THE AFFILIATE MARKETING REPORT: How mainstream publishers

A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile and /headphones, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).


I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).

So wtf is this?

So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.

Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?

I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS

General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)

Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile , he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.


So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)

Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)

So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.


If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.


Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.

Example options


These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)

What you will need for passive setup:

Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.

Example options


Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.

Example options

If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.


Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.

Example options


Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.

Example options

Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.

Example options (Wireless headsets)

Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.

HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)

My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.


Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.

Concluding remarks

Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to buildapc [link] [comments]

You don't know what to believe?

Okay so Q may be real or not
The virus maybe real or not
The asteroid is going to hit us or not
MSM maybe lying or not......nevermind they always do.
Trump is a troll....maybe the funniest of all time....or not

I just keep seeing right and left paradigm every where. The divide and conquer tech. But now its 2.0 with the social distancing bullshit. Its happening even to the ones around us that we care about.
This is a good time for me anywho. I just live in the moment. You cant control the future and you cant change the past. Might as well kick your shoes off and stay awhile..

Fuck the left and fuck the right. No body owns you and never will 100%. But they are trying to. This right here is about your spirituality at play. The reaction of you. Doom fear and hatred or Hope kindness and being ones self.
just another day to be good help anyone. bring the vibes up if they are feeling down and hopeless,
You are not promised tomorrow and you can live for today. So live and be happy just for now.

Carpe Diem
Good will prevail.
submitted by straywhistler to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Essay: Analyzing the Godric’s Hollow Graveyard Scene and Hermione’s Christmas Roses

In honor of a recent poll voting the Godric’s Hollow scene as the thing that makes people ship Harmony the most, I put together some further thoughts on that sequence. This essay will be more of a literary analysis than what I’ve posted here before, pointing to possible hidden meanings and examining potential symbolism, particularly around the wreath of Christmas roses. Much of what I’m going to discuss here is new and—as far as I know—never described before by anyone else in any depth.
A disclaimer at the outset: symbolic analysis in literature is not an exact science. For example, the hippogriff in some mythological interpretations is a symbol of (impossible) love, but the meaning of H/Hr’s ride on Buckbeak has been debated for decades among various shipping camps. I will offer some commentary here on likely connections and possible readings, but I can’t claim all of these were necessarily intended by JKR.
Another thing I will be assuming here is that JKR was conscious of the “charged moment” she was writing for H/Hr in Godric’s Hollow, and that she did feel a romantic “pull” between the characters, as she has admitted in several interviews. After looking at this further, I’m pretty convinced JKR deliberately introduced elements to heighten that connection and perhaps even hinted at a level of intimate desire that thoroughly undermines Harry’s later “like a sister” characterization of the H/Hr relationship. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s begin with a review of the graveyard scene and some comments on possible symbolism and framing devices.

1. The Charged Moment

Then Hermione’s voice came out of the blackness for the third time, sharp and clear from a few yards away.
“Harry, they’re here… right here.”
And he knew by her tone that it was his mother and father this time: He moved toward her, feeling as if something heavy were pressing on his chest, the same sensation he had had right after Dumbledore had died, a grief that had actually weighed on his heart and lungs.
But they were not living, thought Harry: They were gone. The empty words could not disguise the fact that his parents’ moldering remains lay beneath snow and stone, indifferent, unknowing. And tears came before he could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on his face, and what was the point in wiping them off or pretending? He let them fall, his lips pressed hard together, looking down at the thick snow hiding from his eyes the place where the last of Lily and James lay, bones now, surely, or dust, not knowing or caring that their living son stood so near, his heart still beating, alive because of their sacrifice and close to wishing, at this moment, that he was sleeping under the snow with them.
Hermione had taken his hand again and was gripping it tightly. He could not look at her, but returned the pressure, now taking deep, sharp gulps of the night air, trying to steady himself, trying to regain control. He should have brought something to give them, and he had not thought of it, and every plant in the graveyard was leafless and frozen. But Hermione raised her wand, moved it in a circle through the air, and a wreath of Christmas roses blossomed before them. Harry caught it and laid it on his parents’ grave.
As soon as he stood up he wanted to leave: He did not think he could stand another moment there. He put his arm around Hermione’s shoulders, and she put hers around his waist, and they turned in silence and walked away through the snow, past Dumbledore’s mother and sister, back toward the dark church and the out-of-sight kissing gate.
There are so many powerful elements within this passage, and I’ve discussed the context leading up to this in a previous essay about the H/Hr time alone in the tent. This is the first time Harry cries openly in front of anyone in the books, and the first time he reaches out and embraces Hermione in this intimate fashion. Even on a surface level reading, it is the most profound encounter between any two characters in the entire book series. And yet there’s much more to this scene happening in the background. We know JKR’s favorite author is Jane Austen, and, while JKR may not always live up to the Austen standard for writing, she really outdoes herself in crafting the Godric’s Hollow sequence around this moment.

2. Beyond the Kissing Gate

Contrary to what you may read online, there’s nothing inherently romantic about a “kissing gate.” Its name is derived from the fact that the gate swings only enough to “kiss” (i.e., touch) the inside of the enclosure. They’re common in rural areas to keep livestock from passing, in this case to keep them out of the graveyard.
But that doesn’t mean the gate in Godric’s Hollow is insignificant. H/Hr could have simply “entered the graveyard,” and we would assume they made it through whatever fence or gate may have been around. The very fact that JKR includes this detail and the specific name of a “kissing gate” (a somewhat obscure term) hints that there’s a reason for the description. In this case, the reason is obviously tone.
I repeat, there’s nothing romantic about a kissing gate. Yet notably, the gate isn’t even in view at the end of the “charged moment” quoted above. It’s literally “out-of-sight” and still JKR writes it again, because she wanted to put the word “kissing” into a charged romantic moment between two characters. In case we weren’t already clued into the symbolism going on in this passage when H/Hr polyjuice into a married couple before arriving at Godric’s Hollow, in case we didn’t get a hint when H/Hr arrive and stand “hand in hand” looking at the romantic setting of a snowy Christmas Eve with “glimmering” stars and Christmas decorations “twinkling” and “golden streetlights,” JKR beats us over the head with romance with this “out-of-sight kissing gate.”
And what of this gate? Gates are well-known sources of layered meaning in literature, one prominent example occurring in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Given JKR’s admiration of Austen, she’s undoubtedly familiar with one of the most well-known symbolic uses of gates, where Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford confront a locked gate that functions as a (moral) boundary. Rather than waiting for someone who went to get the key, Maria and Henry eventually dodge their way around the fence, despite Fanny Price’s warning that Maria may hurt herself against (phallic) “spikes” and will “tear her gown.”
We know Austen is writing symbolically here, as Maria herself clues us into the world of double entendres in text, asking Henry whether he means something “literally or figuratively.” Maria navigates the gate crossing with Henry, her (hymeneal) gown still “alive and well,” only to go beyond where they had promised Fanny and to disappear around a knoll. Fanny stays behind, not traversing the locked gate, and is later shocked to find that the couple had been “spending their time pleasantly” sitting down under the trees. The act of going beyond the locked gate and out of sight foreshadows the later moral transgressions of Maria and Henry, who end up having an affair and bringing shame to their families.
Like Maria’s explicit entreaty to consider words “literally or figuratively,” so JKR has Hermione invite us into the symbolic elements at play in Godric’s Hollow as she sees a biblical quotation on the Potter headstone and gently assures Harry that it isn’t a “Death Eater idea,” despite its apparent surface-level meaning. She knows it’s an allusion, as so many things around them carry hidden meanings that night. The graveyard scene is obviously quite different from the Mansfield Park one (and this gate is not locked), but I bring up the Austen scene to note the importance of gate imagery in JKR’s influences. When two characters enter a gated area alone, there is likely to be some transformation between them before they depart.
Indeed, the choreography and characterization of some elements of the graveyard scene somewhat parallel the excitement and gambits of a classic tryst sequence. Harry hasn’t even revealed his true aim for coming to Godric’s Hollow—to see his parents—and yet Hermione knows precisely what he wants, spotting the graveyard before he does. Harry’s mixture of anticipation and fear is overcome by her eagerness:
Harry felt a thrill of something that was beyond excitement, more like fear. Now that he was so near, he wondered whether he wanted to see after all. Perhaps Hermione knew how he was feeling, because she reached for his hand and took the lead for the first time, pulling him forward.
And when they pass beyond the kissing gate, once again they encounter a barrage of beautiful imagery (a “blanket of pale blue” snow flecked with dazzling colors from the stained glass in the church) as they create their own paths through the deep snow.
Harry then talks too loudly, and Hermione begs him to be more quiet as they head out into the darkness together. Yes, she’s looking out for their safety, but it adds a degree of secrecy and intimacy to the whole endeavor. She then breaks off by herself, only to call out, and for Harry to seek her with “his heart positively banging in his chest.” He takes off on his own, maintaining “excited trepidation,” only to be called back to her once more. Finally, the lights go off in the church, leaving the two of them in utter darkness alone together, when “Hermione’s voice came out of the blackness for the third time,” and he joins her.
Of course, H/Hr are definitely not going for a flirtatious Victorian gambol in the hedges here, but Harry’s excitement to approach Hermione again and again makes for a notable device to build anticipation. After all, Harry has actually gone beyond the gate into this dark graveyard in search of love—the lost love of his parents. Instead, all he finds is disappointment. First, he encounters Dumbledore’s sister’s grave and is appalled that Dumbledore never told him about anything or even thought to bring him there. Feeling rejected by Dumbledore, he still seeks his parents, only to realize that their decaying bodies can also offer him no comfort.
Yet Harry does find love in the graveyard that night, in the form of his best friend, who takes his hand and grips it tightly, who reads his mind yet again and produces a wreath to lay upon the grave. And Harry reaches out to this girl, and holds her intimately as they walk together through the darkness, the gate so far away that it is no longer in sight, yet its “kissing” still framing the closing of the chapter.
Notably, the next chapter picks up a bit later when they have returned near the entrance of the graveyard, still holding on to each other. If this were a Jane Austen novel, with two characters left alone in the darkness in an intimate embrace out of sight beyond a gate, we know precisely what they would have been doing with all the time during the chapter break. I don’t mean to imply that H/Hr were actually kissing here, only that the staging suggests great intimacy and lapsed time while they retain that intimacy. What may have gone on is left to the reader’s imagination, as Austen would leave it.
JKR in fact adopts this Austen-like hinting several times, as she’s writing a children’s book and can’t actually describe explicit romance. For example, when Harry earlier in DH8 thinks “back to afternoons spent alone with Ginny in lonely parts of the school grounds,” we’re surely meant to understand that more happened than a simple walk around the lake with Ginny or something. Of course, it’s a much taller order to read something into this time gap in the H/Hr moment in the darkness. Frankly, I don’t think they kissed here; but JKR’s framing and word choices are intended to make the reader think that they had the opportunity and at least might want to.
All of this potential meaning, though, is heightened quite a bit by the details of that wreath Hermione conjures for Harry, to which we’ll now turn. I’ll offer five different levels of potential interpretation, each one hinting at even greater intimacy within the H/Hr relationship. Not all of these meanings are likely intended, but all are possible given the context. And we know from a Pottermore article that JKR paid close attention to her choices of flowers and plants (and she elsewhere has discussed doing research in treatises on this topic).

