Upon the Fortune of this Present Year | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - November 2019
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596) This is my thirty-sixth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $797 618 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 218 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 294 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 367 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $158 769 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $28 471 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $268 114 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 057 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $9 996 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 100 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 376 Secured physical gold – $15 868 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $16 915 Bitcoin – $128 630 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 535 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 377 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 418 Total portfolio value: $1 793 753 (+$33 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 43.2% (1.8% under) Global shares – 22.9% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.4% (1.6% under) Total shares – 71.6% (3.4% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.8% Total bonds – 14.6% (0.4% under) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 7.2% Gold and alternatives – 13.5% (3.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the value of the portfolio increased again by around $33 000 in total, building on the previous two months of growth. [Chart] The equity part of the portfolio has grown by around $50 000 to now reach over $1.25 million for the first time. This increase includes new contributions and the last part of the previous June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The equity component of the portfolio has increased by around 40 per cent this calendar year. The only other major movement in the monthly value of the portfolio has been a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin, and a small increase in the value of bond holdings. [Chart] The contributions this month went entirely into the Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS.ASX), to reduce the gap to both the overall target equity allocation, and to achieve the target split between Australian and global shares. From this month onwards I expect more regular variations in whether new contributions go to either Australian or global shares, based on keeping this target allocation constant. Charting errors and wrong bearings - the nature of long-term returns Over the last month, as the end destination starts to appear a little clearer in the distance, the issue of the nature of long-term returns has been front of mind. There is a strong literature and body of academic work around long-term equity return expectations. Much of this has informed my thinking, and has over time found its way into the corners of financial independence movement through the avenues of the so-called Trinity and Bengen '4 per cent' studies (pdf), and a range of calculators that use historical data to help guide investors expectations around feasible future returns. Yet, as I have noted before, future states of the world are not drawn from the same distribution as the past - or as the British writer G K Chesterton evocatively put it - 'wildness lies in wait'. Most often this issue is glided over neatly (including by myself) with assured sounding phrases such as 'based on history'. The works of Nassim Taleb, most particularly Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, provide a fuller perspective on these issues. Recently though, reading a 2017 paper Stock Market Charts You Never Saw provided a unique and arresting view of their application to long-term return projections. The paper is long and detailed, but makes some fundamental points for consideration. It provides a challenging perspective on investment returns that falls almost completely out of mainstream discussions of the topic in the financial independence arena. To summarise, the paper highlights that:
Long-term average equity returns are just mean averages - While they have a stable property over the long-term, this is an inherent statistical property of these values being long-term averages of diverse sets of returns. They are not a reliable forward-looking promise of likely returns. In the words of the paper: 'history documents, but does not constrain'.
Time (in the market) does not always heal all wounds - Investors who spend their dividends and avoid market timing - in other words an average FI investor - can reasonably expect to encounter 30 year periods of low real returns, with US investors facing three such periods in the twentieth century alone.
Typical charts of long-term equity returns can be misleading - Through behavioural finance findings it is clear that presented with a chart showing a seemingly inevitable rising line of equity returns over a long-time frame, an impression of safety and inevitability can be created. The paper highlights a range of ways in which standard charts on equity returns can obscure important facets of investors actual experiences.
No investor actually experiences the longest set of historical returns - While it is comforting to know that equity returns have averaged (for example) six per cent over a century, or two, this information is not as relevant for an investor who is more likely to be invested in a discrete 30-50 year period in which deviations from historical averages can be significant.
One-off events should not be dismissed - While the temptation is continuously present to believe that events like the Great Depression could never happen again, careful review of equity returns yields some distinctly similar periods of sustained low or negative real returns.
Comparisons of bond and equity returns are often oversimplified - It is not an immutable truth that equities outperform bonds, at least when the US historical record is considered. Rather, a more complicated picture emerges of returns over long periods. Sometimes, equities have outperformed bonds, but at other times, bonds have out-performed equites.
As the paper notes: "When investment advisors counsel that stocks are the best bet for a long investment horizon, they should append the acknowledgement: “if my market timing is good.” When advisors argue for stocks over bonds, they should append the caveat “as long as you are not French, or Italian, or Japanese, or Swiss, and provided that the 20th century is a better guide to the future than the 19th century.” For real investors with their limited time horizons, who may reside anywhere in the world, there have been times when both stock recommendations were bad." The issue of the primacy of total returns, compared to income returns is also bracingly challenged with reference to the drawdown phase: Once portfolio accumulation ceases with retirement, portfolio income must be spent to live. Under those circumstances real price return, over short periods lasting two or three decades, becomes an important metric. By that measure, an investment in stocks has been dicey indeed. Usefully, the paper sets out (at the end) both conventional charts, and alternative representations of the same returns data, aimed at illustrating the hidden biases and properties of standard charts of market returns. In short, the paper poses challenges to many conventional investment tenets assumed to be true and widely repeated within financial independence discussions. Often these tenets are promoted with the sound and well-meaning goal of reducing new or existing investors caution or level of worry around possible falls in equity markets. The question this work implicitly poses is, in the process, are distorted expectations unintentionally being promoted? Drawing out the lessons - understanding and responding to risks What are the practical implications of this? The most obvious is to look closely at how data is presented and to think carefully about how the assumptions implicit in that presentation line up against ones own situation. Some other implications include:
Projections based on earning stable and uniform returns should be undertaken with caution - Multi-decade periods of low returns can happen, and mathematical models of compounding smooth returns don't capture their impacts.
By taking an equity position an investor is simply undertaking a probabilistic bet, with no guarantees - That is, equity investment over the long-term usually pays offs, but some risk is inescapable.
Diversification across markets and time represents a workable response to risk - Investing regularly and across geographic markets can help current investors capture some of the positive 'survivorship' bias that was denied to individual investors in many countries across the twentieth century.
In other words - to paraphrase Shakespeare's Antonio - not trusting ones ventures to one ship, place, or a fortune upon the present year. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 112.2% 153.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 90.6% 123.5% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 103.0% 140.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 84.5% 115.1% Summary As the year begins to draw to a close, a restlessness to see its final outcomes, in dividends and portfolio growth presses itself forward. It is in fact a small echo of one of the strong temptations of the middle of the FI journey - a desire to wish away time itself. Some potential upcoming changes and uncertainties in work situation have added force to this temptation, forcing some thoughts about different potential balances between work and other elements of daily life could be. By distance, the intended journey is around ninety per cent over. At times this introduces both an elegiac quality to, and a premature desire to mark, possible 'lasts' along the journey. Yet the extraordinary current state of financial markets gives pause. Policy makers and advisors casually discuss negative rates and their implications, even as Australian and US equity markets hit new highs. In a sense, it feels a more psychologically testing time to be closer to my higher target allocation for equities than any time before. The diversification in the portfolio can be thought of as a series of small hedges against different potential futures playing out. By far, the largest probability (or potential future) at 75 per cent, is that the historical dominance of equity as a generator of real returns continues to function. The remainder of the portfolio can be seen in some ways as a offsetting hedge against large equity market falls, or some other disturbance in financial markets with negative implications for equity. At base, however, I remain comfortable with the 'balance of probabilities' implied in the target asset allocation. This month saw a new (v)blogger Mx Lauren join the Australian FI scene, as well as the suggestion by Money Magazine of a new 'simplified' retirement rule of thumb to consider. A further piece of fascinating reading was this piece by Ben Carlson in Fortune Magazine, explaining the key role of earnings growth in recent US market return. It posits that the recent strong performance of US equities is attributable to fundamental earnings growth, rather than simply an unjustified expansion in the price investors are willing to pay for that growth. This - in addition to Shakespeare's pre-modern enjoinment to diversify - is potentially another reason to not confine considerations to one market, and one place, as December distributions slowly drift into sight. