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OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – ESCAPE FROM STALAG SULTANATE, Part 1
That reminds me of a story. “HELLFIRE AND DALMATIANS!” I shouted to no one in particular. “What’s the problem, dear?” Esme asks in that way she has of telling me to calm down without having to say it directly. “This bloody fucking country. A day late and several dollars short.” I fume. “Can’t get a new liquor license because of the bloody COVID. Can’t go to a hotel bar and have a snort because of the bloody COVID. Can’t even slip across the border to Dubai and soak up some room service and buckets of complimentary cocktails because of the bloody COVID.” Yes, the Sultanate of Oman, in its infinitesimal wisdom, has traditionally followed other GCC countries by at least three months in making any sort of proclamations regarding this latest bugaboo: the hideous, deadly, itchy, loathsome, and possibly serially bent, noxious, pandemical COVID-19; aka, this pandemic’s entry for flu. Their response is one of immense knee-jerk without first having thought of the consequences. “Bloody lockdown, 2100 to 0700. What is this, the whole fucking country’s been bad and now being sent to bed without any supper?” I wondered aloud. “Idiot benchodes.” Even Esme couldn’t come up with a rejoinder to that. “Plus they close all the bars. And all the hotels. And the fucking bottle shops. It’s not enough that these fucking Muppets jack the ‘sin tax’ on booze and cigars by 100%, now they’re not even legally available.” I swore. Of course, once you’ve spent even a small portion of the time that I have in the Middle East, you have your connections. Your system. Your access to the seedy underbelly of any society; the venerable Black Market. Jesus Q. Christ on toast with baked beans, fried tomatoes, black pudding, and mushrooms, I could get most anything in the Middle East, be it legal, shady, or just plain illegal. However, before you all recoil in horror that the venerable Dr. Rocknocker dabbles in the prohibited, just remember: the ends always dojustify the means. “I'm telling you, Esme dear; this Gulf story is getting too complicated. The weasels have started closing in.” I complain to Es as she hands me a fresh drink. “Do you think…?” Esme asks expectantly. Esme is more than ready to go. I’ve used this place as a base of operations for years whilst I wear out the Omani legal system suing those asswipes that think just because they’re local and I’m a kafir, they’re immune to the law. I’ve spent a long, profitable and time-consuming period of the last few years proving them wrong. But, time was marching onwards. I agreed with Esme, we’ve milked this particular cash cow dry. It was time to hitch up our bootstraps, call it a day, and get the hell out of Dodge. But not before I took care of a few loose ends. Now, the country had recently lost its venerable Sultan, who croaked back in January of this year. Sultan Qaboos was a good egg, friend to expat and local alike. Did a shitload of good for this benighted Middle East sandpit. Dragged it kicking and screaming out of the 12th century into, well, not exactly the 21st, but a whole hell of a lot closer. He realized that he needed revolutionary, not evolutionary change in the country. By revolutionary, he needed American, British, Canadian, and the like Western Expats here to do the heavy thinking and lifting and Eastern Expats like Indians, Bangladeshis and Nepalese to do all the scut work. Yeah, I know. That sounds racist as fuck, but sometimes that’s the way the ball bounced. Simple evolution of society where Omanis graduated the local equivalent of grade school, through high school, into University, and finally into Entry level jobs in the oil and gas industry wasn’t going to cut it. Took too long and the country needed a serious cash flow now. So, that’s what he did. And it worked a treat. Then he died. And his chosen took over. Except his chosen was pretty much antithetical to everything the previous and very revered and successful, Sultan wanted. Soon, there are 100% ‘sin taxes’ aimed directly at the western expats. Tourists included. Then there’s quotas and ‘Letters of No Objection’, which are impossible to get so that the Eastern Expats can’t switch jobs. Then, there are Sultanic proclamations of new taxes on tourists, new taxes on fast food, new taxes on this, that and the other. Then there’s, in his own words, “Oman is for Omanis”, blatantly ridiculous and xenophobic Omanization, and the general swipe at all expats. “GET OUT.” This was the clear message of the new sultan. He wanted to take over and possibly nationalize all the oil workings in the country. Ask Venezuela, Iran, and Myanmar how well that worked out for them. Then he wants all expats out on their asses. He wants Omanis to take over all the jobs, even though they’re nowhere near educated nor experienced enough for the positions. Then take up the massive GDP slack in lower oil production and oil prices with tourism. Given everything else, that last line should be enough to get him off the throne. He’s fucking nuts if he thinks people are going to want to cruise or overland anywhere near a place where foreigners are seen only as a cash supply, are despised, and would welcome these all new 100% tax levies. Be that as it may, Esme and I decided that we have had enough of 135O F summer temperatures, virtual house arrest under the guise of a COVID lockdown, and idiots who were the only ones stupid or twisted enough not to vamoose when the great, big bloody letters were clearly written on the wall. But, there was the physical act of getting out of the country. Now, I had plenty of strings which I could pull, but I decided I’d start low and save those until we really needed them. So low, in fact, we went to the US Embassy in Muscat. “How low can you go?” reverberated through my head. What a haven of sad-sacks, flubadubs, and third rate hobbyists. Was either Esme or I surprised that when we finally secured an invitation to the embassy, that required a bit of string-pulling with the ex-Ambassador to Oman, now in Kabul; that besides the peach-fuzz faced Marine guarding the place, we were the only Americans in the joint? “This is American soil!” I laughed, as I pulled out a huge Cuban cigar and was immediately told to extinguish it. “We’re as American as apple pie and napalm! We file our fucking 1040s every April; I pay my fucking long-distance taxes and demand US assistance to vacate this gloomy place of sandy, sweaty, sultry Sturm und Drang!” “Shut up, Rock”, Esme chided me, “They don’t understand English. Much less, the florid English the way you trowel it on.” “Fuckbuckets”, I remonstrated. “Here I had memorized the whole Patrick Henry speech he made to the Second Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia. Troglodytes. No admiration for the classics.” “Rock, dear?” Esme noted, “It’s almost 1100 hours. Best to get to our appointment.” True, our appointment was slated for 1100 hours. But around here, anything starting within three hours of the stated time was considered close enough. We dragged ourselves, none too cheerfully, to the waiting room. Once we pried open the door, there was the usual “If you hear a high pitched wail, hit the deck” signs, and other things one could do while kissing one’s ass goodbye if there was a terrorist attack, we had a whole new slew of bullshit with which to deal. “Social distancing. 6 feet. Or if you’re from Baja Canada, 1 cow’s length.” “Must wear a mask. Bandanna, bandoliers, and large-caliber weapons or sombrero optional.” “No sitting. Faux Naugahyde seats are too difficult to sterilize. You must stand at attention, do not talk amongst yourselves, and remain patient until your number is called.” “Well, fuck!”, I snorted quietly, as I raised my first secret flask in rapt attention to our old glory of red, white, and blue. “Good thing they didn’t say nothin’ about getting a load on. If I’m going to be treated like cattle, I’m going to at least have something to chew on in the process.” “Oh, lord”, Esme grumbled, “You didn’t bring that Japanese Rye Whiskey with you, did you?” “ルハイム”, I said, which is Japanese for “L’chaim”! “Oh, hell”, Esme grinned as she borrowed my flask, “This is going to be a long day.” I began to protest but remembered that I was wearing my Agency-issued field vest. I must have had at least 5 or 6 more flasks lurking around in those pockets somewhere. Funny aside: they don’t bother with my going through an X-ray machine nor do they confiscate my phone, radio, knives, nor other field equipment when I go to the US Embassy. It took them almost two solid hours last time, and by the time they got to my Brunton Compass, emergency flasks, a few spare blasting cap boosters, and saw the label sewn into the back of my vest, they decided they’d just send Rack and Ruin some evil Emails and let me pass unmolested. “I’ll drink to that”, I say as I raise a flask as the locals raise an eyebrow. “Courtesy of Atheists International. We’re here for your children…” The collective gasps and growls indicate they weren’t happy with me or my betrothed. “Don’t care, Buckwheat”, I smiled, “Never did, never will. We’re out of here for good. You can curse my name all you want then. But, then again, why you standing in the American Embassy trying to get a visa to visit the land of the great evil empire?” All the locals and most of the Eastern Expats crowded into a corner as far away from us as they physically could. “BOO!” I snickered over a shot of Wild Turkey 101 Rye. “Now serving number 58! Number 58!” came the call over the tannoy. “Look at that”, I remarked to Es as I stashed both our flasks, “It’s only 12:35. Record time.” We both shimmy into the glass-fronted and presumably bullet- but not C-4 resistant- glass. We pick up the telephones there and acknowledge that we are who we said we were. The East Indian fella, one Harsh Talavalakar, behind the multiple layers of glass asked us why we were here. “Didn’t you read the appointment card?” I asked, “We’re here to have Uncle Sam get us passage out of this sordid and sultry place.” “You are American citizens?” he asked, vacantly. “That’s what it says on appointment cards and these here blue passports,” I replied. “Well, how was I to know?” he scoffed, returning to his half-consumed powdered sugar doughnut. “Maybe read the appointment card and see that we are US Citizens here on the behest of Ambassador Bethesda Orun?” I replied. “Like I have time to read everything that comes across my desk”, he scoffed again. I tapped on the glass to make certain I had his full attention. “Look here, Herr Harsh. I’m not sure how you got this job at the American Consulate but want to be very clear with you. My wife and I are residents of this place for the last 20 years. We’re American citizens of very high standing and have more high powered connections than an Arduino in a nuclear power station. We have direct connections with Langley, Virginia and if you want to retain your cushy job, you’ll put down that fucking doughnut and pay very rapt attention to the two Americans standing here who are getting more and more irritated with some Indian benchode that doesn’t think he has to really do his job. You savvy? You diggin’ me, Beaumont” I guess the benchode got his attention. The two scowls he received from Esme and myself sort of cemented the idea that we’re not too pleased and not with to be trifled. “Yes, sir?” he said, “And ma’am”, as Harsh quickly corrected himself as the doughnut disappeared. “We want out. Gone. Vamoose. Outta here. AMF. You got me?” he nods behind the shatterprone glass. “Now I know the borders are sealed and the airport’s closed, but fuck that. We want out and we want gone for good. I can’t make that much simpler or clearer. Get after it, son.” I said, as seriously as I could. “Well, sir”, he began, “ The airport’s closed…” “Are you deaf or born stupid and been losing ground ever since?” I asked, rhetorically. “I know that. We all know that. My HAT knows that. So, what devious little plan does the US Embassy have in store in just such an unsavory situation?” “Well”, he chokes a bit, “There’s this unofficial lottery where America citizens are issued random numbers and if their number comes up, there are seats made available on special clandestine charter flights.” Considering that Es and I are some of the last American citizens left in the country, I thought our chances might be pretty good. “OK”, I said, “Let us have two of your finest numbers.” “Yes, sir”, he said, “That will be US$500 total.” “Excuse me?” I said. “Oh, yes”, he smirked, “US$250 per number. Chances are you’ll never be called, but with these numbers, at least you stand a chance.” “OK”, I said, “Forget the numbers. I want your name and operating number. I’ve got a report to file that’s due in Virginia before breakfast.” “Oh, sir”, he smirked more, “I cannot release that information. Thanking you. Now be having a good day.” And he slammed the supposedly bulletproof shield between himself and Es and me. “Bulletproof? Maybe. Nitro proof? No fucking way.” I groused as I fished out a couple of blasting cap superfast boosters. “Calm down, dear”, Esme smiled to me as we walked out, “When he wasn’t looking, I took his picture, got his operating number, and full name. In fact, I think I got some information on where he lives…” In the cab on the way back to our villa, I reviewed and confirmed Es’s subterfuge. Flasks number 6 and 8 needed serious replenishment by the time we arrived home. “That’s fucking right, Ruin.” I yelled over the phone, “We need extraction. And now. Along with our personal effects and a few hundredweight of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ boxes of stuff we need to be transported.” “Well, Rock”, Agent Ruin replied, “That’s a tall order. Usually, extraction is for one person and the stuff they’re wearing. Tell you what. Let Rack and I work on it for a week or so. We’ll arrange transport of your personal effects, then we’ll see about getting you and Esme to Dubai. At least there, you can order a plane. Hell, knowing you, you’ll get Tony Stark to fly in and provide door to door service. Sit tight. We’ll be back in touch.” “Good!” I say as I slam the phone down. With these newfangled cellphone telephone instruments, they lack the same sort of satisfying “KER FUCKING CLANG” the old landlines used to have. “Es!”, I yelled, “Start packing. We’re due out of here within a week.” That meant we needed to do some packing triage: • Things going home with us. • Things being shipped. • Things being sold. • Things being left behind. • Things no one was about to get their furry little mitts on. “Oh, fuck!”, I startled. I had just remembered the John Wick-ian stash of various explosives, and adjunct materials I had buried in the basement. Obviously, I couldn’t take it home with me, I couldn’t sell it, and I sure as festering frothing fuck wasn’t going to leave it here. I needed to call one of my more shifty and swarthy friends and arrange for passage out to the deep, dark desert. Around the area where the new sultan had opened a couple of brand new landfills. Looks like I was going to expand them a few meters once we disposed of the few hundred kilos of accumulation I attained over the last few years. See, I’m a packrat. I never leave nor toss anything that might be convenient. Might have a benefit. Might prove to be useful sometime down the line. So, I’ve accumulated a bit of kit. Like…well…a few hundred sticks of Du Pont 60% Extra Fast Dynamite. A couple dozen spools of Z-4 Primacord, in various degrees of fullness. A shitload of C-4; enough bricks for a Floydian wall. A couple, well, a dozen, well, two dozen cases of binary liquid explosives. Hey, this stuff is hard to come by… Continuing, several thousand blasting caps and superfast flash blasting cap boosters. Some mercury fulminate. Some nitrogen triiodide. A couple tens of pounds of PETN. An equal amount of RDX. A few Erlenmeyer flasks full of shit even I’m not certain of what it is… Oh. And a few kilos of freshly decanted, raw nitroglycerin; packed in sturdy wooden boxes lined with new fuzzy lamb’s wool. Not that much. Just 10 or 12 kilos. Yeah. I can’t leave that here. Even a small accident with this stuff would lay waste to not only our villa; but my landlord’s villa with whom we share a common wall. Besides, as Omanis go, my landlord was the only dishdasha dressed denizen for which I had any respect or admiration. He was a good guy. I needed to return his villa at least in some semblance of what I received when we first rented from him. So, I had to dispose of many, many billions of kilojoules of potential energy. I needed to do this out in a distant and far away from prying ears and eyes regions and I needed a truck to haul this stuff out to the range. To be continued…
My uneventful hysterectomy experience + smooth recovery at 4 1/2 weeks postop
I'd like to show my thanks for you folks who have provided so many useful tips on this sub by sharing my fairly standard/normal hysterectomy experience and week by week recovery. It's a long, detailed post but TL;DR: my experience is similar to folks who have had a normal recovery with no complications and manageable pain and discomfort and I highly recommend surgery! (I'm including insomnia and mood swings as normal, since I kept my ovaries and I'm coming off hormonal medication as well, lol.) I waited until 4 weeks before posting because even though I felt great during the first few days after surgery, I wanted to wait and see if complications and weird stuff popped up afterwards. Nope! It has been a delightfully smooth recovery: only very little spotting 2 days after surgery then no bleeding even up until now. My surgeon checked out my vaginal cuff 3 1/12 post-op and she said it was healing nicely, no pain when she touched the cuff and no bleeding. Background:
I'm a non-binary (they/her pronouns,) femme- and androgynous-presenting 35 year old, overweight and sedentary except for light walking. No kids, never gave birth or had an abortion. No top/bottom surgeries and no hormones apart from norethindrone 5-10 mg to stop bleeding/periods and manage pelvic pain a year before surgery. Most of the dysphoria for me post-op is the swollen belly (I look quite pregnant especially during the first 3 weeks) but I'm trying to reframe the swollen belly as looking really cute :) and that the swelling will go away eventually, even though it'll take months. But having no uterus is really awesome! I like the emptiness and lack of heaviness and fatigue from the uterus/fibroids/endo. I did grieve losing parts of my body but this process was months before surgery.