3. Herbological Interpretation

When many readers see the wreath of “Christmas roses,” they probably assume they are just some variety of rose that would look good on a Christmas wreath. And if the flowers symbolize anything, it’s likely just love, as most roses do.
Yet Christmas roses aren’t actually roses, but rather an evergreen known as a hellebore that is botanically related to the buttercup. They bloom in winter and sometimes even in the snow, so they would be an appropriate flower for the setting, a traditional choice that had been cultivated for the holidays in Victorian times. Harry actually encountered the hellebore earlier in OotP12 in Snape’s potions class, where it was an ingredient in the Draught of Peace, meant “to calm anxiety and soothe agitation.”
On the most superficial level, the Christmas roses could be seen as a symbol of calming Harry’s anxiety at the moment, as well as perhaps metaphorically as a peaceful flower to place on a grave. (Snape also notes that the potion can induce an “irreversible sleep” if not brewed correctly.)

4. Legendary Interpretation

But something deeper is going on with these flowers. The Christmas rose gets its name from a medieval legend about a shepherd girl named Madelon, who was present at the Nativity of Jesus but was poor and had no gift to bring to him. She wept in sorrow and, like Harry, in some versions of the tale looked about wishing there was a flower among the frozen landscape to offer to Jesus. Depending on the version of the tale, her tears either miraculously bloomed into Christmas roses as they hit the ground due to her devotion to Jesus, or the angel Gabriel came and struck the frozen ground to grow them in the middle of winter. Either way, Madelon gathers the flowers and presents them as a gift to the baby Jesus.
After independently discovering this legend myself, I happened upon Beatrice Groves’s interpretation of the graveyard scene, which relies heavily on the Madelon story. (Groves is the author of the book Literary Allusion in Harry Potter.) While I agree with Groves that there are certainly parallels, I think she fails to go far enough and doesn’t fully unpack the roles here, merely pointing toward an interpretation of Harry as the weeping Madelon and Hermione as the angel who brings forth the roses.
While that’s possible, it overlooks the pervasive religious imagery surrounding the Godric’s Hollow scene, with its multiple biblical quotations (and Harry’s later vision from Voldemort about the attack on his parents, with its crucifixion-like overtones). These begin to point to Harry as a Christ-like child figure, a savior of the wizarding world who will ultimately come back from the “dead” to fight the final battle. As the focus of this essay is on the H/Hr relationship, I won’t delve into the deep religious symbolism (which JKR has alluded to in interviews). But we should note that it is Hermione—the young non-noble “mudblood” girl, like the lowly shepardess—who brings forth the flowers to offer to Harry, the Christ-like child of the House of Potter in this Christmas Eve “family gathering,” as a symbol of her boundless devotion and connection to him. (The roles are made clear here not only by Harry’s Jesus parallels, but also by the common association of the lily—Harry’s mother’s name—with the Virgin Mary.)
In any case, the Madelon legend is all about deep devotion and how it allows someone to conjure flowers from nothing in the dead of winter. At a minimum, these flowers therefore likely represent Hermione’s profound commitment and dedication to Harry.
But we’re only just getting started….

5. Floriographical Interpretation

We know JKR was rather obsessed with flower names and meanings, as referenced in the Pottermore article linked above. In Victorian times, this was known as the “language of flowers” or floriography. While a gift of a lily represented purity and sweetness, a gift of a petunia signaled resentment and anger. (Get it? Lily vs. Petunia!) Given how JKR apparently looked up other flowers and plants, it’s hard to believe she didn’t happen upon the meaning of the Christmas rose when given from one person to another. And 19th-century floriographical manuals are nearly unanimous in the message of the Christmas rose, which is “relieve my anxiety.” (Yes, that specific phrase.)
But this isn’t about relieving Harry’s anxiety and sadness. The traditional meaning of Christmas roses is roughly akin to a modern “we need to define our relationship” conversation. The sender wants to know whether the recipient returns affection and love. While ultimately these flowers are going on a grave, they are first produced by Hermione as a wreath for Harry.
Consider what has occurred between Harry and Hermione in the past weeks. Ron left, accusing Hermione of “choosing” Harry, and the H/Hr friendship suddenly becomes fraught with tension. Hermione avoids Harry the first day, deliberately dropping his hand, only to walk away from him and cry. She needs to place distance between them, lest Ron’s accusation be seen to be true. And Harry maintains that distance too, wanting to comfort her but unable to, again likely because of Ron’s accusation.
As I discussed in another essay, Harry and Hermione’s hand-holding is a profound symbol of their connection throughout DH. For Hermione to drop Harry’s hand is to demonstrate that something has become deeply broken between them. Although they continue to work well together by day in the tent, some tension remains for weeks until Harry finally approached Hermione with great trepidation to propose this trip to Godric’s Hollow.
While things seem to be going better between them now, it is a rather recent development, and they still have never discussed Ron or their relationship. And although Harry was the one to start the discussion about Godric’s Hollow, Hermione has been the one pushing for everything since then—getting him to train to apparate under the Invisibility Cloak, arranging the polyjuice potion, then taking his hand to lead him forward as they walk through the village. She’s been the one driving their renewed relationship so far.
When Hermione reaches out and grips Harry’s hand in the graveyard, she is again clearly signaling her commitment to their friendship, their bond symbolized through tightly entwined hands that recur again and again in DH. But are they still merely friends? When Hermione has abandoned everyone in her world—including her parents and letting her love interest walk away into the rain—because of her devotion to Harry, she knows she’s revealed all to him. Perhaps Ron’s accusation finally raised the question for her about Harry—”What are we to each other?” Could he possibly love her as dearly as she loves him?
A bunch of Christmas roses then bursts forth from her wand, proffering something Harry needs, a desire she somehow instinctively is able to know and satisfy, but also carrying the encoded Victorian message: “Relieve my anxiety.”
And Harry does. He immediately puts his arm around her shoulder, and she puts her arm around his waist, and they walk together in the darkness as lovers do, their relationship newly defined.
(To be clear, I am not suggesting Hermione or Harry are aware of the message encoded in these flowers, only that JKR likely was, given her interest in treatises on herbology and floriography.)
But wait… there’s more.