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Imagine if there was one desk that all stories could cross so that, at 4am, a media plan could be decided upon and disseminated where all news outlets coordinated to set the goalposts of debate and hyper focused on specific issues to drive a narrative to control how you vote and how you spend money; where Internet shills were given marching orders in tandem to what was shown on television, printed in newspapers and spread throughout articles on the World Wide Web. https://i.imgur.com/Elnci0M.png In the past, we had Operation Mockingbird, where the program was supremely confident that it could control stories around the world, even in instructions to cover up any story about a possible “Yeti” sighting, should it turn out they were real. https://i.imgur.com/121LXqy.png If, in 1959, the government was confident in its ability to control a story about a Yeti, then what is their level of confidence in controlling stories, today? https://i.imgur.com/jQFVYew.png https://i.imgur.com/ZKMYGJj.png In fact, we have a recent example of a situation similar to the Yeti. When Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch met on the TARMAC to spike the Hillary email investigation, the FBI was so confident it wasn’t them, that their entire focus was finding the leaker, starting with searching within the local PD. We have documentation that demonstrates the state of mind of the confidence the upper levels of the FBI have when dealing with the media. https://i.imgur.com/IbjDOkI.png https://i.imgur.com/NH86ozU.png The marriage between mainstream media and government is a literal one and this arrangement is perfectly legal. https://i.imgur.com/OAd4vpf.png But, this problem extends far beyond politics; the private sector, the scientific community, even advice forums are shilled heavily. People are paid to cause anxiety, recommend people break up and otherwise sow depression and nervousness. This is due to a correlating force that employs “systems psychodynamics”, focusing on “tension centered” strategies to create “organizational paradoxes” by targeting people’s basic assumptions about the world around them to create division and provide distraction. https://i.imgur.com/6OEWYFN.png https://i.imgur.com/iG4sdD4.png https://i.imgur.com/e89Rx6B.png https://i.imgur.com/uotm9Cg.png https://i.imgur.com/74wt9tD.png In this day and age, it is even easier to manage these concepts and push a controlled narrative from a central figure than it has ever been. Allen & Co is a “boutique investment firm” that managed the merger between Disney and Fox and operates as an overseeing force for nearly all media and Internet shill armies, while having it’s fingers in sports, social media, video games, health insurance, etc. https://i.imgur.com/zlpBh3c.png https://i.imgur.com/e5ZvFFJ.png Former director of the CIA and Paul Brennan’s former superior George Tenet, holds the reigns of Allen & Co. The cast of characters involves a lot of the usual suspects. https://i.imgur.com/3OlrX7G.png
In 1973, Allen & Company bought a stake in Columbia Pictures. When the business was sold in 1982 to Coca-Cola, it netted a significant profit. Since then, Herbert Allen, Jr. has had a place on Coca-Cola's board of directors. Since its founding in 1982, the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference has regularly drawn high-profile attendees such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson, Andy Grove, Richard Parsons, and Donald Keough. Allen & Co. was one of ten underwriters for the Google initial public offering in 2004. In 2007, Allen was sole advisor to Activision in its $18 billion merger with Vivendi Games. In 2011, the New York Mets hired Allen & Co. to sell a minority stake of the team. That deal later fell apart. In November 2013, Allen & Co. was one of seven underwriters on the initial public offering of Twitter. Allen & Co. was the adviser of Facebook in its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014. In 2015, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Time Warner in its $80 billion 2015 merger with Charter Communications, AOL in its acquisition by Verizon, Centene Corporation in its $6.8 billion acquisition of Health Net, and eBay in its separation from PayPal. In 2016, Allen & Co was the lead advisor to Time Warner in its $108 billion acquisition by AT&T, LinkedIn for its merger talks with Microsoft, Walmart in its $3.3 billion purchase of Jet.com, and Verizon in its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo!. In 2017, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Chewy.com in PetSmart’s $3.35 billion purchase of the online retailer.
Previous conference guests have included Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren and Susan Buffett, Tony Blair, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Allen alumnus and former Philippine Senator Mar Roxas, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Quicken Loans Founder & Chairman Dan Gilbert, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, financier George Soros, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, BET founder Robert Johnson, Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, NBA player LeBron James, Professor and Entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun, Governor Chris Christie, entertainer Dan Chandler, Katharine Graham of The Washington Post, Diane Sawyer, InterActiveCorp Chairman Barry Diller, Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman, entrepreneur Wences Casares, EXOR and FCA Chairman John Elkann, Sandro Salsano from Salsano Group, and Washington Post CEO Donald E. Graham, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and Oprah Winfrey.
https://i.imgur.com/VZ0OtFa.png George Tenet, with the reigns of Allen & Co in his hands, is able to single-handedly steer the entire Mockingbird apparatus from cable television to video games to Internet shills from a singular location determining the spectrum of allowable debate. Not only are they able to target people’s conscious psychology, they can target people’s endocrine systems with food and pornography; where people are unaware, on a conscious level, of how their moods and behavior are being manipulated. https://i.imgur.com/mA3MzTB.png
"The problem with George Tenet is that he doesn't seem to care to get his facts straight. He is not meticulous. He is willing to make up stories that suit his purposes and to suppress information that does not." "Sadly but fittingly, 'At the Center of the Storm' is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence."
https://i.imgur.com/YHMJnnP.png Tenet joined President-elect Bill Clinton's national security transition team in November 1992. Clinton appointed Tenet Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, where he served from 1993 to 1995. Tenet was appointed Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in July 1995. Tenet held the position as the DCI from July 1997 to July 2004. Citing "personal reasons," Tenet submitted his resignation to President Bush on June 3, 2004. Tenet said his resignation "was a personal decision and had only one basis—in fact, the well-being of my wonderful family—nothing more and nothing less. In February 2008, he became a managing director at investment bank Allen & Company. https://i.imgur.com/JnGHqOS.png We have the documentation that demonstrates what these people could possibly be doing with all of these tools of manipulation at their fingertips. The term for it is “covert political action” for which all media put before your eyes is used to serve as a veneer… a reality TV show facade of a darker modus operandum. https://i.imgur.com/vZC4D29.png https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol36no3/html/v36i3a05p_0001.htm
It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever costs. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the US is to survive, longstanding American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated means than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.
Intelligence historian Jeffrey T. Richelson says the S.A. has covered a variety of missions. The group, which recently was reorganized, has had about 200 officers, divided among several groups: the Special Operations Group; the Foreign Training Group, which trains foreign police and intelligence officers; the Propaganda and Political Action Group, which handles disinformation; the Computer Operations Group, which handles information warfare; and the Proprietary Management Staff, which manages whatever companies the CIA sets up as covers for the S.A.
…Those operations we inaugurated in the years 1955-7 are still secret, but, for present purposes, I can say all that’s worth saying about them in a few sentences – after, that is, I offer these few words of wisdom. The ‘perfect’ political action operation is, by definition, uneventful. Nothing ‘happens’ in it. It is a continuing arrangement, neither a process nor a series of actions proceeding at a starting point and ending with a conclusion.
CIA FBI NSA Personnel Active in Scientology: https://i.imgur.com/acu2Eti.png When you consider the number of forces that can be contained within a single “political action group” in the form on a “boutique investment firm,” where all sides of political arguments are predetermined by a selected group of actors who have been planted, compromised or leveraged in some way in order to control the way they spin their message. https://i.imgur.com/tU4MD4S.png The evidence of this coordinated effort is overwhelming and the “consensus” that you see on TV, in sports, in Hollywood, in the news and on the Internet is fabricated.
Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made - but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger 'evidence' or disinformation in your favour is slowly 'seeded in.' Thus the uninformed reader will most likely develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'
When you find yourself feeling like common sense and common courtesy aren’t as common as they ought to be, it is because there is a massive psychological operation controlled from the top down to ensure that as many people as possible are caught in a “tension based” mental loop that is inflicted on them by people acting with purpose to achieve goals that are not in the interest of the general population, but a method of operating in secret and corrupt manner without consequences. Notice that Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Disney, who is intertwined with Allen & Co funds the Young Turks. He is the perfect example of the relationship between media and politics.
Katzenberg has also been involved in politics. With his active support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, he was called "one of Hollywood's premier political kingmakers and one of the Democratic Party's top national fundraisers."
Last week, former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile entertainment company WndrCo was part of a $20 million funding round in TYT Network, which oversees 30 news and commentary shows covering politics, pop culture, sports and more. This includes the flagship “The Young Turks” program that streams live on YouTube every day. Other investors in the round included venture capital firms Greycroft Partners, E.ventures and 3L Capital, which led the round. This brings total funding for Young Turks to $24 million.
Hollywood activism long has been depicted as a club controlled by a handful of powerful white men: Katzenberg, Spielberg, Lear, David Geffen, Haim Saban and Bob Iger are the names most often mentioned. But a new generation of power brokers is ascendant, including J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, cited for their personal donations and bundling skills; Shonda Rhimes, who held a get-out-the-vote rally at USC's Galen Center on Sept. 28 that drew 10,000 people; CAA's Darnell Strom, who has hosted events for Nevada congresswoman Jacky Rosen and Arizona congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema; and former Spotify executive Troy Carter, who held three fundraisers for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous (Carter also was a fundraiser for President Obama).