First surgery ever for adenomyosis, endometriosis, and multiple fibroids; total laparoscopic hysterectomy (LAVH): delivered 7 cm fibroid vaginally (!), only kept ovaries and a vaginal cuff was sutured where my cervix used to be. 6 cm endometrioma on right ovary removed, endo excision on partially obliterated cul-de-sac and uterosacral ligaments. Biopsies confirmed adeno in uterus and endo in endometrioma and excised tissues. Took hormones until 3 1/2 week post-op checkup when surgeon allowed me to stop using them. Surgeon expects low recurrence of endo.
I had short notice (3 weeks) for my surgery due to COVID-19 precautions at the hospital, but I was waitlisted for almost a year beforehand.
How the weeks played out post-op:
After surgery: going under anesthesia and waking up in the recovery room happened in seconds. I felt pain which was 3-4/10 but never really went beyond 5-6 (at that point I requested pain meds); most of the pain came from gas pain which touched on the parts that had surgery so it hurt, but I didn't have the dreaded shoulder pain. The catheter was uncomfortable but I asked the nurse to adjust the tubing which sort of helped. I wore the hospital robe during my overnight stay, which had some tiny blood stains from my incisions. I mostly slept and was woken up by nurses during their rounds of checking my blood pressure and temperature. I drank coffee and lots of watejuice after my catheter was removed the next morning and before being discharged. Didn't use my phone and didn't need my toiletries, wore the same maxi dress and slip-on shoes as what I came in the hospital with.
Week 1: most of the discomfort and pains (especially gas) happened this week: ice packs helped along with taking OTC pain meds (tylenol/acetaminophen and naproxen) on a regular schedule and narcotics (tramadol) only a couple of times cause I was afraid of constipation. I made sure to include stool softeners (eg Miralax) in-between pain meds. No fatigue and only 2 days of light spotting; no discharge as well. Incisions were healing normally and were itchy at the end of week 1. Had urine leakage so I purchased additional incontinence pads but I already had this issue prior to surgery. Watched a lot of Netflix/Prime Video while reclined on couch and paced around the house a lot (usually after peeing a lot due to all the fluids) to help get rid of gas/prevent blood clots; activated charcoal didn't helped me, I had to ride out the gas pain. Had pressure while peeing but wasn't painful, also peed a lot due to drinking lots of fluids and eating soups. My BM on the second day was gassy and loose at first, but became more solid when I had another BM that same day, so I didn’t phone the surgeon’s office. I had more BMs than before surgery (went once a day before, then twice a day post-op) and I used a small stool in lieu of a Squatty Potty to help me poop; doing the "moo" sound instead of straining was a big help! I was also really hungry and ate more than usual; more like frequent, smaller meals: a lot of toast/rice, some fruit, and lots of soups with chicken and vegetables. No housework and didn't lift anything heavier than half a gallon (~2 litres.)
Week 2: I had fewer abdominal and back pains compared to the first week and I continued to feel great; ab/incision pains went away eventually by the end of this week. No discharge but still felt pressure from peeing, so I purchased urine tests that were a dollar each from the pharmacy (which also checks for blood and proteins) and I didn't have a UTI. I still used ice packs at the start of the second week but stopped them once I started taking a small dose of cannabis during the day and edibles at night. I stopped naproxen before taking cannabis but this point, I could have also taken tylenol if cannabis wasn't a option, but I didn't like the idea of taking tylenol for long periods of time (can affect the liver.) I gradually increased my walking from slow walking around the block to averaging about 3-4k steps up and down sidewalks in the neighbourhood despite walking very slowly. My surgeon allowed me to do light low impact exercise two weeks onwards. My belly felt more swollen after long walks, likely due to increased activity. Felt tired in the afternoons but I attribute this to the long walks and sleeping less than 8 hours. Still no housework and didn't lift anything heavier than half a gallon (~2 litres.) Felt more emotional this week, cried a bit from post-op blues (wasn't major depression, but thinking about what my body went through up until this point made me sad and angry) but my husband listened to my feelings and I felt better.
Week 3: I felt my body starting to normalize (fewer BMs, not so hungry/thirsty) and sitting down became more comfortable (fewer instances of external genitalia soreness) but "Beware Week 3" is correct! I did ~9000 steps one day at the start of week 3 cause I felt so good (big oops) and I felt more tired in the afternoon and a bit more soreness (mostly leg soreness from the long distance walked.) I rested a few days after and took it easier and it's all good. Still no discharge and even on the 3 1/2 week mark when my surgeon did the post-op checkup, my cuff was healing well and my ovaries looked well. Surgeon recommended pelvic floor therapy as I mentioned the urine leakage. Started to get really bored but walking helped, just not overdoing it. I tried modified, really gentle yoga/pelvic floor exercises/chair yoga and felt sore, but rested afterwards and the soreness resolved. Pressure from peeing continued to decrease, now I can feel my bladder emptying when I pee and I sit for a little bit after peeing for the rest of the pee to come out. I was cleared to drive but at this point, twisting was still uncomfortable. I started experiencing insomnia so when it got really bad, I would take cannabis oils/edibles again and I was able to sleep continuously.
Week 4: Smoke from west-coast forest fires kept me stuck at home so I continued to rest (watch TV and Reddit,) do a little bit more bending/squatting and even picked up a load of laundry under 20 pounds (surgeon cleared me to lift anything under 20 pounds but no lifting furniture for 3 months.) No bleeding despite doing those movements. Swollen belly is very slowly becoming less swollen but it's still swollen. I can tolerate wearing high-waisted leggings/joggers now but jeans and anything too tight around the belly (even tank tops/shirts) are a no go. I still have persistent lower back pain but no abdominal pain so I wonder if my back took a lot of the pressure from day to day activities instead of my abs; massage and heat packs help.
What helped me pre- and post-op:
Positive self-talk/reassurance, even though I was worrying a lot before surgery. I reminded myself that hysterectomies are common procedures (high success rate) and that I have a support system (spouse, housemates, psychologist) to help me with recovery. Reading recovery stories on this sub helped me have a realistic view of the surgery. I also mentally braced myself if my ovaries had to go but thankfully my surgeon was a rockstar and that my right ovary with endometrioma ended up being healthy.
My husband took a couple of weeks off work to help me out: he dropped off/picked me up from the hospital, got groceries and helped prepare food on stovetop, and assisted with getting me in/out of bed and with showers. I would suggest having help from a partnefriend/family member at least a week post-op as second week isn't as bad as the first week.
Having food delivered sometimes! Having easy to prepare food made by my husband/parents that was easy to reach/reheat also really helped me.
Purchasing items to prepare for recovery:
Raised toilet seat + arms for a really low toilet, especially helpful for the first couple of weeks when my ab muscles were so weak and sore. Also baby wipes!
Small pillow for the drive home (to cushion against the seatbelt) and holding against my belly when standing up/walking on the first week. I also purchased another cute, soft whale plushie from Miniso (like a Japanese dollar store) to sleep/cuddle with.
Bath chair for showetub. It was so comforting to sit and have a hot shower as I can't have a bath until the 8 week mark. The moist heat helped with the soreness and it was nice to be able to shower and towel-dry myself independently. I still needed help to get out of the tub to avoid falling/slipping, a suction cup grab bar and tub mat also helps with this.
Wedge pillow + lots of pillows on my side and under my knees. I shared a bed so I went with this option but I'm sure those C-shaped pregnancy pillows will also help.
Multiple plastic cups with straws: I was so thirsty and having watejuice on hand also helped me have regular BMs. Glasses were heavy during the first week and the plastic cups helped me get extra fluids in.
Hanes nightshirts (my fave! looks like a giant t-shirt that goes down to my knees) and Fruit of the loom plus-size high-waisted panties from Amazon, both 2-3 sizes up for the swollen belly. I was peeing so often in the first couple of weeks from soups and drinking so much water that I didn't wanna fuss with pants. I wore other (thrifted) t-shirt dresses and slip-on shoes for walks cause I didn't want anything touching my swollen belly.
No effort/easy to swallow food such as applesauce and pudding. As naproxen had to be taken with food, I ate applesauce and pudding with naproxen when the timing was before/after meals. Also pudding was a nice treat when I felt so crappy.
Popsicles! My throat was a little sore from intubation, so the ice chips were heavenly in the hospital, and popsicles helped a lot during the first week. It was the height of summer as well at the time, so popsicles also helped keep me cool.
Following pre- and post-op instructions from hospital and doctor's office. I stopped vitamins and asprin-like meds a week before surgery, followed the no food after enema the night before surgery, and only drank the approved fluids (water and apple/cranberry juice) up until an hour before I was admitted to the hospital. If you don't follow pre-op instructions, you may be denied surgery. For post-op, my only instructions aside from the OTC pain meds schedule were no full intercourse and no baths/swimming for 8 weeks, light low impact exercise 2 weeks onwards, and visit the ER if any symptoms of surgical complications show up (didn't need to). So in addition to that, I followed the guidelines that I frequently saw on the sub: no bending, no lifting over 5 pounds, and going up stairs one step at a time and taking breaks when needed.
Lots of slow walking. (I didn't have restrictions from my surgeon but if you do, follow them.)
Cannabis (in small doses,) which is legal where I live. After I finished 10 days of naproxen, I stopped tylenol and I tried 5 mg THC/CBD edibles at night and I was finally able to sleep for 6-7 hours straight. The cannabis numbed my pain in a more effective way compared to tramadol, tylenol, and naproxen. In hindsight, I wish I took cannabis sooner instead of bearing with tylenol and naproxen but I followed doctors orders and I didn’t know if the cannabis would interfere with anesthesia post-op. I also took a high CBD oil (1.5 mg THC: 25 mg CBD) during the day, which helped mute most of the pain during the day on the second week.
Having a routine. Since I'm having an easy recovery, having a routine helps me not feel down and have things to focus on/look forward to. My routine is having a couple of walks between breakfast and dinner and watching TV/reading a book during the afternoon/after dinner.
Please feel free to ask questions, I'm happy to help! I hope your surgery goes smoothly as well and for those recovering, I hope your recovery continues to be smooth sailing. :)
At the end of the Second World War, Europe realized that their hold on their colonial holdings was slipping fast. Most of them began to draw up plans to gradually grant independence. The people within these countries however had different priorities. They saw their chance to break from the colonial masters and took it. In 1950, only Egypt, Liberia, Ethiopia, and South Africa could be considered independent, by 1965 the vast majority of nations were on their own. Some flourished, some languished, but almost all improved with their newfound freedom. At this time, the world was locked in a struggle between Western Democracy and Communist Dictatorship. With little warning, a new theater opened in the Cold War. Africans were given the decision of who to side with. As an enemy of their former masters, the Soviet Union made a natural ally, and Socialism's anti-imperial (theoretic) stance appealed to people in post imperial regions of the world. Since independence, seventeen African nations have had a government which self-identified as socialist, six of those as Marxist-Leninist. Like Africa itself, socialist movements in the continent were varied and diverse. Ranging from self described socialist Nelson Mandella becoming celebrated world wide for his devotion to peace and equality to Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose violence and economic mismanagement killed thousands. The purpose of this post is to describe the ideological origins and tenets of African socialism, with a look at what makes it distinct from mainstream Communist movements. On this map red shows those states which identified as Marxist, yellow shows those which identified as with a variety of other forms of socialism, and green shows those which more closely fall under the Arab Socialist movement and will not be discussed here.
Broadly speaking, African Socialism drew inspiration from two main sources, the traditional body of socialist literature and that of the Pan-African movement. Socialism Both the ideological tenets of socialism and the practical concerns socialist nations played a role in African nations adopting socialism. Most of the nations of Africa were in a struggle for freedom from capitalist European countries and found a natural ally in the Soviet Union. Following WWII, it was in many ways a binary choice to side with the US or USSR. Those who led rebellions or coups against US backed leaders had few options other than the USSR. Political concerns aside, there were many reasons why socialism was ideologically attractive to educated Africans. Socialism is at its base revolutionary. "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries unite!” With even a cursory glance at Marx, it doesn't take much imagination to see why people oppressed for decades would turn to him. The anti-Imperial rhetoric of socialism (regardless of the actual aggression of the USSR and PRC) was another motivating factor. In this case, I point to Vladimir Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this work, Lenin points towards imperialism as a symptom of the capitalist system. However, one of the reasons this work remained applicable after the collapse of most overseas empires is due to his characterization of imperialism. One example he gives in the book speaks of US domination of the Argentine beef industry. According to Lenin, though the US never carved out a concession area or installed a governor general, they used economic power to dominate the industry and exert control over the country. This characterization rang true for many people who looked at the efforts taken by former colonial powers looking to retain their economic stakes in their old colonies. One of the problems socialists face in implementing their policy is that Orthodox Marxism is heavily based on the conditions of 19th century Western Europe, and when applied outside of those conditions, thinkers need to reconcile the inconsistencies with the conditions on the ground. While we will look at how various African leaders adapted the ideology, one sub-ideology which played a major role in African Socialism was Maoism. Orthodox Marxism focuses heavily on a revolution based around industrial workers. Early 20th century China, much like post-colonial Africa had little in the way of industry. Mao re conceptualized the idea of the proletariat to include peasant farmers and made the revolution as agrarian as it was industrial. For example, the first president of Socialist Madagascar released an ideology book heavily inspired by Mao's Red Book. China also served as an alternative source of support in the event of a conflict with Russia; Somalia received aid from the PRC when they were at war with Soviet aligned Ethiopia. Pan- African Movement The Pan-African movement did not solely influence the African Socialist movement. In fact, almost all post-colonial governments took inspiration from many of the tenets of movement. Nor were all the central figures socialists, indeed Emperor Halie Salassi of Ethiopia was about as far from socialist as could be. However there was a degree of mutual influence in a number of places. The start of it can be traced to Jamaican thinker Marcus Garvey. The Pan-African colors and the icon of the Black Star both came from him. Kwame Nkrumah mentioned him directly as an influence. This remained on the nationalist and pan-nationalist side of African socialism. This and racial empowerment remained a constant theme in African socialism, with many African thinkers rejecting class reductionism. African's tended to be acutely aware of the role of race in world politics and used it in conjunction with class and capitalist interest to explain the world. Another major thinker was American W. E. B. du Bois. One of the founding members of the NAACP and author of one of the first sociological works about African Americans, Du Bois is one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. Du Bois was in reality a Social Democrat, who often saw world communist governments as a means to an end for black people. In Socialism and the American Negro, he referred to the New Deal as a America's foray into Socialism. Though a stalwart supporter of democracy he visited Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin personally. He was a strong opponent of colonization and spoke to young leaders in the 1945 Pan-African congress. There he met future President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah. He would become a mentor to Nkrumah and move to Accra in his final days.