6. Hagiographical Interpretation

Christmas roses are traditionally known by another name: the Saint Agnes’s Rose, an association from medieval times and commonly referenced in floral literature. There are several associations for Saint Agnes, but of all the saints, she is the one most commonly affiliated as a patron saint of betrothed couples. The Eve of Saint Agnes (which falls on the 20th of January) in folklore is when girls could supposedly perform a ritual to see their future husband in a dream or vision.
While H/Hr visit Godric’s Hollow on Christmas Eve (not in January), it still seems rather poor news then for Ron/Hermione fans in this scene, when a symbol of Saint Agnes is shared in those flowers. I hope no one has forgotten that Hermione used polyjuice so that H/Hr now appear as a married couple in this scene—is this a vision of Hermione’s future?—and that they are here on Christmas Eve to satisfy Harry’s “dearest wish” to visit his parents. I’ve speculated in my tent arc essay that Harry’s initial approach in the tent to Hermione about this trip—preparing her a satisfying dinner, leaving off the Horcrux so they would both be clear-minded, then approaching her with great care and trepidation while she seems to be oblivious to his advances, until he finally manages to get the question out, after which they’re both happy with excitement and planning—seems to oddly parallel the tension and dynamics of a kind of proposal scene.
Again, I’m not claiming that it was a literal proposal, only that the dialogue is perhaps somewhat staged to resemble one, just as the Godric’s Hollow graveyard sequence is choreographed as two potential lovers first rushing in through a gate with excitement and anxiety, only to separate a few times and then finally rejoin to be together alone in the darkness as Harry ultimately realizes where his true love lies.
Consider the dark place that Harry visits in his mind in the graveyard, contemplating whether he might be better off under the ground with his parents. What pulls him back from this morbid fantasy? Hermione’s hand. The hand that grips him tightly and pulls him again and again through darkness in battle, even apparating him repeatedly in midair to save him. The hand that he will ultimately grab onto repeatedly in the final battle, drawing on her strength, her love, and her devotion for him. And tonight, in Godric’s Hollow, when the tears fall freely for the first time, it is Hermione who brings his mind back from death. It is Hermione who will ultimately pull him away from Voldemort’s mind at Malfoy Manor. It is Hermione who will be the first name on his list of those he loves when he wishes he could see them for one last time before marching to his death.
At Bill and Fleur’s wedding, it is her face he sees, turning around with tears flowing when the vows are said. They may not be literally betrothed, but they might as well be. Hermione may have sealed her fate with his in tears that wedding day, but Harry is now able to break out of his death obsession as his own tears fall in Godric’s Hollow: taking her in his arm, choosing the warmth of his best friend and her beating, loving heart over the coldness of the graves surrounding him. After all the anticipation and longing to finally come to that graveyard, he can’t stand another moment there, only wanting to walk away with Hermione in his embrace.
But the potential connection to Saint Agnes doesn’t just end with marriage symbolism. Agnes suffered a horrific martyrdom: first threatened with rape, then tortured horrifically for her devotion to Christ, and (according to some stories) ultimately killed by being stabbed in the throat. As an oft-quoted passage in Victorian times about the Christmas rose notes:
Even as the Flower of St. Agnes is whiter than other blossoms, so was the purity of St. Agnes fairer than most virgins; as the Flower bloometh in the season of winter, when there are few others, so did the saintly virgin flourish in the winter of adversity, and brave the storms of persecution, with few companions in excellency.
Hermione has always been a formidable partner at Harry’s side, but in DH her powers do indeed blossom in this “winter of adversity,” as her quick thinking and encyclopedic knowledge of magic save Harry again and again. It becomes a thematic element after Godric’s Hollow for Harry to praise her with superlatives. After she apparates them away in mid-air after the encounter with Nagini later that night, even though Harry is upset about his wand, he calls her “incredible” as she smiles at him. After the encounter with Xenophilius, where she comes up with a truly incredible plan on the spur of the moment and Harry places his complete trust in her, he “fervently” tells her that he doesn’t know what he’d do without her as she “beams” in reply.
And then, like Saint Agnes, after Hermione is threatened with rape by Greyback, after she is tortured for her association with Harry at Malfoy Manor, after Bellatrix was ready to kill her by stabbing her in the throat, Harry again is astounded by her ability to come up with a lie in the midst of torture, praising her as “amazing” as again she smiles in reply. Hermione is and will always be his closest companion, the one who saves him, his anchor, someone who can turn his mind from death, someone worth living for….

7. Freudian Interpretation

At this point, some readers may be wondering if we’ve put too much emphasis on this wreath in the graveyard scene, but its symbolic importance is signaled when it appears again in Harry’s dreams on the following night:
Harry’s dreams were confused and disturbing: Nagini wove in and out of them, first through a gigantic, cracked ring, then through a wreath of Christmas roses. He woke repeatedly, panicky, convinced that somebody had called out to him in the distance, imagining that the wind whipping around the tent was footsteps or voices.
Like the repeated reference to the kissing gate, JKR draws our attention back to this wreath. This dream is not a vision of Voldemort’s (as many of Harry’s “dreams” have been in the books), but his own subconscious. While there have been many analyses of Harry’s dreams, few have commented on this one, and no one quite seems to know what to do with the wreath. The two analysts I’ve seen who have mentioned it postulate that it’s merely a symbol of Harry missing out on family holidays (a rather odd reading) or that it was a hint that Nagini in the guise of Bathilda Bagshot may have observed them in the graveyard.
I suppose the latter is possible, but it’s hard then to see what that has to do with the imagery of the ring in the dream. Some have argued that the “gigantic, cracked ring” is emblematic of Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, though it was not the ring itself that was cracked but rather the resurrection stone upon it. And Harry has had dreams of Horcruxes before, but yet again, we are left with no rationale for the wreath. Given that Harry laid it upon his parents’ grave, it’s possible that it’s connected to Harry’s vision of his parents when they were threatened and killed.
But we’ve seen so many different possible symbolic links between the wreath and Hermione that it’s difficult not to associate its appearance in a dream with her, as she was the one who created it. And maybe Harry’s subconscious is again feeling her threatened by Nagini: perhaps the “gigantic, cracked ring” parallels Bathilda Bagshot’s broken body, where the snake emerges from her dead neck only to come after Hermione. The previous night he had repeatedly grabbed onto Hermione desperately to shield her from the snake’s attacks:
Everything was chaos: [The snake] smashed shelves from the wall, and splintered china flew everywhere as Harry jumped over the bed and seized the dark shape he knew to be Hermione
She shrieked with pain as he pulled her back across the bed: The snake reared again, but Harry knew that worse than the snake was coming, was perhaps already at the gate, his head was going to split open with the pain from his scar—
The snake lunged as he took a running leap, dragging Hermione with him; as it struck, Hermione screamed, “Confringo!” and her spell flew around the room, exploding the wardrobe mirror and ricocheting back at them, bouncing from floor to ceiling; Harry felt the heat of it sear the back of his hand. Glass cut his cheek as, pulling Hermione with him, he leapt from bed to broken dressing table and then straight out of the smashed window into nothingness, her scream reverberating through the night as they twisted in midair….
So perhaps Harry’s dream is merely one of concern for Hermione. But there’s one more parallel that Hermione has to Saint Agnes that we haven’t yet remarked on. Aside from her association with betrothed couples, Agnes is also one of the primary patron saints of female virgins. (In the past, of course, betrothed women were assumed to be virgins, so these are related.) The purity of color for her white Christmas rose was also considered to be a symbol of chastity.
With that in mind, it now bears remarking that Harry’s dream is a textbook example of Freudian symbolism. Snakes in dreams are regarded as phallic symbols, but Harry’s dream goes so much further that its most straightforward interpretation is shockingly explicit. In his dream, the snake is weaving “in and out” of first a cracked ring, and then the (intact and unbroken) ring-like wreath of Christmas roses, a wreath associated with Hermione, a wreath composed of flowers symbolizing virginity.
I truly don’t it would be possible for JKR to sneak into a children’s book a more overt Freudian symbol of literal defloration, of an initial sexual encounter. This image bubbles up from Harry’s subconscious only hours after that second “charged moment” JKR identified when Harry closes his eyes as Hermione touches his hair, and on the same day that he gazed so deeply into her eyes that he registers their color for the first time while he looks at her. What then pulls him from that dream is the feeling that someone was calling out from the distance, footsteps that we later find out to have been Ron’s.
Harry and Hermione then agree in the middle of the night to flee from those footsteps. And JKR seems so pleased with her Freudian dream imagery that she runs a little sexual innuendo victory lap in the ensuing passage. Before you accuse me of reading too much into this, recall that JKR is someone who has Ron crack a Uranus joke not just once but twice (GoF13, OotP25) and has recurring gags about Aberforth Dumbledore’s inappropriate relations with goats (GoF24, too many to count in DH). She also learned her trade from reading Jane Austen, whose spikes and gown tearing were remarked on earlier as a sexual symbolism in Mansfield Park and who goes so far in that novel as to joke about sodomy in the British navy, when Mary Crawford declared: “Certainly, my home at my uncle’s brought me acquainted with a circle of admirals. Of Rears and Vices, I saw enough. Now do not be suspecting me of a pun, I entreat.”
What then do we make of the paragraphs immediately after Harry’s dream?
Half an hour later, with the tent packed, Harry wearing the Horcrux, and Hermione clutching the beaded bag, they Disapparated. The usual tightness engulfed them; Harry’s feet parted company with the snowy ground, then slammed hard onto what felt like frozen earth covered with leaves.
“Where are we?” he asked, peering around at a fresh mass of trees as Hermione opened the beaded bag and began tugging out tent poles.
While Harry previously experienced a sense of compression during apparition, there’s nothing typical about the phrasing here. “Tightness” is not a common word for JKR, appearing only once elsewhere in the book series. (I can give statistics, but just trust me that this is an unusual choice for JKR. I compared her word usage to the British National Corpus and Google Ngrams, and while she overuses the adverb “tightly” compared to typical written British English, she elsewhere appears to avoid “tightness,” preferring other words and phrasing.)
And despite the fact that they’ve spent months in the tent, this is the only time anyone handles the tent poles. (They are only referenced once elsewhere in DH14 as even being present as part of the tent.) Certainly this is the only time in canon that we see Hermione handling any poles—tent or otherwise—much less “tugging” on them. It truly should make the reader wonder, “Why now, JKR?” Like the earlier appearance of the repeated “kissing gate” phrase, it begins to strain credibility to believe this is all unintentional coincidence.
And what happens next, when they successfully flee from Ron, the one person who could disrupt the intimacy that has emerged since Godric’s Hollow? After Harry has a textbook Freudian dream about a snake moving “in and out” of a ringed object decorated with flowers that are connected with Hermione and symbolize virginity, and after they spend the night with Hermione “tugging” on poles and having “tightness engulf them,” they seemingly forego their usual watches to simply spend the day inside the tent huddled up in (post-coital?) bliss as Hermione takes care of Harry:
Here too snow lay on the trees all around and it was bitterly cold, but they were at least protected from the wind. They spent most of the day inside the tent, huddled for warmth around the useful bright blue flames that Hermione was so adept at producing, and which could be scooped up and carried around in a jar. Harry felt as though he was recuperating from some brief but severe illness, an impression reinforced by Hermione’s solicitousness. That afternoon fresh flakes drifted down upon them, so that even their sheltered clearing had a fresh dusting of powdery snow.
Note that the “wind” they are now “protected from” was what carried the voices and footsteps Harry wanted to get away from, the symbol of Ron’s return. What one chooses to see in the imagery and symbolism and likely double entendres is up to the individual reader. (For those H/Hr shippers who wish to claim “tent sex is canon,” this is the best I can do, and these references are my gift to you.)
My personal reading is that these are likely deliberate but meant to be part of the tone that hints at something that was imminent (not actual) between H/Hr, something only disrupted when Ron returned. But the snake imagery in the dream was obviously disturbing to Harry, a symbol of Voldemort and evil carrying into this sexualized context. As I argued in a previous essay, the Horcrux vision seen by Ron and Harry then repeats this snakelike imagery around Riddle-Hermione, creating an even more unsettling and distorted version of her that Harry witnesses.
The Horcrux has recently seen into Harry’s heart, so much so that Hermione had to magically cut it away from his chest after the Bagshot encounter. Moreover, the Horcrux knows what Harry feels about Hermione, knows how the powerful love between them is a threat, and again chooses to show Harry a sinister sexualized image of Hermione becoming snakelike, the temptation of lust now associated again with evil.
And Harry recoils, the “like a sister” excuse dropping from his lips as he soothes Ron, the subconscious murmurings and cravings for physical closeness to Hermione (at least temporarily) reined in.

