered the burden of evidence required to obtain a FISA warrant for electronic surveillance and expanded the overall scope of the FISA courts. Any savvy federal agent can now drape his charges in the garb of (what else?) “national security” and obtain electronic surveillance privileges hitherto only dreamed of by investigators. FISA courts have become pliant tools in the hands of the Feds, gladly approving their requests to monitor phone and internet surveillance, as well as access to medical, financial and educational records.

The Future of the USA PATRIOT Act

Do we still need the PATRIOT Act? Did we ever? All laws are certainly a product of their times. But this seems much more acutely true of the USA PATRIOT Act, which was passed in a rush and under duress without due consideration.
Particularly in light of the revelations from Edward Snowden – that the government is spying on everything they possibly can – it’s worth asking if there’s any walking back. He points out that the police state apparatus was originally for drug dealers, then for terrorists, but ultimately ended up being applied to anyone and everyone.
What’s more, Bob Bullard notes another frightful aspect of the USA PATRIOT Act: Terrorism-related cases are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This means that there is little or no oversight. There is no surer hallmark of a police state than an all-powerful domestic surveillance agency with no transparency or oversight. While the USA PATRIOT Act might not create an American Stasi as such, it certainly paves the way for one.
Continue reading The USA PATRIOT Act: The Story of an Impulsive Bill that Eviscerated America's Civil Liberties at Ammo.com.
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CMV: Advertisements are horrid and should go away.

/begin{second edit} because i'm sick of talking about capitalism.
assume, (regardless of implementation) a basic post-scarcity economy, everyone's basic needs of housing, food, clothing, healthcare are covered. money can still exist, but is no longer necessary for life.
I have gotten to the understanding that we live in this flawed society.
but are these things necessary outside of corporo-capitalism? /end{second edit}
yeah yeah, everybody hates ads, but here's a perspective you might not be privy to.
I'm fairly poor. there are people wil less than I, certainly with less privilege (am white, male and have a college degree), but i dont got the dough. lets do a quick check-in on what ive spent money on recently: groceries, loan payments, medicine, loan payments, more food, gas, aaand loan payments. oh look i bought some bagels as a treat one day. capische? aight moving on.
I dont just hate advertisements because theyre intrusive or annoying. I hate em because they dont give a shit about me. for all the data commerce that occurs- TLDR(esearch): invading privacy in order to try and show me more relevant ads- the ads that google (or twitter or reddit or etc etc.) show me are still so hopelessly off base. Yes, i'm interested in robotics, but, No, I dont want to buy an industrial grade cnc mill. Oh look, i spent a large amount of money replacing my broken laptop, no i would not like to buy another computer. I have no disposable income and i'm a fucking socialist why are you showing me ads for online casinos/lotteries and donald trump!?
this is when I realized that none of these ads are targeted at me.
theyre targeted at a facsimile of me who has money. someone who generates the same data, but their card wont decline.
and that insults me more. Because, as far as I understand, there is one valid reason for ads to exist: to spread word about a service that otherwise, people might not know about. Again, i commit concessio on that, there might be another valid reason, but keep in mind, i am a socialist, so dont try and convince me with capitalist/corporatist stuff. not here to argue about capitalism, just tellin ya which arguments are not gonna work.
now another reason Ads grind my gears so intensely is that when i use almost any service, i have to ask myself "alright, how are these troglodites making money off of me - whats their business model?" and it poisons almost every seemingly nice thing. I cant listen to people opine on something without being solicited to buy a particular brand of underwear.
nothing is done for the art.
nothing can be.
because the art doest pay the rent.
edit: I have heard and do reject the concept of ads "paying for free services" as the open source/open hardware community is a strong one.
youtube was originally without ads, it was only when google got involved that it was even commercialized.
no. I am more arguing that services should not be required to make money in order to survive, and that we, as a society, should merely arrange for these services to exist. (welcome to socialism)
submitted by NoahRCarver to changemyview [link] [comments]

Owning DRG automatically entitles to Dragon membership and access to Dragon Platform. Members will be given certain privileges, including but not limited to, access to Dragon Junkets, affiliated junkets and casinos that have adopted DRG.

Owning DRG automatically entitles to Dragon membership and access to Dragon Platform. Members will be given certain privileges, including but not limited to, access to Dragon Junkets, affiliated junkets and casinos that have adopted DRG. submitted by mepyjattika to DragonDRG [link] [comments]

She opened a checking account for me... as revenge?

I’m looking to potentially get advice on if this situation is more malicious than I think... but also to just share a bizarre experience with the Nmom.
My mom used to have my sister and me keep all of our money in envelopes that she kept in our China cabinet. She could therefore easily access all of our money and “borrow” from it to have casino cash. She would write down how much she owed us, apparently, and repay us that money eventually, but I honestly wouldn’t have had any idea if she was being honest at the time. When I was around 17 (3 years ago), I started to get pretty skeptical of this method, especially when I started dating my boyfriend who confirmed for me that this was very abnormal. Pretty soon, after multiple fights and one incident where I could tell she hadn’t paid me back like she said, she “threatened” me with a checking account. The next day, she handed me an envelope of information about my checking account that she somehow opened without me.
As far as I can tell, it’s fully under my name and she has no ties to it... but I haven’t contacted the bank to specifically ask. I’ve been using it for years and she doesn’t have any of my login information or my pin. But 1.) why did she act like a checking account was going to prove to me that the envelope system was a privilege and 2.) is it that easy for her to open accounts in my name without me being present?
submitted by spectacletentacle to raisedbynarcissists [link] [comments]

Do you really like your beer, or are you just a victim of Capitalist Propaganda? How you can learn how the free market works while you guzzle some suds, and how beer can help you to understand the vast conspiracy that is slowly degrading America.