Many of the most interesting and successful movements in Africa were non-Marxist-Leninist. They took local beliefs and attitudes and molded socialism to fit them. These were incredibly diverse, ranging from forms of social democracy to far more authoritarian structures. The leaders ranged from educated elites to guerrilla leaders. The first socialist governments sprang up at independence and continued through the Cold War. These are some of the more notable ones. Consciencism Few other thinkers have had near the lasting influence on African politics and philosophy as Kwame Nkrumah. Born to a poor family in the British Gold Coast, Nkrumah was sent to school by his family where he excelled. Interested in Politics and Philosophy, he saved money to pay to visit the United States. He worked menial jobs to put himself through school at Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania. In the US he became close to expat and American leftists as well as enjoying African American culture. After graduating he went to the London School of Economics. This is where he began political organizing. He returned to the Gold Coast where he founded the Convention People's Party. When the British began increasing local rule, his party swept. When the British did not meet the demands of the Ghanian people, he became a champion of the people with his down to earth nature and organization of general strikes. When Ghana was given full independence, he was the overwhelming choice. A strict empiricist, Nkrumah sought to make an organic political philosophy that was designed to change as the material needs of the country changed. He determined that the welfare of the individual was the most important concern of the government and society. It was from this lens that he criticized capitalism, contending that it reduced man to a means to achieving the goal of profit. He pointed to traditional African values, Islam, and European influences as the three ideological tides that shaped Africa. The latter two he condemned, though admitted their merits where he saw them (such as the French education system), and gave qualified approval to the first. African society was to be, in spirit but not practice the driver of society. This meant that pan-Africanism and historical study were to be focused on, but the actual institutions such as tribalism, traditional monarchy, and class hierarchies were to be abandoned. This is where socialism came into Nkrumah's Consciencism. It was not out of devotion to Marxist thinking, but out of a belief that socialist economic structures would be the most effective way of leading the country to prosperity. In a 1967 address he gave in Egypt he stated "Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialized if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves." To Nkrumah, Socialism was not prescriptive, but rather a process where one used communal ownership as needed to create a better society. He was a believer in the idea of scientific socialism in believing that socialism came from the natural needs of the people, rather than an ideological devotion. Ujamaa If Nkrumah was a product of the study of Philosophy, Julius Nyerere was a product of the study of anthropology and history. Unlike Nkrumah, Nyerere was the product of elite lineage. His father was a chief who earned the favor of both the German, and later British Administrations in Tanganyika. He was chosen by the British to receive education to be a local leader and studied at Makerere College before finishing his post graduate work at University of Edinburgh. Upon returning, he founded the Tanganyika African National Union, which pushed for independence from the UK through non-violent protest. His philosophy of Ujamaa, meaning familyhood in Swahili, became the guiding ideology of the party and independent Tanganyika (and Tanzania after their unification with Zanzibar). In this ideology, Nyerere posits that socialism is the natural state of African people. Before the introduction of Western influences, African people lived in an equal and communitarian society. While he admits the existence of elites he countered that the relative equality of means meant that there was no comparison to modern economic structures. For Africans to be prosperous, they had to return to the social structures as well as the spirit of pre-colonial Africa, while accepting modernizations that would benefit the common man. He posited that African society had a natural social value attached to work, and this work was done, not to the benefit of a capitalist elite, but to the benefit of society, thus with the fruits of labor belonging to society, they could be considered socialist. Through a return to these structures, they could have a socialist society that was structured on the needs of Africans, rather than those of 19th century Europeans. He regarded Marxists as rigid and dogmatic, stating that, "The works of Marx and Lenin are regarded as holy writ… We find them condemning others actions because they do not accord with what the 'priests of scientific socialism' have decided is the true meaning." His ontology marked the community as the basic unit. He believed in socialism through consent of the people, but not necessarily through democracy.
Marxist-Leninist nations in Africa tend to fill a different niche that those of non-Marxist states. Non-Marxist states tended to grow from movements within the countries with a locally based variant of socialism guiding the development of government structures. Marxist states on the other hand tended to come from the geopolitical needs of the nation. They tended to lean heavily into the support of the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China. These governments tended to be criticized by Orthodox Marxists both within the countries and abroad for simply slapping a Marxist aesthetic on a run of the mill authoritarian state. This is not universal, and depended on the leader and movement. Thomas Sankara (referred to as the African Che Guevara) is celebrated by leftists for his attempts to organize Burkina Faso, whereas his successor Blaise Compaoré simply co-opted Marxist symbolism until the end of the Cold War when it was dropped entirely. The two states I will profile show a best and worst case for African Marxists. Benin Nothing I write would be complete without me mentioning Benin somewhere. The Republic of Dahomey gained its freedom from France August 1st, 1960. At that time Hubert Maga, a school teacher turned politician from the North was named first president. Benin is divided into three broad super-cultural groups (though there are a total of 64 ethnic groups). The Fon in the South, the Yoruba in the East, and the Bariba and other Muslims in the North. The Maga government was soon overthrown and the country rapidly switched between a number of governments, each dedicated to giving as much as possible to their constituent area before being removed from office. This changed in 1972 when a young army officer named Mathieu Kerekou led a successful coup. Kerekou was different in the sense that he had no real ties to any of the political families that had been competing for power. He also ended the system of clientism that had defined Dahomeyan politics to that point (though some contend he showed bias against the Fon. Strongly nationalistic, Kerekou made his hatred for the French clear early on, pointing to them as the cause of many of the country's problems and the patron of the old regime. In 1974, Kerekou changed the country's name from the Republic of Dahomey to the People's Republic of Benin and formally adopted Marxism-Leninism as the guiding ideology of the nation. Oil reserves and refineries as well as the banking system were rapidly nationalized and Kerekou made overtures to international communist nations for aid. Austerity programs were also quickly ended. The North Koreans were particularly close allies. Curiously, Kerekou worked to retain warm relations with the United States. Peace Corps remained in operation through his entire presidency and working in the American embassy was considered a strong stepping stone. The practical effects for the average Beninese person varied from urban to village. Local leaders were required to be members of the People's Revolutionary Party, and extreme corruption and inefficiency meant that few resources radiated outside of population centers. Instilled with a strong labor union tradition during French occupation, the national labor movement was consolidated into a single approved union that was basically mandated to follow government orders. Unionized workers as well as students were the chief opponents of the regime and faced significant surveillance and harassment. This started to change in the mid 80s as it became clear that the regime's economic reforms weren't working. Benin was lagging behind its neighbors Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. On top of this, student groups and workers in unofficial unions were demanding change. Simultaneously, the election of Francois Mitterrand in France opened a new era in Franco-Beninese relations, shifting the nation back to Western alignment away from the moribund USSR. Under mounting pressure, Kerekou agreed to a constitutional referendum and free elections. Upon his loss, he gracefully stepped down in 1991, but was reelected in 1996. Having dropped Marxism, he led his second term as a moderate liberal, doing little to harm the economic and political reforms of the early 90s. Ethiopia Ethiopia, on the other hand, faced the fullest horror of Communism and likely suffered to a similar extent to Ukraine and China. In 1970, the Solomonic Dynasty leading the Empire of Ethiopia was one of the oldest royal houses in the world dating back to 1270 and drawing its lineage back to the Biblical King Solomon. Their last Emperor was Halie Selassie, celebrated among Pan-Africanists as one of the only African leaders to resist colonization. Though celebrated by the diaspora, Selassie's rule was authoritarian and secretive. In 1973, a famine hit Ethiopia. Rather than petition for aid Selassie covered it up, and only accepted aid on the contingency that it was given in secret. The inaction of the Emperor prompted a revolutionary council known as the Derg to take over. This council quickly moved to numerous industries. Eritrean, Tigre, and Somali nationalists took advantage of the situation to launch offensives against the government. When the Carter Administration warned the Derg to cease the human rights violations they were committing in the crackdown, they cut ties with Washington and invited East-German and Soviet military advisors. In the Tigre region, the Ethiopian military embarked on a scorched earth offensive to quell the rebellion. Using such tactics in a nation with food security concerns was probably ill-advised. The offensive in the North consumed around two thirds of the national budget. The problems the Derg had created were compounded in 1983. In 1982, the rains failed and there was risk of another great famine. Having become an international pariah due to the extreme violence of Derg forces, the international community was reluctant to give aid and the Reagan administration lobbied heavily against it as part of his campaign to halt Communism in the Horn of Africa. When the famine hit in earnest, the Derg mobilized to create collective farms. These farms were incredibly inefficient, consuming 82% of imported fertilizer while contributing only 15% of grain production. To staff these farms, people from offending areas, particularly Tigre were forcibly removed from their homes and shipped to location. Africa Watch estimates that around 50,000 people died on these farms alone, comparing conditions to the Ukrainian farms in the days of Stalin. In total, as many as 1.2 million people were killed, 2.5 million displaced, with Human Rights Watch estimating that around half could be attributed to government actions.
Socialism is a phenomenon that struck the African continent in many ways across the Cold War era and beyond. Its incarnations were as diverse as the groups it affected. This is by no means an exhaustive look at African socialism, but simply a chance for the reader to find a starting place for further study and give context to an under studied part of the world. Indeed, there were many important people and thinkers left out, such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Walter Rodney, and Siad Barre. Please let me know in the comments what if anything you would like to learn more about. If you found the philosophical analysis or historical fact more interesting, I would be happy to write more about it. Sources African Socialism Revisited- Kwame Nkrumah Ujamma – The Basis of African Socialism- Julius K. Nyerere Drought, War, and the Politics of Famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea- Edmond J. Keller Applying the weapon of theory: comparing the philosophy of Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah- Tomáš František Žák Three African social theorists on class struggle, political liberation, and indigenous culture : Cheikh Anta Diop, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah - Charles Simon-Aaron Socialism and the American Negro- W. E. B. Du Bois Benin- Chris Allen
So I’ve been playing for a good long while now and have a few ideas for anyone willing to read: constructive criticism welcomed. Maybe a dev will see this, hopefully, I love this game.
-Acid grenades-similar to how caltrops work, throw for initial damage to local area with large acid pools left behind. I know chem pistols do this but I don’t usually have them on my build. -Oil canisters/flammable liquid- again like caltrops but would would have a chance to cause a humanoid to “slip” reducing all remaining movement points by half while creating hazard that could be set on fire by normal explosions. -Claymores-the land mine not the sword. Directional explosion trigger by up to 2 blocks away (frag and hi explosive) that would create a arc of damage similar to how shotguns work. -Remote controlled explosives- setup like c4 but could be remotely detonated, number of explosives place linked to intelligence/trap skill. -Gas Grenades- in addition to the existing ones, the new varieties could be crafted from existing poisons used in normal crafting. Would “burst” AoE instead of creating a cloud, think poison flash bangs. -Throwing javelin/axes-similar to throwing knives but higher damage/high weight/strength req to use. Javelins could be crafted with micro discharges for use against robots and axes with serrated edges for bleed damage. -Explosive bolts-would fire a bolt that would penetrate target then detonate a turn later, risk of enemy closing safe distance before explosion could injury player. Damage would bypass shields (if it hits) and mechanical threshold. Especially effective against robots and turrets. -Tungsten tips for bolts, bypass damage threshold while reducing effective range. -contaminated bolts, crafted similar to how gas grenades are made, can “splash” effect on nearby enemies along with main target. -Strobe light- similar to lamps, would create pulsating directional effect relative to the players forward perspective up to minimal range that would reduce enemy ranged accuracy, might scare critters. Offset but high energy cost, low battery store. -Ranged taser- similar to current taser but would have a small (2-3 block) range with low accuracy/damage. Usable against humans and some critters. Ammo would have to be crafted along with charging the battery. Gun skill dependent. -Trip mines- crafted from a bundle of existing and explosive hand grenades but placement would involve a double click action to first set up mine then the short trip wire to a second location. High chance of detection by enemies/chance to fail. Would make finding low level grenades useful in late game. -Bouncing Betty mine-frag grenade variant with high chance of critical hit but short enemies (critters and such) immune. -Distracting grenades-no damage or effect but could be used to lure enemies away. 2 turn effect. -Hand held fuel torch- combat effect would be similar to existing taser but with no stun effect and would bypass resistances with thermal damage, out of combat could be used to cut open doors/locks. Dependent on chemistry/lock picking skill. Chance to destroy items if used on boxes. Refilled using crafted fuel cells with gas cans/oxygen canisters. -Pneumatic injector-could be crafted/reloaded with poisons/chemicals for close range effect of throwing/bolt varieties. Useful for melee characters. -White phosphorus grenades- similar to gas grenades but would burst out a cloud of smoke reducing hit chance within the effected area, a few burning bits of phosphorus could apply burn affect.
—Weapons upgrades— —Sub machine guns—
—add one extra attachment slot for all weapons— -add a “double mag” attachment reducing AP for reloading. -add stock attachment increasing precision and range at the cost of AP increase. -add “light weight bolt carrier” attachment reducing burst AP cost slightly. -add “heavy weight Bolt carrier” for a increase in precision but reducing number of rounds per burst. -add “extended barrel” for increase range/precision for noticeable increase in AP cost/decrease burst precision.
—add “suppressor” option for 9mm variants— -add “extended barrel” for increase range/precision for noticeable increase in AP cost/decrease burst precision. -add “tuned fire control group” for increase in burst accuracy/reduced AP cost -add “drum mag” attachment for massive increase in ammo count but penalties to move and shoot precision. -add “binary fire control group” attachment to allow two shots during normal shooting with small penalty to precision. -add “magazine restriction” attachment for reduced ammo count but reduced move and shoot penalty.
—add “suppressor” option for 7.62 variants— -add “scram rail” attachment which would electromagnetically accelerate projectiles for increase precision but requires weapon to be charge with batteries (low charge capacity) Drained battery would dramatically reduced precision. Unable to attach barrel attachments. -add “heavy barrel” attachment for increased precision for shooting for a increase in move and shoot precision penalties. -add “range finder” attachment for massively increased precision out of combat (first shot guaranteed) Shotguns: —add one additional attachment slot for shotgun— -Add “Ported barrel” variants for short and long barrels for increased precision and slightly reduced AP costs. -Add “shell holder” attachment for massively reducing AP cost for regular pump shotguns (once per engagement) -Add “long barrel” attachment for increase in range and precision at the cost of AP per shot, reduced burst fire precision for combat shotguns. -Add “cut off stock” attachment for pump shotguns removing move and shoot penalties but reducing range while reducing AP costs as well. -Add “rotary magazine tube assembly” for combat shotguns to massively increase mag size for equally massive AP cost for reloading (one reloaded cycle only fills half mag). -Add “pneumatic reloaded” attachment from regular firearms to shotguns for decrease in pump shotgun AP cost per shot. Add “rapid reloader” attachment from regular firearms to combat shotguns to decrease AP cost per shot.
—add one additional attachment slot per weapon— -Add “induction coil assembly” attachment, causes regular bolts to be super heated up upon firing causing a small amount of thermal damage in addition to normal damage. Weapon must be charged with batteries prior to use but no negative effect if not charged before firing. -Add “triple bolt” attachment, allows three bolts to be fired in a tight spread with reduced precision but unable to fire special bolts or use special abilities such as aimed shot. -Add “compound string assembly” attachment, dramatically increases precision/damage/range at the cost of higher AP cost per shot. -Add “launcher assembly” attachment, allows normal grenades to be fired from crossbow, replaces normal bolts/special bolts as ammunition. Longer range and precision for grenades. Useful for players that have versatility but not specializing in crossbows in general. Higher AP cost and is not affected by talents that reduce grenade cool downs. Only for lvl 2 grenades.
-get rid of 20p shotgun shells, they are useless on most enemies anyway, replace with dragons breath shells for heavily reduced range but can cause burning. -add the option for carrier vests to use leather hides as a component, ie hopper leather to add agility.
