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No gods, no kings, only NOPE - or divining the future with options flows. [Part 2: A Random Walk and Price Decoherence]
tl;dr - 1) Stock prices move continuously because different market participants end up having different ideas of the future value of a stock. 2) This difference in valuations is part of the reason we have volatility. 3) IV crush happens as a consequence of future possibilities being extinguished at a binary catalyst like earnings very rapidly, as opposed to the normal slow way. I promise I'm getting to the good parts, but I'm also writing these as a guidebook which I can use later so people never have to talk to me again. In this part I'm going to start veering a bit into the speculation territory (e.g. ideas I believe or have investigated, but aren't necessary well known) but I'm going to make sure those sections are properly marked as speculative (and you can feel free to ignore/dismiss them). Marked as [Lily's Speculation]. As some commenters have pointed out in prior posts, I do not have formal training in mathematical finance/finance (my background is computer science, discrete math, and biology), so often times I may use terms that I've invented which have analogous/existing terms (e.g. the law of surprise is actually the first law of asset pricing applied to derivatives under risk neutral measure, but I didn't know that until I read the papers later). If I mention something wrong, please do feel free to either PM me (not chat) or post a comment, and we can discuss/I can correct it! As always, buyer beware. This is the first section also where you do need to be familiar with the topics I've previously discussed, which I'll add links to shortly (my previous posts: 1) https://www.reddit.com/thecorporation/comments/jck2q6/no_gods_no_kings_only_nope_or_divining_the_future/ 2) https://www.reddit.com/thecorporation/comments/jbzzq4/why_options_trading_sucks_or_the_law_of_surprise/ --- A Random Walk Down Bankruptcy A lot of us have probably seen the term random walk, maybe in the context of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, which seems like a great book I'll add to my list of things to read once I figure out how to control my ADD. It seems obvious, then, what a random walk means - when something is moving, it basically means that the next move is random. So if my stock price is $1 and I can move in $0.01 increments, if the stock price is truly randomly walking, there should be roughly a 50% chance it moves up in the next second (to $1.01) or down (to $0.99). If you've traded for more than a hot minute, this concept should seem obvious, because especially on the intraday, it usually isn't clear why price moves the way it does (despite what chartists want to believe, and I'm sure a ton of people in the comments will tell me why fettucini lines and Batman doji tell them things). For a simple example, we can look at SPY's chart from Friday, Oct 16, 2020: https://preview.redd.it/jgg3kup9dpt51.png?width=1368&format=png&auto=webp&s=bf8e08402ccef20832c96203126b60c23277ccc2 I'm sure again 7 different people can tell me 7 different things about why the chart shape looks the way it does, or how if I delve deeply enough into it I can find out which man I'm going to marry in 2024, but to a rationalist it isn't exactly apparent at why SPY's price declined from 349 to ~348.5 at around 12:30 PM, or why it picked up until about 3 PM and then went into precipitous decline (although I do have theories why it declined EOD, but that's for another post). An extremely clever or bored reader from my previous posts could say, "Is this the price formation you mentioned in the law of surprise post?" and the answer is yes. If we relate it back to the individual buyer or seller, we can explain the concept of a stock price's random walk as such:
Most market participants have an idea of an asset's truevalue (an idealized concept of what an asset is actually worth), which they can derive using models or possibly enough brain damage. However, an asset's value at any given time is not worth one value (usually*), but a spectrum of possible values, usually representing what the asset should be worth in the future. A naive way we can represent this without delving into to much math (because let's face it, most of us fucking hate math) is: Current value of an asset = sum over all (future possible value multiplied by the likelihood of that value)
In actuality, most models aren't that simple, but it does generalize to a ton of more complicated models which you need more than 7th grade math to understand (Black-Scholes, DCF, blah blah blah). While in many cases the first term - future possible value - is well defined (Tesla is worth exactly $420.69 billion in 2021, and maybe we all can agree on that by looking at car sales and Musk tweets), where it gets more interesting is the second term - the likelihood of that value occurring. [In actuality, the price of a stock for instance is way more complicated, because a stock can be sold at any point in the future (versus in my example, just the value in 2021), and needs to account for all values of Tesla at any given point in the future.] How do we estimate the second term - the likelihood of that value occurring? For this class, it actually doesn't matter, because the key concept is this idea: even with all market participants having the same information, we do anticipate that every participant will have a slightly different view of future likelihoods. Why is that? There's many reasons. Some participants may undervalue risk (aka WSB FD/yolos) and therefore weight probabilities of gaining lots of money much more heavily than going bankrupt. Some participants may have alternative data which improves their understanding of what the future values should be, therefore letting them see opportunity. Some participants might overvalue liquidity, and just want to GTFO and thereby accept a haircut on their asset's value to quickly unload it (especially in markets with low liquidity). Some participants may just be yoloing and not even know what Fastly does before putting their account all in weekly puts (god bless you). In the end, it doesn't matter either the why, but the what: because of these diverging interpretations, over time, we can expect the price of an asset to drift from the current value even with no new information added. In most cases, the calculations that market participants use (which I will, as a Lily-ism, call the future expected payoff function, or FEPF) ends up being quite similar in aggregate, and this is why asset prices likely tend to move slightly up and down for no reason (or rather, this is one interpretation of why). At this point, I expect the 20% of you who know what I'm talking about or have a finance background to say, "Oh but blah blah efficient market hypothesis contradicts random walk blah blah blah" and you're correct, but it also legitimately doesn't matter here. In the long run, stock prices are clearly not a random walk, because a stock's value is obviously tied to the company's fundamentals (knock on wood I don't regret saying this in the 2020s). However, intraday, in the absence of new, public information, it becomes a close enough approximation. Also, some of you might wonder what happens when the future expected payoff function (FEPF) I mentioned before ends up wildly diverging for a stock between participants. This could happen because all of us try to short Nikola because it's quite obviously a joke (so our FEPF for Nikola could, let's say, be 0), while the 20 or so remaining bagholders at NikolaCorporation decide that their FEPF of Nikola is $10,000,000 a share). One of the interesting things which intuitively makes sense, is for nearly all stocks, the amount of divergence among market participants in their FEPF increases substantially as you get farther into the future. This intuitively makes sense, even if you've already quit trying to understand what I'm saying. It's quite easy to say, if at 12:51 PM SPY is worth 350.21 that likely at 12:52 PM SPY will be worth 350.10 or 350.30 in all likelihood. Obviously there are cases this doesn't hold, but more likely than not, prices tend to follow each other, and don't gap up/down hard intraday. However, what if I asked you - given SPY is worth 350.21 at 12:51 PM today, what will it be worth in 2022? Many people will then try to half ass some DD about interest rates and Trump fleeing to Ecuador to value SPY at 150, while others will assume bull markets will continue indefinitely and SPY will obviously be 7000 by then. The truth is -- no one actually knows, because if you did, you wouldn't be reading a reddit post on this at 2 AM in your jammies. In fact, if you could somehow figure out the FEPF of all market participants at any given time, assuming no new information occurs, you should be able to roughly predict the true value of an asset infinitely far into the future (hint: this doesn't exactly hold, but again don't @ me). Now if you do have a finance background, I expect gears will have clicked for some of you, and you may see strong analogies between the FEPF divergence I mentioned, and a concept we're all at least partially familiar with - volatility. Volatility and Price Decoherence ("IV Crush") Volatility, just like the Greeks, isn't exactly a real thing. Most of us have some familiarity with implied volatility on options, mostly when we get IV crushed the first time and realize we just lost $3000 on Tesla calls. If we assume that the current price should represent the weighted likelihoods of all future prices (the random walk), volatility implies the following two things:
Volatility reflects the uncertainty of the current price