Viacom, after splitting off from Les Moonves Les Moonves ' CBS , still holds Paramount Pictures, and that movie studio in December agreed to acquire DreamWorks SKG, the creative shop founded by the Hollywood triumvirate of Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg (a former exec at The Walt Disney Co.). DreamWorks Animation had been spun off into a separate company. Now it's time for Freston to make back some money--and who better to do a little business with than George Soros? The billionaire financier leads a consortium of Soros Strategic Partners LP and Dune Entertainment II LLC, which together are buying the DreamWorks library--a collection of 59 flicks, including Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, and American Beauty.
How do we prosecute a Columbine that never was? The legal challenge of a prevented school shooting
A lot of people were talking about the Columbine fangirl last week and the revelation that, if she were found, it was unlikely the police would be able to arrest her. Although she had made threatening comments, seemed to be planning an attack, and legally purchased a gun, what laws had she broken? The U.S. courts have long wrestled with such challenges: at what point does planning a crime become a crime? At what point does planning constitute a prosecutable "attempted" crime? Is there such a thing as a ‘thought crime’ in U.S. law? I was surprised to search the name ‘Jack Sawyer’ and find nothing in this or related threads, as this case is a fascination of mine. Here is his story, and how it changed the way one state handles pre-crimes. Jack Sawyer Jack Sawyer was an 18-year-old from Poultney, Vermont. He had struggled throughout his adolescence, and during his sophomore year in 2016, he left Fair Haven Union High School. His parents eventually soon sent him to Ironwood, a residential mental health treatment facility and school for troubled teens in Maine. His parents hoped Ironwood could provide their son more comprehensive treatment for his anxiety and depression. In February 2018, Sawyer returned to Vermont. On February 14, 2018, Vermont State Police received information about a credible threat to Fair Haven Union High School and contacted Fair Haven Police to track down Sawyer. FHP located and questioned Sawyer, who admitted he used to have a problem with the school, but said he was over it. In the course of the conversation, he mentioned he had recently purchased a shotgun in Vermont after returning from Maine. Although concerned, the police had no probable cause to take further action. The next day, the Dutchess County (New York) sheriff’s office contacted the FHP to state that a friend of Sawyer’s had reported that she had received troubling messages from Sawyer over text and Facebook. The Parkland, FL, shooting had just occurred, which Sawyer praised as “fantastic.” He described school shootings as “natural selection” and noted, “Just a few days ago I was still plotting on shooting up my old high school so it’s not like I really wanted a future anyways.” Based on this tip, FHP detained and interviewed Sawyer again. In this interview, Sawyer admitted that he had been planning to commit a mass shooting at the school and told the police the following: --He had converted money to bitcoin and was searching the dark web for a handgun, but his bitcoin devalued, so he couldn’t purchase it yet. --He said he needed to go to the school to observe what the School Resource Officer’s schedule and patterns were, so that he could make plans to neutralize this threat and prevent the shooting from being interrupted. --He said he wanted to shoot up the school on April 20, the anniversary of Columbine. He had obtained a school schedule, however, and after discovering school wouldn’t be in session that day, he had decided on March 14 instead. --He was planning on wearing camo rather than the trenchcoats like the Columbine shooters. --He said he planned on ending the shooting in the school library as further homage to Columbine. While Sawyer was being interviewed, police searched his father’s house and his car. At the father’s house the father handed over a copy of a book about Columbine and a sawed-off shotgun belonging to his son. In Sawyer’s car, they found a shotgun, 17 rounds of ammunition, four books about school shootings, and, perhaps most chilling, his journal. The front cover read, “The Journal of an Active Shooter.” The journal was filled with suicidal ideation and specific plans for carrying out the shooting, such as a list of needed equipment. An entry dated November 29, 2017, reads:
I’ve had a change in plans. The day will be coming much more sooner than previously thought. I’ve realized the huge importance of being able to kill the kids that I actually know vs. waiting a year or so until they’re all gone. I’m aiming to kill as many as I can and whoever I can, but it’d also be more fun and satisfying to kill a lot of the dumb fucks that I actually went to school with, I know what they’re like and how idiotic they are. With the sudden shift in plans, that also means that I need to prepare and gather supplies quicker. It shouldn’t take too extremely long to buy the guns, but it’ll be difficult to make the bombs since I don’t really have a good place to practice detonating them, but I’ll probably figure it out.
On December 1, 2017, he contemplated how to neutralize the school resource office, Scott Alkinburgh:
The biggest thing I'm trying to figure out right now is how can I get as far as I can into the shooting before cops bust me first and shoot me dead. I know that I'm going to have to take officer Scott out first, but what's the best way? I'm thinking that I'll go in a few days prior to scope things out and see if he can typically be found in his office. I'm intending to just blow his f****** head off before he can even draw his gun or think about what's happening, but I can only hope with that one. If he kills me first, all of this will be pointless since I won't make the impact and chaos I plan to create. I don't think it'll be too big of an issue figuring out though. Probably just shooting his head point blank is the best way to go.
In his last entry before his arrest, dated February 3, 2018, he lamented that he tried to buy a shotgun in Maine after leaving the mental health facility, but was unsuccessful as Maine prohibits sales to those with out-of-state licenses. Instead, he realized he would need to obtain these in Vermont. Based on his confession and the gathered evidence, Sawyer was arrested. He was charged with four felonies (tied to attempted bodily injury with a deadly weapon, attempted first-degree murder, and two counts of attempted aggravated murder) and held without bail. In the state of Vermont, the latter two charges may be punished by life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors later added two additional misdemeanor counts (criminal threatening and a weapons charge). The felony counts were eventually dropped, and Sawyer was released on bail in April 2018. Legislative Response The Vermont legislature acted quickly, proposing several changes in existing law. Some were skeptical that Governor Phil Scott, a Republican, would support the proposed gun control measures. He stated that the Sawyer case "jolted me" and that he would consider any efforts that would help reduce the risk of a mass shooting. The proposed changes included:
Background checks for any gun transactions between non-family members
A ban on new sales of extended magazines (>10 rifle rounds, >15 handgun rounds). (Residents can keep existing magazines, and dealers could sell out existing stock.)
The implementation of extreme risk protection orders, which can prevent an individual from purchasing or possessing guns for up to six months.
Governor Scott signed all three bills in April 2018 before Sawyer was released on bail. In fact, #3 was invoked immediately, and Sawyer was prohibited from having guns for six months (at which time the order can be renewed or allowed to expire). A final bill approved in 2018 modified an existing domestic terrorism statute to make taking substantial steps towards carrying out an attack or mass killing a crime, regardless of whether the crime occurs (penalty up to 20 years in prison). Sawyer’s Fate & the Aftermath In August 2018, Sawyer’s lawyer capitalized on a newly revised youthful offenders statute. Citing evidence on brain development, individuals aged 21 and younger are now eligible to be prosecuted as a youthful offender. Sawyer’s case was thus transferred to family court, where proceedings are confidential. In March 2019, it was announced that Sawyer was deemed a youthful offender on the count of carrying a dangerous weapon. Sawyer will be placed in a residential treatment facility until he is 22. Due to confidentiality protections granted in family court, the public will not be informed about Sawyer's treatment or release. In the meantime, $4 million worth of grants have been given to Vermont schools to enhance security. Over $400,000 has been spent at Fair Haven Union High School, including card scanners, safety doors, extensive cameras, additional security personnel, and services that monitor students' social media accounts. Sources https://vtdigger.org/tag/jack-sawye If you like legal docs, this has details of the case but also interesting examples the court considered when trying to establish what constituted “attempted” murder: https://law.justia.com/cases/vermont/supreme-court/2018/2018-105.html If you like podcasts. Vermont Public Radio did a five-part podcast about this called Jolted (after Gov. Scott's comment): https://www.npr.org/podcasts/642455340/j-o-l-t-e-d?t=1555508852705 So many questions... *Do you think Vermont will be able to prosecute individuals who plan attacks, or do you think these will meet First Amendment challenges? *Do you think extreme risk protection orders will stand, or will they be challenged on Second Amendment grounds? *Do you think Sawyer's sentence is appropriate? Do you think he'll receive sufficient treatment and be less of a threat when he is released in a little over 2 years? *What do you think about schools hiring external companies and monitoring students' social media accounts?