Nail disorders are beyond cosmetic concern; besides discomfort in performance of daily chores, they disturb patients psychologically and affect their quality of life. Fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) is most prevalent nail related disorder affecting major population worldwide. Overcoming the impenetrable nail barrier is the toughest challenge for development of efficacious topical ungual formulation. Sophisticated techniques such as Iontophoresis, Photodynamic therapy have been proved to improve transungual permeation. This article provides updated and concise discussion regarding conventional approach and upcoming novel enhancers/research approaches focused to alter nail barrier. A comprehensive description regarding pre-formulation screening techniques for identification of potential ungual enhancers is described in this review. An attempt has been made to elaborately describe the characterization techniques for pre-screening of ungual enhancers and to highlight the current pitfalls for development of ungual delivery. 1. INTRODUCTION Skin and its auxiliary appendages such as hair and nails represent an area of great importance in dermatology or any cosmetic field because disorder in any of these parts have a direct impact on external appearance, psychological and normal daily routine. Nails disorders are not life threating but if untreated can transform from a non-specific to an exasperating problem, which consumes lot of time to restore into its normal condition. A synergistic combination of systemic with topical delivery is preferred approach for efficient treatment of onychomycosis. In spite of availability of several treatment options for ungual infection, none of the remedies give absolute fungal eradication. Psoriatic nail dystrophy is another common nail disorder, compared to skin psoriasis; treatment options for nail psoriasis are limited and often give disappointing result. Numerous strategies have been employed and succeeded to improve drug diffusion through the dense ungual keratin layers. A brief research based on novel approaches to treat ungual disorders has been described in this review. These agents have shown marked improved transungual diffusion of drug into the nail and compared to conventional ungual enhancers cause minimal damage to nail keratin. Major emphasis is given to biophysical and bioengineering techniques to utilize their potential to understand and characterize nail barrier for screening ungual enhancers. 1.1. The human nail and its anatomy A nail is a horn-like envelope covering the dorsal portion of the terminal phalanges of fingers and toes in humans, primates, and a few other mammals. Figure 1a. External nail antaomy Figure 1b. Layers of Nail plate The human nail apparatus comprises of nail plate, nail bed, nail folds, and the nail matrix. As shown in figure 1-the nail plate is the actual fingernail, consisting of translucent keratin covering the entire nail bed. The nail plate is a thick, elastic, convex structure composed of approximately 25 layers of tightly bound dead keratinised cells. The nail plate is divided into three layers, upper dorsal layer, intermediate layer followed by the inner ventral layer (figure 1b). The thickness of each layer is in the ratio 3:5:2 respectively .The dorsal layer is most resistant barrier for penetration of molecules.The cutaneous wedge shaped skin folds overlapping the sides and proximal end of the nail are the nail folds. The visible part of the nail matrix or the edge of the germinal matrix is called as lunula. It is white cresent moon shaped and is located at the base of nail (prominently visible on thumb nail) .The junction between the free edge and the skin of the fingertip is known as the hyponchium. It is an epithelium tissue and its function is to protect the nail bed. The seal between the nail plate and the hyponchium is known as the onchodermal band. A small band of epithelium extending between the posterior nail wall onto the base of the nail is known as the eponychium. The paronychium is the border tissue around the nail. It is also known as the paronychial edge and is the site of the infection of the nail disorder known as paronychia.  Figure 2. Internal nail anatomy Figure 2. Diagrammatically represents the interior structure of fingernail -The nail bed is the immediate living tissue present beneath the nail plate. The nail matrix (keratogenous membrane or onychostroma) is a living tissue located exactly below the lunula which protects the nail extending several millimetres into the finger. according to its Based on their function nail matrix is classified into subtypes namely sterile matrix and germinal matrix. The sterile matrix is responsible for the production of the nail bed. The germinal matrix produces the cells which subsequently become the nail plate. The edge of germinal matrix is visible, called as lunula of nail plate. The nail root (radix unguis) is the base of nail formed from the tissue growing below the matrix. The nail sinus (sinus unguis) is a deep furrow into which the nail root is inserted.  1.2. Nail Disorders The two most frequent ungual disorders are onychomycosis and nail psoriasis. Onychomycosis is responsible for 50% of the nail disorders. It affects approximately 10% of the general population .It is more prevalent in diabetic and elderly population. Use of excessive immunosuppressant’s can also lead to onchomycosis. Nail psoriasis is reported in 80-90% of the patients suffering from skin psoriasis. It affects 1-3% of the total population . A comprehensive description of nail disorders and their characteristics symptoms observed are listed briefly in table 1 Table 1. Nail disorders and their characteristics symptoms Disorder Characteristics observed Onychomycosis ‘ Fungal infection of nail plate caused by dermatophytes such as Trichophyton, epidermophyton and microsporum species(responsible for 80-90% of the cases), and seldom by non dermatophyte fungi such as Aspergillus, Fusarium spp, and yeasts such as Candida spp. ‘ Fungii digests the nail keratin causing discolouration, thickening and splitting of nails. ‘ Irritation of the nails and pain is observed Nail Psoriasis ‘ Presence of scales pits on the nails, red and yellow discolouration of the nails. The skin under the nail gets thickened. ‘ Crumbling of nail is also observed. ‘ The nail plate gets separated from the nail bed. Paronychia: ‘ Pain, redness and swelling of the nail fold and formation of pus filled blisters. ‘ The nail plate becomes thickened with prominent transverse ridges. Tinea unguis ‘ Thickening of the nails due to presence of ringworm infection. If left untreated can lead to complete loss of nail plate. Onychogryposis: ‘ Thickening of the nail plate and the nail plate is observed to curve inwards the nails, with a characteristics claw-type appearance . Onychatrophia: ‘ Nail plate gets atrophised, loses its lustre, reduces in size and sometimes sheds entirely . Koilonychia ‘ The nails become thin and concave in shape like a spoon and show raised ridges . Melanonychia ‘ Black or brown pigmentation of the nail plate . 1.3. Nail growth and regeneration The growth rate of normal fingernails varies from <1.8mm to '4.5mm per month . The average growth of nail per day is 0.1mm. Toenails grow at a rate one-half to one-third of the growth of the fingernails. A normal fingernail generally grows fully in about 6 months whereas a toenail takes about 12 to 18 months for complete growth .In a dominant hand the nail growth is faster. The rate of nail growth is higher in males than females. Age and environment also play a major role for growth of nails. The rate of growth in nails is slow in the old age and high in cold climate. Environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals, strong detergents, reaction to adhesives used in artificial nails can lead to nail abnormalities. It is observed that after nail avulsion nails grow at faster rate . Treatment with drugs such as benoxaprofen, biotin, cysteine, methionine, levodopa, itraconazole accelerates the nail growth. The nail growth is retarded in presence of infections and in conditions like fever, malnutrition, decreased circulation and lactation. Administration of antimycotic drugs also decreases the rate of nail growth . 2. STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE TRANSUNGUAL PERMEATION OF DRUGS The nail keratin cells are tightly bound, arranged in form of compact blocks with no interstitial space in between. The thickness of the nail plate, its high sulphur content and the marked differences between the nail plate and the stratum corneum (Table 2) makes the nail plate an impenetrable barrier for transport of the drug across the nail plate. To overcome the tough nail barrier and enhance transungual drug delivery, several methods and techniques have been adapted by researchers, which are briefly described in this review. Table 2: Comparison between the nail plate and the stratum corneum . Composition Nail Stratum corneum Thickness 500-1000??m 10-40??m Disulphide linkage 10.6% 1.2% % swelling in water 25% 200-300% Lipid content 0.1-1% 10-20% Table 3: Amino acid composition of the human nail plate and the stratum corneum . Amino acid Stratum corneum Nail Lys 4.2% 3.1% S 1.4% 3.2% Glu 12.6% 13.6% Gly 24.5% 7.9% ?? Cys 1.2% 10.6% 2.1. Conventional approach Due to lack of basic understanding of nail anatomy and its permeability, initially mechanical methods such as partial removal of nail plate/complete nail avulsion followed by subsequent application of drug were used for treatment of onychomycosis [12, 13].These methods are non-patient compliant and are practically infeasible solution as a complete cure for onychomycosis. Disrupting basic nail keratin backbone, using disulphide reducing agents (sodium sulphite, dithioreitol) and keratolytic agents (urea, lactic acid, salicylic acid) are one of the common approaches for enhancing permeation of antifungals into the nails. Chemical agents such as urea, thioglycollic acid, and enzyme like papain interact with the disulphide bond of the nail keratin and facilitate their breakage, aiding improved transport of drug across the nail plate.  Recently sequential application of oxidising and reducing agents for improved transungual delivery was reported by M.D. brown et al. Two penetration enhancers (PEs), thioglycolic acid (TA) and urea hydrogen peroxide (urea H2O2) and their sequential pre-treatment onpermeation of three model permeants (caffeine, terbinafine and methyl paraben) were studied. The diffusion flux of all permeates were significantlyincreased in presence of the penetration enhancers. The sequential application of TA followed by urea H2O2 increased flux of terbinafine and caffeine but reversing their application order mild increase in flux of methyl paraben was observed . 2.2. Sophisticated technologies Sophisticated technologies employing iontophoresis, ultrasound, and ultraviolet energy could alter nail keratin physically, with minimum damage, enhancing penetration of drug into the nail. a) Iontophoresis Iontophoresis is most effective technique for driving higher amount drug into the nail through the dense keratin layer [16, 17, 18, 19, 20]. With aid of iontophoresis drug depot can be formed into layers of nail keratin which gradually releases drug with time. Hao and li examined the effect of iontophoresis on permeation of antifungal drug ciclopirox . A small portable, disposable, user friendly device was developed which significantly delivered high amount of ciclopirox iontophoretically from its lacquer formulation compared to its passive delivery from same formulation and marketed lacquer penlac. Similar study was performed by Nair et al on human nail for enhancing delivery of terbinafinehcl . Ionotophoresis could successfully drive ionic terbinafine molecules into the nail. Light microscopy study using methylene blue was performed and uptake of methylene blue was found to be highest using iontophoresis into the three layers of nail when compared with control. Manda et al studied iontophoretic delivery of terbinafine through proximal nail fold using cadaver toe nail model . A custom designed polyurethane foam pad was employed as iontophoreic device which significantly delivered high amount of terbinafine into the nail matrix and deeper ungual layers compared to its passive delivery. b) Co2 lasers Lim et al used combination of fractional Co2 laser therapy with topical antifungal treatment for treating 24 patients suffering from onychomycosis . Nail plate were punctured using ablative co2 laser followed by topical application of amolorofine cream. At the end of study, it was observed that the fungi resided area of the infected toenail of patients wassignificantly decreased with improved visual appearance. Out of 24, total of 22 patients (92%) showed a clinical response, and 12 patients (50%) showed a complete cure with a negative microscopic result and no adverse effect. The authors postulated that ablative fractional Co2 laser exerted direct fungicidal effect and created multiple porosities into nail plate enhancing the penetration of antifungal agent into the nail bed or matrix . c) Etching/mesoscissing Etching involves production of minuscule micropores on surface of nail plate. Certain surface modifying agents such as phosphoric acid, tartaric acid, or devices such as (Path Former) creates microporosites on the nail surfaces, decreasing the contact angle providing a better surface for the drug to bind . Path Former(Path Scientific, Carlisle, USA) is an FDA approved etching device, which creates miniature pin holes into the nails without affecting the nail bed and helps in draining the subungual hematomas . The device uses electrical resistance of the nail as the feedback and eliminates the need for anaesthesia. The drilling of the nail plate is done by using a 400 micrometer tissue cutter and is retracted when it has penetrated into the nail plate. After the nail is etched a nail lacquer can be applied on the nails promoting sustained release of the drug. d) Ultrasound An ultrasound-mediated drug delivery system was developed by Abadi and Zderic, 2011 for treating onychomycosis. The slip-in device consists two compartments namely ultrasound transducers and drug delivery compartments above each toenail. The device is connected to a computer, where a software interface allows users to select their preferred course of treatment. Using an ultrasound-mediated drug delivery system, thrice amount of drug was delivered into the nail . e) LaseUV Photodynamic therapy Laser wavelength in near infra- red region (780 nm -3000 nm) has capacity to directly heat the target tissues. Laser therapy has been reported in articles for curing onychomycosis [28, 29, 30, 31]. A pulsed laser technology has been employed for eradication of Trichophyton rubrum. Direct thermal killing of fungal mycelia on nail clippings was observed when the temperature exceeded 50 degrees centigrade. Photodynamic therapies have shown remarkable results in treatment of skin related disorders [30, 31, 32]. Same technology was utilized Ryan et al, the authors treated infected fungal nail using a combination of a light sensitive drug (5-Aminolevulinic acid- ALA) and visible light which causes destruction of selected cells. Incubation of dermatophytes such as Candida albicans and Trichophyton interdigitale in presence of ALA (10 mM), followed by irradiation with light caused reductions in viability of organisms by 87% and 42%, respectively. ALA was applied in form of bioadhesive patch on the human nails, ALA induced accumulation of photosensitizer called protoporphyrin IX which subsequently lead to photodynamic destruction of fungi.  2.3. NOVEL UNGUAL PERMEATION ENHANCERS a. Water- Primary ungual permeation enhancer Water diffuses into the nail more rapidly compared to stratum corneum, also the rate of transonchial water loss from nail keratin is higher than tewl of stratum corneum [34, 35, 36]. Kelly et al compared the effect of plain organic and binary mixture of aqueous organic solvents systems on nail hydration and permeability .Ungual uptake and transport was correlated to concentration of organic solvent employed in study. It was observed that substituting water with a non-polar solvent decreases drug penetration across the nail plate. Higher the concentration of organic solvent, slower was ungual uptake and transport of radioactive probes across the nail. Water miscible solvents such as polyethylene/polypropylene glycol could hydrate the nail to higher extent compared to plain organic solvents. Nail keratin swells in presence of water and becomes more flexible. The hydrated keratin cells moves apart and the dense keratinized nail behaves like a hydrophilic gel matrix. Drug moieties can therefore diffuse through the hydrated keratin network with less resistance . This principle was utilized by gunt et al to increase the permeation of ketoconazole through human nail. The permeability of antifungal ketoconazole was tested at different relative humidity (RH) to study effect of hydration on permeation of ketoconazole. Radiolabelled [3H] ketoconazole was employed to study the permeability of ketoconazole solution through human cadaver nails over a period of 40 days. The permeability of ketoconazole increased in order of three fold as the ambient RH was increased from 15 to 100%. . Hui et al compared the penetration profile of ciclopirox between marketed organic solvent based lacquer (penlac), aqueous marketed gel and experimental gel . The rate of permeation of ciclopirox in aqueous gel formulations were higher compared to penlac. Water itself acted as permeation enhancer which hydrated the nail and ultimately lead to an increased permeation of drug into nail. Similar results were obtained by D. Monti et al, permeation of two antifungal drugs ciclopirox and amolorfine in novel chitosan based water soluble nail lacquer were studied and compared with marketed amolorolfine lacquer (Loceryl) using bovine hoof slices . The hydro soluble lacquers showed enhanced permeation and invitro antifungal activity into hoof keratin compared Loceryl. It was found that application of chitosan based ciclopirox nail lacquer on hoof keratin, resulted in rapid penetration of ciclopirox compared to marketed non aqueous lacquer. The growth of the fungus Candida parapsilosis was inhibited up to 30 hours after the application of hydrosoluble nail lacquer. The reason postulated by authors was presence of aqueous vehicle along with adhesion promoters like chitosan could lead effective transport of active across the nail keratin.  