Volatility reflects the uncertainty of the future price for every point in the future where the asset has value (up to expiry for options)
[Ignore this section if you aren't pedantic] There's obviously more complex mathematics, because I'm sure some of you will argue in the comments that IV doesn't go up monotonically as option expiry date goes longer and longer into the future, and you're correct (this is because asset pricing reflects drift rate and other factors, as well as certain assets like the VIX end up having cost of carry). Volatility in options is interesting as well, because in actuality, it isn't something that can be exactly computed -- it arises as a plug between the idealized value of an option (the modeled price) and the real, market value of an option (the spot price). Additionally, because the makeup of market participants in an asset's market changes over time, and new information also comes in (thereby increasing likelihood of some possibilities and reducing it for others), volatility does not remain constant over time, either. Conceptually, volatility also is pretty easy to understand. But what about our friend, IV crush? I'm sure some of you have bought options to play events, the most common one being earnings reports, which happen quarterly for every company due to regulations. For the more savvy, you might know of expected move, which is a calculation that uses the volatility (and therefore price) increase of at-the-money options about a month out to calculate how much the options market forecasts the underlying stock price to move as a response to ER. Binary Catalyst Events and Price Decoherence Remember what I said about price formation being a gradual, continuous process? In the face of special circumstances, in particularly binary catalyst events - events where the outcome is one of two choices, good (1) or bad (0) - the gradual part gets thrown out the window. Earnings in particular is a common and notable case of a binary event, because the price will go down (assuming the company did not meet the market's expectations) or up (assuming the company exceeded the market's expectations) (it will rarely stay flat, so I'm not going to address that case). Earnings especially is interesting, because unlike other catalytic events, they're pre-scheduled (so the whole market expects them at a certain date/time) and usually have publicly released pre-estimations (guidance, analyst predictions). This separates them from other binary catalysts (e.g. FSLY dipping 30% on guidance update) because the market has ample time to anticipate the event, and participants therefore have time to speculate and hedge on the event. In most binary catalyst events, we see rapid fluctuations in price, usually called a gap up or gap down, which is caused by participants rapidly intaking new information and changing their FEPF accordingly. This is for the most part an anticipated adjustment to the FEPF based on the expectation that earnings is a Very Big Deal (TM), and is the reason why volatility and therefore option premiums increase so dramatically before earnings. What makes earnings so interesting in particular is the dramatic effect it can have on all market participants FEPF, as opposed to let's say a Trump tweet, or more people dying of coronavirus. In lots of cases, especially the FEPF of the short term (3-6 months) rapidly changes in response to updated guidance about a company, causing large portions of the future possibility spectrum to rapidly and spectacularly go to zero. In an instant, your Tesla 10/30 800Cs go from "some value" to "not worth the electrons they're printed on". [Lily's Speculation] This phenomena, I like to call price decoherence, mostly as an analogy to quantum mechanical processes which produce similar results (the collapse of a wavefunction on observation). Price decoherence occurs at a widespread but minor scale continuously, which we normally call price formation (and explains portions of the random walk derivation explained above), but hits a special limit in the face of binary catalyst events, as in an instant rapid portions of the future expected payoff function are extinguished, versus a more gradual process which occurs over time (as an option nears expiration). Price decoherence, mathematically, ends up being a more generalizable case of the phenomenon we all love to hate - IV crush. Price decoherence during earnings collapses the future expected payoff function of a ticker, leading large portions of the option chain to be effectively worthless (IV crush). It has interesting implications, especially in the case of hedged option sellers, our dear Market Makers. This is because given the expectation that they maintain delta-gamma neutral, and now many of the options they have written are now worthless and have 0 delta, what do they now have to do? They have to unwind. [/Lily's Speculation] - Lily
No gods, no kings, only NOPE - or divining the future with options flows. [Part 3: Hedge Winding, Unwinding, and the NOPE]
Hello friends! We're on the last post of this series ("A Gentle Introduction to NOPE"), where we get to use all the Big Boy Concepts (TM) we've discussed in the prior posts and put them all together. Some words before we begin:
This post will be massively theoretical, in the sense that my own speculation and inferences will be largely peppered throughout the post. Are those speculations right? I think so, or I wouldn't be posting it, but they could also be incorrect.
I will briefly touch on using the NOPE this slide, but I will make a secondary post with much more interesting data and trends I've observed. This is primarily for explaining what NOPE is and why it potentially works, and what it potentially measures.
My advice before reading this is to glance at my prior posts, and either read those fully or at least make sure you understand the tl;drs: https://www.reddit.com/thecorporation/collection/27dc72ad-4e78-44cd-a788-811cd666e32a Depending on popular demand, I will also make a last-last post called FAQ, where I'll tabulate interesting questions you guys ask me in the comments! --- So a brief recap before we begin. Market Maker ("Mr. MM"): An individual or firm who makes money off the exchange fees and bid-ask spread for an asset, while usually trying to stay neutral about the direction the asset moves. Delta-gamma hedging: The process Mr. MM uses to stay neutral when selling you shitty OTM options, by buying/selling shares (usually) of the underlying as the price moves. Law of Surprise [Lily-ism]: Effectively, the expected profit of an options trade is zero for both the seller and the buyer. Random Walk: A special case of a deeper probability probability called a martingale, which basically models stocks or similar phenomena randomly moving every step they take (for stocks, roughly every millisecond). This is one of the most popular views of how stock prices move, especially on short timescales. Future Expected Payoff Function [Lily-ism]: This is some hidden function that every market participant has about an asset, which more or less models all the possible future probabilities/values of the assets to arrive at a "fair market price". This is a more generalized case of a pricing model like Black-Scholes, or DCF. Counter-party: The opposite side of your trade (if you sell an option, they buy it; if you buy an option, they sell it). Price decoherence ]Lily-ism]: A more generalized notion of IV Crush, price decoherence happens when instead of the FEPF changing gradually over time (price formation), the FEPF rapidly changes, due usually to new information being added to the system (e.g. Vermin Supreme winning the 2020 election). --- One of the most popular gambling events for option traders to play is earnings announcements, and I do owe the concept of NOPE to hypothesizing specifically about the behavior of stock prices at earnings. Much like a black hole in quantum mechanics, most conventional theories about how price should work rapidly break down briefly before, during, and after ER, and generally experienced traders tend to shy away from playing earnings, given their similar unpredictability. Before we start: what is NOPE? NOPE is a funny backronym from Net Options Pricing Effect, which in its most basic sense, measures the impact option delta has on the underlying price, as compared to share price. When I first started investigating NOPE, I called it OPE (options pricing effect), but NOPE sounds funnier. The formula for it is dead simple, but I also have no idea how to do LaTeX on reddit, so this is the best I have: https://preview.redd.it/ais37icfkwt51.png?width=826&format=png&auto=webp&s=3feb6960f15a336fa678e945d93b399a8e59bb49 Since I've already encountered this, put delta in this case is the absolute value (50 delta) to represent a put. If you represent put delta as a negative (the conventional way), do not subtract it; add it. To keep this simple for the non-mathematically minded: the NOPE today is equal to the weighted sum (weighted by volume) of the delta of every call minus the delta of every put for all options chains extending from today to infinity. Finally, we then divide that number by the # of shares traded today in the market session (ignoring pre-market and post-market, since options cannot trade during those times). Effectively, NOPE is a rough and dirty way to approximate the impact of delta-gamma hedging as a function of share volume, with us hand-waving the following factors:
To keep calculations simple, we assume that all counter-parties are hedged. This is obviously not true, especially for idiots who believe theta ganging is safe, but holds largely true especially for highly liquid tickers, or tickers will designated market makers (e.g. any ticker in the NASDAQ, for instance).