TL;DR - Visual TLDR: https://i.redd.it/hq8fiy71aij11.jpg Image Created by Haammaar. Great job delivering on most of your promises BSG, your hard work shall not be under-appreciated. Hello everyone, and thanks for taking the time to stop by and check out this post. I’d like to talk about the roadmap they released for their development plans in 2018, and where we stand on them now. Hopefully you can learn something from this post in relations to their plans for the rest of the year. This post is going to be extremely long, so buckle up! Quoting Habean , aka Klean: “2018 will be the year of EFT.” Yeah, you were damn fucking right about that. This year, we had some stellar progress on the game and even had some insanely good exposure and viewership on Twitch, with Summit and Shroud playing it and attracting a lot of new players to the game! This game is growing, not dying, and that should be a good sign towards the future. Before we get into the roadmap, here’s a link to it directly on the Escape from Tarkov website. https://www.escapefromtarkov.com/news/id/106 I’m putting that there as I don’t want to directly implement those walls of text into this post, as it would make the post significantly longer. So, I will go through most points said there from top to bottom, so you can easily follow along if you haven’t already peeped the roadmap. First and foremost - thank you BSG. You work way too hard and we appreciate everything you do for us. Giving us this roadmap and especially doing your best to STICK with it has showed me (and hopefully the rest of you) that you mean business and care about the game. The first thing that article states in relation to the development plans is fixing game-breaking errors, such as performance drops, game crashes, inventory freeze-ups and generally bugs that severely interfere with gameplay. With the introduction of the 0.10 patch set to come SOON™, that aims to fix a LOT of these bugs. If you haven’t yet read the 0.10 patch notes, I strongly suggest you do. See here - https://www.reddit.com/EscapefromTarkov/comments/9bizo8/intermediate_patchnotes_to_010_changes_to_the/ Next up is, your favourite thing, Netcode. Fixing the netcode is an on-going process and again, patch 0.10 aims to improve upon this, so we’ll see how that goes! Optimizations: See 0.10 patch notes linked above. Time-consuming magazine loading: One of the first things BSG implemented this year! A very welcome change to the game, as it slightly shuffles up people’s gameplay styles and makes the game a little bit slower. Animations for medical supplies, food and other consumables: Currently still a work-in-progress, BSG aims to implement these changes in patch 0.11. See here - https://www.reddit.com/EscapefromTarkov/comments/9b2jdx/current_state_of_work_briefly/ I think it’s safe to say that 0.11 is coming before 2019... I’m hoping! Off-raid treatment and parameters recovery: Judging by the community response to this feature, a LOT of players didn’t like the idea of this change. We also have not heard any additional information about this feature, as the devs have not expanded on this feature since the roadmap. Although, if the developers still plan in implementing this, I highly suspect it will come along with the Hideout, as stated in their roadmap article. If you’d like to see a survey on what the community thinks about the 2018 roadmap, see here - https://www.reddit.com/EscapefromTarkov/comments/8190tf/tarkov_roadmap_survey_make_your_voice_heard_tell/ Smoke grenades: These have been implemented along with flash grenades! While I think the smoke grenades can use a bit more refining, the Zarya stun grenades are incredible! Great work BSG. Under-barrel grenade launchers: They are yet to be implemented, and we haven’t heard any updates on the matter. They have mentioned that the UBGL’s were very problematic and caused a lot of issues, especially on the part of network logic. Hopefully we get to see these in 0.11, or before the year ends! In the roadmap survey, the UBGL received quite a mixed response, with the majority of the community voting against the implementation of this. While I suspect that they will add them regardless of the votes, maybe they saw the community reaction and decided to focus on different things while slowly refining the UBGL’s on the backburner. Troubleshooting - dealing with jamming, misalignment and misfires. Ammo quality: Again, no word from the developers on these features. That’s not to say we won’t see it before the end of 2018! Improvement of medical supplies. Stimulants. Addiction, overdose and side effects from medicines: No word on this from the developers. Ongoing introduction of new skills: We have seen Mag Drills skill added, and 0.10 plans to introduce the Covert Movement skill. According to the roadmap, the developers said that the skills they planned to add throughout the year were PMC specific, (such as BEAR Raw Power, USEC Long-Range Optics etc.) Although we have not heard anything of these Faction-Specific skills, again it’s not to say we won’t see them before the end of the year. Hindsight is 20/20! Scav leaders: The Dealmaker - Customs Scav Boss has been introduced with the 0.9 patch and it is amazing! We definitely need more dynamic events like this across all maps! Personal quests: These are aimed to be personal investigations that immediately uncover the plot of Tarkov, why it has fallen, and what it will lead to. We have no further information of the implementation of these types of quests, although the devs have added a bunch of different quests to do. Flea market: This was supposed to make its way into the 0.10 patch, but has been delayed. Nikita said it will come before 0.11 patch which like I said, is expected before the end of the year (hopefully). It is coming SOON™. VoIP: Voice over IP is planned for patch 0.11. This has been a long-awaited feature which may help a LOT with Scav-on-Scav Violence™, as well as possibly understanding the intentions of other PMC’s you encounter during a raid. Changing the character appearance: This feature plans to implement the ability to change the clothing of the Upper and Lower body parts. It is planned for the 0.11 patch. See here - https://www.reddit.com/EscapefromTarkov/comments/9bh3ft/comment/e542afn New types of exits from locations: This has been partially implemented. We have new paid extracts on the Customs and Interchange locations, in which you pay 3000 roubles to extract and must wait a few minutes to successfully extract (similar to woods South extract). These extracts are RNG, meaning they may or may not be there. In accordance to the roadmap, they planned to add extracts that will alert others of your presence via Flares, and extracts that you can purchase before entering the raid. These ones have yet to be implemented. Drumroll please... Hideout: Ahh, the very, VERY long awaited feature that’s been at the front of everyone’s minds ever since it was announced. This feature is going to be MASSIVE and a certain game changer, as it will allow you to do things such as build up your own personal hangout space out of the raid, upgrade your stash size, make a bitcoin farm, possibly CRAFT ITEMS, and much more. The Hideout is planned to be implemented after the Flea Market, possibly in the 0.11 patch. It is so close and feels like it’s right around the corner guys, this is insane! It seems like it is going to make its way into the game before the end of the year, and may possibly introduce many of the features mentioned in the roadmap that we have yet to see implemented. Fingers crossed! To read more about the Hideout, see the 2018 roadmap linked at the top of this post, or read the official Hideout article here - https://www.escapefromtarkov.com/news/id/66 Arena: A separate game mode, full of interesting innovations. Competitive and exciting. Extensive coverage on the Arena will be out later. We have no additional information about the Arena. The devs have also stated they will add new weapons with TONS of new mods (which they have delivered upon - Glock 17/18, M1A, SA-58, Mosin With 0.10, HK416 with 0.11). As well as new helmets (ULACH+Variants, Black FAST MT, LZsh, Zsh, Devtac ronin, Altyn), new vests (MK3, M2, Tactec, Commando), new headgear and glasses/goggles and headsets (Dundukk, Raybench, Rglass, Anti-Fragment goggles, various hats, new balaclavas, Sordin and Zssh Headsets etc.). They have delivered new gear, and will continue to deliver cool new gear! Devs have also stated they plan to finish all maps necessary to release this year. Right now, we’re missing 5 maps to complete all raid locations (not including TerraGroup Labs, which is planned for 0.11 patch). This was a BIG claim by BSG, which sadly I don’t think they can deliver on. :( So there you have it! Those are all the main points of the roadmap, and where we are today. Not freaking bad if you ask me. Despite various delays to patches and some information throughout the course of the roadmap and today, the devs are pretty well on track with their promises. I’d like to assume that the reason we haven’t heard much about some of the major features stated on the roadmap is because there have been a lot of game-breaking bugs throughout the last months, and the game needs to be running smoothly before the thought of adding huge features. If you’ve made it this far, consider leaving an upvote for visibility. Maybe Nikita could come through and shed some light on the features we have no information of yet! If there’s anything I missed, do let me know and I’ll edit it into the post. BSG has been working their asses off around the clock to push updates to us and we can’t thank them enough for the continuous effort they pour into this project. Leave a comment letting me know what you think! Thanks for reading guys.
Vitalik Buterin: "Putin knows what blockchain is – this is the hype" [Article translation from Russian]
x-posting this to a couple of other crypto subs because I think this is a good article I think this is a pretty good article, so I decided to translate it from Russian for the crypto community. It may even save some of you from doing bad investments, and maybe see what direction you should look in, and maybe shed some light on the possible future of the crypto. I find that the crypto waters are murky today and Vitalik's thoughts make it clearer for me. Link to the source on Rusbase In 2017 the Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin made it to the top ten of the most influential young people according to the Fortune magazine. Some call him the crypto god, some – a crypto-anarchist, and some just idolize him. Any rumor on Vitalik affects the Ethereum exchange rate and costs or makes the Ethereum holders large amounts of money. Rusbase attended an open discussion with the rock star of blockchain and got to know what the 23-year-old genius thinks and what happens in the industry. On himself and Ethereum
How did I become interested in blockchain? There was a moment when I realized that this is a very interesting technology with strong mathematics and then I understood that there was a serious concept behind this, a transparency system. A community of several thousand people created their own financial system. This idea is very close to me. I like building something that no one has ever built before.