8. The Purity of Heroic Love

At this point, I’m sure many readers of this essay are asking, “How much of this is really there? And if JKR really wanted to convey this much about H/Hr, why not just tell us outright that Harry’s feelings about Hermione were changing?”
To the first question, as I mentioned at the outset, literary symbolism is difficult to evaluate. I certainly think it’s unlikely that JKR could have intended all of the meanings for the Christmas roses I mentioned. But given their recurrence, there has to be more to those flowers than a mere graveside decoration conjured by Hermione. There are too many obvious symbolic elements like the kissing gate and the polyjuiced appearance for it all to be mere coincidence.
My main reason for arguing that at least a significant portion of this symbolism was intentional is partly because JKR seemed to really want to talk about this passage, again and again in interviews. Barely a year had passed after DH came out before she brought up the “charged moments” in an interview, stating “it could have gone that way” with H/Hr, knowing the stir it would cause. It’s almost as if she wanted readers to be drawn back to these passages, to read them again and see something they missed. And then in the Emma Watson interview, where JKR claimed she wanted to talk about Hermione as a character with Watson, she instead questioned the relationship with Ron and then steered the conversation immediately to H/Hr moments.
As to why she chose to bury all of this in symbolism rather than simply tell us that Harry is in danger of falling (or already is) in love with Hermione, JKR has spoken elsewhere of her instinct that a true love triangle would overburden the narrative. The Harry Potter books at heart are not romances. They are epic mystery and adventure stories surrounding a Trio of characters.
Any further digression into a love triangle would have drawn focus away from the War and likely destroyed the Trio irrevocably. If Ron found out, he would never be able to be feel secure around them again or in his relationship with Hermione. And if they didn’t tell Ron, readers would be left focusing on the fact that Harry carried feelings for his best friend yet hid them from his other best friend. That’s not what we expect of the heroic characters JKR is setting up in Harry and Hermione. We’d be left wondering about infidelity when Harry reached out for Hermione’s hand later, rather than seeing their bond as a symbol of strength.
Harry and Hermione are the epitome of a love that is so pure and deep that it can drive out Voldemort, with a devotion that knows no bounds. Harry is so worried about Hermione in the encounter with Nagini that he spends all the time protecting her, rather than fighting or defending himself. Later, Hermione submitted to torture rather than reveal anything about Harry. They have the hearts of heroes: two characters who always instinctively reach for each other. As much as I wish for H/Hr to be together, I personally would not want a canonical love triangle unless H/Hr would be endgame, as it would undermine the nobility of their connection within the greater narrative. That’s just my opinion, but I assume it went into the calculus of JKR’s decision to write in Austen-like symbolism and hints rather than expressing overt feelings in Harry’s internal monologue or even having a true romance between them. I am of course deeply saddened that she stuck with the canon pairings, but after looking into this further, I’m ever more convinced that she did feel strongly about the H/Hr connection and wanted to find a way to showcase it, most powerfully in the greatest passage from the entire series in Godric’s Hollow.
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The impact of demographic change on YM and their ability to recruit

The impact of demographic change on YM and their ability to recruit
051 YoungMoney's turf and its environs
051 Young Money is one of the most well known gangs on the Southside of Chicago, they are engaged in numerous gang feuds with rival sets in Kenwood and other neighborhoods such as Woodlawn, Grand Crossing and Back of the Yards and are associated with BDK Movement, a loose alliance of gangs that predominantly feud with Black Disciples.
051 YM is one the gangs in Chicago that is directly descended from an older set and has not splintered over the years. The average gang in Chicago generally controls less than 2 sq miles. YM is descended from the Drexside Mickey Cobras, and could be considered to be as the same gang rebranded by the current generation with some GD cliques having been absorbed into it. Unlike most gangs, YM controls over 3 sq miles and dominates their local area of Hyde Park-Kenwood and eastern Grand Crossing.

Cliques of young YM members

There are many misconceptions about how many people claim YM, there have been individuals who have claimed that 051 YM has 15 members max, when their shorties alone number twice that figure, another issue that creates much confusion is the BossGang clique. One of the aims of this post is to clarify that not every YM shorty claims BossGang and not every BossGang member is a YM shorty.
Shorties: Bluebloods vs Youngbloods
Many of the top upcoming YM shorties, could be considered “Bluebloods”, they are the sons, brothers, cousins, nephews and childhood friends of well respected YM members and OGs and could be considered as born into the gang, individuals such as PD, Squeeze and Lil Daylen fall into this category. These shorties are treated with respect by the older members and are more often seen with main members.
The Youngblood group are youth in the neighborhood who didn’t have strong familial connections to YM and gravitated towards the gang for various personal and social reasons.
BossGang Shorties
BossGang is a clique of shorties who mainly operate on 49th and Champlain. The clique is mainly centered around EB, a YM shorty who is a close friend of fellow young YM members such as PD and Squeeze. EB is a charismatic member who could be considered to be the leader of BossGang and an individual that many of the youth who live on the YM turf look up to, especially those who live west of Cottage (Grand Crossing area), in fact a significant portion of BossGang members do not live in the area and are EB’s friends from school. The majority of “youngblood” shorties in Grand Crossing claim BossGang and YM.

BossGang shorties throwing up Bs and dropping 46, EB on the right
Drexside Shorties
There is another clique of shorties who mainly live along Cottage & Drexel, this group generally does not claim BossGang because they aren’t as close to EB and look up more to the main YM members, these shorties live in the project buildings, apartments and townhouses that are common throughout the Hyde Park-Kenwood side of YM’s turf.

Drexel shorties

Gentrification and recruiting in Hyde Park
The Hyde Park-Kenwood area has been dealing with gentrification since before the beginning of the 21st Century however, this is reflected differently depending on the area. Since 2000, the Black population of Hyde Park has been predominantly concentrated inside the Northwest corner of Hyde Park, this area is still being gentrified by young white professionals and the census zones along 51st/Hyde Park Boulevard and Cottage Grove were 65% and 54% Black in 2015 respectively. These percentages are quite low compared to other historical neighborhoods but are still more than enough for YM & Drexside to maintain for years to come. In contrast the Black population is under 50% in all census zones of Uptown, with the census zone that TBG and Lil4mobb reside in being the highest at 44% in 2015 (census zones in Uptown generally have twice the population as those in YM’s area).

Northern most section of Hyde Park along 51st/Hyde Park Boulevard, from Cottage to Woodlawn Ave which has the highest percentage of African Americans in 2015
Northwestern section of Hyde Park along Cottage Grove Ave, from 52nd to 55th which has the second highest percentage of African Americans in 2015

Gentrification and recruiting in South Kenwood and Grand Crossing
Gentrification is also an issue that the Kenwood section of YM’s turf faces, however the demographics are far different. The majority of new tenants in South Kenwood are wealthier African Americans who moved to the area. South Kenwood is viewed as a safe historically black neighborhood where both former President Barack Obama and NOI leader Louis Farrakhan both lived in recently and certainly has lower amounts of gun violence compared to other black neighborhoods and suburbs, this is quite true especially with the decline of THF. Another big reason is the quality of education, Kenwood is one of the better public schools in the Chicago School district and engages in strict school zoning.

\"Drexside\" area of YM, which is the section of South Kenwood with the highest percentage of African Americans in 2015

The adjoining area of the Grand Crossing neighborhood has also begun to be similarly gentrified though at a slower rate than Kenwood.

Grand Crossing section of YM, which has the highest percentage of African Americans for any part of YM's turf in 2015. This is area is where BossGang operates

Organizations that are integral to the longevity of YM
Although membership in a gang often is depicted as a lifelong commitment in the media, the typical gang member joins at age 13 and only stays active for about two years, according to studies, this means that institutions such as schools play a major role in gang enrollment.
There are two school zones that YM not only operates in but dominates because unlike other schools in the city, they do not enroll students from multiple gang blocks.
Reavis Elementary Math & Science Special School is an K-8 school found in the heart of YM territory and for many “Youngblood” members, is the start of their YM affiliation, the majority of the well known YM members are alumni of this elementary and their younger friends and relatives are follow in their footsteps academically, Reavis is as important to YM as Horace Mann is to the Rollin 60s and 8 tray Gangsters. In a recent post, YM affilates commented on how youth who only spent a short time at Reavis would start claiming YM.

Location of Reavis Elementary and it's school zone, 051 YM still hoops at the outdoor courts associated with school

Demographic statistics of Reavis for the past school year, the school is still overwhelmingly black and poor which is the perfect demographic for gangs
Kenwood Academy High School is also a major school for YM as the only other gang with their strict school zoning is the Drexside Titanics, making it an oasis for teens with YM affiliation, with them often being at the top of the social hierarchy in these schools. Youth from other parts of the school zone often become YM affiliates by becoming friends and hanging around schoolmates who are YM members.