We assume that all hedging takes place via shares. For SPY and other products tracking the S&P, for instance, market makers can actually hedge via futures or other options. This has the benefit for large positions of not moving the underlying price, but still makes up a fairly small amount of hedges compared to shares.
Winding and Unwinding
I briefly touched on this in a past post, but two properties of NOPE seem to apply well to EER-like behavior (aka any binary catalyst event):
NOPE measures sentiment - In general, the options market is seen as better informed than share traders (e.g. insiders trade via options, because of leverage + easier to mask positions). Therefore, a heavy call/put skew is usually seen as a bullish sign, while the reverse is also true.
NOPE measures system stability
I'm not going to one-sentence explain #2, because why say in one sentence what I can write 1000 words on. In short, NOPE intends to measure sensitivity of the system (the ticker) to disruption. This makes sense, when you view it in the context of delta-gamma hedging. When we assume all counter-parties are hedged, this means an absolutely massive amount of shares get sold/purchased when the underlying price moves. This is because of the following: a) Assume I, Mr. MM sell 1000 call options for NKLA 25C 10/23 and 300 put options for NKLA 15p 10/23. I'm just going to make up deltas because it's too much effort to calculate them - 30 delta call, 20 delta put. This implies Mr. MM needs the following to delta hedge: (1000 call options * 30 shares to buy for each) [to balance out writing calls) - (300 put options * 20 shares to sell for each) = 24,000net shares Mr. MM needs to acquire to balance out his deltas/be fully neutral. b) This works well when NKLA is at $20. But what about when it hits $19 (because it only can go down, just like their trucks). Thanks to gamma, now we have to recompute the deltas, because they've changed for both the calls (they went down) and for the puts (they went up). Let's say to keep it simple that now my calls are 20 delta, and my puts are 30 delta. From the 24,000 net shares, Mr. MM has to now have: (1000 call options * 20 shares to have for each) - (300 put options * 30 shares to sell for each) = 11,000 shares. Therefore, with a $1 shift in price, now to hedge and be indifferent to direction, Mr. MM has to go from 24,000 shares to 11,000 shares, meaning he has to sell 13,000 shares ASAP, or take on increased risk. Now, you might be saying, "13,000 shares seems small. How would this disrupt the system?" (This process, by the way, is called hedge unwinding) It won't, in this example. But across thousands of MMs and millions of contracts, this can - especially in highly optioned tickers - make up a substantial fraction of the net flow of shares per day. And as we know from our desk example, the buying or selling of shares directly changes the price of the stock itself. This, by the way, is why the NOPE formula takes the shape it does. Some astute readers might notice it looks similar to GEX, which is not a coincidence. GEX however replaces daily volume with open interest, and measures gamma over delta, which I did not find good statistical evidence to support, especially for earnings. So, with our example above, why does NOPE measure system stability? We can assume for argument's sake that if someone buys a share of NKLA, they're fine with moderate price swings (+- $20 since it's NKLA, obviously), and in it for the long/medium haul. And in most cases this is fine - we can own stock and not worry about minor swings in price. But market makers can't* (they can, but it exposes them to risk), because of how delta works. In fact, for most institutional market makers, they have clearly defined delta limits by end of day, and even small price changes require them to rebalance their hedges. This over the whole market adds up to a lot shares moving, just to balance out your stupid Robinhood YOLOs. While there are some tricks (dark pools, block trades) to not impact the price of the underlying, the reality is that the more options contracts there are on a ticker, the more outsized influence it will have on the ticker's price. This can technically be exactly balanced, if option put delta is equal to option call delta, but never actually ends up being the case. And unlike shares traded, the shares representing the options are more unstable, meaning they will be sold/bought in response to small price shifts. And will end up magnifying those price shifts, accordingly.
NOPE and Earnings
So we have a new shiny indicator, NOPE. What does it actually mean and do? There's much literature going back to the 1980s that options markets do have some level of predictiveness towards earnings, which makes sense intuitively. Unlike shares markets, where you can continue to hold your share even if it dips 5%, in options you get access to expanded opportunity to make riches... and losses. An options trader betting on earnings is making a risky and therefore informed bet that he or she knows the outcome, versus a share trader who might be comfortable bagholding in the worst case scenario. As I've mentioned largely in comments on my prior posts, earnings is a special case because, unlike popular misconceptions, stocks do not go up and down solely due to analyst expectations being meet, beat, or missed. In fact, stock prices move according to the consensus market expectation, which is a function of all the participants' FEPF on that ticker. This is why the price moves so dramatically - even if a stock beats, it might not beat enough to justify the high price tag (FSLY); even if a stock misses, it might have spectacular guidance or maybe the market just was assuming it would go bankrupt instead. To look at the impact of NOPE and why it may play a role in post-earnings-announcement immediate price moves, let's review the following cases:
Stock Meets/Exceeds Market Expectations (aka price goes up) - In the general case, we would anticipate post-ER market participants value the stock at a higher price, pushing it up rapidly. If there's a high absolute value of NOPE on said ticker, this should end up magnifying the positive move since:
a) If NOPE is high negative - This means a ton of put buying, which means a lot of those puts are now worthless (due to price decoherence). This means that to stay delta neutral, market makers need to close out their sold/shorted shares, buying them, and pushing the stock price up. b) If NOPE is high positive - This means a ton of call buying, which means a lot of puts are now worthless (see a) but also a lot of calls are now worth more. This means that to stay delta neutral, market makers need to close out their sold/shorted shares AND also buy more shares to cover their calls, pushing the stock price up. 2) Stock Meets/Misses Market Expectations (aka price goes down)- Inversely to what I mentioned above, this should push to the stock price down, fairly immediately. If there's a high absolute value of NOPE on said ticker, this should end up magnifying the negative move since: a) If NOPE is high negative - This means a ton of put buying, which means a lot of those puts are now worth more, and a lot of calls are now worth less/worth less (due to price decoherence). This means that to stay delta neutral, market makers need to sell/short more shares, pushing the stock price down. b) If NOPE is high positive - This means a ton of call buying, which means a lot of calls are now worthless (see a) but also a lot of puts are now worth more. This means that to stay delta neutral, market makers need to sell even more shares to keep their calls and puts neutral, pushing the stock price down. --- Based on the above two cases, it should be a bit more clear why NOPE is a measure of sensitivity to system perturbation. While we previously discussed it in the context of magnifying directional move, the truth is it also provides a directional bias to our "random" walk. This is because given a price move in the direction predicted by NOPE, we expect it to be magnified, especially in situations of price decoherence. If a stock price goes up right after an ER report drops, even based on one participant deciding to value the stock higher, this provides a runaway reaction which boosts the stock price (due to hedging factors as well as other participants' behavior) and inures it to drops.
NOPE and NOPE_MAD
I'm going to gloss over this section because this is more statistical methods than anything interesting. In general, if you have enough data, I recommend using NOPE_MAD over NOPE. While NOPE in theory represents a "real" quantity (net option delta over net share delta), NOPE_MAD (the median absolute deviation of NOPE) does not. NOPE_MAD simply answecompare the following:
How exceptional is today's NOPE versus historic baseline (30 days prior)?