Creating Ethereum was not a question of money, it was a mission, an idea that you want to follow.
In 2011 I learned about bitcoin, and six months later I cofounded a bitcoin magazine [Bitcoin Magazine – Ed.], two years later I was in the university [University of Waterloo - Ed.] and I was spending 30 hours a week on bitcoin programming tasks. Then I dropped out, traveled around, and watched blockchain projects develop in different countries of the world. In Israel, USA, Europe.
The idea to create Ethereum was not an immediate one. At first, I pitched it in the project that I worked in. But I was told it'd take a year to complete it. Then I quit. I remember walking around San Francisco, thinking, and then I just wrote a white paper and sent it to my friends, and they shared it with their friends. And it all started. On mining
The role of mining will decrease over time. This trend is not promising.
Mining as a business... This happens when you have your own source of energy or a subsidized source of energy. Then this is profitable. But anyway it's better to move towards the blockchain application, not speculation.
If you want to invest money, invest it in R&D. On the blockchain prospects
The first and the biggest blockchain prospect of the blockchain development is the financial one. This is cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and state registry. For example, now it takes you several weeks to sell a house, whereas it can take just 3 minutes.
Besides the financial area, I'd say the following areas are prospective: the Internet security; the logistics; anything that has to do with identity; a more expensive but also a safer information storage.
The advantage of the blockchain is that there is a lot of data in the network that you can use for different purposes. The simplest example is the smart contract that lets you decrease the need for other types of insurance. On ICOs
The problem with ICOs is that someone makes something useful for a very small amount of people. Everyone sees now that there is open source software where you can make money easily. The developers now have the option to keep working in the basement or buy a Lamborghini.
There are now so many projects where the token is absolutely useless and people just want to make a lot of money.
The ICO concept is too centralized. The problem is that people evaluate the idea and not the team behind it. The investors put their money in the idea and there is no guarantee that the team will actually manage to do it. I think one needs to keep an eye on this and keep investing only if it's successful. And a better way would be to invest in the idea and not a specific team as there should be several teams competing for the investments to implement the idea.
The moment will come when the market realizes that many of the tokens that exist today have no value.
Tokening must have a purpose. The majority of the ICOs today don't have any backing and will fail. On the cryptocurrency prospects
I think that the cryptocurrency will not replace money 100% but in 20 to 40 years there's going to be a lot of different cryptocurrencies that will be used together.
The number of cryptocurrencies is going to increase. There will be cryptocurrencies for different cities, big companies will issue their own cryptocurrencies, like that Burger King case I heard about.
In 50 years everyone will have a wallet with 15 different types of cryptocurrency and you will be able to use them to make payments. On the blockchain security
There is a paradox now. The purpose of the blockchain is security. But the blockchain is a new technology that has security issues.
Right now you can safely use blockchain where no one will take damage if the blockchain breaks. On Russia
Attracting the investments based on blockchain is a very interesting thing for Russia, especially when you consider the imposed sanctions.
The expertise of the IT professionals in Russia is high, but there's just not enough of them.
No other country has the same degree of the desire to implement the technology. In Russia any place you go – everyone discusses the blockchain, everyone is fascinated by it: from the higher officials to the small time entrepreneurs.
The blockchain in Russia needs smaller successful projects to prove itself. On the world
The blockchain is a part of the bigger trend. The world is becoming more and more digital. In 50 years people are going to have more friends abroad than in their own country.
Southeast Asia is very technological, but they don't have the same amount of interest as there's here [in Russia]. However, people there use QR-codes to sell oranges. A happy end
The cryptocurrencies are never going to be stable. However, the degree of volatility is going to decrease with the emergence of successful blockchain startups and with the increase in the volume of money in the cryptocurrencies. This will happen in a year or two.
The blockchain now is in Phase 3. Here's what this means:
Phase 1: Several hacker anarchists become interested in it.
Phase 2: Putin knows what blockchain is – this is the hype phase.
Phase 3: The road from the hype to the real results. People know that the blockchain is an interesting idea. People know how to use it and they are already testing it. However, there's still no application on the big scale.
EDIT: I am disappointed that this has become a political discussion, "Russia is bad and corrupt". Make of that what you will. Don't let the media brainwash you. Russia has many problems just like any other government. This post was meant for the crypto discussion. ethereum of all places man
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman on Hong Kong’s Unrest, the Rise of Bitcoin, and Fundraising as an ‘Out-of-Body Experience’
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman has built one of the largest investment firms in the world, which specializes in private equity, credit, and hedge fund investment strategies. In his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, Schwarzman reveals some of the biggest lessons he’s learned from his 50-year career in business. “I wanted to lay out my years of experience of doing things right as well as doing things wrong,” he tells _Fortune._“You learn the most when you make a mistake.” Part memoir, part leadership guide, Schwarzman addresses the highlights (and low lights) of his career including quitting his high-power job to start Blackstone, raising capital as a first-time fund manager, and dealing with the fallout from the unraveling of his presidential CEO business council. (I personally enjoyed the part was when he talks about meeting “Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z.” He writes: “We talked for a few minutes, reminiscing about her Kennedy Center performance in 2005.”) Schwarzman was 38 years old when he founded Blackstone in 1985, and he’s been at the helm ever since. Today, the firm boasts $545 billion in assets under management and 2,500 employees. Blackstone recently converted from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation, which makes it easier to own Blackstone stock and allows the firm to be included in more indexes. I sat down with Schwarzman for a wide-ranging conversation about Blackstone’s dealings in China, the ethical challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and whether he sees a looming recession on the horizon. This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length. FORTUNE: In the book, you discuss some of the personality traits you look for in a candidate before hiring them at Blackstone. What are some of those characteristics? SCHWARZMAN: I’m undoubtedly better at identifying people who have enormous potential, and it’s actually pretty easy. When someone’s interviewing for a job, you can tell if they’re comfortable in their own skin and whether they’re able to handle anything conversationally. I’m looking for people who can hold the table, who are intelligent, curious, courteous, and they can deal with stressful situations. Can you give an example of how you determine those things? You need three to five minutes to figure out if someone’s comfortable.I like to bring up something interesting that has happened in the world that day. Today, I might ask, “What do you think about what’s been going on in Hong Kong?” There’s no right or wrong answer to these things, but it’s a discussion that can show you how someone’s mind works. Once you see how somebody’s mind works, you also get a sense of whether they’re playing within their comfort zone. If you’d like to spend more time with them, then that’s probably a good person to hire. Speaking of Hong Kong, hasthe current unrestaffected Blackstone’s dealings in China? Hong Kong’s a real hub for us. It’s our biggest location in Asia, and people like working there. It hasn’t interfered with our office at this point, but longer-term, you can’t have a place where you do business where no one knows if they can get in or out. Ultimately, there has to be a resolution. The business community really wants one, and if you have a core of demonstrators who say on TV that they are prepared to die, that’s not a great benchmark. Right now, it’s looking like a difficult resolution. What are you investing in, and where do you see growth opportunities? Growth is certainly going to technology, services, and experiences. You have things like shopping centers. When I grew up, it was like: What could go wrong with a shopping center? And now that thing is called Amazon. Just that technological innovation has changed people’s shopping patterns, changed the delivery mechanism, and it’s led to shopping centers going bankrupt. It’s disrupted a whole chain of things people took for granted. It took 10 years for an entire stable structure to be dismantled. We saw that in 2011 when we started buying warehouses. We’ve been the largest buyer of warehouses in the world for the last eight years, and we did that because that’s where Amazon and retailers needed to stage their goods before they get delivered. So that area has exploded with growth. If you’re investing now, you have to recognize that almost everything’s about to have its business model changed. What’s another example of a sector you think will experience Amazon-like growth? Artificial intelligence. AI will affect the whole healthcare industry, from billing, to admissions, to diagnostics, to the development of drugs, to telemedicine, which will have enormous growth. You look at all of this, and there are a lot of different things that go into what you or I believe is _just_a hospital. AI is going to have a profound impact on our society. There will also be serious ethical implications that come with that innovation. That’s why I did this big donation at MIT and Oxford. [Note: Schwarzman donated$350 millionto MIT for computing and AI research and$188 million_to Oxford University for AI ethics research.]