Kenwood High School zone, the only other gang that has members attending school would be Drexside
Overall, YM’s history as a gang within the area stretching back to the Drexside MCs of 1980s means that they have a strong connection to their community. If one counts the numerous active members, low-key members, OGs, shorties and affiliates then YM numbers close to a 100 people and these individuals often transition between these many roles. Secondly, their geographic location insulates them from certain issues most gangs commonly face such as gunlines with numerous enemy factions and discourages enemies from sliding, therefore 051 biggest threat is demographic change which is currently not as severe in Kenwood and Grand Crossing as it is Hyde Park.
A major outlier is the success of Drilla as a musician, clout and reputation plays as major role in the success of gangs, as we saw with 600 and NLMB absorbing older cliques in their area. If YM becomes even moderately successful in the music industry, this will attract even more local youth towards their gang.
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The Democratic Party is using the cult tactic BITE model to brainwash people.

The BITE model describes specific methods that cults use to recruit and maintain control over people. . These are mind control tactics.
These exact cult tactics are being used by the DNC against the American people. This is under the assumption that the organization Black Lives Matter and pandemic lockdowns are functions of, or being utilized by, the DNC.
Many of these can be applied to the Republican party as well. However I think this is specifically accurate to the DNC in 2020. I don't feel that Republican's have the extreme harsh judgement if you decide to become a Democrat. Republican's may call CNN fake news but don't act like it's a dirty secret if you watch any segment, as opposed to the Democrats reaction if you have Fox News on. I was a registered Democratic earlier this year. I'm now a registered Independent. You don't know you are in a cult until you can take an unbiased critical look with the BITE model.
Below are the 4 categories of the BITE model. I have listed the relevent examples to the Democratic party and added commentary.
Behavioral Control
Information Control
Thought Control
Emotional Control
submitted by Livelikethelotus to conspiracy [link] [comments]

[Review] Unstructured Tote Review - FLP, M*oynat Part 1

Full confession: I have been meaning to write this review for a long time in the quest to find the lightest and most comfortable unstructured tote that is also low key for the office!
Here are 3 out of 10 bags ( 8 totes/2 accessories) that I plan on reviewing. I have no idea why I thought reviewing this many bags was a good idea!
I will apologize in advance for the typos and the unpainted nails. Toward the end of the review, staring at patterns and counting lines was making me nauseated, so I only very minimally proofread this.
All the bags reviewed/to be reviewed in this series:
Disclosure - I did not receive any discounts, any gifts or any advantages for posting this review. My bank account and it’s emptiness will testify to this!
Part II: Goyard Artios, Anjou, and St. Louis
Part III: LV NF, Longchamp and Tote Comparisons

F*aure Le Page Daily Battle 27 Tote

*( The last FLP review was removed per FLP’s request by reddit, so I have adjust the name):
## **Photos**
## **Quality - 9.7/10*\*
-The quality is excellent!
-The coated canvas is sturdy and the handles are nicely attached without any flaws. It’s easy to slip the handle into the buckle.
- No loose threads
-The print is sharp without any hazy edges with distinct colors.
-the logo was evenly heat stamp inside
-the stitching is even
-excellent inner stamp
-the hardware is lightweight but feels solid
- I only found one area with flawed glazing where it’s uneven (on the handle, last 2 photos but hardly noticeable) but otherwise intact. [-0.1]
- there were 2 hole-punch for the handle where the inner knot ( is that what you call it?) remained on the handle but was easily removed without any damage . [-.2; one for each]; see the bottom of last few photos. Honestly, I debated whether to even remove points for this since it really doesn’t affect the bag after removal.
## **Accuracy - 10/10*\*
-I was unable to find detailed pictures of this bag! I was able to find one picture on the FLP’s official instagram for this colobag and know it’s from their 2018 collection. Otherwise, it was impossible to find a photo. So, I did most of my comparison via the Maroon colored on the real real.
-the color looks pretty accurate based on that ONE photo I found for the pink. With the lighting change/flash, the pink matches up! (
- Height of authentic is 8.5” on TRR & is 9” on official FLP page and rep is: 9”
-Width of authentic on TRR is 13.5 & is 10.2” on official FLP page and rep is 10”
- Dept of authentic is 6” on TRR & is 5” on official FLP page and on the rep is 5”
- the print: 5 lines of the upper horizontal strips matches the authentic; 7 dark strips on the running vertical also match the authentic; 5 lower light colored horizontal strips are also accurate to the authentic ( seriously, I have crossed eyes counting these; no one is going to notice).
- unable to count the number of hold punch in the authentic given the pictures to compare
- 3 cartridge holder in both rep and authentic
-stitches are straight
- unable to find photo of the inner logo and unable to assess
## **Satisfaction - 10/10*\*
- It’s adorable and it’s lightweight ( especially compare with the NF); shoulder pain is real when a tote is filled to the brim
- It’s super low key! I saw one person with it in the work cafeteria and has never seen another in the wild.
- really like the adjustable handle that allow it to be handheld vs wearing on the shoulder
- I love the color: the pink is super cute
- it’s functional and I like the inner pocket
## **Seller Communication and Service - 10/10*\*
-this is the first time I bought from Pink and it was a easy transaction
-this tote was an impulse buy when i scanned his moments! I have bought 4 bags from him, and he must have thought I was crazy. (you want to buy 4 bags?)
-pink is succinct and does not participate in small talk but I knew that from the reviews
- would recommend

M*oynat Large Oh! Tote Bag

## **Photos*\*
## **Quality - 9.7/10*\*
-Quality is excellent. The coated canvas is sturdy!
The handles is attached without any flaws
The print is clean but slightly uneven on the white side of the central stripe. [-0.2]
-The handle feels solid
-Very slight uneven glazing: labeled of that particular image in the my photos [-0.1]
-The circle detail is round and intact without any flaws
-The stitching is straight
## **Accuracy - 9.5/10** 9.0/10
-The color looks correct with the blue, the orange, the yellow, the white and the 2 different bronze colors
-Logo looks correct with the right shades of color and is clean except for the slight line around the central strip [-0.2]
-the spacing between the “Ms” are wider in the rep compare to the authentic ( have to really zoom in to compare) [-0.3] and the width of the M is too thin [-0.5];
- The texture of the rep may be more raised/elevated compared to the authentic but not really noticeable unless you zoom in (honestly, it’s silly to take points off for this!).
-Width 13.5”; Depth 5 “; Height 9.5” of the Rep Vs Width 13.8”; Depth 5.9”; Height 10.6” which is pretty accurate ( especially with me measuring one handed)
-The placement of the handles is one “M” away from the central strip and is accurate on the rep
-Under bright light, the sheen of the print is similar to that of the authentic
- Print: the straight line attach to the dark bronze is accurate, the light yellow/bronze has the correct sloped line, the bended light yellow line under the dark bronze square is accurate;
## **Satisfaction - 10/10*\*
-I like how low key this tote and brand is.
-The design is simple but modern.
-It’s functional and pretty lightweight, especially compared with the NF.
- there is slight spacing issue with the print and with the central strip, but not noticeable unless you zooooomed in ( I magnified the print by ~ 10000 to spot the difference); no one should be this close to my bag, so it doesn’t bother me
## **Seller Communication and Service - 10/10*\*
-same as above for TS Pink

M*oynat Bad Dream Pouch

## **Photos*\*
## **Quality - 10/10*\*
-similar to above M*oynat tote, it is high quality with solid coated canvas.
-it’s thick and not easily teared
-the zipper is smooth
## **Accuracy - 9.5/10** 9.2/10
Assessment as noted above, there are no product pages for comparison
-The colors look correct and matches that of the tote
- similar problem with the “Ms” as above where the spacing is slightly too wide [-0.3] and the width of the M is too narrow [-0.5]
- Print: the straight line attach to the dark bronze is accurate, the light yellow/bronze has the correct sloped line, the bended light yellow line under the dark bronze square is accurate
- the borders of the monster and the stripes are better than that of the tote ( it might be the lack of the white stripe)
## **Satisfaction - 10/10*\*
-I love this! The whimsy of the monster in this modern design just appeals to my aesthetic ( I am currently in search of a good Fendi Monster Peekaboo for the exact same reason)
-It is a solid, sturdy pouch that would fit all my loose ends, what’s not to like?
## **Seller Communication and Service - 10/10*\*
-same as above
Thank you for reading! I take full responsibility for all my typos and poor grammar!


Edit: the more I stare at the side by side compassion of the M*oynat print, I think the M is wider in the authentic and would like to take more points off and lower the accuracy!
I also added the previous FLP review that was removed
submitted by psychodelicpineapple to RepLadies [link] [comments]