How do I compare two tickers' NOPEs effectively (since some tickers, like TSLA, have a baseline positive NOPE, because Elon memes)? In the initial stages, we used just a straight numerical threshold (let's say NOPE >= 20), but that quickly broke down. NOPE_MAD aims to detect anomalies, because anomalies in general give you tendies.
I might add the formula later in Mathenese, but simply put, to find NOPE_MAD you do the following:
Calculate today's NOPE score (this can be done end of day or intraday, with the true value being EOD of course)
Calculate the end of day NOPE scores on the ticker for the previous 30 trading days
Compute the median of the previous 30 trading days' NOPEs
Find today's deviation as compared to the MAD calculated by: [(today's NOPE) - (median NOPE of last 30 days)] / (median absolute deviation of last 30 days)
This is usually reported as sigma (σ), and has a few interesting properties:
The mean of NOPE_MAD for any ticker is almost exactly 0.
[Lily's Speculation's Speculation] NOPE_MAD acts like a spring, and has a tendency to reverse direction as a function of its magnitude. No proof on this yet, but exploring it!
Using the NOPE to predict ER
So the last section was a lot of words and theory, and a lot of what I'm mentioning here is empirically derived (aka I've tested it out, versus just blabbered). In general, the following holds true:
3 sigma NOPE_MAD tends to be "the threshold": For very low NOPE_MAD magnitudes (+- 1 sigma), it's effectively just noise, and directionality prediction is low, if not non-existent. It's not exactly like 3 sigma is a play and 2.9 sigma is not a play; NOPE_MAD accuracy increases as NOPE_MAD magnitude (either positive or negative) increases.
NOPE_MAD is only useful on highly optioned tickers: In general, I introduce another parameter for sifting through "candidate" ERs to play: option volume * 100/share volume. When this ends up over let's say 0.4, NOPE_MAD provides a fairly good window into predicting earnings behavior.
NOPE_MAD only predicts during the after-market/pre-market session: I also have no idea if this is true, but my hunch is that next day behavior is mostly random and driven by market movement versus earnings behavior. NOPE_MAD for now only predicts direction of price movements right between the release of the ER report (AH or PM) and the ending of that market session. This is why in general I recommend playing shares, not options for ER (since you can sell during the AH/PM).
NOPE_MAD only predicts direction of price movement: This isn't exactly true, but it's all I feel comfortable stating given the data I have. On observation of ~2700 data points of ER-ticker events since Mar 2019 (SPY 500), I only so far feel comfortable predicting whether stock price goes up (>0 percent difference) or down (<0 price difference). This is +1 for why I usually play with shares.
Some statistics: #0) As a baseline/null hypothesis, after ER on the SPY500 since Mar 2019, 50-51% price movements in the AH/PM are positive (>0) and ~46-47% are negative (<0). #1) For NOPE_MAD >= +3 sigma, roughly 68% of price movements are positive after earnings. #2) For NOPE_MAD <= -3 sigma, roughly 29% of price movements are positive after earnings. #3) When using a logistic model of only data including NOPE_MAD >= +3 sigma or NOPE_MAD <= -3 sigma, and option/share vol >= 0.4 (around 25% of all ERs observed), I was able to achieve 78% predictive accuracy on direction.
Like all models, NOPE is wrong, but perhaps useful. It's also fairly new (I started working on it around early August 2020), and in fact, my initial hypothesis was exactly incorrect (I thought the opposite would happen, actually). Similarly, as commenters have pointed out, the timeline of data I'm using is fairly compressed (since Mar 2019), and trends and models do change. In fact, I've noticed significantly lower accuracy since the coronavirus recession (when I measured it in early September), but I attribute this mostly to a smaller date range, more market volatility, and honestly, dumber option traders (~65% accuracy versus nearly 80%). My advice so far if you do play ER with the NOPE method is to use it as following:
Buy/short shares approximately right when the market closes before ER. Ideally even buying it right before the earnings report drops in the AH session is not a bad idea if you can.
Sell/buy to close said shares at the first sign of major weakness (e.g. if the NOPE predicted outcome is incorrect).
Sell/buy to close shares even if it is correct ideally before conference call, or by the end of the after-market/pre-market session.
Only play tickers with high NOPE as well as high option/share vol.
--- In my next post, which may be in a few days, I'll talk about potential use cases for SPY and intraday trends, but I wanted to make sure this wasn't like 7000 words by itself. Cheers. - Lily
The morning alarm woke up Ghen. With an annoyed sigh, he stretched out his arm and silenced the foul-sounding chirps. Slowly sitting up in bed, he let out a deep yawn and got to his feet. Running a couple of chitinous fingers along his antennae to stimulate them to life, he made his bed and then went to his closet. Today was a work day, so he needed his suit. Once the pants were on, he stretched out his wings so that he could button up the shirt, then relaxing them once all the buttons were secured. Dressing for the day was done, now for the morning meal. Entering his kitchen, he took out the chilled leftovers of the evening meal last night and popped it into the radiator, first defrosting and then slightly cooking it. During that process, he also fished out a ceramic cup and placed it in his brewer, serving himself some synthesized caffeine. His idle thought led him to being amused that, when eaten directly off a plant, it has a concentration that could kill him three times over. But after going through some refinement and roasting, all it does is make him hyper. Once the meal was put together, his plate of heated leftovers and a cup of almost-piping-hot cup of Xia's, he took his time to enjoy it. His communicator vibrated. When he looked, he found it was from his boss. "Hello?" Ghen answered. "Ghen, the meeting's been moved up to a few minutes from now." His boss, Xkik, announced. "Apparently higher up has something important they want to say. We have a terminal ready for you, I'll message the login details." "Wha-, what's so important?" Ghen asked in bewilderment. "Did a water line rupture or something?" "No, nothing like that." Xkik replied with a slight chuckle. "It's actually about the rumors we've been hearing. That human corporation wanting to acquire us? That's what they're talking about." Ghen could feel everything inside his thorax drop to the floor. "That must mean it's true then, right? Did we get sold off by the Queen to this company then?" "Show up to the meeting and you'll get your answer." Xkik said simply. When he finished, Ghen got the notification on his communicator. There's the login details, allowing him to remotely attend the meeting. "They're about to start, hurry up." Once Xkik disconnected, Ghen worked fast to login and set up the remote viewing. Once everything was done, his screen started transmitting the meeting room. It was already packed. And off by the main board, he saw his answer. There was a human, resting against the wall on his two legs. Standing right in the center of everyone's view was the coordinator, Tizx, watching the clock periodically. As soon as the meeting's start time was reached, the coordinator began. "Alright everyone. I realize that this was rather short notice, so I want to say how appreciative I am that you made it. Now then, let's just get right to it. For some time now, many of you have been hearing rumors that a human corporation has been interested in us. Why? We never really knew. We're just an organization responsible for finding, extracting and providing water to the colony here all under the direction of the Queen herself. Well, as of now, I have the answer for you. Why don't I let Ryan say that?" Stepping back, Tizx motioned for the human, Ryan, to take over. With a nod, Ryan practically bounced over and then took the position. "Good morning to you all. I hope my Zazk is passable, heh. Anyways, the answer to those rumors, is yes. Terran Galactic Company is indeed interested in you all. Which now leads to me. I'm here to announce that, effective yesterday evening, this water company is now a subsidiary of Terran Galactic Company, under the name of Zilia Water Delivery." Many other sub-coordinators broke into hushed conversation, no doubt speaking their thoughts with each other about this move. Ghen could only wonder if this was even a good thing. What will the humans do? Will he still have his job? Will he have to learn how to deal with the ruthless humans? "Now, I am well aware this is quite the...uh, change." Ryan continued. "That's why I'm happy to inform you