TL;DR - I use the craft beer industry as a way to understand Capitalist Propaganda, how Capitalism and Socialism are inextricably linked to each other, and how through the use of propaganda, companies use the "illusion of choice" to coerce you into believing that you prefer the products that are most favorable to them. In order to change this into the consumer's favor, you need to be an informed consumer in the free market, and raise class consciousness to overthrow the tyranny of Capitalist Propaganda, that is called "Marketing".
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You can't understand Capitalist Propaganda unless you have a solid understanding of what Capitalism is beyond the literal definition of the word, which is just an abstract ideal. Propaganda plays off of the discrepancies between the ideals of Capitalism, like the free market, which is another abstract ideal, and the reality of Capitalism in practice in America, which can be characterized as Trickle Down Economics. Capitalism sought to be a pragmatic alternative to its economic predecessors, a fact which drives Capitalist Propaganda. However, through layers of abstraction throughout the years, it has become more of a religion, as critics refer to the increasingly ideological concept as "Supply Side Jesus", meaning you give all the money to the rich, it'll trickle down to the poor, and they can "vote" on the actions of the capitalists through monetary interactions in the free market.
Capitalist Propaganda is engrained in America, because at the time of our founding, Adam Smith wrote "Wealth of Nations", which is considered the Bible of the Free Market. This groundbreaking work utilized Newton's Laws of Physics, which were en vogue at the time, to describe how interactions in the marketplace would balance each other out, just as the laws of Newtonian Physics do.
The very noble purpose of Wealth of Nations was not create the oligarchy we have today, but to do the opposite. He wanted to describe a system that would protect individual freedoms and be truly democratic. Just as Lenin and Stalin bastardized the works of Marx, so too have capitalists in America bastardized the intentions of Adam Smith.
Capitalism and Socialism are best learned side by side, in my opinion, to avoid falling into the trappings of either ideology that our brains like to do. Which one is better? It depends on the market, but the answer is almost always somewhere in between.
Through learning how Socialist concepts can be applied to problems in Capitalism, you can cut through the propaganda and will see for yourself that these problems can be solved if we just drop the labels and do what's best for society and the individual. The problem is always finding the proper balance.
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WHAT? CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM ARE JOINED AT THE HIP?
Yep. You can never live in a pure economic system. Purity is always an illusion. If you want something to be pure, you have to put a lot of energy into making it that way. Nature likes to mix stuff up. This is why ideologies around racial purity and fascism always fail. There are people who want a "pure" economic system, but they are usually the people at the top and would only get richer from more purity while the rest of society loses freedom and slowly starves.
In a nutshell, Capitalism promotes laws that benefit those with money, while Socialism promotes a safety net that benefits everyone. Every single human is born into Socialism. As a baby, you need food, someone else works for it and gives it to you, but then at some point, you are expected to exchange labor for capital, and buy your own food. See? The two are forever bound as the yin and yang. You can also grow your own food, but for that you need land, which is capital.
These interactions are very tricky. I only want to tell you enough so that you can start to see Capitalist Propaganda, because right now, you're like a fish in water that can't see water. I often use this line to describe a person who can't see their own homegrown propaganda. The best way I found to study Capitalism is by relating it Socialism, the "air" above the "water" of Capitalism, if that makes sense.
I always find it best to look at a microcosm to understand these concepts. And today, that microcosm is beer.
Mmmm....Beeeeeeeeeerrrrrrr.....
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CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE
Before I poison your mind with my own propaganda, picture you're on vacation and you walk into a bar and want to order a beer. If you really want to understand the power of propaganda in your own life, really think of this before we break this all down. Really think, what makes you decide which beer to order? Do you like to look at the labels on the tap or bottle? That's obvious propaganda. It has absolutely nothing to do with the taste or quality of the beer itself, but sways your opinion toward logos you've seen before, which is why you see so many beer advertisements, which means that money that could've gone into quality is instead going into propaganda, and you're already biased towards an inferior product. Interesting. You really can't help being swayed by marketing, but at least you can be conscious of that fact, and that's important in order to be an informed consumer.
Do you ask the bartender for a recommendation? Why would you do that? You don't know the bartender any better than the beers in front of you. How do you know they aren't paid more to offer you a beer that sucks and is 12 years old and the owner wants to get rid of it? Do you ask for a certain style of beer? Do you ask for a local beer? And once you finally narrow it down to a few choices, do you ask for samples so you can make up your own mind? You should always do this. Then we get into "flavor propaganda", which we'll discuss later. Jeez. Did you every realize there was so much complexity behind being an informed consumer and just ordering a simple beer? Maybe you'll give in and just tell the bartender to pour whatever. Choice is difficult sometimes.
If you really visualize this and take a minute to let this sink in, you'll start to understand how external forces hijack the processor in your mind to manufacture desire through the illusion of choice. However, your health and enjoyment of the beer is not the goal for these external forces, they only want you to purchase. The perfect example is fast food. They know their product sucks, but they know you'll keep buying it, but that doesn't keep them from lying about how delicious it is in their ads. There is far more at play behind the curtain. There is a science behind addicting you to things, this is reinforced by a corporate tax and subsidy system that contorts the free market pushing centralization of production through homogenization and use of chemicals to hide the homogenization, and simply because there is more than one option, they make you feel like you have choice. This, in a nutshell, is how the illusion of choice works in the free market. It's not about what YOU want. The producer manipulates you to think you want what they have. Through this, they deceive Americans into buying products with a list of ingredients that a person would never freely choose to consume. So if you want to order a beer with no shit in it, then you're shit out of luck in America. You could in Germany, but we'll discuss that later.
While you're standing at that bar, you aren't conscious of the fact that your interests are in direct opposition to those of the bar owner's. Capitalists hide this fact with their perfect smiles, but Marx described this in detail. You want the best beer for the cheapest price, and the bar owner wants to sell you the cheapest beer at the highest price you'll pay. It doesn't stop there. The bar owner flips roles in the same situation with the beer distributor, who does the same with maybe another level of distribution, and continues to the brewer, then goes to the brewer versus supplier, supplier to farmer, and even though you'd think it stops there, the farmer has to deal with suppliers of equipment and seeds, and on and on.
Add to this list their auxiliary staff of HR, drivers, managers, brewers, bottle/keg makers, and of course owners, none of them care whether you actually like the beer you're drinking as long as you keep buying more. That's the big driver here.
Did you ever realize that every time you buy a beer, your own capital is partially responsible for creating and sustaining all of these jobs involved? You, my dear beer drinker, are the true job creator. Budweiser can brew all they want, it means nothing without buyers, who are the true engines of capitalism. Instead, you're treated as a rube by suits in a boardroom somewhere.
Capitalist Propaganda tells us the billionaires are job creators, but this is a lie. Jeff Bezos can't drink enough beer to sustain all these jobs. So why do we let him hoard all the money? Wouldn't the economy do better if we spread out Jeff's money so more people could buy more beers and more jobs would be created? According to Socialist Economics, yes. That's actually, quite simply, a Socialist Free Market. Did you even know that existed? The power hungry greedy people who are too lazy for manual labor go to such great lengths to make sure you don't learn it. They want you to think that only Capitalism allows you choice in the market. I'm sure you can guess why they say that.
Capitalism maintains itself by exulting the wealthy who use their economic power to punch down. The only way this system won't fall into fascism and fail is if the consumers start to punch back. Where Marx envisioned the Dictatorship of the Proletariat as they usurped power from the Bourgeoisie, a modern alternative is just teaching people to understand the system we live in, so that we can just start making changes in the way we live and to whom we give our money.
See that? Capitalism and Socialism can get along nicely, so long as the consumers are informed.
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CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE ALIENATION OF LABOR CAUSING LONELINESS IN SOCIETY
What I described within the previous section is what Marx called "Alienation of Labor". Each step in the process of making your beer is isolated from the others, so no one feels ownership over the end product or a true connection to the consumer, or job creator. Even the bartender selling it is alienated from the profit of their labor in serving the beer, so they only focus on the service aspect of giving you the beer, because that is where they earn their tip. They can't really fix anything about a shitty beer other than to offer you a different brand. The capitalist owner is usually not there. Their only interaction is setting the rules for everyone in the bar to follow, and pay themselves more than everyone who has to follow those rules. This is part of the conflict between the classes. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just pointing it out. The bar owner themself has to spend money on propaganda to attract customers that could be spent in other places, so has to find ways to cut costs. Unfortunately, they buy cheaper beer...and this is why you end up with IPAs. No one is connected to the products, so they only look at prices and find the cheapest, passable product. This is the race to the bottom of Capitalism.
Compare this to when brewpubs were a new thing. The brewer would come out and talk to you about the beer, you would give feedback that could effect future batches and it connected everyone to each other through commerce. It makes business "social" and I think nearly everyone enjoys that, but it is losing out in competition with chain breweries that enforce isolation and make cookie cutter propaganda and cookie cutter business models so they can turn owners into managers and suck all the profit back their corporate headquarters and offshore accounts. They kill the experience and make everything transactional. And all the kitsch they hang around their cookie cutter chain bar is just to hide the fact that no one in that place cares about anything other than not getting fired. Everyone is effectually alienated from everyone else. It's worth a read to check out this page on Marx's Theory of Alienation.
This alienation is the root of a lot of misery in society. Humans are communal animals forced to live in a society of individuality and alienation. As they mope around, they seek an escape. And that is why advertising is so nefarious. It seeks to manipulate you in that state. Imagine driving home from your alienating job to you empty home, but looking up and see a billboard with bunch of actors laughing and drinking beer. They take pictures that make these actors look like friends. It's just for show. They aren't selling beer to those laughing people in the picture. They're tempting lonely people to drown their sorrows. Capitalist Propaganda is used so your brain doesn't understand what it wants. It wants friends, then sees the words Bud Light. So when the bartenders asks...Make it a Bud Light. Look at how much money they spend to manipulate and capitalize on people's suffering.
Propaganda in Communist countries is controlled by the government, so it's clear who the enemy of your freedom is. Capitalist Propaganda hides behind the layers of complexity of the same economy you rely on to survive, so you never know what's propaganda or where it's coming from. Marketers find every way imaginable to get their disinformation in front of your eyes, even enlisting your friends on Facebook in annoying MLM schemes. Propaganda invaded everything that can be legally monetized. It's in the media, and not just commercials anymore. There's product placement, stories injected into the news, and even movies and social media created an entire industry of "lifestyle propaganda", telling you how to live your life and indulge in overconsumption. It's REALLY hard to get away from Capitalist Propaganda. There is so much money and research behind it and so much depth, even this long post is only barely scratching the surface. I just want to open your eyes to it.
I can't make you see all this. No one can. I can only describe it as best as I can. What you will experience when you understand this is what I call "Economic Enlightenment", similar to what Marx called "Class Consciousness". Once it happened to me, the world looked amazing, and the shitty propagandists selling us false hope all look like clowns in a very odd circus of vanity, despair and mediocrity.
Once I understood this, I saw clearly how we are increasingly trapped in a form of Corporate Slavery, led by seriously ridiculous oligarchs like Mark Zuckerberg, who thinks he's the reincarnation of Augustus Caesar or something. That's why he has that haircut! This is a guy who stole a company and hired "screen psychologists" from Las Vegas to get you hooked on Facebook the same as casinos do with slot machines. He wants to be the funnel for propaganda throughout the world. He wants to be the kingmaker, decide what people buy, who they like, what views they hold. He can only do this because so many companies spend so much money to put their propaganda on that platform. They can only have this much money because the free market is not actually free. It's bought and paid for on platforms like Facebook and Amazon. The money that was supposed to "trickle down" is instead being spent on Capitalist Propaganda on these platforms, to get the proletariate to trickle their money up through endless, nonsensical online purchasing and local businesses who send the town's money to people who can't do anything with it but buy up properties that increase your rent and cost of living.