_One involves technological innovation, and the other is about making sense of it in society. What are good outcomes and what are not-so-good outcomes? Who makes that determination, and how do you control for not having bad outcomes? That’s a challenge that we have to face. Are you confident we’ll be able to solve the ethical challenges quickly enough given the pace at which technology is evolving? Like most things in technology, it’s moving faster than your ability to control and implement things. On the other hand, everybody who’s running a company or is part of the discovery of AI watched the Internet get developed. I haven’t met a mature person yet who was involved in the development of the internet that hasn’t regretted they developed it. They said, “We just thought this would be really cool. Everyone in the world can connect, and it’ll be a positive sum game.” They weren’t aware that [the internet] would destroy the ability to govern. Everything is so short-term, there’s so much divisiveness, and social media is very destructive. They’ve looked at what they’ve created, and they’ve all said, “If I could have it back, I’d take it back.” I was shocked. So with AI, we have to get right on it so that the technology itself doesn’t overwhelm society. There’s enormous interest and good will to doing something important in terms of AI ethics. No matter what country you’re in, if you make a huge cut in your workforce, you’ll have social unrest of some type. We already have that in the West. You could even have that in China, although they’re investing so much in the area, they’re actually creating a whole bunch of new jobs too. Speaking of innovation,a 2007 _Fortune_articlecalled you “the master of the alternative universe” because Blackstone made its name by investing in alternative assets. What do you think about frontier assets like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? I don’t have much interest in that because it’s hard for me to understand. I was raised in a world where someone needs to control currencies. There’s a reason to want to control currencies, which is why governments all do it. There’s no one who says, “I don’t care.” Part of that is to make sure the economy is as insulated as it can be from excesses. Another part of it is to control bad behavior. So the idea that you can transact without anybody knowing anything, you could have a lot of criminal behavior — dirty money, drug money — running all over the world. It only encourages that kind of activity. I may be a limited thinker, but that’s a problem. If they could solve that problem and also the problem of controlling the money supply, then it might be OK. That doesn’t mean that the blockchain technology applied to non-tradable currencies is not a good thing. That is clearly a good thing. And why do you say that? There’s all kinds of uses you can have from certain executions. [Blockchain technology] is a very good idea, and it will end up being adopted because it’s good technology. Applying it to the creation of money is sort of, for my taste, pretty odd. So in the future, you do see Blackstone investing in companies that are using blockchain technology? That would be good because it’s a sound, very interesting technology. But you’re not going to own any Bitcoin? That’s an easy one: No. Capital has become quite abundant these days. Softbank’s Masayoshi Son tells this infamous story about how he raised$45 billion in 45 minutesfor the Vision Fund. Blackstone’s assets under management crossed half a trillion for the first time — to $545 billion. You recently described your fundraising efforts as “an out of body experience.” Why? When I started in 1985, we had no reputation, and even worse, no experience making investments. In 1986, we went out and started raising money. We got rejected by 16 out of 17 people, some of whom we knew very well. If you’ve ever had the experience of getting rejected by almost everyone you know, it’s very sobering. We sent out somewhere around 500 offering documents, and we ended up with 32 investors. That’s 468 out of 500 people who are saying, “I don’t trust you, I don’t like you, I don’t think you’re competent, and I don’t like what you’re trying to do.” The only way you interpret that after a while is that they don’t like _you_and they don’t trust your abilities. It was unending. So my experience was so searingly negative that every dollar we raise from anyone now, I regard as precious and that we can’t disappoint them. Before, I’d fly across the country to see if we could get $5 or $10 million, and now, people just give us a billion dollars. After a while, people develop confidence in you. And part of the art of running a good organization is that you don’t mess it up. It’s been such an ordeal to get here. I had a conversation this morning where someone [at the firm] said, “If we do this type of structure for this type of activity, these people will give us $2 billion.” I know the people, and I know they’ll give us $2 billion, but I ask, “Do we want to do what they’re interested in or not?” Whenever one of these conversations happens, I think back to spending two days of my life flying around to raise $5 million, and here’s just a casual conversation [about $2 billion]. I take nothing for granted, and I want people at the firm to think like that too. It’s harder when you get bigger, but it still is an out-of-body experience for me. In the book, you give your rules on identifying market tops and bottoms. Where in the cycle do you think we are today? We’re getting pretty toppy. The prices of things have gotten high in large part because interest rates have gone down so much but that props up the value of a dollar of earnings, or cash-flow. It’s a bigger yield. That’s driven prices up. There’s quite good liquidity in terms of credit. It’s led to markets that have gone up almost continually for about 10 years. So that doesn’t mean it can’t go on for a while longer, but you’re closer to the top than the middle or the bottom. Do you see a recession on the horizon? I don’t. Over 70% of the economy is consumer [spending], and consumers tend to be employees or workers. Their compensation is going up 3 to 4% a year now, significantly outpacing inflation. What we’re doing is we’re loading up consumers because as employees, they didn’t have a good enough experience with financial sufficiency and they were angry because they didn’t have enough money. So society’s going to give them that money, I believe, in the form of higher wages. That’s good for the system because people will have to work to get more money, but they’ll take that money and they’ll spend it. If they’re spending it — and that’s the vast bulk of the American economy — then that’ll be the part that keeps the economy moving forward. Unless there’s a major geo-political issue that takes away confidence from everyone, I think we’ll continue growing for the next year or two but at a lower rate than we were because manufacturing’s off, global trade is off, and we’re facing some lack of confidence around issues like Brexit, European growth, and China’s real growth rate. All these issues contribute to less optimism, but I don’t see us falling off some kind of cliff. You don’t think it’ll be comparable to the last recession? Oh gosh no. No, that takes virtual complete abdication by regulators as well as imprudent behavior by parts of the business community. We haven’t forgotten lessons that quickly. The system has been significantly reformed, so I don’t see _anything_of the type of global financial crisis of 2008. Of all the things to worry about, that’s not one of them. What’s next for you? Do you see yourself stepping away from Blackstone? In a year or two, I’ll probably still be sitting at this conference table. I love what I do, but there’s always an evolution. Jon Gray is president of the firm, he’s 49 — I’m not. [Gray is Schwarzman’s likely successor.] My plan for my life is to stay involved with Blackstone, but I also like doing big impactful things that involve the creation of something new. I don’t know what the next one will be because it has to be something I see in society where I can help provide a unique solution. Both MIT and Oxford involve building new facilities, creating new organizations, and developing knowledge in a way that can be applied for the good of society. I wish I could tell you exactly what the next chapter is, but one of the things that makes life fun is experiencing new things with developed skills from your past. I’ve loved doing that within Blackstone, I’ve loved doing it in the not-for-profit area, and I’d love to do in the political area if I can help. **Oh, you have political ambitions? ** No, no. None. * More Details Here
Among the more frequently mentioned G+ alternatives at the Google+ Mass Migration community, and others, is MeWe with over 250 mentions. The site bills itself as "The Next-Gen Social Network" and the "anti-Facebook": "No Ads, No Political Bias, No Spyware. NO BS. It is headed by professed Libertarian CEO Mark Weinstein. As the site reveals no public user-generated content to non-members, it's necessary to create an account in order to get a full impression. I thought I'd provide an overview based on recent explorations. This report leads of with background on the company, though readers may find the report and analysis of specific groups on the site of interest.
Founder & CEO Mark Weinstein. Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Jonathan Wolfe (no longer with company). Weinstein previously founded SuperFamily and SuperFriends, "at the turn of the millennium". Weinstein's MeWe biography lists articles published by The Mirror (UK), Huffington Post, USA Today, InfoSecurity Magazine, Dark Reading, and the Nation. His media appearances include MarketWatch, PBS, Fox News, and CNN. He's also the author of several personal-success books. His Crunchbase bio is a repeat of the MeWe content.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web.
Jack Canfield: Legendary Founder, Chicken Soup For The Soul.
John Friedman: Founding Partner, Easton Capital.
Cullen Hoback: Director, Terms and Conditions May Apply.
Dianne Morrison: Partner, MorrisonMcNabb, LLC.
Colin Sebastian: Director, Equity Research/Internet, RW Baird.
Brett Shevack: CEO, Brand Initiatives; Former Vice Chair, BBDO.
Marci Shimoff: author, Happy for No Reason.
Sherry Turkle: Professor, MIT; author Alone Together.
Ownership & Investment
MeWe is the dba of Sgrouples, a private for-profit early-stage venture company based in Los Angeles, though with a Mountain View HQ and mailing address, 11-50 employees, with $10m in funding over five rounds, and a $20m valuation as of 2016. Sgrouples, Inc., dba MeWe Trust & Safety - Legal Policy c/o Fenwick West 801 California Street Mountain View, CA 94041 Crunchbase Profile. Founded: 2012 (source) Secured $1.2M in seed funding in 2014. 2016 valuation: $20m (source] Backers:
John Friedman, venture capitalist, founder & MD, Easton Capital, New York, NY.