that, no, nothing negative or detrimental will happen to you. You just have new people to answer to. Operations will continue as normal, everybody here will still keep their jobs. The only real change any of you will personally experience is that Coordinator Tizx here will now report to someone else. On behalf of the Terran Galactic Company, we are extremely excited and are looking forward to working with you all. Thank you for your time." A week later. At least Ryan wasn't lying. After the initial shock wore off, things went back as they normally did. There were no terminations, no reductions in annual pay or anything. Nothing really changed. At least until this new meeting was called. Ghen was at the worksite this time, so he took his seat and watched as, once again, Ryan led the meeting. "Hello again, everyone!" He said cheerfully, his Zazk noticeably improved. "I hope I didn't end up looking like a liar, right? Everything's still normal, all that?" All the zazk in the room confirmed, providing comments to their pleasant surprise as well as lingering thoughts. "Awesome! Awesome." Ryan said jubilantly, his fleshy mouth revealing his bone-white teeth. "Now then, you're probably wondering why I'm here again, right? Well, I got another fantastic piece of news for you all! Two, actually. I'll start with the first: Zilia Water Delivery has just completed its IPO. The company is now publicly traded!" Ghen and the others voiced their confusion, having no idea what in the name of the Queen Ryan was talking about. What was Ryan talking about? What's an IPO? And why exactly is being publicly traded such a significant thing? "Oh, you guys don't know any of that?" Ryan asked in surprised confusion. After everybody confirmed, he let out a quick huff as he began his explanation. "Well, to begin, IPO is short for Initial Public Offering. Basically what that means is that, before today, Zilia was privately held. Only certain individuals could buy and sell shares here. But now that we're public? Literally anyone can buy and sell shares in the company, hence us being publicly traded." "Uh, what's a share?" Ghen asked, still completely lost. "Oh, boy..." Ryan muttered under his breath before returning to his peppy image. "To simply put it, a share is short for having a share of ownership in a company. When you buy a share, you're buying a piece of ownership, and when you sell, you're selling that amount." "So wait...if someone buys a share, they're a co-owner then?" One of the other team coordinators asked. "If they get enough, yeah." Ryan nodded. "You need a lot though, and that really depends on the company. If I had to give an answer though? I'd say usually you need to have a lot more shares than a lot of people combined to be officially a co-owner, but we call that being a majority shareholder." "And how do we do that?" Ghen asked, now growing curious but still not understanding why such a concept exists. "Simple. Buy shares." Ryan said simply. "And that leads into the second piece of awesome news. Zilia's corporate has a product in mind, a premium-package of water delivery. Instead of the usual water that you pump out, filter and ensure its potable before delivery, with the premium package, not only will you get that, but you'll also get all of the required nutrients and vitamins the zazk body requires! And they feel you guys have the best expertise and understanding to pull it off! So, here's what we're offering as a good-faith bonus: A 25% increase to your annual salary as well as being given stock options." Ghen wasn't sure about the second part, but the salary definitely got his attention, as well as everyone else's. Although his job was considered to have a good pay, Ghen isn't going to say no to a higher salary. In fact, he's been focusing his work on getting a promotion so he can come home with even more credits in pocket. "What do you mean by stock options?" Ghen asked after some time. Ryan let out that smile again, the one that revealed his teeth. "If you choose to transfer over to the new group, you'll be provided 50,000 shares in Zilia itself. Why's that awesome? Let me walk you through it. Right now, our last closing price per share was 3.02 credits. And if you have 50,000 shares during that time, you're sitting on 151,000 credits, if you cash it out immediately." "And why shouldn't we?" One of the coordinators demanded in an ambiguous tone. "Because the price per share changes a lot." Ryan explained promptly. "When we got done with the IPO? It closed at 2.73 a share. Right now? My money's on the closing price being 2.99 a share. However, we are extremely confident in this premium package being successful. If it does? Well, my bet is that the share price will skyrocket to 3.12 a share. If you hold those shares and the price gets to what my bet was? You'll instead get 156,000 credits. Just by holding onto them, you just made an additional 5,000 credits!" "And what if we have more shares?" Ghen questioned, now getting excited at the prospect of free money. "Even more money!" Ryan laughed a bit. "And don't forget about dividends, but that's for another time. The premium group is gearing up right now, we just need the workforce. If any of you wants in, I'll be back tomorrow with all the forms needed to make it official. Take the day and tonight to think it over, yeah?" Everything else melted into a blur. Ghen was practically on autopilot that whole day. Was this the secret to the humans' incredibly massive economy? How so many of them have amassed so much money out of nowhere? All you had to do was just buy this share out of a company and you get more money without even working? As soon as he got home, Ghen knew what he was going to do during the night. After feverishly looking through the galnet, now having the human race connected to it, he looked and gathered up as many books that were translated into zazk as he could find, all talking about the human economic system. The last time he undertook such an intensive study was during his primary education phase. And during his search, he even found forums on the galnet that were completely dedicated to the human's economy. All of them talking about strategies on what company, or stock, to pick. How to analyze a company's performance to determine if it was worth the money, or it had potential to grow over time. And that was when he discovered the humans found another method to the extremely simple buying and selling process. There were humans and some other immigrated aliens who made five times what Ghen could receive over a simple month just by watching the share prices during trading hours, and then buying and selling them at the proper times. Ghen's mind was just absolutely flabbergasted. He thought it was just some strange concept only aliens could make, but no, not with the humans. They've practically made their economy into an art or a science. No, not even their economy. Everything. If humans can see a way to make money off of it, they'll do it. And if there isn't, they'll look for a way. Healthcare was monetized. Galnet services, transportation, shopping at the store, they even made all of their utilities into profit-oriented companies. And it was there that Ghen paused, the realization slamming into him. Everything was monetized. Which means, if you don't have the money for it, you're not getting it. Right? Are the humans truly that ruthless? So obsessed with making money? To the point that they're willing to deprive their own people of the absolute necessities if it's a source of credits? Ghen let out a scoff. There's no way. Nobody is that cruel and callous. He's never been to the United Nations. He can't rely on what a bunch of random people on the galnet says. He decided that from here on out, he'll only go as far as saying that humans are a little obsessed with credits, nothing more. ... There he was. Ryan, sitting in the office provided to him. And there was a rather large line leading to him. Looks like word got around. Although, the line wasn't as large as he expected it to be. Maybe the others thought it was just a ruse? That there's no such thing as making free money by spending it on such a made-up concept? Ghen only knows that, if it is a ruse, it's an extremely elaborate one, where all of the humans are in on it. And he believes that's just extremely ridiculous. At the end, if he's unsure, he'll just take the transfer for the very real increase in his very real salary. And although he spent a very good chunk of the night reading up on how humans do things, he's still going to play it smart. He'll leave his 50,000 shares alone and see where it goes from there. "Good morning sir." Ryan greeted warmly once Ghen took his seat. "Now, name please?" "Ghen." He answered, barely keeping his nerves down. "Alright...and what's your position at this location?" Ryan questioned after scribbling on his form. "I monitor the pumping stations near the extraction sites." Ghen