When people get drunk on the power of propaganda, they forget the lessons of the past. Propagandists always fall prey to their own delusions over time. In reality, your life is better without Facebook. There isn't anything on there that is healthy. Even if you just want to talk to a few friends, you are going to fall for the propaganda there. You can't help it. And if your bar advertises on Facebook, just think, that money could've gone into purchasing higher quality beer then sold at the same price, instead of going to Mark Zuckerberg so he can drop $30 million to buy the houses around him so no one can spy on him while he spies on you. You really gotta watch out for a guy who combines spying and propaganda all into a single app and thinks he's going to bring 200 years of peace to America. History is littered with knuckleheads like that. It's best to get off Facebook and encourage everyone else to do the same. Zuck only wants to lead himself to the Promised Land, and he's using your ignorance to fuel his own delusions by deluding you into thinking you want what he has to offer.
Let's get back to beer.
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IPAs AND THE FREE MARKET VS THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
I like beer. When I worked in Germany, it was easy to walk into a bar and, like Farva, just order a liter o' beer. Often, there would only be two choices, light color or dark. As a matter of fact, even at the most famous beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest, people mostly drink the same standard type of beer, and no one complains about the lack of choice. It's quite easy. You can order with one finger. No need to see a menu or ask what's in it. It's simply beer. This worked for centuries. Consumers are fine with it. Prost! Have you ever shared a story like this and people say, "Oh, that would never work in America. Americans want choice." Yeah. Because we are flooded with Capitalist Propaganda.
So if consumer choice isn't pushing for a selection, why would a free market call for it? Imagine there are two bars and one of those bars says "30 beers on tap" and the other doesn't. You're more likely to choose it, and the other bar will have to compete in some way, often by copying. This forms trends, and people mistake this for something customers wanted. Trends are always marketing. Don't believe me? What happened to fidget spinners? So now you have a bunch of beers that no one asked for, yet will now demand. Competition creates more Capitalist Propaganda to create demand for something you never even wanted, but makes you think you do. And that's the best propaganda. You think you are thinking for yourself. This is the fallacy of consumer choice.
If you want to understand just how important that last paragraph is, consider this, "consumer choice" is the same propaganda they used to get you to carry around a device that spies on you 24/7 and sends that data to people you don't know, and you can't stop it, can you? You chose that. You wanted it. Not only that, but you paid $1,000 for the device to opt into their spying program, for the privilege of being mind controlled by the propaganda their AI selects for you. Did you read the Terms of Service? As bad as you may have thought Communist Propaganda was, Capitalist Propaganda is far better, and far stealthier. You believe you have freedom of choice. But your only choice is usually take it, or leave it. Oh, you need it for work? Maybe find a different job. Or just succumb to mass surveillance, and next year, you can drop another grand on a device with a marginally better camera.
There is a way to free yourself. You just have to understand the nature of propaganda. It took me a while, but I eventually broke free. Under Socialism, there would be laws against the exploitation of consumers. Capitalist Propaganda tells you that this takes away your freedom. This is a lie. Regulations give you the freedom to not have to worry whether the beer you're drinking has poison in it.
Germany has a lot of regulations on beer. It has the Reinheitsgebot (purity order), a law passed in 1516 that states that beer can only consist of water, hops and barley. Note, this is a different use of the word "purity" from earlier, as beer is itself a mixture of things. Historically there have also been regulations where beer could only be sold regionally, so no matter what part of Germany you were in, you only got a certain brand of beer at the bar, but it didn't matter because they all had the same ingredients. They could make wheat beers or unfiltered, but they were generally variations of pilsners and lagers. One meaning of the word "Lager" in German is "storage", meaning the beer was brewed in a way that it could be stored, allowing them to brew in bigger batches and store it.
Lagers use a more complex brewing process, so only larger breweries would make them, but this worked because of protected territories. America has a similar system, because each state has its own regulations on alcohol, but this is changing as corporate lawyers fight to homogenize the rules favorable to them, but the consumer loses control. Big brands tend to be lagers as they have general appeal to a wide audience. Did you notice this is the second time I pointed out that corporations create homogeneity? Without regulations, corporations create Fascism. That is why I tell people that we already live in the NWO but corporations rule the world instead of governments. Why do you think so few conspiracy theorists make this connection? Propagandists are paid a lot of money to keep even our small community confused about the reality of what's happening. Now, check out conspiracy and you'll see what I mean. They are spreading propaganda for the NWO over there and don't even know it. I tried to point that out and they finally banned me. Oh well. They'll figure it out in their own time.
In America, in 1978 it became legal to brew beer at home. This is what led to the explosion of new beers in the US decades later. Americans don't have purity laws, so could test new recipes. But people didn't generally like IPAs before, so how did they become so popular that they control 30% of the market? Marketing, of course. Create the market and tell people what they want.
IPA stands for India Pale Ale. It was invented by the British as an easy way to make a beer that they could drink in India. People only drank it out of necessity, as the other beers couldn't make the trip. IPAs are very easy to make and very forgiving, because if you mess it up, it already tasted bad anyway. As people started trying to get into microbrews, they often didn't have the capital to make lagers at small scale, and also wanted a simpler process so they didn't have to hire or train expert brewers, IPAs are cheap and easy to make at smaller scale.
In order to make it drinkable, brewers experimented with many different flavorings. This created a cult following of craft IPAs, where people would drive hours to stand in line for hours to try the newest concoction. The trendy nature of the craft beer world kept people training their palate to adapt to the taste of an IPA, making people start to actually like them. The flavorings made people think they were different, so even if they didn't like it, marketing tactics kept people coming back to try the latest blend. Your palate can adapt A LOT. Swedish people love Surströmming, but watch this video of Americans trying it for the first time. They tried to get me to eat it several times, but I would rather sit in a sauna until Tuesday to avoid smelling it while watching them eat it. It really smells that bad.
IPAs enticed people with popular, aromatic ingredients like bananas and pineapple. This is what I call "flavor propaganda". It's not bad in and of itself, but it can be easily misused to cover issues with quality or hide the taste of preservatives. Since we don'e have laws like Germany, you're left to rely on the knowledge and honesty of the bartender to find out. They don't make this info readily available, which is another form of Disinformation.
So if you think you actually like IPAs, just remember, you are just like a Swede eating rotten fish. A lot of propaganda went in to making IPAs popular, but it's the cheapest, easiest product to make that can be sold at the highest price, so they become popular. This is what business students call a business plan. To overcome the bad taste, IPAs were marketed as "classy" to shame you if you choose the more expensive to produce and more appealing pilsners and lagers, which were given a bad name due to being associated with major brands like Bud Light. This makes it harder to market microbrew lagers, which can only fetch a certain price due to association. And this is what is referred to as the "race to the bottom" in Capitalism.
Instead of trying to innovate ways to produce the beers you want, they just figure out how to get you to pay more for an inferior product, just like they do with BBQ. They make you think you want it. From this you can understand why "food" is full of junk that you wouldn't feed your dog. Whatever legal poison helps cheapen the product is considered "smart business", another propaganda term designed to hide the reality of doing immoral and harmful things to other humans for profit. If you make money on it, it's good. As if there aren't better choices we could come up with if there truly were a free market with an informed consumer.
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STRENGTHEN THE FREE MARKET BY BEING AN INFORMED CONSUMER
We don't need a Communist Revolution to make positive changes, so take off your ski masks and put your Antifa flags down. I like microbrew culture and still enjoy IPAs, but understanding the marketplace is how I do my part as an informed consumer and job creator to help create the world that I want to live in. I encourage you to do the same. Vote with your dollars. Don't let the Zuck-type sociopathic, corporate people in a distant land decide what you consume by looking at ads on his platform. Visit local breweries and talk to the brewmaster. Don't reinforce alienation from labor. Connect with the people who make the things you buy. Support independent entrepreneurship. These are the paths to a brighter future where we share in the abundance of wealth.
Discover Economic Enlightenment for yourself and realize that We The People are ultimately in control. Wealth inequality is greater than it was in France before the French Revolution. Don't let this train take us into the depths where another Lenin will arise and spend the night shooting people.
How you choose to spend your money today is what decides what will become the society of tomorrow. And remember, you always have the choice to buy nothing at all. I never saw a billboard that said that.
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LET THEM DRINK BEER!
I hope this gave you a glimpse behind the curtain of Capitalist Propaganda. Propaganda isn't just political, it has invaded everything and it's at full blast right now. I hope you can piece together how Capitalist Propaganda is actually designed to make you subservient by controlling what you want so they can maximize their own profit and teach you to accept whatever they offer, the homogenization of choice. However, your life is your own and you should remain in control of all aspects of it, including your desires.
Richard Wolff is an economist who studied at three elite universities in America and discusses how he was not able to even learn about Socialist Economics in the ivory tower, even though Capitalist Propaganda calls universities leftist. He found no department in America that is even willing to teach it or study it. Capitalist Propaganda censors these ideas, especially at the university. People in power don't want the serfs to learn about themselves. Check him out on YouTube. You'll realize that unchecked Capitalism leads to Fascism and Slavery, which is why they want to get rid of the minimum wage, so that we can return to sharecropping which is already increasingly happening in America under different names, like "student debt", "mortgages" and "insurance". Don't you think it's odd that a person has to go into debt so they can generate profits for corporations who really ought to be paying for this education themselves? If you have to go into debt before they'll hire you, it's much easier to negotiate against you.
If you want to see other examples of propaganda, check out this random tweet from one of America's Top Capitalist Propagandists. These are very odd pictures, and the only thing I can see in them is that they must be promoting those outfits, likely the blue dress, maybe those men's outfits as well. One thing you know is that she didn't become a billionaire by letting any single opportunity to enrich herself at the expense of others pass her by. I didn't look it up, but I am certain they sell that blue dress, or whoever does paid her to post this.
That's the main reason celebrities use social media. It's marketing. Their whole schtick is to sell garments made in a sweatshop in a foreign country by people who can't even afford a beer to Americans who are facing bankruptcy and homelessness themselves.
Read the replies of the tweet. These people have influence that vastly outsizes their understanding of their impact on the world. There are guillotines in the comments. There usually are. I'm seeing them a lot lately.
This type of propaganda is everywhere. And it's destroying America. Just like propaganda led to the demise of Nazi Germany, we could be looking at the same thing, but worse. It could start off as famine.
If you're having trouble deciding between the beers you are being offered, it's probably because you don't want anything at all, in which case the proper choice is: nothing. Or, try tap water. Maybe you're just thirsty. Now ask yourself, when you envisioned yourself at a bar, did you ever think to order water instead? Did you entertain the idea that you didn't even want a beer. That's the power of suggestion.
What if the rest of the world just cut America off from the means of production outsourced to areas with cheap labor? We would have our own famine and likely war. And if we have a revolution here, with the masses in the country being so disinformed about everything and not having any sort of class consciousness at the moment and instead stuck in alienation, the leader that rises here will likely lead to something horrifying. And we censor ourselves from pointing out the simple fact, that the only way America will survive is to tax the deluded royalty like Kim and Mark back to reality, so they can't indulge their reckless, childish delusions by selling off the very fabric of our nation to the highest bidder.
That doesn't make me a Socialist, that just makes me honest.
Enjoy your beer!
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Thanks for reading and I hope I helped you understand how you can empower yourself. I'm excited about the one I wrote for Election Day tomorrow to keep our NOPOL spirits up while all the politics clouds the airwaves. Cheers!
submitted by SchwarzerKaffee to conspiracyNOPOL [link] [comments]