General conventional nail lacquers are based on water-insoluble resins and have limited potential to enhance the transungual drug delivery. On the contrary, aqueous-based lacquers can promote the nail hydration and drug diffusion across the nail plate, but suffer limitation of being easily wiped off or washed off the nail surface. Hence, to incorporate the properties of both water soluble and water insoluble nail lacquer Shivakumar et al. proposed a bilayered nail lacquer for onchomycosis treatment . The lacquer consisted of two layers, underlying hydrophilic layer containing the drug terbinafine hydrochloride and an upper hydrophobic vinyl layer. The hydrophilic layer was based on HPMC and adhered well to the surface of the nails. The vinyl layer was applied to protect the underlying drug containing layer getting washed off during daily chores. It was found that the bilayered lacquer was resistant to drug loss on multiple washings and a significant high amount of terbinafinehcl was retain into nail layers compared to hydrophilic monolayer lacquer and control. In-vitro efficacy demonstrated an enhanced activity with bilayered lacquer.  b. SEPA: Hui et al used SEPA (2-n-Nonyl-1,3-dioxolane) for improving penetration of econazole from a nail lacquer formulation (Econail) . It was found that addition of SEPA could increase permeation of econozole 6 times higher than control. Econail could deliver significantly higher amount of econozole in all three layers of nail and nail bed as compared to control. Dioxalones are generally skin permeation enhancers acting by altering lipid diffusion pathway of skin. The exact mechanism of dioxalone promoting econozole influx into the nail was not clearly understood but it was reported by author that SEPA acted as adhesion promoter and plasticizer for nail which facilitated increased diffusion of econozole into the nail. c. Hydrophobins: Hydrophobins are amphiphilic fungal proteins, which were recently proved by Vejnovic et al., 2010 as prospective transungual permeation enhancers .Vejnovic et al, investigated permeation enhancement potential of hydrophobins A-C for transport of terbinafinehcl across the nail. All the hydrophobins successfully increased permeability of terbinafine across the nail, hydrophobin B was superior among all of them showing highest permeability coefficient and 13 fold enhanced permeation of terbinafine. The mechanism of action by which hydrophobins act as permeation enhancers is still under research, some of their modes of action were reported by authors as follows. Structurally hydrophobins are stable having eight cysteine residues and four disulphide linkages, which lead to better protein interactions with keratin fibres and also with fungi proteins. Further, hydrophobins had amphipihilc structure with unique self- assembling and adherent properties and were able to coat terbinafine improving its solubility and physical stability. The coated terbinafine was found to have greater affinity for the hydrophilic gel membrane of the human nail thus increasing its permeation. Results suggested that the addition of hydrophobins improved permeability in the range of 3E'10 to 2E'9 cm/s. As of interest hydrophobins are new emerging ungual enhancers with unique features, more research is still required for investigating their complete potential as ungual enhancer and probably will be found. d. Keratolytic enzymes M. Mohorcic et al studied the effect of fungal keratinase produced by P. marquandiion on permeation characteristics of nail plate and bovine hoof . It was found that the enzyme acted on the intercellular matrix which holds nail cells together, which resulted corneocytes separation from one another. SEM images showed that the corneocytes were 'lifted off' the plate and their surface was corroded. Pre-treatment of hoof with keratinase resulted in enhanced transungual permeation of model drug metformin. The permeability co-efficient and drug flux were found to be significantly increased in the presence of the enzyme. It was concluded that the enzyme, via its hydrolytic action on nail plate proteins can improve permeation and ungual uptake of drug. Similar Tiwary and Gupta isolated a combination of novel enzymes termed as Ker N which is chemically subtilisin-??-Glutamyl Transpeptidase from a feather degrading strain of Bacillus licheniformis . The KerN enzyme increased the permeability of nail by loosening nail matrix and corroding the dorsal surface, which was confirmed by SEM images of nail plate treated with KerN. Drug permeation studies revealed that 58% clotrimazole was retained into the nail plates after 24 h exposure with 300 ??g/mL of kern in presence of drug. The enzyme had high potency and was found to be stable in presence of drug even after 72 h. The authors therefore proposed, KerN as a novel ungual enhancer to increase the permeability of drug during topical application on nail plates. e. Inorganic salts Inorganic salts such as sodium phosphate can serve as excellent, non-toxic, cheap ungual permeation enhancers . Optimum concentrations of these salts have ability to increase the nail hydration with increased thermodynamic activity of drug. Nair et al studied effect of different inorganic salts (ammonium carbonate, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, potassium phosphate , sodium sulphite) on transungual permeation of terbinafineHCl. All the above salts enhanced transungual permeation of terbinafine in nail plate by 3 ' 5 folds. Among this, sodium phosphate showed highest, 5 fold enhancement of terbinafine permeation as compared to control. A 0.5 M sodium phosphate was employed as permeation enhancer in polaxamer based terbinafine gel and transungual in-vitro diffusion studies was carried using Franz diffusion cell. The cumulative amount of terbinafine permeated after 24 h from the formulated gel was higher than control. Hence, inorganic salts such as sodium phosphate can serve as promising novel ungual penetration enhancers f. Lipid diffusion enhancers Maibach et al incorporated ciclopirox in an oily vehicle consisting of benzyl alcohol, peppermint oil, turpentine and mineral oil, for enhanced transungual permeation. In contrast to hydrogel nature of nail, this lipophilic formulation showed significant rate of penetration of ciclopirox compared to its commercial lacquer penlac after 11 days in vitro diffusion study on human nail plate. Ciclopirox content into all three layers of nail plate and nail bed from the novel lipidic formulation was found to be significantly higher than penlac. The authors hypothesized that though hydrophilic pathway is predominant pathway for molecules to diffuse into the nail, there exist miniature lipidic pathway into the nail through which lipophilic moieties traverses and by passes the impenetrable keratin corneocytes. This new pathway can be studied and further explored to develop more efficacious ungual formulations. Thus an appropriate combination of hydrophilic and lipophilic enhancers is suspected to give optimum and efficacious drug delivery into ungual layers.
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I've been using Formulate shampoo and conditioner for about 10 weeks now and I'd like to share my thoughts with you wonderful people who have taught me so much! I was so curious about these before I bought them, but I couldn’t find many reviews from people who follow CGM or have curly/wavy hair. About my hair: I have type 2 (ranging from a-c in different places on my head), fine, medium porosity, protein loving hair that is a bit longer than shoulder length. It has light bleach damage on the bottom 1/4 of it. About my routine: I live in Phoenix, AZ where it is very hot and very dry most of the time. I have pretty hard water, so I switch between using this shampoo and using a light chelating shampoo (Bb Sunday shampoo). I shampoo then condition and STC upside down. I detangle with a wetbrush and drizzle rinse out the conditioner, then using a TON of water, I scrunch in a defining cream, usually AG Re:coil, then glaze and scrunch in Harry's gel. I pixie diffuse to 80% dry and root clip, then SOTC once 100% dry. Formulate review: I started with the 8oz. size of both shampoo and conditioner (ingredients listed below). I set my preferences to be no dyes, no anti-brass, silicone free (all formulate products are sulfate and paraben free). There are options to make them vegan and gluten free, but I did not select those. The hair concerns I chose for them to base the ingredients off of were number one curl definition (lol wavy probs) followed by improve scalp health, prevent thinning, volumize and anti-frizz. For scent I chose Tidal for my first round (described as Ocean, Sage, Lily and Musk). I wasn’t really expecting to be that blown away by these. I've tried function of beauty and really didn't like it. I was considering Prose, and got these instead as a way to talk myself out of spending Prose money and I am SO GLAD I DID. I never knew I could love a shampoo and conditioner, I'm not a brand loyal person and almost never get the same thing twice because I like to experiment, but I will not be straying from these anytime soon. The shampoo is A GAME CHANGER. It has so much slip and is so hydrating I could honestly detangle my hair with just the shampoo in it. It feels so good and lathers well, leaves my scalp feeling actually clean. It has a weird consistency, there's a jelly-like substance mixed into a more traditional shampoo-like substance, but it doesn't really bother me at all when I'm using it. The conditioner is similarly amazing - so much slip, super moisturizing. It gives me such good definition, I mean better than most curl definers, that I started drizzle rinsing, something I’ve never done before, to leave some of it in even though it's not meant to be a leave in. It is shocking how much definition and clumping action it gives my hair!! Like most CGM users, and because I use my chelating shampoo every fourth wash day or so, I went through the conditioner faster than the shampoo and am now on my second bottle. I've sized up so now my conditioner will be 16oz. and my shampoo will be 8oz. I AM IN LOVE. I switched to a new scent because Tidal smells a bit too much like a man for my personal preference. I set my scent level to medium and I will say it does linger, not overpoweringly, but your hair will smell faintly like it even on day 2. My formula does contain a little protein in both the shampoo and conditioner. My hair loves protein, so that's cool with me! Plus I feel it helps balance out the moisture. I suspect it's part of the reason I get such good definition from these. If you are considering trying Formulate, I cannot recommend it highly enough and truly feel it is worth every penny. In the past I've tried TGIN, Jessicurl, DevaCurl (pre-scandal) and As I Am, and nothing compares to Formulate, including products from my pre-CGM days. Packaging is really nice, although I wish they would offer the sustainable option to just get refills every month instead of new plastic bottles. I love the ease with which you can make edits to formula and cadence and bottle size. Having access to the formulation chemist and technician so you can talk to them if you have concerns or want changes instead of a call-center type of person is a really nice touch. The website has this awesome feature where it will tell you what every single ingredient is and why it’s there, which is so nice if you’re trying to learn more about hair care ingredients. I will say they put a weird amount of emphasis on whether you are a “him or a her” in their hair quiz and that’s just so dumb in my opinion. Hair has no gender, I can’t imagine why they need to know this, and they should have more options than the binary if it’s that important to them. Also it’s really hard even once you have an account to circumvent the stupid quiz and just login. Like way more annoying than it needs to be. These are my only complaints though. TL;DR: Very highly recommend these, worth every penny imo!! Ingredients in my shampoo: Purified Water, Coconut-Derived Cleanser, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Diglycerin, Cocamide MIPA, At Dawn(scent), Methyl Gluceth-20, Guar Gum, Coconut-Derived Cleanser, Polyquaternium-7, Polyglycerol-2 Laurate, Polyglyceryl-6 Caprylate, Polyglyceryl-4 Caprate, Polyglyceryl-4 Cocoate, Polyglyceryl-6 Ricinoleate, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Argan Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Propanediol, Phenylpropanol, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Sesame Seed Oil, p-Anisic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate, Carbamide, Starch Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Saw Palmetto, Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Vitamin C, Beta-Sitosterol, Hemp Seed Oil, Vitamin E, Citrus Fruit Acid, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Broccoli Seed Oil, Aloe Vera Ingredients in my condiitoner: Purified Water, Polyquaternium-7, Diglycerin, At Dawn(scent), Polyquaternium-32, Lecithin, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Dicetyldimonium Chloride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Oilseed Turnip, Butyl Stearate, Polyquaternium-37, Mineral Oil, PPG-1 Trideceth-6, Polyglycerol-2 Laurate, Acetamide MEA, Sesame Seed Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Propanediol, Phenylpropanol, Argan Oil, Methyl Gluceth-20, Keratin Oil, Vitamin B5, Sweet Almond Oil, Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Collagen, Avocado Oil, Oleoyl Sarcosine, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenyl Hydroxypropyl Steardimonium Chloride, Coconut-Derived Cleanser, Saw Palmetto, Guar Gum, p-Anisic Acid, Levulinic Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate, Carbamide, Starch Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Vitamin C, Hemp Seed Oil, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitol, Beta-Sitosterol, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Polysorbate 80, Vitamin E, Jojoba Seed Oil, Linoleic Acid, Wheat Germ Oil, Wheat Germ Acid, Cocoyl Sarcosine, Sodium Cocoyl Collagen Amino Acids, Vitamin E, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Aloe Vera, Broccoli Seed Oil, Pumpkin Seed Oil, Citrus Fruit Acid Edit: formatting
[Review] Ranking all the Switch shmups Ep25 - Q-YO Blaster
There was a time when I believed that shmups could only feature ships. Then games like Parodius came to challenge that belief. If an Octopus can be the player, then anything is possible. And don’t get me started on Cho Aniki… When it comes to unusual characters for a shmup, it’s always a coin toss. They could either be the most fun you’ve had in a while or end up being a disappointment. Time for me to toss this coin! Publisher: Forever entertainment Platform: Nintendo Switch Release date: Jun 27, 2019 Price: $9.99 Tate: You can, but you might need to tilt your head Q-YO Blaster is by far the strangest 2D horizontal shmup I’ve reviewed for this ranking list. The gameplay and mechanics aren’t anything particularly odd, but there’s something about the presentation and the lore which is legitimately fascinating. For some reason it feels like a game developed by someone out of this world who learned about our culture through animated movies.
SATURDAY MORNING SHMUP
One of the aspects that tipped me over the edge when deciding what to review was the art style. Keeping up with the animation vibe, Q-YO Blaster sports an old school cartoon art style. Enemies will be colorful creatures with quirky details such as baseball caps, big eyes or even Mickey Mouse styled gloves. Their animations are equally as comical whether it is their attack animation of their death animation. Of course, cartoony can be used to describe maybe half of the style. The other half is probably more akin to a sci-fi coat of paint. Along the many bugs and animals, there’s also a great deal of robots, monsters, heavy weaponry and even blood running rampant (or maybe it’s oil?). It does makes sense considering the bugs came from space, and it definitely adds a touch of mystery when navigating through the stages of Q-YO Blaster.
EVERYONE IS HERE!
My original expectation of the game was to have a few pilots including the Q-YO, floating dog head from the screenshots and doggy airplane. Little did I know that Q-YO Blaster has more pilots than I have fingers in both of my hands. Pilots are arranged into 3 different teams. Each pilot has different stats which include damage, speed and fire. The teams can have +damage, +endurance or a mixture of both. Fortunately, despite the outrageous pilot designs and sprites, their hitboxes are all the same. After picking your pilot, you can pick one of 7 different special weapons to round out your style. From whichever angle you want to watch it, Q-YO Blaster offers a crazy amount of customization options. The defining feature of each team is their assistant. Assistant are powerful screen-wide effects that trigger once you fill the assistant gauge. The gauge can be filled by continuously shooting and defeating enemies. Once filled, you can hold the fire button to unleash its effect. The effects are a screen explosion that clears bullets, a temporary shield or a 360 barrage of missiles.
BUILDING YOUR OFFENSE
With all of the previous elements combined, you can play as one of 112 possible combinations of team, pilot and special weapons. In terms of weapons at your disposal, you have 3: your basic shot, your special weapon and your assistant. Your basic shot is an infinite gun that shoots bullets straight ahead with some degree of spread. The first shot is always straight, so you can opt for manual rapid fire to keep a straight line of fire. Alternatively, you can hold the button and just auto-fire. Occasionally, you’ll find power-up weapons flying around the stage. This power-ups will grant you a limited weapon when collected. These extra weapons are considerably faster than your basic shot at the cost of having limited ammo. They also have a unique effect on their very first shot, once more giving you a choice between manually shooting or going with the auto-fire.
ALSO BUILD YOUR DEFENSE
One defensive tool you have at your disposal is the pulse. Pulse clears every bullet on screen and turns them into gems. When collected, this gems will increase the level of your special weapon gauge. This special weapon will be whatever you picked on the character select, and has 3 different levels of strength depending on how many gems you have collected. It also comes with some slight invulnerability so you can use it to get out of sticky situations. The caveat of pulse is that you can only carry 3 stocks, and it is only refilled by collecting extra pulse power-ups. I have mixed feelings about this limitation, as I feel it plays an integral part of your offensive game plan. Its hard limit prevents any smart usage other than just a get-out-of-jail card. I would have loved if it had a gauge like the assistant, as that would have created a balance between building pulse and shooting your special.