explained, staying on point. "To be more specific, I check to see if they're in need of maintenance, as well as reading the flow rate that's determined by the calculators installed there. If there's too little for what's needed, I pump out more. And if there's too much, I pull it back a little." "Nice...and how long have you been doing it for?" Ryan complimented with a nod. "As of tomorrow, ten years." Ghen replied, voice quickly changing to minor awe once he realized that fact. "Excellent. Do you have anyone in mind you'd like to replace you here?" Ryan questioned after another scribble. "If you don't have anyone, you're free to say so." Ghen took a moment to think it over. A bunch of names went through his mind, but one stuck with him. "Tilik. He's just been accepted here, but he's learned quickly. Very attentive and he always catches something subtle. I think he'll do really well in my position, even better actually." "Tilik, really?" Ryan questioned with a little shock, going through his completed forms. Ghen felt a short sense of panic in him. Did something happen, or was Tilik actually transferring? His answer didn't take long to reveal itself. "Right, Tilik was actually one of the first people to want to transfer here. He's actually requested to be part of the testing teams specifically. Do you have a second choice?" "Um...no, actually." Ghen replied, feeling a little ashamed. "Tilik was my only choice, to be honest." "Hey, don't worry." Ryan said assuringly with his hands raised. "Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there's just nobody up to snuff, right? 'Kay, so, last question. Is there anything specific you'd like to do when given the transfer?" "If you need someone monitoring new pumps, I'd be happy to do that." Ghen stated. "So basically same job but with better payoff, am I right?" Ryan grinned. "I hear you. Sometimes, we're just not paid enough for what we're doing. I know I think that sometimes. Uh, our secret, yeah?" "Yeah, our secret." Ghen nodded, thinking it'd be better to have friendly relations with the human, just in case. "Awesome. Back on topic, that's it." Ryan announced, placing the form on his pile. "We'll give you a call when you're accepted." "Oh, uh, that's it?" Ghen questioned with a shrug in shocked surprise. "What, expecting a question like, why do you want to transfer?" Ryan chuckled a bit as he leaned in his seat. "You can bullshit all you want, but we both know the answer. Sweet money and stock options. Not saying that's a bad answer of course, just that it's pretty obvious." "I suppose it is." Ghen commented, realizing the point. "Also, you mentioned this...dividend? Is that for Zilia shares?" Ryan laughed a little bit before nodding. "Yep, announced before I came here. About 0.43 per share. Want to know why that's awesome? Instead of waiting for the proper price to cash out your shares, now? The company pays you for each share you hold." "A...Are you serious?" Ghen demanded, flabbergasted. Ryan nodded with his now-trademark grin. "Dead serious. If you get the transfer, and get those 50,000 shares? A little head math...right, if you hold onto those, in addition to your salary, you'll now annually be paid 21,500 credits, if you keep it at 50,000 shares. Only you can decide to sell or buy shares." Ghen just stood there silent and motionless, no idea of whether to believe it or not, to which Ryan just laughed. Once he walked out of the room, he managed to snap back to reality. Again, just focus on the very real pay-raise. He'll deal with the other parts later. After he returned to his spot, he spotted Tizx approaching by his desk. The coordinator seems to be as casual as always. "I saw you in that line a bit ago, Ghen." He said as he leaned on the desk. "Guess you're really taking that human's word?" "I mean, I don't know about all this share business or what not." Ghen began with a shrug, his tone sounding a little defensive. "But I mean, having a bigger salary? Course I'm going for it when I can. And if all this magic credits turn out to be real? You realize we can live like the royal servants, right? Get the best cars, the nicest food and all that?" "I'd be very careful, Ghen." Tizx warned in a sudden shift in tone. "Don't trust those humans. The way they just...obsess over money? Come up with more and more insane ways of getting credits? I don't know, it just makes my wings twitch." "You think this is a bad idea?" Ghen asked with a little surprise at the change-in-demeanor. "I think you should be careful, with the humans, and with what you're saying." Tizx replied, straightening his posture. "I wouldn't put it past those Earthmen to backstab you if it gets them a few more credits. And we all know how the royal servants get if any of us lowly commoners start thinking we can break into their circle." "I hear you, I'll be on my guard, promise." Ghen stated with a nod. With a confirming nod of his own, Tizx returned back to his duty, walking past Ghen's desk. Several weeks later. Everything became so much better. Ghen got the transfer. He didn't need to relocate to a new residence either. And after he was walked through into learning how to manage his stock account, and seeing that new form of payment in his hands, he already felt as though he made the best decision. But it was only when he decided to take those shares more seriously that he became privy to what he was given. After receiving the dividend payment, and actually seeing it was real, valid credits after transferring it to his main bank account, all he could describe was the most powerful high he ever felt. While his first thoughts were to buy himself a royalty-class car, some nicer furnishings for his home, or even a better home entirely, he ended up going the smarter route. After going back to his stock account, he discovered that Zilia's shares rose to about 3.22 credits in price. Knowing that this was the easiest money he could ever make, he took all of his dividend earnings and bought more shares in Zilia, bringing him to owning 56,891. And from his new regional coordinator, a human named Dylan, tomorrow is the grand release of the premium package. For just a monthly rate of 14.99 credits, the tap water will now include a sizeable portion of all nutrients and vitamins required in the zazk physiology. Still, Ghen has to admit. He's not entirely sure why anybody would want such a thing, if they'd even go for it. But, as long as he's practically swimming in easy credits, he won't pay much attention to it. And just like when he was intensively studying the basics of how the human economy worked, he barely got any sleep. His mind was constantly thinking about the things he would buy. Or rather, what other stocks to put his credits into. Even now he can still hardly believe it. Just spend your money on some, make-believe thing and, if you wait long enough and picked the right stock, you'll get more than you spent back? His mind even wandered onto what human colonies, or even their homeworld, Earth, was like. If everybody was making so much money, what kind of things would they offer? What kind of ridiculous service or product or item can you get? He's even debating on joining some forum and just asking around. Explain how he's new to how humans do things and was wondering what he should expect if he's successful. By the time he felt like he can go to sleep, the binary-stars of the system were rising from the horizon. After getting out of his bed and changing to clean clothes, his mind returned onto what-ifs. What if he bought better clothes? He's had his eye on that human brand of luxury clothes, Tessuti di Venezia, that's been all the rage amongst the royal servants. Or maybe he can go on vacation and just check out Earth for real? It was a short ride to his workplace from his home. After getting stuff his stuff and preparing to walk through the doors, he heard the roar of a car grow louder. When he looked, he saw the sleekest and quite possibly the coolest looking car he's ever seen. Each time the engine revved it would startle him, both from how harsh it sounded as well as just how intense it sounded. And after it parked, he saw the doors pop out and then slide along the body back. And there, he saw Tilik, the seat literally turning and extending out a bit before he got off. As soon as he saw Ghen staring, he struck a rather prideful pose after putting on his lab coat and then sauntered over to Ghen. "What do you think?" Tilik said, without any doubt inviting praise or compliments. "D...Did you actually buy that?" Ghen asked, unable to tear his eyes away from the car. "You're Queens-damn right I did!" Tilik laughed happily. "Thing takes off like a starship, has temperature-controlled seating, all-in-one center console, barely any bouncing on rough roads. Hoof, best decision I've ever made!" "How much did that thing cost?" Ghen asked after letting out an incredulous laugh. "Five million credits." Tilik