I am 36 years old, make $66,900, live in Portland OR and work as a Data Coordinator.

Section Zero: Background
Hello all, happy hoildays! I stumbled upon this subreddit not long ago and have enjoyed the commentary and experiences everyone's shared. Wanted to add another perspective from a mid-30s first-gen American. I've had some missteps regarding careers and finances, but I feel like I'm in a slightly better place now. I tried YNAB in the past but I wasn't consistent enough with it. These days I use Mint to monitor my finances and have a "Finance Friday" each month to review all my accounts and spending. I currently live with my partner TJ and his dog RR. We do not combine finances, but he has been unemployed since March. I have helped him with some bills and basic necessities here and there until he finds his next job or career.
My current financial goals are to just maintain a status quo and not get any debt until pandemic times are over. Then I will focus on a house remodeling fund and savings for taking care of my parents.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances? My parents taught us about money from a frugal perspective. They are immigrants who worked in food service/factories. There was always this “save save save” mentality. Even when they started their own small business, we saved like there was no tomorrow. In high school, my calculus teacher bought us all “The Millionaire Next Door” book and had us read it as an assignment - that was my first structured introduction to finances.
Did you worry about money growing up? No, there was always food on the table and a roof over our heads. I knew that our extended family would support us if needed.
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? Yes. My dad didn’t finish the high school-equivalent in their country, while my mom did finish high school, but no college. My older and younger siblings took a different path in life after high school. I am the first and only in my family to graduate from college. My parents covered all tuition for my two bachelor degrees with the agreement that I support them fully during their retirement and send them gifts/extra money whenever I can. I feel very lucky and privileged that they were able to provide that education for me.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net? 24 when I went on a work holiday abroad. My family was always available to help when needed, but the experience abroad helped me stand on my own feet. As an adult, I also inherited that “save” mentality and put a lot of my earnings towards savings. I didn’t date until my 30s, lived frugally, didn’t go out to eat/hangout with people, shopped thrift stores, and had very few hobbies. I am starting to “live a little” now though.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? Aside from the tuition, my parents have helped with a down payment for my first house and living costs during periods of unemployment.

Section One: Assets and Debt
Retirement Balance
If the place I was working at offered a 401k, I would always contribute up to the company match. I started my IRA in my mid-20s and would try to contribute the yearly max. I've stopped that the past 2-3 years though. My Other Brokerage is some play money, but I got tired of staring it and switched to index funds. I haven't contributed anything to it in a few years.
Equity if you're a homeowner
Purchased my first home for $382,000 with 20% down, right before lockdown earlier this year. Perfect timing, right?? I plan to live here until my retirement. My parents contributed $15k while I used most of my savings for the rest.
Savings account balance: $3,073
Checking account balance: $7,800
Credit card debt: I charge everything on my credit card for the points, then pay it off each month using my checking account balance.
Student loan debt: Traditionally no student loan debt as mentioned in Section Zero.

Section Two: Income
Income Progression (listed as gross income with cost of living area):
High School
College and first “career” job
Mental health break
College (again) and second “career” job
Third “career” jobs

Main Job Monthly Take Home:
Monthly Net (paid bi-weekly): $2,758
Deductions:
Side Gig Monthly Take Home:
No side gigs at the moment, but I am thinking of signing up on Upwork.com and doing Excel/data entry projects to help pay the mortgage.
Other Income: TJ’s friend will be staying with us for a month in January, who will pay rent of $800 including utilities. Depending on how that goes, we may take on a roommate in the spare bedroom long-term.

Section Three: Expenses
Mortgage - when I bought the house, the plan was that I would charge TJ a portion of the mortgage costs as “rent”, but since his unemployment I am now covering it all myself.
Regular Monthly Payment: $1677.57
HOA: $30/year
Retirement contribution: Nothing additional than what's been mentioned.
Savings contribution: I used to do $50-100/month, but since COVID I’ve stopped contributing to my savings account.
Investment contribution: None at this time.
Debt payments: $100/month towards TJ's credit card balance of $2,307.
Donations: $10-20/month, usually towards Omaze or Planned Parenthood.
Utilities:
Cellphone: On my parents plan.
Subscriptions:
Gym membership: Pre-COVID I did Orangetheory for a year. I started to pick up free exercise equipment from Craigslist this year, so we have a small garage gym now and utilize YouTube exercise videos instead.
Pet expenses: $10/month. TJ has stockpiled some Costco canned dog food before unemployment, but once that runs out I will likely cover the costs. We also started to make homemade dog food to help supplement.
Car insurance: $460 every 6 months. Car is paid off.
Regular therapy: I will start in the new year. Not sure what the costs are yet, but I will use my HSA to pay.
Vitamins/Medications: $20/month
Groceries & household items: $75/month
Miscellaneous (eating out, house purchases, gifts, etc): $100/month