Cheap vs. High End Hand Grinder: An Experiment

Essentially I intend for this to be a layman's version of James Hoffmann's video on Premium Hand Grinders. His video(s) are great and I highly recommend checking out that one and the cheap hand grinder one too. He brings the cheap hand grinder winner into the high end grinder comparison as well so you will get some of that. Although the video is informative and great, you are kinda left wondering "ok like it get it, but he is also a huge coffee guy with a highly developed pallet, would I get the same results?". Sometimes it can feel like that for many people. Tasting notes are a bit weird and complex and often we don't really get it. People will taste and say a coffee tastes one way and we don't really get that when we do it.
Hi everyone, this is gonna be a somewhat lengthy but fun post. I will start out with some background to bore you. Just skip to next section for comparison. I wanted to make this post to combine what I have learned to help people who want equipment or maybe have equipment and are thinking about upgrading but are not sure what to get and if it is better than what they have. I started brewing my own coffee about 8 years ago in high school. I had heard from the beginning that a burr grinder is the way to go, so I got the cheapest thing that "burr grinder" turned up on Amazon and a Sterling Pro French press. I used that for 3 years until I graduated high school and enjoyed the coffee I was making. For high school I then got one of those cheap hand grinders, like the two identical ones in James Hoffmann's video (definitely worth a watch). I used this with a French press for 3 years in college and made occasional pour over. Then I got into espresso and the world of more expensive coffee brewing. I found out that that cheap hand grinder I had been using was not the best. Longer story short, I got a Lido 3 and made some delicious brews with a Chemex. A few days ago, however, I sold the Lido and while waiting for a new grinder, found that old cheap hand grinder in my cabinet. I had ground some coffee before shipping off the Lido so that I could make coffee in the meantime (don't fret, it was stored in an Atmos) and also I wanted some espresso, which I knew the cheap grinder couldn't do. I decided I would do a comparison between the two to see if the the expensive grinder really did brew something better, or was it just 10x the cost for little to no benefit?
Ok so obviously the two grinders were the ones mentioned and linked above. In addition I used a basic Kalita 102 dripper with some compostable filters and poured using a stovetop gooseneck kettle. The coffee used was from a local specialty roaster, Black & White. It is a medium dark roast, fairly basic notes, nothing fancy. It is called The Classic. Notes are dark chocolate, caramel, and subtle stone fruit.
Note: No none of these are affiliate or sponsor links. honestly I have no affinity for any of these things other than the coffee (strongly recommend B&W stuff), and all of these things were gifted to me. I only linked each just so people who do not know can check stuff out. I am tactile and visual so I like when things are linked in posts like this.
Final thing before getting to the experimentation and results is a bit of a disclaimer. Yes, I know none of this is super high end stuff. It is what I had on hand though. Yes, I could have used a lighter roasted coffee and a Stagg with a Chemex or a V60. That probably would have made even more of a difference, and I may do that in the future, but I thought it was good because I is probably similar to what a lot of people have or would get to start as it is inexpensive. So, take the conclusions here with that grain of salt. And I will readdress at the conclusions.
User Experience
This is pretty important to me. A lot of people are turned off from hand grinders because it is long and laborious vs sticking beans in a hopper (or even storing them there) and just pushing a button in the morning. Let me tell you the difference here between cheap and expensive is night and day! The Lido makes it super easy to grind (especially for drip) and the massive, aggressively cut sharp steel burrs chew through coffee. It took me about 30 seconds to grind my 25g dose on the Lido 3 vs like a minute or so on the cheap grinder. Yes I grind pretty quickly, but expensive grinders tend to have good grip to reduce the effort needed to hold them from slipping and they have larger more ergonomic handles, often with long lever arms, that make grinding not that hard (unless grinding super fine). I will often grind through 50-80g on my Lido. Yes, it is more work that pushing a button, but the time it takes is not that much longer, and for the premium grinders you do not really need to apply a ton of force (although less force will mean less speed and therefore a longer grinding time). The cheap grinder, on the other hand, is smooth bodied and a bit harder to grip. Overall it is fine for about a max of 20-25g of coffee (which is about one cup) but certainly not enjoyable, whereas the experience with the Lido (and most of the expensive hand grinders) could be described as such.
So, we always hear that grind consistency is key to good extraction. You do not want boulders that will underextract and produce sour tastes, not fines that will over extract and produce bitterness. So I briefly checked out how each one looked and there was definitely a difference. You could tell there were more fines and boulders for the cheap hand grinder than the Lido, but just spread around on my hand I couldn't really see a major difference, but after the brew the difference was hugely apparent. The cheap grinder produced way more fines that appeared as muck on the top after draining whereas the Lido (while obviously it had some fines) looked solid with even grind consistency after brewing. There is definitely a huge difference in grind consistency between the two. Part of this I think is the burr set. The ceramic burrs in the cheap grinder are rather dull vs the steel burrs of the Lido are very sharp. Due to this you get more cutting and shearing versus crushing the beans and producing a bunch of dust. This is why false burr grinders like the Mr. Coffee are only technically burr grinders and are probably much worse than regular manual cheap hand grinders like the one I used. The other big difference is the burr wobble. The cheap grinder you can move the burr around a good bit and it even will move when you turn it and there are no beans inside. Obviously when you get the beans in there, the wobble will be even more.
Here are the pics of the grind before and after brewing:
Cheap grinder
Lido 3
I tried to make the brews pretty similar. To do so I ground on the Lido around how I have normally done for pour over for the past few weeks. For the other grinder I adjusted until the grounds looked pretty similar. I then brewed a pretty standard pour over with a 2x bloom for 30 seconds followed by one pour to ~50% total weight and then did a second pour to finish off pouring around 2 minutes and let it draw down. Despite how rough and unscientific the method for making them similar were (visual), they both brewed fairly similarly, finishing at the 4 minute mark. I brewed 25 in and 415 out (60g/L). I gave each a stir during bloom and then a stir once before finishing. The cheap grinder actually needed a bit more stirring at the beginning to saturate all the grounds and it did not seem like the water was flowing through. At that point I was kinda worried I went too fine or that fines had clogged it already, but I gave it a stir and it ended up draining fine.
This is probably what we all care about. The answer is yes. The cups definitely did taste different. Yes the grind distribution is different. The cup from the Lido was much clearer. This flavors came out much clearer. You got the chocolate and the caramel and the subtle stone fruit. It was also less bitter for sure. The taste also lingered much longer. I still have caramel aftertaste in my mouth while writing this. Now, that being said. The cup from the cheap grinder was by no means bad. Honestly it was better than a good amount of coffees I have gotten in cafes. It was definitely better than Keurig (while being cheaper). If I were served that at a restaurant and it was pretty cheap (~$2), I would be more than happy with it. It had been a while since I had used it and I was honestly surprised how enjoyable the cup was. But there is no question, the one from the Lido tasted better.
Where do we go from here? Ok, so the Lido 3 (and pretty much any of those high end hand grinders) will make a better cup of coffee than a $12 hand grinder? I certainly hope so for 10x the cost! Honestly, I was a bit surprised at the performance of the cheap grinder. At the end of the day I think the takeaway is that so long as you have good water and good coffee, you can get by with a cheap grinder. Now I will say that these cheap Porlex style grinders are definitely better than blade grinders and even the false burr electric grinders. If you are getting good quality coffee and grinding fresh and brewing with decent water at proper temperature, these things are a solid bang for your buck. Only have $50 to spend on a coffee setup? This will be your best option. Have a machine but are currently buying pre ground stale coffee? Yeah get this and buy whole bean, it will make a difference. Now, the coffee I used was not complex. Honestly it is a specialty shop version of probably what most people drink and like. The brew method is also pretty forgiving, certainly more forgiving that a V60 where grind size and distribution matter a ton because they will control flow and extraction directly. With more complex, lighter coffees, I think the difference would be way more apparent. The grind time would be much different, and the extraction if going to be more pronounced because more of those acidic and bitter compounds are present to be extracted from the uneven grind. If that is your thing, I highly recommend a high end hand grinder. Otherwise I would still recommend one. From a quality perspective, I think something like the Aergrind or 1Zpresso is not that expensive and is a great investment. It would be all you would need for a grinder for ever. These things match and exceed any electric grinder that is <$500. They are also quiet and not bad to use. Will they make coffee that is 10x as good as a cheap grinder? Maybe not, depending on how you brew and what you drink. Are they a joy to use, versatile, and make a better cup? 100%.
submitted by Thebaconingnarwhal4 to Coffee [link] [comments]

That time Shelley Duvall became a crazy wizard | Tower of the Stargazer session report

After several years, I refereed Tower fo the Stargazer again for my current group; it ran for three sessions.
Session 1
Yeah, whatever. The party were an educated barbarian (Fighter and the only male), a vivimancer (Magic-User with flesh-flavored spells), a regular elf, a regular halfling and a regular dwarf.
The dead body outside the tower had some loot: rope, a charred coin and some fancy boots.
The halfling was about to open the door but the vivimancer said, "Wait, where's your education?" And she knocked on the door. If you try to open it, you save vs death, but knocking on it invalids the killing spell, making the door opening for you. That player had the right idea! (and he didn't know it beforehand, he only reads WoD books).
They methodically explored room by room. In room there is a simple table, the elf said, "I search the table", but there was nothing. The player contained, he said if you put something in an adventure, there should be something to be found. He's a moder D&D player by heart so it was a little difficult to make accept the OSR ethos, but he ended up accepting it for the sake of other's fun if not totally convinced. Good player, to be honest.
Very soon found the elevator shaft. Damn players, you know? They will make every possible thing to break the game. Good thing I had read the adventure entirely during the week, so it didn't take my unprepared.
They didn't find how to activate the elevator but they used the rope they found on the corpse (which then they deduced it was the famous thief Lorenzo (mentioned during the introduction to the adventure, the story hooks: "a famed thief, Lorenzo, went to loot that haunted tower; he hasn't come back"). I also put his companions inside the tower. Dead all of them.
There is a trap in the game that states that the third person to cross a door must make a save or be crushed but the falling portcullis. One they entered this room and decided their order, the vivimancer said, "I go thord". And she was crushed but survived. It was memorable.
They liberated the idol and were about to avoid being attacked but a bad roll said otherwise. The ran away but the elf died. Instead of continuing exploring, they went back to the town with a bunch a (fake) golden coins, they purchased the right to use the tavern as their HQ.
Session 2
They hired a Cleric (elf replacement) and continued searching the tower. There was a new charred corpse just outside the door. Someone didn't have the manners to know on and paid the consequences.
They collected found the wizard trapped inside it's salt circle, but it was Shelley Duvall, as seen in this picture.
She acted cool and nice, the halfling was getting close to disrupt the circle, liberating her, and one player must have noticed my impish smile or something because her bearded dwarf woman panicked and stopped the halfling. "It's a trap!" someone screamed.
Shelley Duvall started threating them to kill them if they didn't release her immediatly. They ignored her for the rest of the session, and looted a good portion of the tower, still no gold (real gold, they still dodn't know the first gold is fake) but found many books the vivimancer would end up using to make a laboratory (I have special rules for labs called "The Magic Laboratory". Don't worry, Magick is Free!)
Then they found the secret treasure room, the real treasure. It was hard to run, this part. You have to pull some levers and deduce there are energy fields that can deal damage and avoid continuing on, but after a few tries the vivimancer said she wanted to try something. Using a 10-feet-pole, she searched the energy fields, and since it was just a matter of time until she found the right combination, we simply rolled 1d6 to know how many 10-minute turns it would take them. It worked, the players didn't get bored, and left the tower happy with their new treasure.
After calling it a night, they traveled to Amsterdam to sell the books and all. Yeah, there are elves and there is Amsterdam. It's a weird world after all. I actually forgot to rename the places for the fantasy focus, I had prepared my map for a real-world game, so in the end, it ended up being called Hamster Dam, silly name. But allowing fantasy races was the only way some of these boys and girls accepted playing an OSR.
Session 3
The searched the remaining rooms, found the dead adventures that accompanied Lorenzo the thief and didn't dare to challenge the chess ghost (the cowards). But they secured many more books and a map into Lawndon (where Death Love Doom awaits for them to scare the crap out of them).
In the observatory, the map includes three canisters, but only two are mentioned in the adventure text. One has power, one has charcoal, and the third one contains the sleeping body of no less than Shelley Duvall. When she woke up the players freaked out but this lady communicated with them telepathically. She was actually a Deva the wizard summoned and stole her powers (and appearance of youth and jolly as a side effect). The player who communicated with her received a special version of the spell Summon, here called Summon Deva, which follows the rules of Summon but any entity it invokes will be either a helping Deva (basically an angel of light) or an angry Devil (an "evil" angel of fire).
Oh, for this third session, one player invited her daughter, and she played a Specialist.
When they deduced they could operate the telescope, they made all preparations needed, including using the star crystal that would teleport the first one peeping into a strange planet. The Specialist said, "I watch first".
submitted by uneteronef to osr [link] [comments]