replied, earning an absolutely shocked stare from Ghen. "And thanks to the incredible salary I have, in addition to all these shares and dividends, I'll pay back the credits I borrowed in no time!" Ghen needed a few moments before he could speak again. "All I've been doing is buying more shares." Tilik laughed and then patted the now-envious monitor's back. "Smart man. I got a little carried away, yeah, but not anymore. Any spending credits I got, going right back to investing. That's what it's called right, investing?" "Yeah, it is." Ghen nodded, feeling a fire light up in his thorax. "And also? Today's the day that the premium water thing is being released. Here's hoping it starts out well, right?" "Oh it will, trust me." Tilik chuckled as they both began making their way inside the workplace. "Lots of research, lots of study. By the Queen, so much of it...it'll make your head spin." And after hearing that, Ghen had a moment of realization. "Hey, Tilik? How did you get such a nice position anyways? Weren't you just studying under me before the humans came along?" Tilik let out a sigh after opening the door. "I'll be honest, I never wanted your job. Not because it's boring or terrible, just...I didn't suffer so many sleepless nights in the science academy just to be a glorified button pusher. This is what I've always wanted. Doing science, solving problems rather than just applying the solution, you know?" "Wait, you got an academic certificate?" Ghen questioned, completely floored. "How did you end up beneath me then? I should've been answering to you!" "Simple." Tilik gave a heavier sigh. "A royal servant was asking for the same job I was. Take a guess at who got it." "Ouch. Good thing the humans came along when they did, yeah?" Ghen was taken aback. He never heard anything about a servant taking a job at his place. "Looks like you're proving yourself to be well suited." "By the Queen, of course I am." Tilik nodded. "Like I said, I nearly broke my wings through so many nights, got certified top of my class, all just to get pushed to the dirt because someone who was born into a particular family wanted the same thing I did? I know I'm smarter than any of those empty-skull servants back in the Center. I know that, whatever, uh...corporate? Yeah, whatever corporate wants out of science, I will xeek give it to them." "Well, let me know how things go in the lab." Ghen said, admiring his drive as they neared the main office floor. "Because this is where the button pusher needs to go." Tilik let out a laugh as he nodded. "Hey, how about we meet up at Queen's Fine Eatery tonight. I'll pay, yeah?" Ghen, at first, wanted to admonish him for choosing such an outrageously expensive place to go. But he quickly realized that, he truly is good for it, thanks to the humans. "Well, hey, if you're paying for it." ... It was a fantastic opening. After being told what news sites to keep in mind for stocks, he first heard it from Dylan, and then got more detail on Business Today. There was such a massive demand right from the start that Zilia needs to increase extraction just to meet it. But what really got his attention was the effect it had. Zilia Water Delivery's share price just blasted off. After seemingly holding steady at about 3.15, by the time he got home and logged onto his account, it already reached 7.04 a share. The calculator on his account told him that he got a value-gain of 54.26%. Never in his entire life had he felt such...joy. With all of the shares he currently has? He's sitting at 400,512.64 credits. He knows that it is woefully pathetic compared to what the royal servants have just in their pockets, but the fact that he has such money, just by owning some intangible concept? Why even work at Zilia? Why doesn't he just sit at home, figure out what companies to invest in and make his money that way? What's even the point in working a real job, getting a pathetic pay when you can just take the money you have, determine where to spend it, and get triple back? All just sitting on your wings at home, researching? He was so wrapped up in his excited high that he completely forgot he was going to meet Tilik at Queen's. After quickly and haphazardly putting on his nicer clothes, he got to the place only a few minutes late. Tilik was there by the guide, no doubt having been waiting for him. As soon as he strode up, Tilik's wings stiffned out some. No doubt he must've seen the numbers as well. "I can see your wings, Ghen." Tilik began with an excited chuckle. "Made some serious credits?" Ghen let out an incredulous scoff, struggling to find the words for a moment. "Incredible. All I'm going to say." "Likewise." Tilik chortled some before nodding to the table guide. "All here. Table please?" "Right this way, sir." The guide said politely. It was a short walk, travelling between round tables. The vast majority were populated by zazk, but Ghen was surprised at seeing a few humans here as well. No doubt corporate workers checking out the local food. He did spot them having bowls filled with some kind of mass. Some were brown, others white with what looks to be black specks on them. They arrived at their table. A rather nice one, affording a view out the windows into the busy colony streets. Once Tilik and Ghen settled in, the guide handed out the menus. "May I suggest our rather popular option for tonight?" The guide began. "Human ice-cream. Ingredients sourced from Earth itself. Very cold, but incredibly sweet, and coming in many flavors. The most popular amongst us is called vanilla-bean. The vanilla itself soaks in the cream for much of the process, and then the innards sprinkled on top of it near the end. Rumor has it that the Queen herself has demanded personal shipments of such a treat straight from the home of vanilla, an island on Earth named Madagascar." Ghen didn't even spare a single thought. "Vanilla bean ice cream then, please." "Same." Tilik seconded when the guide glanced to him. With a slight bow, the guide proceeded to ferry their orders to the kitchen. Thankfully it was just a short wait before the guide returned, carrying a large plate containing bowls of ice cream. Ghen could feel the saliva on his mandibles as the bowl was placed before them. He could just feel the cold air around that glistening mass of sugary goodness. The white snow decorated with the black dots of vanilla bean. Once the guide left them, Tilik and Ghen both dived in at the same time. As soon as the ice cream entered his mouth, touched his tongue, he exploded in incomprehensible bliss. The sweetness, the smooth and creamy mass, even the taste of vanilla he wasn't sure about was just absolutely delightful. It was so overwhelming that his entire body limped, slumping in his seat as he was forced to ride on the surging tide of joy and happiness sweeping over him. Tilik was no different. He too was taken completely by the effects of the ice cream, his wings fluttering some against the seat. Ghen could hear some noise. It was the humans they passed by. They were chuckling, grinning, and glancing over at them discreetly. Unlike the two zazk, the humans seemingly just enjoyed the ice cream as if it was just another nice dessert to them. Or perhaps they couldn't allow themselves to succumb to the high? And as soon as the wave of indescribable bliss and happiness subsided, Ghen knew. He just knew. This was the life. He wanted this. The ice cream was just the beginning. So many things denied because he didn't have the credits, or worse, not the blood. Because he was just a drone in the great Collective, even if he had the credits, he wasn't allowed because of what caste he was born in. That fire that sparked in him when he saw Tilik's new car? It exploded into a raging firestorm. And when looking into Tilik's eyes, Ghen could see the same. He was on the same page as Ghen was. Both of them were sold. They have the credits. And the humans? If you can pay for it, they'll never discriminate. All they cared about is if you have the money. And by the Queen, Ghen and Tilik will endeavor to amass as much credits as physically possible. The rest of the night faded into a blur. A blur that evokes only one thing. Bliss. It was only when he walked through the door of his pathetic hut that Ghen's mind snapped back to focus. His mandibles felt sticky. And he felt a weight in his stomach. How much ice cream did he eat? Whatever it was, he ate such volume that the lower-section of his throax extended and rounded out, visible even under his shirt. He felt something odd in his pocket. It was a receipt. 