Section Four: Money Diary
Monday
6:30am Neighbor starts up their truck. We joke that it's our natural alarm clock. They idle for about 15 minutes before heading off. I go back to bed.
9am My real alarm goes off. I put the electric kettle on for some morning tea. While it's boiling, I do my morning routine: drink glass of water, take synthroid, use bathroom, brush teeth, quick shower. I then make tea - Jasmine Pearl English Breakfast with dark forest mix. I started ordering loose leaf tea in large amounts back in March instead of small bags or single serving packets. Seems more economical since I drink it daily. I let the dog out into the backyard so he can do his morning routine.
9:30am I go through my daily tasks for work. They entail checking processes and reports to make sure they ran successfully overnight. I then answer some emails and catch-up on Slack channels.
12pm Lunch is leftover roast chicken and quinoa from Saturday. I heat it up in the instant pot. Love that thing! Almost every meal of ours involves the instant pot. We hardly use the stovetop. We then walk the dog to the business park across from our neighborhood. There's a very short trail that runs along a drainage creek by the business park. It's quite muddy, but has a nice woodsy feeling. Over the summer, we saw sumac trees there as well. Free sumac spice!
1:30pm Department meeting on Zoom. Our director announces his resignation on the call. Everyone is shocked! Layoffs were announced for next year but this was not a part of it. I think it's a good move for him and he doesn't have to have this worry of layoffs over his head.
3pm I meet with an engineer from another team and talk about a data source they are in charge of. He helps me out in understanding it and we identify most of the fields that I need for a project I’m starting.
5:30pm I check in with my partner. He's been watching LinkedIn tutorials on internal recruiting, job coaching and general computeoffice skills. It's a career change that he wants to make - something where he can talk to and help people. He doesn't have a bachelor's, only an associates, and hopes these tutorials will get him a leg up in the job search. I sent him some entry level HR admin roles the other day and remind him to apply. I then heat up leftovers: homemade chana masala and rice. I add some butter and coconut milk to thin it out, so there's enough for both of us.
10:30pm I take some magnesium, vitamin D and Airborne. I say goodnight to the dog who sleeps in the office. Then I say goodnight to TJ. He sleeps in the spare bedroom on weeknights due to his snoring keeping me up. I'm a light sleeper while he is a pretty deep sleeper.
Daily total: $0
Tuesday
9am I check Reddit Secret Santa. My match seems like a really good person. Not sure what to get, but most likely will purchase something off their wishlist. I wish I was more creative with my gift giving.
11am Meeting with business stakeholder. She submitted a few changes to an existing data process about a month ago. I make the change while on the call and have her test. Success! Marking it off the todo list. I love when we can finish things directly on a call.
12:30pm I come out of my office to make lunch. I notice my partner is not home. I check my messages and see that he's stepped out to pick up a few things. I ask for celery, carrots, and kombucha. $17. I make a quick charcuterie board for lunch: Costco salami, cheese, homemade hummus and Triscuits. It's a simple, fast meal that’s always in our rotation.
2pm My partner is back and we take the dog out for a walk and quick round of disc golf at a nearby park. We mask up and play only a few holes. Disc golf is a pretty frugal activity, you only need 2-3 discs to get started. TJ remarks that my throws are getting better, but then again they weren't great to start with. We talk about Christmas/Birthday gifts on the way back home since he was born on New Years Day. He mentioned snowshoeing but asked to not spend that much. I'll do some research!
5pm I think about personal career projects. Should I put up a portfolio of projects somewhere? I decide to try and pull some Yelp data. There’s not a lot of data points that I was interested in. Regardless, I tinker with it for an hour. TJ asks if I'm hungry. I said not so much, but felt thirsty. Maybe some ginger soup tonight?
7:30pm Dinner is served - ginger carrot soup made in the instant pot. We eat some rice crackers with it. Lately I feel like we've been eating more vegetarian dinners. It definitely helps stretch our food budget. We end the evening by finishing Fargo season 3 on Hulu.
Daily total: $17
Wednesday
1:30am I'm woken up by the dog. He's been sneezing a lot and wheezes at random intervals. TJ doesn't have the money for a vet visit but I've offered to pay as long as he calls to make the appointment. I give the dog some coconut oil, rub his belly until he seems better and go back to bed.
7am Garbage day. We usually put it out the night before but I forgot. I get up to go, but TJ handles it. I think, at least. I'm too sleepy to pay attention and go back to bed.
9am I wake up and rinse some dishes that have piled up and put them into the dishwasher. We both grew up in households that had a home dishwasher, but forbade from using it. It was drilled into us that hand washing saves more water, unless you had a restaurant/industrial dishwasher. I think with modern home dishwashers, that's changed, so I wanted to try it out with our dishwasher and monitor the water bill. Don't have any dishwashing pods or powder, so I put some OxiClean in it.
12:30pm I overhear TJ on a call with a recruiting agency. It seems to be going well, lots of laughing. I heat up some taco lasagna that I freezer meal-prepped last month.
2pm Collaborate on a project at work with an engineer. My manager put me on this project since I was asking for an assignment on a more technical team. I'm learning tidbits here and there, but I don't feel like it's structured enough.
5pm I do an Orangetheory-At-Home workout and try to break a sweat. It's not the same as going to their studio.
6pm Charcuterie for dinner. Our fridge is full of store-bought and homemade pickles that go super well on a charcuterie board.
Daily total: $0
Thursday
7am I wake up tired. The house has been feeling more cold, which woke me up a few times. We keep the temp at 72F during the day, at night around 68F since we thought the bedrooms keep the heat in pretty well. My mistake!
9am I do my usual morning routine and login to work. My team mostly spends the morning sending each other emojis.
11:30am Lunch today is mini quiche, frozen chicken and veggie entree, and hot dogs. Not the most cohesive meal, but it fills the belly.
12:30pm TJ heads out to his mailbox that's 30 minutes away. He is still waiting on his tax return and a 401k withdrawal. His taxes had to be filed by mail for some reason, then the IRS office shut down due to COVID. So he wanted to see if it arrived yet at the mailbox. He also takes the dog to the vet's urgent care on his way. They didn't have any regular openings available until the end of the year, and the dog seemed to be getting worse. I give TJ $40 to mail a gift package to a friend in France and also reiterate that I'll cover the vet bill when he gets it.
4:30pm I pay some bills, my favorite activity (not)! Sewer bill: $59.44 (billed every 2 months). Geico bill: $459.60 billed every 6 months. Then I follow up with my mortgage officer over email. I had sent her some documents for a refinance quote last week, but haven't heard back. Rates keep dropping, so I'm told, but what does that really mean? I do some research on realestate.
5pm TJ messages me and says he'll be back for dinner. I ask him to pick up some Popeyes via drive thru since we both don't feel like cooking today. Popeyes is currently our fancy “going out to eat” food. $24.17 for a 4pc dinner meal and a 2pc dinner meal.
Daily total: $583.21
Friday
8:30am Busy morning at work. My phone is buzzing with emails and Slack messages. I try to answer them while I make tea.
10am Zoom Department happy hour. We reminisce about our director and then play those Jackbox party games. Some of them are hard!
11am TJ asks if he can make me anything for lunch. He suggests savory oatmeal, quick and easy. I tell him that I really appreciate him making meals/doing chores/etc without me prompting. We've been having conversations about "house project management" and mental load because I did most of the chores or I had to continually remind/tell him to do it. I'm really happy to see us progress on this front. I decide to work through my lunch break so I can end the day early. I don't often do that, but I'm ready to get the weekend started.
2pm I check on TJ in the spare bedroom and ask if the dog has been fed yet, since he was nipping at my feet. I notice something off about TJ and ask how he is doing. TJ is depressed about his personal life, career, finances. He doesn't know what to do, spends half the day meditating and reflecting on past trauma. I've been prodding him to get a therapist but he is confused about his insurance. He makes an appointment with a primary care doctor first. I feed the dog some homemade dog-friendly beef stew.
4pm My mom swings by the house (but doesn't enter). She currently works at a school who distributes free USDA food boxes since March. There's often many boxes leftover that would go to waste, so she will grab a box for us. Onions, potatoes, beets, turnips, eggs, cheese, butter, frozen veggies and frozen chicken. She also brought her vintage pasta maker. I asked last week if she ever used it these days and her reply was “no, feel free to have it”. I love pasta and noodles and figure it would be great to make it ourselves as a frugal hobby.
8pm We catch up on Mandalorian and watch silly Youtube videos before heading off to bed.
Daily total: $0
Saturday
9am I open up my web browser and look at Craigslist and NextDoor for free stuff. I've been scouring for free landscape rocks, pegboards, and wood for house projects. I had this grand ambition to redesign our backyard. It faces our neighbor and currently the fence is pretty low. They can see into our kitchen and bedroom and we can see them. But y'know, COVID and going from dual income house to single income means it all has to be put on hold. So I've been looking for free items in the meantime. Over the past months, I've gotten planter pots, plant cuttings, a raised bed, stepping stones, all from free listings. I don't see anything worthwhile so I go and make some tea.
11am I look at Amazon and make some purchases for Reddit Secret Santa. A foodie kit, DVD of their favorite movie, and some cute pens for their writing hobby. $54. I hope they like it!
12pm TJ heats up leftover stir-fry for lunch for us. I put on some Binging with Babish and we watch how to make pasta. We have a plan - TJ makes the pasta, I make the sauce. Perfect date night activity at home. We watch some more videos on pasta and noodles to educate ourselves.
4pm I start prepping veggies. Big batch of onions, canned tomatoes, ground beef and butter in the instant pot. Meanwhile, TJ works on the pasta by following Babish's instructions.
7pm We gorge on fresh made pasta and bolognese sauce. It's so good! We end up watching Fargo.
11pm Usually I'll be in bed by now, but it's a Saturday and not tired yet (probably because of all that pasta). We play some Kirby's Dream Course on the Switch.
Daily total: $54
Sunday
10am Quick walk around the neighborhood with the dog. He's on a new routine now with the medicine he's taking. It seems to be helping his breathing issues.
11am The pasta maker and flour is still out since we didn't clean up yesterday. There's some old pie crust in the fridge so I roll it out with the pasta machine for mini quiches. (Sally's Baking Addiction blog is my go-to place for her all-butter crust and quiche recipes btw). TJ helps by mixing up the eggs.
3pm I play some Genshin Impact (GI) on my phone while TJ plays Starcraft in the office. I don't usually play gacha games, but the Zelda BotW-style of GI appealed to me. A gacha game is a game with randomized characteitem boxes that you use real-money to purchase a “pull” or to spin the wheel. I know the gacha parts of the game can be a real money sink if you get addicted to them, it’s almost like gambling. My main team is Fischl, Bennett, Barbara and Noelle. I level up to AR 22 and look up free-to-play tutorials for the game.
6pm There's some leftover pasta from yesterday, enough for both of us. I throw in some roasted beets to round out the meal. We watch more Fargo while eating. Almost done with Season 3!
10pm I find a tour operator who offers a small, socially-distant snowshoeing tour up on the mountain. I reserve for two people - this will be TJ's Christmas/birthday gift. $75. Off to bed for another workday.
Daily total: $75
Weekly Total: $689.79
Section Five: Reflections
Aside from the car insurance bill, this was a typical week for me, COVID or not. We make the majority of our meals at home and usually splurge on drive-thru/delivery once every other week. I may have overspent on the Secret Santa gift, but I don't often give gifts out to friends. It's not something our family does either. For TJ’s Christmas/birthday gift, we usually talk upfront about costs. I’ve gifted him fancy restaurant experiences the past 2 years, since we can share that experience, but obviously can’t do that now. Snowshoeing is a nice change of pace.
The conversations with TJ this week have given me thought on how to approach him differently about finances and working together in a relationship. I’m still unsure about the future financially, particularly as my parents near retirement age and that TJ has pulled out his 401k to pay his debts. I don't know if I can support both my parents and TJ together, so I am finding ways to upskill and/or side hustles without becoming a workaholic or bogged down by stress.
Writing this money diary was also the first time where I really paid attention to my past income and current income. I might be contributing too much into ESPP that could go towards the 401k or mortgage instead? I also seem to have been underpaid for what I did in past jobs, even in a LCOL area.
submitted by throwaway_md_182481 to MoneyDiariesACTIVE [link] [comments]

The truth about the dbrand Grip...