Every stage carries a sort of familiar scenery. I like to think of it as Toy Story levels. Considering the characters are Q-YOs and bugs, it makes sense for the scenery to be a relatively small scale such as houses or gardens. I find them to be very charming, or it might be just my nostalgia kicking in because I grew up with Toy Story. Nonetheless, I really dig the stages. At the end of each stage, there’s a very comical boss waiting for you. These bosses represent whichever vibe you got from the level. For example, the boss of the garden level is none other than Queen Bee herself. Bosses turn the action up to 11 featuring huge bullet patterns and significantly more aggressive tactics. My one complaint about the bosses is that they feel a lot like a flow chart. They have a couple of attacks and will cycle through them in the same order all the time. Assuming you can dodge them, it’s only a matter of repeating the same moves over and over until the boss goes down. This is even worse on the harder difficulties when the bosses have much more HP. The most interesting aspects of the stages are the end rewards. Similar to many rogue-lite games, clearing a stage will let you choose a perk for the rest of your adventure. The perks are always the same, but include upgrades such as increased speed, faster shots or even 1ups.
Despite being a shmup, I really recommend paying attention to the story! It really is something else! I don’t think it actually makes much sense, but there’s something about the way it’s told that crashes my brain. It does have some powerful moments as well! Including that one stage with the sad music and the rain. I don’t want to spoil it, but it really hit me hard. I didn’t delve too much into game modes, but there’s basically classic and arcade. Classic is your base mode with the entire story and 3 selectable difficulties. If you don’t want to go through the story every time (even though it is skippable), then arcade mode is for you. Arcade mode features 0 cutscenes, so it’s all fun and games. Arcade mode is also much harder, but has 99 continues.
HARDER ISN’T ALWAYS BETTER
I have to make one of my classic parenthesis to talk about difficulty. Being honest, I think the expert difficulty and to some extent arcade are pretty terrible. The reason is because of the way the game is balanced as a result of them. Harder difficulties feature faster bullets and more complex patterns, but also feature increased vitality for the enemies. The increased lethality of the enemies makes for a hearty challenge, but all good is wiped out by the tedium of enemy endurance. What I found out was that enemies are very durable in the harder difficulties. Rather than creating a fun challenge, it makes it incredibly hard to destroy enemies. Most enemies feel like sponges that just refuse to die unless you have a special weapon. Some enemies feel outright impossible to kill before they leave the screen, an issue which hurts a lot when it comes to homing projectiles that need to be destroyed. Fun and dynamic dog fights become grindy situations where you focus on a single ship and fail to destroy it while having others flood the screen. I really think harder difficulties would have been better without the added HP on enemies but retaining the faster bullets and harder patterns.
SLOW AND STEADY DOESN’T WIN THE RACE
While on the topic of hard difficulties, the homing bullets are another culprit behind the reason the difficulty isn’t fun. I’ve never been a fan of homing attacks as they feel cheap, but it feels like it wasn’t play tested because some slower ships can’t actually avoid a homing shot without the speed upgrade. To be fair, no one shoots homing bullets on stage 1, so taking speed is utmost priority. One thing I do like about speed is that most boss patterns allow you to dodge at high speed. You can’t slow your speed, so it’s nice that there isn’t finesse required to survive some waves.
A LITTLE BIT MORE TIME IN THE OVEN
If I was on a game show about quick words and someone mentioned “Q-YO Blaster”, my response would be “rough”. While some aspects of the game are really cool, there are other where it feels a little bit incomplete. Some enemies don’t match the visual quality of others such as Major Tomm. The UI and menus also seem to come from a prototype version. There’s also a sort of bug where if you die and use a credit, the game immediately pauses. Not a big deal, but it feels out of place. The customization screen is also all sorts of blurry. You can’t remap controls either, which is a shame considering the shoulder buttons would really come in handy. Most of these issues aren’t a big deal by themselves, but they taint the final product by making it feel a little like shovelware. The game is really fun though, so it is sad to think about having it fall under that umbrella.
So the mandatory question is, is it fun? It definitely is! With its bizarre and unsettling vibe, Q-YO Blaster is still tons of fun to play. While there is certainly a lot of room for improvement, Q-YO Blaster is still a solid choice for a shmup if you are fan of the cartoon style, of the horizontal shmup format or just a fan of little critters in general. THE RANKING SO FAR:
Steredenn: Binary Stars
Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
Sky Force: Reloaded
R-Type Dimensions EX
Sine Mora EX
Shikhondo – Soul Eater
Ghost Blade HD
Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020
Good Saturday morning to all of you here on wallstreetbets. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week and month ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020.
Wall Street braces for more market volatility as wild swings become the ‘new normal’ amid coronavirus - (Source)
The S&P 500 has never behaved like this, but Wall Street strategists say get used to it. Investors just witnessed the equity benchmark swinging up or down 2% for four days straight in the face of the coronavirus panic. In the index’s history dating back to 1927, this is the first time the S&P 500 had a week of alternating gains and losses of more than 2% from Monday through Thursday, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Daily swings like this over a two-week period were only seen at the peak of the financial crisis and in 2011 when U.S. sovereign debt got its first-ever downgrade, the firm said. “The message to all investors is that they should expect this volatility to continue. This should be considered the new normal going forward,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped north of 1,000 points twice in the past week, only to erase the quadruple-digit gains in the subsequent sessions. The coronavirus outbreak kept investors on edge as global cases of the infections surpassed 100,000. It’s also spreading rapidly in the U.S. California has declared a state of emergency, while the number of cases in New York reached 33. “Uncertainty breeds greater market volatility,” Keith Lerner, SunTrust’s chief market strategist, said in a note. “Much is still unknown about how severe and widespread the coronavirus will become. From a market perspective, what we are seeing is uncomfortable but somewhat typical after shock periods.”
So far, the actions from global central banks and governments in response to the outbreak haven’t triggered a sustainable rebound. The Federal Reserve’s first emergency rate cut since the financial crisis did little to calm investor anxiety. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a sweeping spending bill with an$8.3 billion packageto aid prevention efforts to produce a vaccine for the deadly disease, but stocks extended their heavy rout that day. “The market is recognizing the global authorities are responding to this,” said Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report. “If the market begins to worry they are not doing that sufficiently, then I think we are going to go down ugly. It is helping stocks hold up.” Essaye said any further stimulus from China and a decent-sized fiscal package from Germany would be positive to the market, but he doesn’t expect the moves to create a huge rebound. The fed funds future market is now pricing in the possibility of the U.S. central bank cutting by 75 basis points at its March 17-18 meeting.
Where is the bottom?
Many on Wall Street expect the market to fall further before recovering as the health crisis unfolds. Binky Chadha, Deutsche Bank’s chief equity strategist, sees a bottom for the S&P 500 in the second quarter after stocks falling as much as 20% from their recent peak. “The magnitude of the selloff in the S&P 500 so far has further to go; and in terms of duration, just two weeks in, it is much too early to declare this episode as being done,” Chadha said in a note. “We do view the impacts on macro and earnings growth as being relatively short-lived and the market eventually looking through them.” Deutsche Bank maintained its year-end target of 3,250 for the S&P 500, which would represent a 10% gain from here and a flat return for 2020. Strategists are also urging patience during this heightened volatility, cautioning against panic selling. “It is during times like these that investors need to maintain a longer-term perspective and stick to their investment process rather than making knee-jerk, binary decisions,” Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
If you're like us, you've heard a lot of people reference the recent equity declines as a sign that the market is pricing in some sort of Armageddon in the US economy. While comments like that make for great soundbites, a little perspective is in order. Since the S&P 500's high on February 19th, the S&P 500 is down 12.8%. In the chart below, we show the S&P 500's annual maximum drawdown by year going back to 1928. In the entire history of the index, the median maximum drawdown from a YTD high is 13.05%. In other words, this year's decline is actually less than normal. Perhaps due to the fact that we have only seen one larger-than-average drawdown in the last eight years is why this one feels so bad. The fact that the current decline has only been inline with the historical norm raises a number of questions. For example, if the market has already priced in the worst-case scenario, going out and adding some equity exposure would be a no brainer. However, if we're only in the midst of a 'normal' drawdown in the equity market as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to put the economy into a recession, one could argue that things for the stock market could get worse before they get better, especially when we know that the market can be prone to over-reaction in both directions. The fact is that nobody knows right now how this entire outbreak will play out. If it really is a black swan, the market definitely has further to fall and now would present a great opportunity to sell more equities. However, if it proves to be temporary and after a quarter or two resolves itself and the economy gets back on the path it was on at the start of the year, then the magnitude of the current decline is probably appropriate. As they say, that's what makes a market!
Take a good luck at today's moves in long-term US Treasury yields, because chances are you won't see moves of this magnitude again soon. Let's start with the yield on the 30-year US Treasury. Today's decline of 29 basis points in the yield will go down as the largest one-day decline in the yield on the 30-year since 2009. For some perspective, there have only been 25 other days since 1977 where the yield saw a larger one day decline.
That doesn't even tell the whole story, though. As shown in the chart below, every other time the yield saw a sharper one-day decline, the actual yield of the 30-year was much higher, and in most other cases it was much, much higher.
To show this another way, the percentage change in the yield on the 30-year has never been seen before, and it's not even close. Now, before the chart crime police come calling, we realize showing a percentage change of a percentage is not the most accurate representation, but we wanted to show this for illustrative purposes only.
Finally, with long-term interest rates plummetting we wanted to provide an update on the performance of the Austrian 100-year bond. That's now back at record highs, begging the question, why is the US not flooding the market with long-term debt?
Today's decline is pretty much a continuation of what has been a one-way trade for the commodity ever since the US drone strike on Iranian general Soleimani. The last time prices were this low was around Christmas 2018.
With today's decline, crude oil is now off to its worst start to a year in a generation falling 32%. Since 1984, the only other year that was worse was 1986 when the year started out with a decline of 50% through March 6th. If you're looking for a bright spot, in 1986, prices rose 36% over the remainder of the year. The only other year where crude oil kicked off the year with a 30% decline was in 1991 after the first Iraq war. Over the remainder of that year, prices rose a more modest 5%.
Despite strong market gains on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the on-the-run 10-year Treasury yield ended the day below 1% for the first time ever and has posted additional declines in real time, sitting at 0.92% intraday as this blog is being written. “The decline in yields has been remarkable,” said LPL Research Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “The 10-year Treasury yield has dipped below 1%, and today’s declines are likely to make the recent run lower the largest decline of the cycle.” As shown in LPL Research’s chart of the day, the current decline in the 10-year Treasury yield without a meaningful reversal (defined as at least 0.75%) is approaching the decline seen in 2011 and 2012 and would need about another two months to be the longest decline in length of time. At the same time, no prior decline has lasted forever and a pattern of declines and increases has been normal.
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield lower?
A shrinking but still sizable yield advantage over other developed market sovereign debt
Added stock volatility if downside risks to economic growth from the coronavirus increase
A larger potential premium over shorter-term yields if the Federal Reserve aggressively cuts interest rates
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield higher?
A second half economic rebound acting a catalyst for a Treasury sell-off
As yields move lower, investors may increasingly seek more attractive sources of income
Any dollar weakness could lead to some selling by international investors
Longer maturity Treasuries are looking like an increasingly crowded trade, potentially adding energy to any sell-off
On balance, our view remains that the prospect of an economic rebound over the second half points to the potential for interest rates moving higher. At the same time, we still see some advantage in the potential diversification benefits of intermediate maturity high-quality bonds, especially during periods of market stress. We continue to recommend that suitable investors consider keeping a bond portfolio’s sensitivity to changes in interest rates below that of the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index by emphasizing short to intermediate maturity bonds, but do not believe it’s time to pile into very short maturities despite the 10-year Treasury yield sitting at historically low levels.
U.S. Jobs Growth Marches On
While stock markets continue to be extremely volatile as they come to terms with how the coronavirus may affect global growth, the U.S. job market has remained remarkably robust. Continued U.S. jobs data resilience in the face of headwinds from the coronavirus outbreak may be a key factor in prolonging the expansion, given how important the strength of the U.S. consumer has been late into this expansion. The U.S. Department of Labor today reported that U.S. nonfarm payroll data had a strong showing of 273,000 jobs added in February, topping the expectation of every Bloomberg-surveyed economist, with an additional upward revision of 85,000 additional jobs for December 2019 and January 2020. This has brought the current unemployment rate back to its 50-year low of 3.5%. So far, it appears it’s too soon for any effects of the coronavirus to have been felt in the jobs numbers. (Note: The survey takes place in the middle of each month.) On Wednesday, ADP released its private payroll data (excluding government jobs), which increased by 183,000 in February, also handily beating market expectations. Most of these jobs were added in the service sector, with 44,000 added in the leisure and hospitality sector, and another 31,000 in trade/transportation/utilities. Both of these areas could be at risk of potential cutbacks if consumers start to avoid eating out or other leisure pursuits due to coronavirus fears. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, payrolls remain strong, and any effects of the virus outbreaks most likely would be felt in coming months.
“February’s jobs report shows the 113th straight month that the U.S. jobs market has grown,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “That’s an incredible run and highlights how the U.S. consumer has become key to extending the expansion, especially given setbacks to global growth from the coronavirus outbreak.” While there is bound to be some drag on future jobs data from the coronavirus-related slowdown, we would anticipate that the effects of this may be transitory. We believe economic fundamentals continue to suggest the possibility of a second-half-of-the–year economic rebound.
Down January & Down February: S&P 500 Posts Full-Year Gain Just 43.75% of Time
The combination of a down January and a down February has come about 17 times, including this year, going back to 1950. Rest of the year and full-year performance has taken a rather sizable hit following the previous 16 occurrences. March through December S&P 500 average performance drops to 2.32% compared to 7.69% in all years. Full-year performance is even worse with S&P 500 average turning to a loss of 4.91% compared to an average gain of 9.14% in all years. All hope for 2020 is not lost as seven of the 16 past down January and down February years did go on to log gains over the last 10 months and full year while six enjoyed double-digit gains from March to December.
Today’s big rally was an encouraging sign that the markets are becoming more comfortable with the public health, monetary and political handling of the situation. But the history of these “emergency” or “surprise” rate cuts by the Fed between meetings suggest some caution remains in order. The table here shows that these surprise cuts between meetings have really only “worked” once in the past 20+ years. In 1998 when the Fed and the plunge protection team acted swiftly and in a coordinated manner to stave off the fallout from the financial crisis caused by the collapse of the Russian ruble and the highly leveraged Long Term Capital Management hedge fund markets responded well. This was not the case during the extended bear markets of 2001-2002 and 2007-2009. Bottom line: if this is a short-term impact like the 1998 financial crisis the market should recover sooner rather than later. But if the economic impact of coronavirus virus is prolonged, the market is more likely to languish.
([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
Adobe Inc. $336.77
Adobe Inc. (ADBE) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.23 per share on revenue of $3.04 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.29 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of approximately $2.23 per share. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 29.65% with revenue increasing by 16.88%. Short interest has decreased by 38.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 7.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 10.9% above its 200 day moving average of $303.70. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Monday, February 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,109 contracts of the $400.00 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. (DKS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.23 per share on revenue of $2.56 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.28 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 57% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 14.95% with revenue increasing by 2.73%. Short interest has decreased by 29.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 20.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% below its 200 day moving average of $39.75. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 848 contracts of the $39.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 14.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.3% move in recent quarters.