Let me tell you why I think GCP is better than AWS and you tell me where you agree or disagree.

This post is not just a rant about my predilection for GCP. I genuinely want to read your opinions, especially those of you who have used both platforms like me (I have about two years of experience with each platform). And if you feel I have said something that you think it's wrong or not factually accurate, also please let me know, I am happy to be educated or informed in a civiland constructive manner. I have no affiliation with Google whatsoever, this is entirely my opinion based on my perceptions of the merits of both platforms. I am also conscious that there are more tools and services that I could ever expect to use in a lifetime so it is entirely plausible I am missing areas where AWS by far outshines GCP due to my limited experience or missing even more areas where GCP is better.

EDIT: Thank you all for your feedback! I have learned a lot and it was very helpful for me to expand and modify some parts of this post and publish on medium.

Ikea for Cars
If AWS and GCP were both car companies and you wanted to purchase a car, AWS would give you the wheel, a chunky verbose manual and the keys and then tell you to go to twenty different shops they also own to get the rest of the components and ask you to put them together yourself the best you can. Sure, maybe you can hire a service and get tools to automate this part, but it still falls on you to assemble these components together and maintain the automation.
The experience of GCP on the other hand is more like collecting the car keys and driving off from the parking lot, with the option of dismantling and customising the car if you wish, but the default is a fully built functioning car so you can achieve your objectives, which is driving around, not assemble the car.
My first experience working with AWS, before I had much to compare it to, was brief and I didn’t like it; I felt the interface and the way tools and settings were organised was counter-intuitive and weird.
For example assigning a static ip to a server was just bizarre, I kept looking for ways to assign the static ip without knowing that it was meant to be called elastic ip and hidden away in a separate set of menus. Then these elastic ips were part of a different pool of ips than the ones that were assigned dynamically. To my dismay I had to stop a production server to change the ip and also change the DNS pointing to that new ip, this was because my predecessor hadn’t assigned an static ip to the server, my bet is that he probably gave up after ten minutes trying to figure out that it was called an elastic ip.
My second experience working with AWS was after a year and a half working with GCP and now by comparison I really couldn’t stand AWS, it took me a few months to get accustomed back to use it and I remember that in my first few weeks I actually considered quitting and just accepting roles with GCP.
It’s not that AWS is harder to use than GCP, it’s that it is needlessly hard; a disjointed, sprawl of infrastructure primitives with poor cohesion between them. A challenge is nice, a confusing mess is not, and the problem with AWS is that a large part of your working hours will be spent untangling their documentation and weeding through features and products to find what you want, rather than focusing on cool interesting challenges.
Let’s just go over a few of the things that make AWS such a pain to use and how it compares with GCP.
Accounts vs Projects
One of the first differences that strikes you when going from GCP to AWS is accounts vs projects. In GCP you have one master account/project that you can use to manage the rest of your projects, people log in with the google account and then you can set permissions to any project however you want. So you can have a dev project, a production project, etc. All of this works out of the box and there is absolutely nothing additional for you to do.
In AWS you have accounts, and each account has a separate set of users. There are ways to connect these accounts so your user has permissions on other accounts. One way of doing this is creating a master users account and then adding roles that can be assumed in all other accounts by this master account.
This is not only a pain to set up, it’s very painful to use as well. For example when using terraform scripts you need to coordinate multiple roles across several modules if you need to work across multiple accounts.
Command Line Interface Tools (CLI tools)
Let’s just compare what you have to do in order to use GCP cli compared to AWS provided we are using 2FA and a couple of different projects/accounts.
In GCP after you install the Google SDK, all you need to do is run gcloud init, which redirects you in the browser to a Google login page. Here you can login with your two factor authentication (which if you have an android phone is as easy as unlocking the phone and pressing okay) and you are done. Your login session is attached to your Google session so when you kill this session you are logged out— very simple.
In AWS you need to create a token that you can use to login with your CLI, simple enough, right? But now we want to use two factor auth, and this is where the fun begins.
After you login with your token you then need to create a script to give you a 12 hour session, and you need to do this every day, because there is no way to extend this.
Okay, but that’s not a big deal, you say, after all it’s just a code that you need to input once a day and you can get on with your day after that.
But wait, there is more! If you need to assume roles in another account, you need to create yet another script that creates another profile for you to use.
That’s one step plus two scripts, plus many steps in between. And sure, you can automate much of this or use someone else’s tools you find online (that you most likely will need to tweak), but why? Why do we have to do so much work to use AWS? Why can’t AWS abstract away this pain away from you in the way that Google has done?
Web User Interface
If using the CLI is too painful for you, you can always log in to the portal and use their user interface, although I don’t recommend you do this for everything, in fact I recommend you use it the least possible and only for reference and to check status of your services.
AWS interface looks like it was designed by a lonesome alien living in an asteroid who once saw a documentary about humans clicking with a mouse. It is confusing, counterintuitive, messy and extremely overcrowded.
I can’t even count the times I’ve gotten lost or stumped in the AWS console, sometimes over the most stupid details, like missing that there was a next button hidden on a weird corner. Or trying to use search bars that can only search prefixes (WTF?)
But the biggest frustration I have from the AWS console is how you are always overwhelmed with scores of settings and options you need to fill in before actually provisioning anything.
One example that comes to mind is when someone at work said we should use codebuild/codedeploy to replace Jenkins for ECS deployments. The first engineer tried, he got stuck, the second engineer tried, he got stuck, I tried for hours and I got stuck… in the end I just gave up for lack of wanting to spend any more time on a tool that doesn’t seem to be that popular for CI/CD that I thought was meant to make life easier.
Amazon seems to be particularly terrible at interfaces in almost all of their products though. For example in my Smart TV the Netflix app works flawlessly and is intuitive to use whereas the Amazon Prime app is an abomination, you are constantly accidentally pressing the wrong button or getting lost or the subtitles are often out of sync.
In a rant that a Google engineer who had worked at Amazon wrote a while back he explained the issue with Amazon and Bezos not understanding interfaces (or is it human interaction?)
Jeff Bezos is an infamous micro-manager. He micro-manages every single pixel of Amazon’s retail site. He hired Larry Tesler, Apple’s Chief Scientist and probably the very most famous and respected human-computer interaction expert in the entire world, and then ignored every goddamn thing Larry said for three years until Larry finally — wisely — left the company. Larry would do these big usability studies and demonstrate beyond any shred of doubt that nobody can understand that frigging website, but Bezos just couldn’t let go of those pixels, all those millions of semantics-packed pixels on the landing page. They were like millions of his own precious children. So they’re all still there, and Larry is not.
GCP’s user interface is on the other hand very intuitive to use and whenever you want to provision anything you are given sane defaults so you can deploy anything in a couple of clicks, I have never gotten lost using GCP or needed to consult a million pages of documentation to find out what I needed to do.
This however does not mean that GCP is taking away from you the power to configure things to an intricate detail, it just means they are giving you an example of a working configuration that you can then tweak to your purposes.
There are also other things you can do from the UI in GCP that either work really badly in AWS or are non-existent. For example you can easily open a terminal and ssh into any instance you have spun (provided you set permissions for it) and it works really well.
Another feature you have in GCP that I absolutely LOVE is the ability to view the CLI command that would do whatever settings you have in the console. That makes learning the cli so much easier, it’s far better than scouring the net for examples on how to do anything or trying to make sense of AWS’s gorgeous documentation…
You can forgive the documentation in AWS being a nightmare to navigate for being a mere reflection of the confusing mess that is trying to describe. Whenever you are trying to solve a simple problem it is far too often you end up drowning in reference pages, the experience is like asking for a glass of water and being hosed down with a fire hydrant.
Great documentation is contextual, not referential. If you wanted to learn how to cook a dish, you don’t want someone to point you to a list of ingredients, you want a recipe describing how to use them, and this is where AWS documentation too often fails; it exhaustively describes everything that they have, but they don’t always do a good job at putting the documentation into context.
To be perfectly fair to whoever is tasked to document anything in AWS, it is a lot harder to document something that’s confusing and messy than something that’s simple to use. Extensive and overly verbose documentation is often a sign of complicated and over convoluted software or processes, so in this sense Google Cloud already has an advantage to begin with.
The documentation in GCP is generally clear and concise, and while it may not always be perfect I generally found it useful and to the point. If you want other good examples of great documentation look at DigitalOcean — they are great.
If your intent is to use Kubernetes, don’t even bother with AWS, their implementation is so bad I can’t even comprehend how they have the gall to call it managed, especially when compared with GCP
In GCP if you want to spin a cluster, no problem, just a couple of clicks and you are there. The defaults are easy and sane and the entire product feels very cohesive with all the ugly, tedious bits abstracted away from your experience.