The truth about the dbrand Grip...
Grips. Let's talk about 'em.
If you've spent any amount of time on this subreddit, you've likely seen at least one post about a Grip case that has fallen apart. Most of you have seen several. We know this because we've seen every single one. We’d like to see less of them. Ideally, none.
Over the past 18 months, we’ve been on an odyssey to fix the underlying problem. What follows is a chronicle of that journey.
Our objectives in writing this post are three-fold. There will be a tl;dr version at the end of this post, summarizing each of the three:
  1. Offer an in-depth technical explanation as to why Grip cases fall apart.
  2. Outline the improvements we've made to the Grip case to mitigate and eventually solve the issue.
  3. Provide some much-needed context as to how widespread the issue truly is, and what our next steps are for affected Grip SKUs.
Since you're still here, you must be in it for the long haul. Assuming an average reading speed of 250 words per minute, this is going to take you nearly 24 minutes to get through. We'll try to make it the most informative 24 minutes of your life. Let's get started.

PART ONE

Why Do Grips Fall Apart?
Most phone cases are made out of a single material. The material itself varies from case to case, though the most common is Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). The Grip case, as a point of comparison, is made of two different materials: an elastomer and a polycarbonate.
The word elastomer is a combination of the words elastic and polymer. That's because it describes polymers that have elastic properties - like the one that forms the outer rim of your Grip case. The elastomer that we use is responsible for two critical properties of the Grip case: impact protection and grip.
If you fell off of a rooftop, would you rather land on a hard plastic surface, or a rubber surface? If you value your life at all, you'd choose the rubber - its elastic properties would absorb much more force from the impact. Guess what rubber is? First one to answer "an elastomer" wins a prize!
Next, imagine you’re a pervert, gently running your finger across every surface of a No. 2 Pencil. Which part of the pencil do you think would provide the most resistance to the tracing of your finger? If you guessed "the eraser," congratulations: you possess a basic understanding of coefficients of friction. Erasers are made of rubber. Rubber has a high coefficient of friction because of its elastic properties.
The Grip case's elastomer isn't rubber - it's our own specially-formulated compound. It's still a useful comparison, as all elastomers share similar properties - provided they have the same degree of Shore Hardness.
One person reading this is asking: “Shore Hardness?” The next section is their fault.

A Beginner's Guide to Material Science
The Shore Hardness scale gauges the hardness of various elastomers. It can be measured with a device called a durometer. You probably don't have one.
  • Low Shore Hardness = softer, more malleable, less dense, more rubber-like.
  • High Shore Hardness = harder, less malleable, more dense, more plastic-like.
If you fell out of a building and landed on a rubber surface with a high Shore Hardness, injury or death would be much more likely.
If you used an eraser with a high Shore Hardness, you'd find it wouldn't actually do much erasing.
Now, what if you made a phone case out of an elastomer with a high Shore Hardness? It wouldn't offer much grip or impact protection.
The Grip's outer rim is made from an elastomer with a low Shore Hardness. As a result, the material is grippy and impact-resistant, but much more malleable and thus more likely to deform. That's why we bond the elastomer to a polycarbonate skeleton.
Polycarbonates don't require as much explanation as elastomers: they're a category of plastic. On your Grip case, the back plate is made of polycarbonate. The elastomer rim is bonded to the polycarbonate plate on all sides of the Grip, providing structural rigidity to the elastomer, fighting to keep it from deforming. At least, that's the idea. As we've all seen, it hasn't worked out that way.
Bonding two distinct materials together is much more complicated than gluing them together. Instead, we rely on a thermal bonding process. Basically, that means we heat both of our polymers to a degree which would turn you from “rare” to “well done” in moments. This heat melts the polymers, which we then inject at a pressure which would turn you from “solid” to “paste” even faster.
Once injected, these two materials get fused together along the seams. To further reinforce the bonds, we use a series of interlocking "teeth" to provide a greater surface area on which the bonding process can occur. Consider these teeth the mechanical bond, which exists to strengthen the thermal bond.

Pictured: Bonding mechanic between the elastomer and polycarbonate.
With that out of the way: why do Grips fall apart?
The elastomer rim around the edge of the Grip case is naturally inclined to deform and stretch. The bonding mechanisms we described above are designed to keep that from happening, but it often isn’t strong enough. As soon as the bond fails at any point, it's only a matter of time until a total structural failure occurs.

PART TWO

How Are We Stopping Grips From Falling Apart?
Philosophically, there are two approaches to take:
  1. We can investigate why, exactly, the bond between the elastomer and the polycarbonate is failing.
  2. We can tweak and iterate the thermal and mechanical bond - strengthening it to the point where it's statistically improbable that your case will fall apart.
We tried the first approach - it's the road to madness. The number of variables is irrationally large. What's the temperature like where you live? The altitude? The humidity? Do you bring your phone into environments that deviate from the ambient temperature of your location? Does your school or workplace have extremely dry air? Do you bring your phone into a sauna? What sort of soap do you wash your hands with? Do you have oily hands? What sort of food do you cook? Do you smoke? How hard do you press on the buttons? What's your angle of approach when you actuate a button? How big are your hands? How often do you take your phone out of the case? Do you remove it from the top, the bottom, the sides?
We could follow all of these roads, find out exactly which factors are causing the bond to fail, then implement preventative measures to keep it from happening - but that would take a decade. We don't have that long. Much like you, we want this fixed yesterday.
So, from the moment we received our first complaint about a Grip deforming around the buttons, we've been making structural, thermal, and mechanical improvements to the design and production process of the Grip case - some visible, some not. Every new phone release has brought a new iteration on the core Grip design, with each one reducing the failure rate, incrementally. We'll bring the receipts in the next chapter. For now, let's highlight the most noteworthy improvements.

The Most Noteworthy Improvements
The first signs of trouble were the buttons. Months before we'd received our first report of a Grip case de-bonding, we saw the first examples of buttons that had bent out of shape.

Pictured: Button deformation.
Why the buttons? Because you press down on them. The force from button actuation puts strain on the elastomer, causing displacement of the material in the surrounding area. Through a combination of time, repeated button actuations and the above-mentioned force, the case would permanently deform around the buttons. This concept is called the "compression set" of the elastomer - Google it.
The solution to this problem was two-fold:
  1. First, we increased the compression set of the elastomer. Essentially, we made it as dense as we could, without compromising on the elastic properties of the material.
  2. Second, we added relief slits surrounding the buttons - they're plainly visible on any newer Grip case model. These relief slits are an escape route for the force generated by button actuation. They also had the positive effect of making button actuation significantly more satisfying (read: clicky).

Pictured: Relief slits to improve button tactility and durability.
Another early issue, pre-dating the first reports of total de-bonding, was a deformation of the elastomer along the bottom of the case - where the charging port and speakers are.
Since we've covered the basics on how the interlock between the elastomer and the polycarbonate creates a bond, this is how the interlocking teeth along the top edge of the polycarbonate skeleton of the Grip used to look.

Pictured: First-gen interlocking teeth on the top of the Grip.
...and here's the bottom of that very same Grip case.

Pictured: First-gen interlocking teeth on the bottom of the Grip.
Notice anything? Around the charging port, there is absolutely nothing keeping the elastomer in place. No teeth, no structural reinforcements... it's no coincidence that an overwhelming majority of early Grip deformations happened along the bottom.
Since then, we’ve added a reinforced polycarbonate structure around the bottom of the Grip case. You'll see what that looks like in a bit.
So, why didn't the launch portfolio of Grip cases have mechanical interlocks or a polycarbonate support structure along the bottom?
The answer may or may not be complicated, depending on how much you know about plastic injection molding. We'll assume the worst and explain the concept of "undercut" to you with a ridiculous metaphor.