Broadcom Limited (AVGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $5.34 per share on revenue of $5.93 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $5.45 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 5.65% with revenue increasing by 2.44%. Short interest has decreased by 15.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 15.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.7% below its 200 day moving average of $291.95. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Tuesday, February 25, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,197 contracts of the $260.00 put expiring on Friday, April 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.9% move in recent quarters.
Thor Industries, Inc. (THO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:45 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.79 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.84 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 62% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 16.92% with revenue increasing by 38.70%. Short interest has decreased by 12.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 5.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% above its 200 day moving average of $62.53. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.1% move in recent quarters.
ULTA Beauty (ULTA) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $3.71 per share on revenue of $2.29 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $3.75 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 73% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 2.77% with revenue increasing by 7.78%. Short interest has increased by 8.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 0.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 9.5% below its 200 day moving average of $283.43. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 15.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.7% move in recent quarters.
Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.06 per share on revenue of $173.06 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.04) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 67% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for a loss of $0.07 to $0.06 per share on revenue of $172.00 million to $174.00 million. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 19.0% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 4.3% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Dollar General Corporation (DG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:55 AM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.02 per share on revenue of $7.15 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.05 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 76% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 9.78% with revenue increasing by 7.52%. Short interest has increased by 16.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 1.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.7% above its 200 day moving average of $149.88. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, February 28, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,013 contracts of the $182.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.
Stitch Fix, Inc. (SFIX) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.06 per share on revenue of $452.96 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $447.00 million to $455.00 million. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 50.00% with revenue increasing by 22.33%. Short interest has decreased by 4.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 16.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.1% below its 200 day moving average of $24.01. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 19, 2020 there was some notable buying of 4,026 contracts of the $35.00 call expiring on Friday, June 19, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 28.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 15.2% move in recent quarters.
Sogou Inc. (SOGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.09 per share on revenue of $303.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 58% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $290.00 million to $310.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 28.57% with revenue increasing by 1.78%. Short interest has increased by 6.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 27.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.7% below its 200 day moving average of $4.57. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 3.8% move on earnings in recent quarters.
DocuSign (DOCU) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.05 per share on revenue of $267.44 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.08 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $263.00 million to $267.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 600.00% with revenue increasing by 33.90%. Short interest has decreased by 37.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 12.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 31.9% above its 200 day moving average of $63.71. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, March 4, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,698 contracts of the $87.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 8.5% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 10.0% move in recent quarters.
Abstract — I discuss several models for assigning probability to timelines under the assumption that time travel is possible, but paradoxes are absolutely impossible, as is the case in many fictional worlds. The models are mathematically precise, and illuminate issues that have previously confused many people about what sort of timelines are "most likely". I discuss an example due to TimTravel in a old post on /HPMOR, then analyse whether time travel can be used to solve the halting problem. I outline how timeline probability may interact with physical probabilities, often used to justify physics "conspiring" or contriving a certain outcome to prevent paradox. Total length: ~5000 words, or about 15-20 minutes of reading. Edit: commenters have pointed out similarities between this and the Ted Chiang story, What's Expected of Us. The similarity was not intentional, but is undeniable. Note: The text of this post has been revised in response to objections, and some commenters may be reacting to the initial version of my arguments.
Model A: Path Realism
Model B: Local Branch Realism
Model C: Reroll Realism (or, Bayesian Branch Realism)
Model D: Weighted Branch Realism
Which Model is Best?
Example: The Time Thief Puzzle
Alice and Bob
Interlude: TIME FORCE
Back to Alice and Bob
Applications to More Permissive Time Travel Schemes
Bound Time Travel
Free Time Travel
Let's say you're walking down the street one day when a wizard appears in a clap of thunder, and places a strange gray device of buttons and switches into your hands. You're looking down at it, struggling to make heads or tails of it, and then you look up and the wizard is gone. At the top of the device, there is a slider, already set to the leftmost extreme. Below it, two switches: a power switch already set to ON, and an stiff, unlabeled switch, the exact gray of the surface, rising so inconspicuously low off the surface you almost miss it. Below that, two LED buttons, both inactive. Suddenly, the left LED glows blue. Confused, you press the button (it goes in with a satisfying click) and the light flashes off instantly. Furrowing your brow, you decide to press the button again. The blue light quickly comes on while your finger's still moving, and it again winks out immediately as the button is depressed. You try pressing the button again and again, and each time the blue light turn on, seeming to predict or anticipate the button press. Then, the other LED button glows red. You press it, and it turns off; several tries later, you conclude it behaves exactly the same. You decide now to deliberately not press either button, even if the lights were to shine encouragingly. But nothing happens; neither light comes back on. You move your finger closer to a button, determined to arrest its motion at the last possible second. But the light doesn't come on, even when your skin is brushing the cool metal. You forget it and press the button. The light blinks bright blue milliseconds before you've even decided. Now, you (you, dear reader, not the above character) have already read the title of this post. This is strange device sends information backward in time. Specifically, it sends a single bit back in time one second. Or well, you fiddle with the slider, and notice it controls the interval; you can set it to one minute, an hour, or even a day. All that established, it's time to test something. "Red is heads, and blue tails," you say. A coin from your pockets is flipping in the air until you catch it and slap it down on your wrist. The device shines blue. You lift your hand. It's heads. You push the blue button anyway, out of habit, the light flashing off. And then it hits you: you have to commit intently to pressing the right button even when (especially when) the device is wrong. Another test: if the device shines red again, you'll press blue. But if it shines blue, you'll press still blue. There's a noticeable delay before the device tentatively shines a light. It's blue. Call this act forcing. You can force the device to be red or blue. You try the coin flip test just a few more times. Now, the device is always right, even if it seems to pause a random interval before shining a light. The opposite of forcing would be splinting (after 'splinterpoint'). This is, pressing the button for whichever light comes on next, with no tricks and no conditionals. Finally, the last thing you can do — for a broad notion of 'can' — is what we'll call crashing. This is: pressing the button of whichever light doesn't blink on. It's less that you can do this, and more that you can intend this, and reality responds to that. You give it a try right now: you commit to crashing if your next coin toss doesn't come up heads. You flip the coin, anxiously watching it's path through the air, catch it, slap it down on your wrist, spend a few seconds working up the nerve and then lifting your hand. It's tails. You take a deep breath, and look expectantly at the device. No light comes on. You're waiting for a few minutes. And then it hits you; the device isn't binary, it's trinary. Sure, it can shine red or blue — but so too can it not shine at all! And if it either light leads to paradox, why would any light come on? The only winning move is not to play. Is that it, then? Are your dreams of munchkinry doomed to fail? Was it just a coincidence that 'forcing' seemed to work earlier? And then the red light comes on. You grin triumphantly, with not a little dread. You're about to destroy the universe! Before the implications catch up to, you're flinging your hand forward, jabbing it at the device. You don't want to lose your nerve. You look down, and see that you missed, pressing the red button, rather than the blue like you planned. Is this fate? Is the world itself conspiring to prevent paradox, just like in the stories? You want to give crashing another try, but the last thing you want is to wait those long minutes for the light to come on again. You glare down at the device, and then you notice the second switch. You'd almost forgotten about it. You idly flick it, and immediately the blue light comes on. It forces a prediction? Maybe your plans aren't doomed. You consider giving crashes another try, but maybe destroying the whole timeline is not worth the risk. You decide to spare the universe, and press the blue button. You need to understand how this device works before you can really exploit it. And you have just the idea for another experiment. What if you splint, and if the splint comes out blue, you force blue again, but otherwise you just splint again. After two button presses, you turn off the device. It's clear there are three possibilities: blue-blue, red-blue and red-red. But which are most likely? You run this experiment a hundred times, and keep track of the results. Call it the double blue experiment. There are a few ways it could turn out:
Model A: Path Realism
It seems that consistent timelines are the only thing that matters. It's as if the universe has already set aside exactly the number of timelines there needs to be, and you're already in a certain timeline, you just don't know which one yet. In the double blue experiment, there are three possibilities, and every one is equally likely. p(red,red) = p(red,blue) = p(blue,blue) = 1/3 You find it strange, as a follow-up experiment aptly demonstrates: Splint once. If it comes out blue, force blue twenty-nine times. Otherwise, do nothing. Turn off the device. On the face of it, it's crazy that you can even experience the second possibility. It's like winning the lottery half the time. Then again, maybe it's not so crazy? If you were to just force blue twenty-nine times, it's equally unlikely on the face of it; like flipping dozens of coins that all come up heads. There's a weirder consequence, though. If you splint ten times, you can see any combination of reds and blues; red-blue-blue-red-red-red-blue-red-red-red and all the others, with uniform probability. But if you splint ten times, and if and only if every splint came up blue, you splint ten more times, you'll find that the first set of splints come up all blue half the time! This is easy to reconcile with path realism. There are 210 = 1024 through the ten splints. Each is as likely as the other. But if you commit to doing ten more splints if and only if the first set comes up all blues, then there are 211 = ~2048 paths down the time-tree. If each is as likely as the other, then half of them are located under one branch!
Model B: Local Branch Realism
It seems that splints are basically coin tosses; it either comes up blue or it comes up red. The exception is if one of those options always leads to paradox. If you commit to causing paradox when the light shines blue, then it will always shine red. If you commit to splinting then crashing when the first splint comes out blue, then the splint will similarly always shine red. The intermediate is more interesting: if you, as in the original experiment, splint and then splint again and crash if both splints come out blue, then half the time the first splint will come out red, but if the first splint comes out blue, the next one always comes out red. In numbers, the possibilities are p(red,red) = p(red,blue) = 1/4, and p(blue,red) = 1/2. It's like the universe is a savescumming gamer: it saves to a slot to every time a time travel event is about to happen. If a paradox happens, it reloads from its saves on after another, finding newest one that lets it avoid the paradox.
Model C: Reroll Realism (or, Bayesian Branch Realism)
Edit: a commenter pointed out that this resembles Tim's model. You're not sure if paradoxes really don't happen. You've looked at the numbers. What it suggests is that, rather than avoiding paradoxes, paradoxes could simply cause the universe to restart. The stats from the double blue experiment don't lie: p(red) = 2/3, p(blue,blue) = 1/3. Imagine you were simulating the universe. 1/2 the time, red comes up and you're just fine. 1/2 the time, blue comes up. 1/2 the time after that (for a total of 1/4 the time), blue comes again, and you've got a paradox on your hands. What if you just, restarted the universe, and hoped it didn't happen again? Well, there's a 1/4 chance it will. Since you have a 1/4 chance of restarting in the first place, that's 1/16 of the time you'll restart twice. Luckily, it's getting exponentially less likely. Looked at another way, the odds of it coming up red is the limit of the infinite sum: 1/2 + 1/4 * 1/2 + 1/16 * 1/2 + 1/64 * 1/2 + 1/256 * 1/2 ... This series converges on 2/3. But there's another interpretation, with seems less like the work of a lazy programmer and more like something a statistician would come up with. Suppose, as we must, that the timeline is consistent. What is the posterior probability of that timeline being red, given that 100% of red timelines are consistent, and 50% of blue timelines are consistent? Or, in symbols:
Even more intuitively: you have four balls (timelines) you paint half of the balls red and half blue (splinterpoint), and you take away one blue ball (paradox). 2/3 of the remainder is red. You'll recognize this as Bayes' Theorem.
Model D: Weighted Branch Realism
The reality is more subtle than you thought. It seems that, while you've never seen a paradox, if a branch has a path through splinterpoints that ends in paradox, that fact subtracts probability from the branch and gives it to its counterfactual sibling. This happens in Local Branch Realism too, but not to this degree: the very possibility that a time-path has a paradox however many days or years down the line always shaves some degree of probability, if only just a sliver; but naturally, that sliver increases as the paradox gets closer. Thus, the results of the experiment are: p(red, red) = p(red, blue) = 3/8, while p(blue, blue) = 1/4 = 2/8. You can see it clearer with a more involved experiment. Take your device and a sheet of paper and: Splint, call this splint A:
if A is red, write "foo" on the paper
if A is blue, splint and call it splint B
if B is red, write "bar" on the paper
if B is blue, splint and call it C:
if C is red, write "baz" on the paper
if C is blue, crash
According to weighted branch realism, the probabilities look like: P(foo) = 20/32 = 5/8, P(bar) = 9/32, P(baz) = 3/32. To understand this result, we have to define a notion of "static paradox fraction", or spf. If you intend to force blue, then the spf is 1/2. Why? To force blue you must (intend to) cause a paradox in the event that not-blue happens. Despite that fact that paradoxes never happen, static paradox fractions seems be a real quantity in Weighted Branch Realism. It is as if the device is looking at every possible and impossible timeline, and measuring which ones are paradoxical. (Note that static paradox fractions are diminuted by splints. So if you splint and when the splint is blue you then force red, the spf of the first splint is 1/4, even if there is no second splint whenever the first is red. This distinguishes it from simply counting paradoxical timelines; 1/3 of the timelines are paradoxical, but a paradox behind a splinterpoint has lesser weight.) Furthermore, let's have a notion of "intrinsic probability" or ip. The ip of both splint outcomes is 1/2, even if one of them is paradoxical. Thus:
(Note for the pedants: normally, the ip is actually 1/3, and ditto for spf; we're ignoring that the device can not shine a light, because you can just flip a switch and force a light on. Even without the switching, committing to either turning the device off, or splinting endlessly once the the experiment is over means the probability of the device choosing to not shine drops exponentially while the alternatives remain constant.) This model is somewhat unintuitive, because despite the name, it has more in common with Path Realism than the other two _ Branch Realisms. You can't emulate the probability distribution of WBR by running one timeline and restarting (either from the beginning (Bayesian), or from the nearest viable alternate splint (Local)). This is entirely the fault of a phenomena we can call "paradox by association"; in the foo-bar-baz experiment, in a certain sense, just as 1/8 of quasi-timelines are paradoxical because they end in crashing, 1/4 of the quasi-timelines ending in baz are paradoxical just because baz timelines are near to the paradox. This accounts for the numbers: p(foo) is 5/8, 4/8 intrinsic + 1/8 from the paradox. p(bar) is 9/32: 8/32 intrinsic + 1/32 from baz's paradox by association. p(baz), lastly is 3/32 owing to loosing 1/32 from paradox by association. (Why 1/4? Good question. There must be a reason, and it's clear this is the number that comes out of the equations. Alas, I'm not smart enough provide a reason in words and not symbols.)
Which Model is Best?
Path Realism and Local Branch Realism are both pretty wack. Path Realism discards all local information about plausibility, and allows munchkins to blow up the probability of their favorite timelines arbitrarily high. Local Branch Realism does the same thing from the opposite direction; wanton invocation of paradoxes intuitively should be penalized, but Branch Realism simply says I don't mind. Between Weighted Branch Realism and Reroll Realism, I'm inclined to prefer the latter. WBR is the first I thought up, but RR is just more natural. It has two obvious interpretations, both things that anyone would come up with after thinking about it for a little while. WBR, in the other hand, is harder to conceptualize in terms of what mechanism would actually cause the probabilities to look like that (I've tried; the results are not pretty). "Paradox by association", while potential a fresh concept to use in a story, is a truly strange mechanism. Now, how does the connect with TimTravel's ideas? Just as he proposed, it is, in some models the case that the most probable timelines are the ones in which time machines are never invented. In Local Branch Realism, this is not true (unless some bad actor arises in every single timeline and causes paradox. Time Beast, anyone?). In Path Realism, this is again never true without positing a Time Beast. However in WBR and RR, it's more or less true. In general, timelines with fewer instances of retrocausation are more likely, only because instances of retrocausation are a proxy for instances of paradox. Now, if paradoxes are rare, this argument would be weak. (But to be fair, most meaningful uses of time travel require copious paradox; it's the oil in the engine.) That said, I believe it is admissible for a work to posit that the characters find themselves in the (slightly unlikely) timeline where retrocausation happens. After that, though, the principles constrain the probability space.