With GKE you don’t need to join the nodes, you don’t need to plan for an upgrade of these nodes either, it’s done automatically or with a couple of easy clicks, and this does not mean you are sacrificing complexity. You can customise a lot, but when presented with sane, simple defaults, it’s a lot easier to understand a product that when being overwhelmed with a barrage of options and trying to figure out how everything fits together as it’s the case with EKS.
Spinning an EKS cluster gives you essentially a brick. You have to spin your own nodes on the side and make sure they connect with the master, which a lot of work for you to do on top of the promise of “managed”
And yes, I know that there are official terraform modules that take care of most of this work for you and make the job a lot easier and there is also a tool called eksctl developed by weave works which is great, but these aim to simplify a complex solution that should have been abstracted away by AWS by design, not rely on others to make sense of the mess with complex scripts and tools.
Even if you use those tools to create your automation on top of AWS, the fact remains that there are a lot of moving parts underneath that you will always be responsible to orchestrate and make sure that are working and up to date. eksctl for example uses cloudformation templates in the background.
Product Overload
At the time of writing this, there are 169 AWS products compared to 90 in GCP. AWS has been around for longer and therefore they have more offering, and in good Amazon spirits, they constantly and aggressively are expanding this offering to give you more of what you may need (and a lot of what you don’t need)
This sounds like a good thing, until you start seeing the amount of half cooked products or near duplicates they have. One good example is Parameter Store and Secret Manager, the latter offers almost identical functionality except for a couple of extra features that you need to pay extra for, which begs the question, why not consolidate these products to avoid confusion and time wasted by the users investigating which one they should be using?
GCP on the other hand has fewer products but the ones they have (at least in my experience) feel more complete and well integrated with the rest of the ecosystem, and choosing one product over other doesn’t become an agonising choice that requires extensive research (okay, you still need to research, but not nearly as much)
I used to mock Apple in the past for how limiting they were and how very few features they had compared to Windows and Linux Distros until I started using a Macbook, it was then that it became so clear to me that having an opinionated approach on a few products and tighter integration of the various components often yields a far superior and more stable experience which is similar to the experience that I am having with GCP vs AWS. GCP gives you less, but what it gives you is far better integrated, simple to use and works better than its AWS counterpart — so unless you have a very compelling feature in AWS that you are missing in GCP, you should seriously consider picking GCP.
AWS is a lot more Expensive
AWS charges substantially more for their services than GCP does, but it also has another hidden cost attached to it; expertise and manpower.
With GCP, a relatively inexperienced engineer in platforming tools can pick it up and get his work done in a relatively short time because most of the tedious tasks of piecing all the parts together have been done by Google already. Also using GCP is substantially more intuitive so even if you have no previous experience on cloud platforms you will pick it up very quickly.
A task that may take you a day or less to do in GCP, you may spend a week to do the same thing in AWS. One example I can give here is Endpoints. I was working with a terraform cluster installation and I wanted to restrict outbound traffic to the internet. The problem is that if you do this then you are also cutting off traffic to AWS, in order to address this problem you need to set up endpoints. Endpoints essentially allow you to connect to AWS via the AWS intranet as opposed to the internet (Don’t ask me why cloud providers don’t do this by default, it makes no sense to me).
So simple enough, I just add these endpoints and then my job is done. Problem is that I was working with a cluster provisioner in terraform with a lot of moving parts and using multiple AWS services and you cannot set up an endpoint that applies to all AWS services, you can only do one endpoint per service and I had to do a lot of digging trying to figure out exactly all the services that the provisioner was using and add endpoints for each one of them, every time I added an endpoint, I found out I had to add another endpoint, I ended up adding about five of them and then I found out that a couple of the services that I was using didn’t have endpoints for them, so in the end I just had to allow outgoing traffic via a NAT.
Out of curiosity I investigated how to do this in Google Cloud because I had never done it before, just to compare how difficult it would be in comparison to AWS and I wasn’t surprised to find out that you can accomplish the same thing just by clicking on a checkbox or activating a setting and it applies to all services Also, doing this in GCP is free whereas in AWS you have to pay for each endpoint
The above is just one example, but I have found that generally any task that I want to do in AWS requires far more energy and effort to do than GCP, meaning you are probably going to need to hire far more engineers and need more time if you are using AWS than if you are using GCP.
The Cost of interrupted Flow
Another significant cost to your organisation if you decide to use AWS is the continuous interrupted flow. Flow is the state where you ideally want your engineers to be a good portion of their time at your company, not only they will be much happier, they will also be a lot more productive.
The problem with using AWS is that because everything is so confusing and complicated to use you will (at least at the beginning or when you need to apply a significant change or embark on another project) have to spend a lot of time reading documentation and testing to figure out how things work, and the irritating thing is that it won’t be fun experimentation, it will be tedious and trivial issues that should not exist, like the endpoint issue I described above.
I am not going to do extensive testing in both platforms and post benchmarks for this article since it’s a lot more work than I want to spend on this but I’ll just say that in my experience I felt that performance was almost always better in GCP, for example copying from instances to buckets in GCP is INSANELY fast, I remember being shocked by this because in a previous job I had to do a lot of hourly backups to buckets of large chunks of data in AWS and I always felt the copying was slow, but this was not the case at all for GCP.
This is a bit old but some articles by this guy may still apply today.
So what’s better about AWS?
As I mentioned I think that AWS certainly offers a lot more features and products than GCP does, and you may benefit from some of them. You can certainly do more with AWS, there is no contest here. If for example you need a truck with a server inside or a computer sent over to your office so you can dump your data inside and return it to Amazon, then AWS is for you. AWS also has more flexibility in terms of location of your data centres. Other than that… I would chose GCP any day, and I think GCP will cover the vast majority of your cases.
But wait, there are lots of third party tools to automate AWS
Yes, like the aforementioned eksctl, some of them do an amazing job at this but they are still third party tools. I firmly believe AWS needs to work a lot on their abstraction of needless complexity.
So if GCP is so much better, why so many more people use AWS?
AWS has been around a lot longer. Also the amount of engineers who are certified in AWS is substantially larger as well. When people start looking around to get into DevOps everyone is shouting AWS as must have on your CV so everyone is scurrying to get certified.
Imagine if you are an engineer with 5 years of experience in AWS with lots of money and effort spent on AWS certifications and you are tasked to do infrastructure at greenfield project, what are you going to chose? Not GCP.
On the flipside it seems a lot more companies are making the switch to GCP. I’ve been hearing from previous colleagues who told me that applied for some roles who were migrating to GCP and when they mentioned they didn’t have any experience in AWS their reply was “No one has” So it may just be a good time to learn GCP for a change.
So based on that account, and given that everyone is racing to get AWS certifications, you may just be better off doing the opposite and take on GCP because you may against less competition.
But this AWS complexity is creating so many jobs for us!
Yes, and it does sound like I am shooting myself on the foot by posting this because this is my job but I do have to admit that AWS does create a lot more jobs for DevOps, SRE, Sysadmin, Platform Engineers etc. due to this complexity and the lack of desire for the developers themselves wanting to tackle this complexity.
But then again I embrace change, if I have to learn other skills so be it, and I still think there is a lot of room to grow a career with GCP, it’s just that your work will hinge more on the interesting stuff, with tedious cloud platform bits abstracted away.
So I should pick GCP then?
No, you should pick whatever fits your needs. If you are a small company or an independent developer I totally recommend giving these two a miss and go with DigitalOcean or Linode or some of the smaller companies which are even easier to use and will cover your most basic needs for less money.
AWS is still my second choice as an enterprise cloud provider after GCP. I know there is also Azure, but many years of using Microsoft crap products (with the exception of VScode) really has put me off using anything they make, so I always to try to give Azure jobs a miss if I can help it, so I have no opinion on their platform other than a healthy dislike for the company behind it ;-).
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Insider transactions and your bank. One compliance issue that we have seen multiple times over the past month is the regulation of insider and affiliate transactions under Regulation O, Regulation W, and Sections 23A and 23B of the Federal Reserve Act. "Affiliate" is a term used in the securities laws to refer to a person in a relationship of control with a company. "Control" denotes the power to direct the management or policies of the company in some way (e.g. by voting or by contract), and this is generally means a director, executive officer, or large-block shareholder (usually 10% or more). Affiliate: An affiliate is a type of inter-company relationship in which one of the companies owns less than a majority of the other company's stock. Affiliation can also describe a type of inter Affiliates and Subcontractors. Either Party may engage, at its sole expense, its Affiliates or Third Party subcontractors (including contract research organizations) to perform certain of its obligations under this Agreement.Any Affiliate or Third Party subcontractor to be engaged by a Party to perform such Party’s obligations set forth in this Agreement shall meet the qualifications On the other hand, an affiliate program gives compensation to actual marketers, bloggers, influencers, podcasters, industry-leaders (who, in this case, are called affiliates) for signups they bring in. A big difference vs a referral program is that the participant of an affiliate program does not have to be a customer.

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