The Ridiculous Metaphor
Imagine you had a tube full of melted cheese. Next, imagine you emptied that entire tube into your mouth. Rather than swallowing the cheese, you decide to let it sit in your mouth and harden. Why are you doing this? We don't know. Let's just say you want a brick of cheese that's perfectly molded to the contours of your mouth - a very normal thing to want.
So, your mouth is completely filled with cheese. It hardens. You reach into your mouth to remove the brick of cheese. As you're removing it, you encounter a problem: your teeth are in the way. This wasn't a problem when you were putting the cheese into your mouth, but that was because the cheese was melted and could flow around your teeth. Now that the cheese has hardened, this is no longer the case.
In the world of plastic injection molding, this is an undercut. Our concern was that, by molding a structurally rigid piece of polycarbonate around the charging port and speaker holes, we'd find ourselves unable to remove the Grip Case from the mold once hardened. Imagine spending $30,000 on industrial tooling only to get a $30 phone case stuck inside of it.
Once we saw Grip cases deforming along the bottom cutouts, we knew we'd need to find a way to remove the cheese from your mouth without breaking your teeth. To make a long story short: we did it. The cheese is out of your mouth, and you get to keep your teeth. Congratulations! Now, keep reading.
On newer models of the Grip case, the result is a polycarbonate bridge extending around the bottom cutouts, adding both structural reinforcement and interlock mechanisms to promote mechanical bond, much like the ones which line the perimeter of the rest of the Grip case.

Pictured: Newest-gen structural reinforcement on the bottom of the Grip.
On the subject of structural reinforcements, this design revision was around the time we flanked the buttons with some fins, working in tandem with the heightened compression set and button relief slits, detailed above, to further guarantee that button actuation would have no impact on the overall durability of the Grip case.

Pictured: Lack of button fins on the first-gen Grip.

Pictured: Button fins on the newest-gen Grip.
As an aside: Unrelated to the de-bonding issues, we've also made a number of smaller improvements to the Grip case with each new iteration. For instance, we chamfered the front lip of the case to make edge-swiping more pleasant and reduce dust accumulation along the rim. Those raised parallelogram shapes along the sides of your Grip case that create its distinctive handfeel? We made those way bigger for a better in-hand experience. In short: product development is a complex and multifaceted process. Each new iteration of the Grip case is better than the one that came before, and that applies to more than just failure rates.
Speaking of failure rates: all of these improvements were in place by the time we launched iPhone 11-series Grip cases. The failure rate for these cases decreased exponentially... but didn't disappear entirely.

The Even More Ridiculous Metaphor
With these improvements, we achieved our desired outcome: the case was no longer deforming around the buttons or the charging port. Instead, the structure of the case began to fail literally anywhere else around the perimeter of the phone.
Think of it this way… you’re a roof carpenter. The greatest roof carpenter of all time. Like the son of God, but if he was a carpenter. Unfortunately, you’ve been paired with the Donald Trump of wall-builders.
You're tasked with building a house. You spend all of your time and energy perfecting your roofcraft. You've designed a roof that's so durable, it may as well have been made of Nokia 3310s. Nothing's getting through that bad boy.
The wall guy? Instead of building that wall he said Mexico would pay for, he's been tweeting about the miraculous medicinal properties of bleach while a plague kills hundreds of thousands of Americans.
The point here is that you can build the greatest roof of all time, but the walls need to be strong enough to match.
To strengthen the Grip case's metaphorical walls, we needed to re-design the inside of the Grip case from scratch. More specifically, the mechanical interlock between the springy elastomer and rigid polycarbonate skeleton. We took every tooth at the bonding point between the two materials and made them as large as we possibly could. Then, we added more teeth.

Pictured: Polycarbonate teeth on the newest-gen Grip.
To jog your memory: this is how the teeth used to look...

Pictured: Polycarbonate teeth on the first-gen Grip.
If time proves that these changes aren’t enough, our engineers still have a number of ideas on how to improve the bond between the elastomer and polycarbonate. Will we ever need to implement those ideas? Again - that’s a question only time can answer. Each change might be the silver bullet that puts this problem to bed for good... but there's only one way to find out: it involves real-world testing and, with each iteration, months of careful observation.

PART THREE

So, Where Are We Now?
Have the improvements we've made to the Grip case been successful? You bet.
For the sake of comparison: we began shipping iPhone 11 series Grips on September 30th, 2019. Within six months of that date, we had received 52 reports of structural failures - a big improvement over the early days, but still not good enough.
Fast forward two months. We began shipping Note 10 Plus Grip cases on November 21st, 2019. In the first six months of availability, we received exactly eight reports of Note 10 Plus Grips falling apart. Again, a major improvement over the iPhone series in the same stretch of time. If we'd launched the first Grip cases with a failure rate that low, we wouldn't be writing this post right now and you’d have nothing to read while pretending to do work.
How about the Galaxy S20 series, which began shipping on February 10th, 2020? They're the most recent and improved set of SKUs we’ve made to date, leveraging everything we've learned and making further improvements over the Note 10 Plus. No reports so far. Same goes for the iPhone SE and OnePlus 8 series - these SKUs share all the improvements we've made to the underlying design of the Grip case thus far.
Does that mean these numbers will hold forever? Who knows. That's the thing: every improvement we make, we need to wait several months to see how effective it's been. No amount of internal testing can replace the real-world data of shipping cases to hundreds of thousands of users across nearly 200 countries.
We could always just throw in the towel, make the entire case out of rigid plastic, and call it a solved issue... but that would be the easy way out. The Grip case and its unique design properties can't reach their full potential unless we make incremental improvements - then wait and see how they pan out in the real world.
All of which is to say: it's far too early to say the newest set of improvements have officially solved the problem. While the failure rate is still zero, we need to keep watching. We've made a ton of progress, but we're not going to rest until we've killed this issue for good - without sacrificing the unique properties that make the Grip case stand out in a sea of derivative hard plastic and TPU phone cases.
That's probably enough to inspire confidence in someone who's on the fence about buying an S20 Ultra Grip, an iPhone SE Grip, or any Grip we release in the future. But what if you're one of the people who bought an older Grip model?

"I'm One Of The People Who Bought An Older Grip Model!"
We won't sugarcoat it. The failure rates for older Grip models is way higher than we deem acceptable. Why has it taken us this long to publicly address the issue, then?
Easy: it's not as widespread as you might think. Some humans reading this might be looking at their iPhone X Grip, purchased in 2019 and still intact, wondering what all the fuss is about. That's an important consideration: most people who have functioning, still-bonded Grip cases aren't posting on /dbrand about how unbroken it is. The people who've had issues around total product failure are in the minority.
We're not using the word "minority" as a get-out-of-jail-free card here. It's still a way larger number than we'd ever be comfortable with. We simply don't want our transparency and candor in writing this to be misinterpreted as an admission that every single Grip case we've made for older devices is going to fall apart. Statistically speaking, this is an issue for a minority of Grip owners.
Our philosophy at first was that, while it was unfortunate and frustrating that Grip cases were falling apart, dramatic PR action wasn't necessary. Instead, we resolved to:
  1. Quietly and diligently work in the background to improve the underlying design of the Grip case.
  2. Ship free replacements to anyone whose Grip case had failed.
To date, we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on shipping fees alone for replacement Grips. As you can imagine, that number gets a lot higher once you add in the cost of actually making the thing. We've been fine with writing these costs off as sort of an R&D expense, since every example of a deformed or de-bonded Grip provides invaluable data on how to improve the product.
Where our strategy backfired was in the narrative that began to take root as Grip cases continued to fall apart. Look at it this way: the failure rate of older Grip case SKUs is anywhere between 1% and 20%, depending on how early we released the SKU. Since the improvements we've already made to the underlying design were rolled out incrementally with each new phone release, that number has been on a steady downward trend.
For the purpose of this thought experiment, we'll go with the earliest, shittiest Grip cases - putting us at a long-term failure rate of 20%.
So, 20% of customers for this device have a Grip case fall apart at some point in the product's lifespan. Every single one of those people writes in to our Customer Experience team about the issue. They all receive a replacement, free of charge.
Since this replacement is identical to the first Grip case they'd received, it also has a 20% failure rate. We're now dealing with percentages of percentages. Stop panicking, we'll do the math for you: that means 4% of these hypothetical Grip owners will have a second Grip case fail on them in the long run.
Four percent is a lot better than twenty… but it's also a lot of people who've been burned twice. These people are going to be extra vocal about how shitty the Grip case is. To be fair, they've got every right.
So, we've got four groups of customers for this SKU:
  • Group A: Has had two or more Grip cases fail (4%).
  • Group B: Has had exactly one Grip case fail (16%).
  • Group C: Bought a Grip which has not failed (80%).
  • Group D: Has not purchased a Grip case (NA%).
Group A is livid about the repeated issues they've had - rightfully so.
Group B, having been burned before, reads about Group A's experience. They take it to mean their replacement will inevitably fail on them as well, and they'll one day get the dubious honor of joining Group A.
Group C, despite not having had any issues yet, reads the experiences of Groups A and B. Then, a significant portion of this group begins to operate under the assumption that it's only a matter of time before their Grip falls apart as well.
Group D reads all of the above and decides they don't have enough confidence in the Grip case to ever purchase one.
A narrative begins to form that this hypothetical failure rate is close to 100%. Worse yet: people with newer phones, unaware that each new iteration of the Grip case has a dramatically reduced failure rate over the last, start to assume their case also has a 100% failure rate. That's where our original strategy - the one where we quietly improved the product in the background while offering replacements for defective units - backfired on us.
This narrative only exists because we've continued to leverage existing stock with too high a failure rate, which, in hindsight, was like pouring gasoline on a gender reveal forest fire of disappointment and regret. This brings us to our next chapter.