Suppose Alice has a bag of money with a dollar on it. If anyone steals it, she'll go back in time and see who did it. Bob wants to steal it. He knows she has this policy. He decides he'll give himself the thumbs up just before he leaves the future if all goes well stealing it and she doesn't see him. If these policies are followed then it leads to a paradox, so something must prevent them both from simultaneously following their policies. Either Alice wins because Bob goes to the past without getting an honest thumbs up from himself or Bob wins because Bob sees the honest thumbs up and Alice doesn't go back and check who stole the money for some reason, or some third possibility prevents both. There is no reason to think that either of them automatically wins in this situation. Timelines in which Alice wins should be about equally frequent as timelines in which Bob wins. Numerous characters have implicitly assumed that there is a reason to think one of them automatically wins in such situations.
We'll have to change this scenario a little bit to fit with the schema we've been using so far. (Besides, Tim's example is kind of unclear and it's not even obvious that paradox must occur in all permutations. If Bob doesn't get the thumbs up, wouldn't he not steal? Puzzle solved.)
Alice and Bob
Let's say that in the morning Alice has acquired a bag full of money from sources unknown, and has come to an arrangement with a shadowy individual: leave a dufflebag full of money with a dollar sign on it at a dropoff location, and in exchange, the individual will leave a limited print run of all eleven books of Worth the Candle at the same location. Alice knows people want to steal that money, but part of the arrangement is that she can't be there guarding it when the shadowy individual arrives. On Tuesday morning, the deal is still in its negotiation stage, and there are two places Alice can think of to arrange for dropoffs: atop the looming mountains outside of town, or deep into the mysterious catacombs below it. Both of these hiding places will take two hours to enter and two to leave. (Pretend the mountains have a rogue paramilitary that shoots down helicopters or something.) Due to work obligations, Alice can only make the dropoff in the early morning, and return that evening to pick up the books. Meanwhile, Bob, the thief, knows all this and certainly doesn't want to get caught. He can't go into either location until Alice has left, else he'll be seen. Lucky for him, that leaves a large window for him to do the deed. Both of these characters have the same magical devices from the earlier section, and they'll naturally use them to ensure success; except, for obvious reasons, we'll call their predictions "catacombs" and "mountains". Before she goes to hide the money at 5:00 AM, Alice consults her device for where to hide it. Four hours after he has seen Alice leave, at 9:00, Bob consults his device to determine where she hid it. If the predict is wrong, he forces a paradox. When Alice returns to get the money, at 17:00, if it's there, she confirms the location that the device advised. Otherwise, she presses the opposite button, forcing a crash via paradox. What happens? This requires introducing yet another notion.
Interlude: TIME FORCE
The TIME FORCE is any one in a billion freak accident that happens 100% of the time to prevent a paradox from occurring. TIME FORCE is a quantum fluctuation that causes right neuron to misfire which butterflies into changing your whole decision. TIME FORCE is random air currents that causes a bird to fly by and drop a rock on the right button of the time-device. TIME FORCE is the lightning in the clear blue sky which spells out Do not mess with time in typographically perfect serifs. There are a few things we can say about TIME FORCE. Let's say that the general odds of TIME FORCE acting on a given person in a given second is extremely, astronomically unlikely. One in a billion, or one in a trillion sounds about right. But from that, it follows that the odds of TIME FORCE acting over an interval of time is proportional to the length of that interval. (It's at least monotonic. Difficult/impossible to say how fast it grows.) It also follows that the odds of TIME FORCE acting is increased if an agent is acting in concert with it, and decreased if they are acting in opposition, proportional to the efficacy of that agent. I.e., an agent is defending against TIME FORCE, or attempting to utilize TIME FORCE. (consider: if Bob, after stealing, were to proceed to try to also steal Alice's device or persuade her to cancel her prediction herself (e.g., by faking a dire emergency which requires her foreknowledge to solve), then TIME FORCE would provide some boost to the probability of success.) An obvious corollary to all this is that TIME FORCE is almost never relevant. If you had a bigger device that spat out 32 red/blue pairs at a time, you could predict the lottery without seriously worrying about TIME FORCE. One common confusion which leads people to overstate the importance of TIME FORCE is the fact that parallel universes and timelines aren't necessarily the same thing. Let's say you wanted to force a coin to come up heads. Turn on your device. Then, splint. If the result was blue, flip the coin. If the result was red, splint again. The idea is to have the device spawn as many timelines as possible. Pressing buttons (subtly) alters the configuration of your brain and muscles and the microcurrents of air in the room, and the hope is a certain combination of buttons at a certain rhythm is prod you into the right configuration to flip the coin heads. This is almost certainly true in this specific example, but if the coin is flipped before the device is turned on, time cannot help you. And if you don't have intimate control over the outcome, time cannot save you. E.g., if a meteor is flying towards your town, forcing a paradox if it hits true cannot avert its course. Of course, if you splint long enough, maybe the branches describe a powerful, quickly-createable, meteor-destroying technology in morse code. Or maybe it just spells out "You needed worth opponents," and you give up and let the asteroid take you. (There is one slight exception, and this is where the different formulations of Bayesian Branch Realism and Reroll Realism differ. In BBR, the universe is posited to either A) know before splintering the posterior probabilities of each branch or equivalently, B) have so many timelines that destroy paradoxical ones leaves the distribution looking as it should. However, in RR, paradoxes are posited to cause the universe to restart from the beginning (or when the device was turned on). This means that in RR, simply flipping a coin and forcing a paradox if it's tails is all you need. That is, assuming quantum fluctuations making the coin heads is more likely than quantum making you decide not to crash, or failing to crash. Or dying instantly and having the wizard return to push the button.) There's one last possibility, and that's if you posit that quantum randomness itself are biased by time travel, so each quantum measurement counts as a splinterpoint. I'm reluctant to do such, because the edict I've heard over and over again is that when worldbuilding, Do Not Mess With Physics. I'm going to continue writing this article with the assumption that physical randomness is not biased by timelines. Extreme improbabilities are still extremely improbable, but, to mangle the quote, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must happen.
Back to Alice and Bob
So, with TIME FORCE in mind, what happens to Alice and Bob? It's 4:50. Alice is sitting beside her bag of money with a dollar sign on it, her device in front of her. If the device shows 'catacombs', she intends to, when she returns from work, press 'mountains' in case her bag was stolen and she doesn't have her book, or otherwise she will confirm 'catacombs' (and vice versa). She waits. And the device doesn't say anything at all! It's well known that sometimes there are random delays before the devices spit out answers. Some users interpret it as an omen, suggesting that whatever you're asking is so likely to lead to paradox, time itself has to work up the nerve to allow it to happen; the theorized mechanism is 'paradox aversion', where in some models, the odds turn against timelines long before the paradox is even nigh. (But as far as Alice knows, no one has never proved which model they live in.) She decides to buck superstition and conjecture, and reaches out to flip the switch which forces an output. Record scratch, freeze frame. What happens next? A) TIME FORCE intervenes before Alice can flip the switch. B) Alice flips the switch, but TIME FORCE subverts the resulting prophecy. (I.e., the bag is stolen, but events contrive to have the incorrect button on the device pressed anyway.) C) Alice flips the switch, and TIME FORCE subverts Bob's prophecy instead, sending him to the wrong location. Her bag is not stolen, and she happily reads the ending of WtC. D) Alice presses the secret button, and TIME FORCE subverts both prophecies. (Stop reading now if you want to try to work out an answer yourself.) The correct answer is B, which is about three times more likely than anything else, barring unspecified details. A requires TIME FORCE to act in the acute interval before Alice presses the button, which is at best a few minutes long. C requires TIME FORCE to act in the four hour interval of 9:00-13:00. D is the conjunction of A and C, and less likely than both. B is the winner, because it only requires the TIME FORCE to act on the long, twelve-hour interval of 5:00-17:00 I think this goes even if timelines nudge physical probabilities. Exercise for the reader, though. (((Now, one may object that this formulation bears little resemblance to Tim's example. My only excuse is that Tim's model was too unclear for me to formalize specifically. When I tried, I got this scenario: First, Alice gets a prediction from the device: stolen, or untouched. Iff it says stolen, she waits to see who the thief is, and gets them. Else, she goes about her day, secure knowing her money is safe. Then, Bob consults his device as to whether his theft would be successful: if it says yes, then either 1) Alice is there, catches him, and he triggers a paradox, or 2) Alice isn't there, he gets away, and she triggers a paradox later. However, if it says no, then he just sighs, and fucks off, no paradox to worry about. Even if I missed something/misinterpreted TimTravel and this situation is paradoxical all four ways, it still follows that Bob will probably win (if not so overwhelmingly so) because he spends less time in temporal limbo where TIME FORCE might fuck with him.)))
It's clear that if one were to disassemble the strange device and hook up a few wires to its circuit boards to a computer, you'd create a hybrid device capable of advanced feats of computation. What is the exact strength of this retrocausal computer? As mathematicians are wont to do, we will dispense with practicalities like having to use at most as much space as actually exists, or needing our computations finish before the heat death of the universe. Given all this, if we have an idealized retrocausal computer, a la the idealized turing machine, what can we do? Let's try the halting problem, a classic test of strength. Say we have a computer program, and we want to know if it's ever stops running. Well, either it does or doesn't. Consider a slightly different device, instead of red/blue leds, it has magic screen which can display any integer. (For models where it matters, the intrinsic probability of an integer n is equal to 2-k, where k is smallest number with 2k > n and k > 0.) It also has a numpad now, which allows the input of any integer. With this device, to determine when a program halts, given that it halts, is as simple and looking at what number comes up on its screen, and running the program for that many steps. If it halts before then, input when it halted (causing paradox). Otherwise, input the number it gave you. Otherwise otherwise, cause a paradox via your preferred means. If the program might run forever, things are trickier. What you can do is interpret the number the screen outputs as the index of a proof of (not) halting. This isn't sufficient, however, as no computably-checkable proof system can prove that any turing machine (never) halts, essentially by definition. But we can use the fact that if a program runs forever it doesn't halt: simply try over and over again until 1) you learn the program does not, or 2) the odds of it halting given that you found no proof is as astronomically low as satisfies you. By construction, the odds of the screen outputing the right halting time decreases exponentially as the halting time increases. If the halting time is in the millions, it takes a several hundred trials before you have even odds of the screen having already spat out the right answer. If the time is in the billions, it takes several hundred thousand. (Model-specific tricks can alleviate this quite a bit. In Path Realism, you can use the path blowup technique to increase the probability of the correct halting time coming up. In Weighted and Reroll, you can inflate the static paradox fraction to arbitrary heights, reducing the odds of false negatives.) From ordinary turing machines, this is a difference in degree (retrocausal machines are better at it), but not kind (retrocausal machines can never decide whether a machine halts or doesn't). Long story short, retrocausation can increase the efficacy of your computers, but you're still stuck at 0.
Applications to More Permissive Time Travel Models
Our device is quite limited, in the world of retrocausation. There are at least two stronger types of models:
Bound Time Travel: our system only sends information back in time, where most extant system allow entire persons to make the journey. While I strongly prefer this "prophecy" scheme to proper time travel (prophecy is simpler and more physically plausible, and opens up less strange cases), the evidence suggests that's not the prevailing taste.
Free Time Travel: In contrast to a Primer-style system where time travel is limited to when and where a machine exists, quite a few just let you pop out at old place and time. Again, this is not preferable to me because it doesn't allows limits to be as clear (a desirable quality for any rational system), but free time travel seems rather common. Cf. HP Time Turners, the very things which started this discussions.
Bound Time Travel
It's clear how our models transfer the bound case; proper time travel is basically sending a whole bunch of information at once. There's another hurdle though: can you tell from when a time travel comes? With our red/blue device, the slider at the top puts an upper bound on how long the device waits for stablization. If the system allows this, then great! It means there's a clean cutoff point after which we know the timeline is stable or not. Otherwise, you probably want to make probability proportional to how far in the future the traveler comes from; if you're uniformly selecting a person that could exist between now and the heat death of the universe (without grandfathering themselves, granted), it's probably not going to be you from two weeks hence, of all people. There's a more interesting question this is avoiding though. What can we say about what will probably step out of the time machine, aside from whence it came? Well, it's helpful to assume that there's an organization controlling and regulating time travel. There's some failure modes that would be cripplingly common. For instance, doppelgangers. Temporal doppelgangers are a variation of the bootstrap paradox (i.e., self-causation), where a mutant version of your steps out of the time machine, finds current you, and forcibly alters your mind to replicate its own (anthropically, it must know how to succeed at this). This seems pretty inevitable from the premise, and it provides a nice, fresh justification for "you can't interact with your past self". Not out of fear that it might cause a paradox, but out of fear that it won't. If your mind is randomly altered repeatedly, even by slight amounts each time, the results are quickly going to not be pretty. Other than that, this scheme of time travel seems somewhat tractable; while the odds of any given arrangement of matter is a specific person with a specific set of memories consistent with the past and future of the extant universe is very very very low, there is some wiggle room, especially depending on the specifics of the time machine. The assumption baked into our models is that, in effect, the time travel mechanism is plucking a random configuration of matter from possibility space. Most arrangements of matter, even restricting to the stable ones, aren't neat blobs of protein and water. And the most of the ones that are, are random goop! Now, requiring that the configurations which arise in the past-time machine are exactly 1-1 equivalent to what enters the future-time machine is very tight requirement. I doubt bodies will be too much worse for wear if a few atoms are a few picometers off. And you can relax the requirement even further, allow what appears in the present to be "close enough" to its future equivalent, and increase the possibilities further. Of course, this will have ramifications; cancer, prions, strange tastes in the mouth. The organization controlling the time machines could require that everyone who walks out of a time machine undergo a medical examination, and make most crippling ailments thereby paradoxical. (And, likewise for the dead bodies which can't walk out anyway).
Free Time Travel
Free Time Travel is the trickiest of all, but it has a few felicities in addition to all the extra warts. There's not necessarily authoritative time travel device (or an immediately plausible time travel agency) that you can stick in to stealthily add in extra conditions and assert nice properties. With FTT, a time traveler could pop up anywhere, and at any time. Unless you add in a time agency that can monitor for new arrivals, there's nothing you can do about doppelgangers, unless you bolt 'no interacty with the past self' into the rules of the system somehow. You probably shouldn't have location be conserved; requiring that you come out exactly where you came tightens probabilities too tightly. Allowing leeway puffs them up a bit. The same goes for concerns about exact molecular matching. All those caveats aside, it seems as tho you can otherwise treat BTT and FTT similary to our toy examples, where they line up, showing the benefits of the simplification.
Well, that turned out much longer than I'd expected (or wanted). It feels like it puttered out here at the end, but I've said everything I set out to say and then some. I hope this served to sharpen your intuitions regard time travel, and make precise things which were previously vague. I would like to thank the nice people on the /rational discord for inspiring this line of thinking and providing the impetus to refine it. Thank you for coming to my TED talk. P.S.: worth mentioning that Tim covered much of the same ground as me in their initial post. My post is less a refutation to theirs than me working out my own solution to the problems they pose, as I didn't understand or believe all of their arguments.
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