Do you have friends still on Facebook? Share this link with them about Facebook wanting their banking information - tell them to move to MeWe now! No Ads. No Spyware. No Political Agenda. No Bias Algorithms. No Shadow Banning. No Facial Recognition.
MeWe provide several policy-related links on the site:
California Disclosures -- Do Not Track, 3rd-party cookies, and California Privacy Rights.
Your Identity: We protect it to the extent the law allows
Linking to Third-Party Sites: These are your decisions and responsibilities
Security: HTTPS and Encryption
Terms of Service
The ToS addresses:
Allowable Content and Acceptable Use
Who Our Services are For
User Content Ownership
Misuse of Usernames, Page names, Group names
Fake Accounts (pseudonyms allowed, misleading is not)
More on Spam
Our Commitment to Data Security
MeWe Content Data
MeWe Log Data
Your Data Portability
Deleting Your Account -- Right to Erasure
MeWe Secret Chat
MeWe Invitations and "Add Automatically"
Additional Policies for Pages, Groups, and Events Notifications of Requests for Account Information
Guidelines for Law Enforcement Seeking Customer Data (Worldwide)
Ownership In and To the Site and Services
Effective: November 6, 2018.
The FAQ addresses:
What is MeWe (emphasises privacy)
The Politics of MeWe ("absolutely no political agenda")
How can MeWe be free and make money? (additional services/freemium)
Which devices is MeWe available on? (Android, iOS)
What content can I share on MeWe (photos, videos, documents, voice messages, privacy mail, chats, gifs, memes, doodles)
What are some unique features of MeWe?
Who can see the posts I share?
Can I delete my MeWe account and is it easy to do this?
This emphasises that people are social cratures and private people by right. The service offers the power of self expression under an umbrella of safety. It notes that our innermost thoughts require privacy. Under "We aspire...":
MeWe is here to empower and enrich your world. We challenge the status quo by making privacy, respect, and safety the foundations of an innovatively designed, easy-to-use social experience.
Totalling 182 words.
Privacy Bill of Rights
A ten-item statement of principles (possibly inspired by another document, it might appear):
You own your personal information & content. It is explicitly not ours.
You will never receive a targeted advertisement or 3rd party content based on what you do or say online. We think that's creepy.
You see every post in timeline order from your friends, family & groups. We do not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your content or what you see.
Permissions & privacy are your rights. You control them.
You control who can access your content.
You control what, if anything, others can see in member searches.
Your privacy means we do not share your personal information with anyone.
Your emojis are for you and your friends. We do not monitor or mine your data.
Your face is your business. We do not use facial recognition technology.
You have the right to delete your account and take your content with you at any time.
There are a few mentions of MeWe in the press, some listed on the company's website, others via web search.
The following articles are linked directly from MeWe's Press page:
The page also lists a "Privacy Revolution Required Reading" list of 20 articles all addressing Facebook privacy gaffes in the mainstream press (Wired, TechCrunch, Fortune, Gizmodo, The Guardian, etc.). There are further self-reported mentions in several of the company's PR releases over the years.
Facebook Alternative MeWe Raises $5.2M, Los Angeles Business Journal (July 7, 2018) "The latest round, as well as MeWe’s total $10 million in fundraising, was predominantly backed by celebrity investors, such as author Marci Shimoff, Rachel Roy, and Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com, which sold to Linkedin in 2015 for $1.5 billion. Jack Canfield, creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, also invested in MeWe."
Is building a Facebook alternative worth the effort? MeWe thinks soVentureBeat (July 5, 2018) "[T]here are still companies hoping to make their mark in the social networking realm with “Facebook alternatives.” One of those is MeWe, a “next-generation” social network that positions itself as the anti-Facebook: “Your private life is not for sale. No ads. No Spyware. No BS,” its website proclaims." Continues to mention "modest $5.2 million" funding round. Also a "sister product", MeWePRO, a Slack competitor.
Startup MeWe Launches Free, 'No Ads' Social NetworkeWeek (March 16, 2016) "MeWe, a new network engineered with its users' data privacy built in, is betting that a lot of people will say yes to both of those questions. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, whose parent company is Sgrouples.com, launched its freely available social network out of beta March 9 with more than 200,000 members already using it.... Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-architect of the World Wide Web, found out about MeWe on his own and approached the company about getting involved."
Facebook Alternative MeWe closes $5.2M Series A Yahoo/PR Newswire (July 5, 2018). "The investment brings MeWe's total funding to $10 million, to support the engineering of MeWe and the enterprise version MeWePRO.... The company has relied on high net worth individuals for all of its funding including Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com ...; Marci Shimoff, a #1 New York Times bestselling author ...; Rachel Roy...; and Jack Canfield."
Exactis Data Leak 2018: 340 Million Records ExposedInvestorPlace (June 29, 2018) "'Today's cookies can link your mobile phone to your laptop, to your home monitoring devices, and much, much more. Creepy? Scary? Orwellian? Yes, yes, yes,' Mark Weinstein, the privacy expert and founder of social media company MeWe, told MarketWatch. 'So imagine that Exactis, like Facebook, knows everything about you — really.'"
MeWe Raises $3M in FundingFinSMEs (March 9, 2016) "Sgrouples, Inc., the Mountain View, CA-based developer of MeWe, a social network with neither ads nor tracking, raised $3m in funding."
This section is a basic rundown of the user-visible site technology.
The site is not natively accessible from a mobile Web browser as it is overlayed with a promotion for the mobile application instead. Selecting "Desktop View" in most mobile browsers should allow browser-based access.
There are both Android and iOS apps for MeWe. I've used neither of these, though the App store entries note:
MeWe Android 4.4 rating (13.1k ratings). Permissions: Contacts (read), Location (approximate/precise), SMS (receive), Phone (read status & identity), Photos/Media/Files (read, modify, & delete contents), Storage (read, modify, or delete), Camera (take pictures/videos), Microphone (record audio), Device ID & Call Info (read status & identity), and numerous elements under Other.
Crunchbase cites 209,220 mobile downloads over the past 30 days (via Apptopia), an 80.78% monthly growth rate, from Google Play.
Either selecting "View Desktop" or navigating with a Desktop browser to https://www.mewe.com your are presented with a registration screen, with the "About", "Privacy Bill of Rights", "MeWe Challenge", and a language selector across the top of the page. Information requested are first and last name, phone or email, and a password. Pseudonymous identities are permitted, though this isn't noted on the login screen. Returning members can use the "Member Log In" button. The uMatrix Firefox extension reveals no third-party content: all page elements are served from mewe.com, img.mewe.com, cdn.mewe.com, or ws.mewe.com. (In subsequent browsing, you may find third-party plugins from, for example, YouTube, for videos, or Giphy, for animated GIFs.) The web front-end is nginx. The site uses SSL v3, issued by DigiCert Inc. to Sgrouples, Inc.
The onboarding experience is stark. There is no default content presented. A set of unidentified icons spans the top of the screen, these turn out to be Home, Chats, Groups, Pages, and Events. New users have to, somehow, find groups or people to connect with, and there's little guidance as to how to do this.
Generally there is a three panel view, with left- and right-hand sidebars of largely navigational or status information, and a central panel with main content. There are also pop-up elements for chats, an omnipresent feature of the site. Controls display labels on some devices and/or resolutions. Controls do not provide tooltips for navigational aid.
My Cloud - Seamlessly organize all your content in My Cloud; it's your personal cloud. My Cloud offers an interactive dashboard for you to control everything you’ve posted or shared - making it simple to delete or reshare.
Unique profiles - Be yourself, free from any tracking and spying. Customize your profile for every group you create or join.
Voice integration (on any or all content) - Post pictures, videos, or documents and include a voice message. Respond to a shared post or just chat. MeWe’s voice integration works for you and your contacts throughout the entire platform.
Universal tagging - This is a new, convenient way to sort and organize all the content you receive and share, making it easy to find everything, anytime.
Enhanced permission control (patent issued) - Manage permissions on a granular level and decide exactly who sees what. You can also remove yourself from the search directory, make yourself invisible to other members online, and much more.
Much More – join MeWe today and take a look inside! MeWe is the next-gen social networking experience designed for you to have fun, stay in touch, collaborate, organize, and simplify.
A key aspect of any social network is its community. Some of the available or ascertained information on this follows.
Weinstein claims a "million+ following inside MeWe.com" on Twitter. The largest visible groups appear to have a maximum of around 15,000 members , for "Awesome gifs". "Clean Comedy" rates 13,350, and the largest open political groups, 11,000+ members. This compares to Google+ which has a staggering, though Android-registrations-inflated 3.3 billion profiles, and 7.9 million communities, though the largest of these come in at under 10 million members. It's likely that MeWe's membership is on the whole more more active than Google+'s, where generally-visible posting activity was limited to just over 9% of all profiles, and the active user base was well under 1% of the total nominal population.