Mass Destruction
At this point, you're probably aware that a number of Grip SKUs for older phones have been listed as "Sold Out" on our website, and haven't been restocked since.
We stopped production on these cases because we knew they'd have all the same issues as the original production runs. See, it's not as simple as pushing a "make the Grip not fall apart" button at the factory - we'd need to redesign the case from scratch, implementing all of the design improvements we've made up to this point, then re-tool our existing machinery to produce this new version. We'll have more to say about re-tooling a bit later - for now, focus on the fact that some Grips have been listed as "Sold Out".
If someone's Grip case falls apart while listed as "Sold Out", we don't have any replacements to send them. Instead, dbrand's Customer Experience team has been issuing refunds wherever possible, and store credit otherwise. Just in case you're wondering what we mean by "where possible": PayPal doesn't allow refunds on transactions that are more than six months old. Store credit, on the other hand, can be offered indefinitely.
What we've come to realize is that we're never going to be able to escape this downward spiral until we rip the band-aid off and stop stocking these old, flawed SKUs.
Today, we're ripping the bandaid off. As you're reading this, we're disposing of all of our old stock. All of the flawed Grip SKUs are now listed as "Sold Out".
Head over to our Grip listing and take a look at what's available. Everything that you can currently buy is up to spec with the improvements we've made over the past year - meeting or exceeding the standard of quality set by the Galaxy S20 series, the iPhone SE, and the OnePlus 8 series. In some cases - take, for instance, the iPhone 11 series - this means we've already re-tooled our production lines to meet that quality benchmark.
If a Grip case is listed on "Backorder", it means we've begun the process of re-tooling the SKU to match the improved quality standard you've spent the last five hours reading about.
However, if a Grip case is now listed as "Sold Out", that means no more reshipments.
If you own a sold out Grip case that hasn't fallen apart yet: that's great! Don't assume that your Grip is doomed to fail just because we devoted 5661 words to explaining why it might fall apart. You've still got better odds than you would at a casino.
As always, if you run into any issues with your case, sold out or not, shoot an email to one of our Robots. They'll still take care of you - it just won't be with a replacement case… for now.

Mass Production
Remember when we said we'd talk more about re-tooling a bit later? That's right now.
So, why are so many Grip models not being fixed? Why haven't we re-tooled these old SKUs with all of the quality improvements made to the case's build quality? It's a little complicated.
Taking the improvements we've made to the most recent suite of Grip models and retroactively applying those changes to older SKUs isn't a simple task - it would require us to throw out our existing production tools and create new ones, from scratch. Suffice it to say that doing so is a wildly expensive endeavor.
To recoup that cost, we'd need to produce more Grips than we're likely to ever sell for aging, irrelevant hardware. Let's use the Pixel 3 as an example.
If we replaced every single de-bonded Pixel 3 Grip, that would account for about 3% of the MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) on a re-tooled Pixel 3 Grip case. Now we're sitting on 97% of that MOQ as overstock. Pixel 3 owners have had their phone for nearly two years now. If they want a phone case, they already have one. They're not looking for new Pixel 3 cases, they're getting ready to buy a new phone. Simply put, it’s no longer a viable market.
Now, say the Pixel 3 was a significantly more popular phone - enough that we'd be shipping out, say, 50% of the MOQ as replacements on day one. Now, that's a lot more tempting to us - we'd still lose boatloads of money, but at least it would go towards some consumer goodwill.
To figure out how much money we'd lose on re-tooling, we gave our bean-counting Robots a giant jar of beans and told them to get to work. They emerged three days later. When asked how many beans were in the jar, they gave us a blank stare. When asked if it was possible to re-tool any of our production lines for old Grip SKUs without losing obscene amounts of money, they said:
"Absolutely not."
Still, we're no strangers to throwing away obscene amounts of money to make the internet happy. Remember Amazon gift cards? Those were the days. The only question that remains is "How much money are we willing to set on fire?"
We can't tell you yet. Why? Because we're currently running a detailed cost-benefit analysis on the subject of re-tooling old production lines, on a SKU-by-SKU basis. That's business talk for "the bean-counting Robots have been given more beans to count."
The objective is to determine the viability of producing new-and-improved Grip stock for older phones: how many units would be tied up in replacements for that model, how many we could reasonably expect to sell to new customers, and how much overstock would be left from the MOQ.
From there, we can determine what the financial impact of re-tooling would be and make the final decision on how much cash we're dumping into the ocean somewhere off the coast of the Seychelles. We'll have our results by early next week.
These re-tooled models, if produced, would feature every improvement we’ve made thus far to the Grip case line, plus a few that have yet to be released. Remember how the S20s, the iPhone SE and the OnePlus 8s haven't had any reported failures yet? Picture that, but for the phone you've got.
If we go ahead with re-tooling production lines for your phone, a few things will happen:
  1. The Grip case for your phone will go from "Sold Out" to "Backorder".
  2. Our Customer Experience Robots will shift their communication strategy from "we no longer support your phone," to "we'll get you a replacement once we've got improved units in stock."
None of these things will happen until we've run the simulations on which phones are getting restocked. Why are we posting this today, then? We could have waited a week and had concrete answers to offer about the future of our out-of-stock Grip cases. Well…

Take Our Survey
This is it: your chance to have some say in how much money we set on fire as a goodwill exercise for this whole R&D clusterfuck.
Those simulations we're running? They'll be great for telling us how much money we're going to lose on each Grip SKU, but it won't tell us anything about how much money our customers want us to lose on each Grip SKU.
To that end, we've prepared a survey for people who have purchased a Grip case. We'll be taking your feedback into consideration during our decision-making process.
We have only one request: don't be a jackass. Answer the questions honestly.
Click here to take the survey.

In Closing...
We're sharing a special moment right now. We're all seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
For us, that light is "we're almost done with a year-long R&D effort to stop the Grip case from falling apart."
For you, the light is "the end of a 5661-word marathon of a Reddit post."
We just want to take a minute to recognize that we couldn't have gotten this far without your collective support. At any point in the past year, we might have pulled the plug on the Grip project entirely if we'd reached a critical mass of negative sentiment from our customers. Instead, we've got an army of devotees who have no problem paying us for the privilege of being our guinea pigs.
Product development isn't a one-and-done process. It's easy to forget, but our skins weren't always to the world-class, record-setting, Michael-Jordan-in-his-prime standard you expect from us today. If you happen to have an iPhone 4 skin lying around, apply it and let us know how it goes. You'll immediately appreciate how many process improvements we've made. We weren’t born as the greatest skin manufacturer in history. We got there through a process of methodical improvement. Each jump in quality was driven by a bottomless well of user feedback, sourced from millions upon millions of customers. That, and the competition was comically inept.
It's the same story for the Grip case. Your continued support has enabled us to make huge strides in developing a product that's on the cusp of blowing everyone else out of the water. We're going to keep working until it gets there.

TL;DR VERSION

Please note that by reading this tl;dr, you’re missing out on several outlandish metaphors, including classics such as:
  • Plastic injection molding melted cheese into your face hole.
  • What if Jesus and Donald Trump built a house?
  • How to turn yourself from “rare to well done” and “solid to paste”.
  • Pencil Perverts.

WHY DOES THE GRIP FALL APART?
  • The Grip case is made from two materials: a polycarbonate skeleton and an elastomer frame.
  • The elastomer frame provides the majority of the case's impact protection and grip, but is prone to deformation.
  • We prevent deformation by bonding the material to a polycarbonate skeleton (i.e. the rigid back plate on the Grip case).
  • The bond between the two materials was not as strong as we'd originally anticipated, causing the elastomer to de-bond from the polycarbonate skeleton and the case to sometimes fall apart.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO FIX IT?
  • Through a series of design revisions, we've made countless improvements to promote a stronger bond between the two materials.
  • These changes have incrementally reduced the failure rate of Grip cases. Our most recent SKUs are yielding extremely promising results.
  • Each time we improve the Grip case, we need to play a months-long waiting game to observe the real-world effects.

HOW ABOUT THE GRIPS YOU'VE ALREADY SOLD?
  • Since we're using you as guinea pigs for the purposes of product development, we've been uncharacteristically generous with our warranty policy.
  • However, that warranty policy only lasts as long as we have stock. Once we're out of Grips, we're out of replacements.
  • We've finally reached the point where we need to rip off the bandaid and dispose of all of our Grip stock produced during 2019.
  • If your Grip for any of these older phones falls apart, you can no longer get a replacement.
  • You should still write in to our Customer Experience team if it happens to you - we'll work something out.
  • On the bright side, our Grip SKUs from 2020 onwards have dramatically reduced, if not outright eliminated, the failure rate of previous models. We have no reported cases to date.
  • It's not economically viable to re-tool production lines to apply our improved industrial designs to any of the Grip cases that are currently marked as "Sold Out".
  • We're probably going to do it anyways.
  • We're running the simulations right now to determine which older devices will be re-tooled.
  • Take our survey to help determine which devices we'll be re-tooling.
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