MeWe do not publish active users (e.g., MUA / monthly active users) statistics.
MeWe is principally a group-oriented discussion site -- interactions take place either between individuals or within group contexts. Virtually all discovery is group-oriented. The selection and dynamics of groups on the site will likely strongly affect user experience, so exploring the available groups and their characteristics is of interest. "MeWe has over 60,000 open groups" according to its FAQ. The Open groups -- visible to any registered MeWe user, though not to the general public Web -- are browsable, though sections and topics must be expanded to view the contents: an overview isn't immediately accessible. We provide a taste here. A selection of ten featured topics spans the top of the browser. As I view these, they are:
Health & Fitness
Cars & Motorcycles
Fashion and Beauty
Specific groups may appear in multiple categories. The top Groups within these topics have, variously, 15,482, 7,738, 15,482 (dupe), 7,745, 8,223, 8,220, 1,713, 9,527, 2,716, and 1,516 members. Listings scroll at length -- the Music topic has 234 Groups, ranging in size from 5 to 5,738 members, with a median of 59, mean of 311.4, and a 90%ile of 743.5. Below this is a grid of topics, 122 in all, ranging from Activism to Wellness, and including among them. A selected sample of these topics, with top groups listed members in (parens), follows:
Activism: QAnon+++ (2,572), PATRIOT PREPPERS USA (2,430), Deplorables Republic (2,48), The War Drummer (1,898), Patriots for a United America. (1894), Anonymous (1,700).
Alternative Energy: Reiki, Crystals, and alternative healing (2,114), 💜Starseeds & Empaths💜 (345), Living in Colour (365).
Alternative Lifestyle: Natural Healing and Home Remedies (3,045), Backyard Farming of All Things (2,696), WeTheSheeple (2,251).
Alumni Connections: Google Plus Refugees (271), Google+ Refugees (186), Frog Pond (156), Carlsbad NM High School alumni (57).
Animals: I Love My Dog (4,421), Pussy Shots (4,619).
Astronomy: Spherical Earth Truth, Flat Earth is Wrong (278), Nibiru, Nemesis, Hercolobus, The Destroyer (187).
Biology: Trees (344), Field of Birds (104), Patriots of Australia (51).
Personal Improvement: For Introverts. (1,214), Anarchy, Philosophy, Psychology, and Spirituality (679), Positive Affirmations (447).
Philosophy: In5d Esoteric Metaphysical and Spiritual Database (1,764), Thought Bouncing (1,137), Obtectivists - Galts Gulch - Ayn Rand fans (561).
Poetry: Dead Poest (1,407), Palacio de Poetry (451), Poets Corner (412).
Politics: Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11,486), The Conservative's Hangout (8,345), Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5,600), Drain The Swamp (4,978), Libertarians (4,528), United We Stand Trump2020 (4,216).
Pop Culture: The Loftus Party (116), The Walking Dead: The Stalking Dead (100), Tyler, Texas (71).
Privacy: Join the Open/Privacy Movement (3974), Kingsport tn gun trader (1,157), Safer Computing (555).
To be clear: whilst I've not included every topic, I've sampled a majority of them above, and listed not an arbitrary selection, but the top few Groups under each topic.
Google Plus expats (1,862)
Google+ Refugees (186)
G+ Refugees (101)
my Google+ expatriates
The Google Plus expats group seems the most active of these by far.
It's curious that MeWe make a specific point in their FAQ that:
At MeWe we have absolutely no political agenda and we have a very straightforward Terms of Service. MeWe is for all law-abiding people everywhere in the world, regardless of political, ethnic, religious, sexual, and other preferences.
There are 403 political groups on MeWe. I won't list them all here, but the first 100 or so give a pretty clear idea of flavour. Again, membership is in (parentheses). Note that half the total political Groups memberships are in the first 21 groups listed here, the first 6 are 25% of the total.
Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11486)
The Conservative's Hangout (8345)
Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5600)
Drain The Swamp (4978)
United We Stand Trump2020 (4216)
The Right To Self Defense (3757)
Alternative Media (3711)
Hardcore Conservative Patriots for Trump (3192)
Bastket Of Deplorables4Trump! (3032)
Return of the Republic (2509)
Infowars Chat Room Unofficial (2159)
Donald Trump Our President 2017-2025 (2033)
Berners for Progress (1963)
Sean Hannity Fans (1901)
The American Conservative (1839)
I Am The NRA (1704)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (1645)
We Love Donald Trump (1611)
MAGA - Make America Great Again (1512)
news from the front (1337)
Basket of Deplorables (1317)
Payton's Park Bench (1283)
Convention of States (1282)
Britons For Brexit (1186)
MoJo 5.0 Radio (1180)
MeWe Free Press (1119)
The Constitutionally Elite (1110)
WOMEN FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP (1032)
AMERICANS AGAINST ISIS and OTHER ENEMIES (943)
#WalkAway Campaign (894)
ALEX JONES (877)
The Lion Is Awake ! (854)
We Support Donald Trump! (810)
The Stratosphere Lounge (789)
TRUMP-USA-HANDS OFF OUR PRESIDENT (767)
Official Tea Party USA (749)
Mojo50 Jackholes (739)
Yes Scotland (697)
"WE THE DEPLORABLE" - MOVE ON SNOWFLAKE! (688)
Judge Jeanine Pirro Fans (671)
Ted Cruz for President (650)
No Lapdog Media (647)
Q Chatter (647)
Daily Brexit (636)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (601)
The Trumps Storm Group (600)
QAnon-Patriots WWG1WGA (598)
100% American (569)
Ladies For Donald Trump (566)
Deep State (560)
In the Name of Liberty (557)
Material Planet (555)
Trump NRA Free Speech Patriots on MeWe Gab.ai etc (546)
Magna Carta Group (520)
Constitutional Conservatives (506)
Question Everything (503)
Conspiracy Research (500)
Bill O'Reilly Fans (481)
Conservative Misfit's (479)
Canadian politics (478)
HARDCORE DEPLORABLES (454)
Tampa Bay Trump Club (445)
UK Politics (430)
Bongino Fan Page (429)
Radical Conservatives (429)
RESIST THE RESISTANCE (419)
The Deplorables (409)
America's Freedom Fighters (401)
Politically Incorrect & Proud (399)
CONSERVATIVES FOR AMERICA ! (385)
Political satire (383)
RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
UK Sovereignty,Independence,Democracy -Everlasting (366)
The Patriots Voting Coalition (359)
End The Insanity (349)
Coming American Civil War! (345)
Constitutional Conservatives (343)
United Nations Watch (342)
A Revival Of The Critical Thinking Union (337)
The New Libertarian (335)
Libertarian Party (official ) (333)
DDS United (Duterte Die-hard Supporters) (332)
American Conservative Veterans (331)
America Needs Donald Trump (326)
The UKIP Debating Society (321)
Coalition For Trump (310)
FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
2nd Amendment (287)
Never Forget #SethRich (286)
Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
It seems there is relatively little representation from the left wing, or even the centre, of the political spectrum. A case-insensitive match for "liberal" turns up:
104: Conservatives Against Liberal Beliefs C.A.L.I.B (273)
184: Progressive and Liberal Politics (119)
301: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder (33)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
358: NOT For Liberals (17)
367: Drinking Liberally Houston (14)
400: Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Army (6)
Mainstream political parties are little represented, though again, the balance seems skewed searching on "(democrat|republic|gop)":
391: Saving The Republic: Video News & Opinion (8)
The terms "left" and "right" provide a few matches, not all strictly political-axis aligned:
7: The Right To Self Defense (3757)
80: RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
150: POLITICS ON THE LEFT (156)
157: 1st Amendment Rights Protected By The 2nd Amendmen (141)
209: On The Left With Jeremy Corbyn (84)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
300: Gather Left (33)
385: Defend Washington State Gun Rights (9)
390: Left Coast Conservatives (8)
Socialism and Communism also warrant a few mentions:
121: Revolutionary Socialists United (204)
216: Socialist Thought (79)
220: Stories Of Communism (76)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
288: Snuggly Wuggly Socialists (38)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
And there are some references to green, laboulabor parties:
97: FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
100: Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
320: Green Party of Ohio Issues & Discussion Group (29)
Whilst there may not be a political agenda, there does appear to be at least a slight political bias to the site. And a distinctive skew on many other topical subjects. Those seeking new homes online may wish to take this into account.
Various typos and tagging corrections. 2018-11-29 - 30
Added G+MM references count for MeWe to lede paragraph. 2018-12-2
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