43,000 credits for ten bowls of vanilla bean ice cream. Was that ten bowls for both of them? Or individually? Ghen didn't care. He's good for it. Returning back to his calculator, he acted upon the decision that he had made at that eatery. He's acquiring as many books about investing and stock trading as he could find, frequent and study all the discussions and arguments presented by other like-minded individuals such as he, all to ensure he can live the good life. And he had a very good feeling Tilik was doing the exact same thing. Well, first, the gurgling in his stomach, as well as the feeling of something rising demanded his attention. Looks like he'll need to take the night off to let his stomach get back to normal. Three Years Later. Ghen looked out beyond the horizon, seeing the colony that he grew up in. On the far side was where his old house was. With only a simple robe on, made from the finest silk from Earth's nation-state of China, he relaxed in his seat. It was a long road. Stockpiling credits from pre-existing investments and from subsequent pays, he and Tilik made it. From having only half a million in assets and cash, now transformed to over eight-hundred million. And now, his call contracts on American Interstellar? They've just announced a breakthrough in their next generation of warp drives, reducing the speed coefficient even further, resulting in far faster travel. And with that, their stock price climbed sharply. Another hundred million credits in the bank. Soon, very soon, he and Tilik are about to become the galaxy's first zazk billionares. But that's not enough. There are many humans who are billionares. Only those he can count on one hand are considered trillionares. He's going to break into that circle. He and Tilik. Looking beyond the colony, he saw the abandoned building of the workplace he transferred to when the humans arrived. Turns out, the reason for such a high demand was that the humans also slipped in sugar to the tap water. As soon as that broke, many influential royal servants demanded investigations and outright banning of Terran Galactic Company's influence over the former government division. Zilia's stock price plummeted. But thanks to an advance tip from his human coordinator, Dylan, he and Tilik made a put contract. And that's where they struck gold, as the human saying goes. Dylan warned that if they were citizens of the United Nations, they'd be investigated and convicted for insider trading. But, since they weren't, and the Collective were only just introduced to capitalism, there's no risk at all. Now the colony is going through a withdrawal phase, Zilia has been dissolved and reformed back as a government division and are currently at work re-establishing the standard, plain water delivery. "Well, shit." Tilik muttered as he walked up to Ghen's side, taking well to human speech. "Looks like you win. American Interstellar's announcement really was a good thing. There goes a million credits. Ah well, the Royal Shipyards will make it back for me soon." "Oh? Did they just go corporate?" Ghen asked curiously, glancing to Tilik. "Hell yeah they did." Tilik chuckled, sitting down. "Queen and her retard servants fought it hard, but Royal Shipyards is now officially a human-style corporation. And, to a surprise to all the xenophobes in the galaxy, they're already being offered contracts for ship production. That'll raise the stock price pretty good." "What's that human word...?" Ghen muttered, already having a reply in mind. "Dick? Yeah, calls or suck my dick, Tilik." Tilik roared in laughter. "Already made them. Forty credits a share by this day next month." "I have half a mind to go thirty." Ghen chuckled. "Either way, until then, I heard from Dylan that he knows a guy who knows several prime human women who happen to be into zazk." "You're interested in women?" Tilik said as his wings fluttered. "With how often you tell me to suck you off, I'd have thought differently." "Oh, I always thought it was you who was into men." Ghen responded dryly. "Just wanted to be a good friend, you know? Considering how you never seem to make it past, Hey sweet thing, I'm rich you know." "Oh, go fuck yourself." Tilik countered with a little laugh. After he stopped, wings stiffened, he looked to Ghen. "So, know any royal servants we can put the squeeze on for more revenue streams?" "I got just the one." Ghen nodded, sitting up. "Fzik. He's been fighting to control the ice cream trade. Worried it's a corrupting influence. Got done talking with the human CEO of Nestle earlier. If we clear the way, he'll know how to squeeze a little more gains in stock price when he makes the announcement." Tilik's wings stiffened even more, signaling his approval. "Alright, time to throw some credits around, yeah?" AN: Sorry for the period of no updates. College is starting up, lots of stuff to clear and work out. Not sure why but I just got a bug up my butt about incorporating money and the stock market into a short. Here it is. Sorry if it seems abrupt, character limit fast approaching. Let me know how you guys think about it!
Because of the Reddit character limit, I am posting this separately. Episode IX - Balance in the Force: If The Force Awakens was a bad premise executed incredibly well and The Last Jedi was an incredible premise executed badly, The Rise of Skywalker is a terrible premise executed horribly. I disagree with the popular notion that Rian cornered J.J. because TLJ screwed everything up. I have many problems with The Last Jedi, but Rian took what could have been a visionless carbon-copy of the OT, and gave a new bold direction, an inspiring purpose for this trilogy to exist. It opened up so many possibilities for Episode 9, but J.J. took the easiest soulless path. Episode 9 should never have been the plot conclusion that reverses from The Last Jedi and attempts to be a thoughtless fan service finale that ties up the Prequels and the Originals by redoing Return of the Jedi. Episode 9 should have been the thematic conclusion that wraps up the motifs of the Prequels, the Originals, and The Last Jedi. The Rise of Skywalker failed to answer the questions that the trilogy has raised. I am not talking about J.J.'s mystery boxes. Sure, I would have liked to learn how Maz got Luke's lightsaber and who Max von Sydow's character was, but I am talking about the thematic questions. What should the Jedi be and where should the Jedi head toward? What should the galactic government be after the failures of the New Republic? What is the will of the Force? What is the balance? Why is Kylo Ren's path wrong? What is the permanent solution to the chaos that has been repeated again? Despite branding itself to be a finale that attempts to unify the whole saga, The Rise of Skywalker answers none of these because killing Palpy again, this time he is 'dead' dead, solves every problem of the galaxy. The movie fails to wrap up the 42-year franchise, it fails to wrap up what The Last Jedi has set up, it fails to answer The Force Awakens's questions, only raising more questions, it fails to be a fan-service movie, and it even fails to be a fun popcorn movie as its own. This is Spectre of Star Wars. It bafflingly misunderstands what the essence of Star Wars is. As the title suggests, this new story is about our heroes exploring what balance in the Force means. Balance is not just killing Palpy again and be done with it. Here are the basic ideas. Let's continue The Last Jedi's message about the power of myth and everyman. EDIT: I have incorporated EmperorYogg's idea. Crawl: The flames of resistance burn brightly! Word of mouth about the heroic act of Jedi Master LUKE SKYWALKER has spread from planet to planet and inspired the galaxy anew. To suffocate growing unrest, Supreme Leader Hux has silenced all communication between neighboring systems. Defiance is punishable by death. As the First Order struggles to maintain their systems, Lord KYLO REN rages in search of all records of the Force and anyone associated with it, determined to destroy any threat to his power....
The camera pans down and we see common people talking about the legend of Luke Skywalker as they look up the night sky. Then the montage of the word of mouth about Luke Skywalker's heroic sacrifice spreading among the common people throughout the galaxy. Even the FO troopers who witnessed the event at Crait talk about this in secret.
It has been two years after The Last Jedi.
The FO has blocked all civilian communications, trades, and movements between systems. People are only able to travel if they have permission.
Finn has become one of the Commanders of the Resistance.
Kylo dreams of his uncle returning to his mind and pulling him to the light. He dreams of Luke over and over.
Kylo reigns the FO as a Lord. He continues his "kill the past" mentality to the extreme. Kylo wants to remove all record of the Force and those associated with it from the galaxy. He massacres the suspected Force users and destroys the ancient Jedi and Sith relics. He hopes to maintain power as the leader of the FO by gatekeeping such knowledge as he has become fearful that he might lose his authority at any moment. This makes Kylo a thematical opposition to Rey, who wants to spread stories and knowledge of the Force to recruit the Jedi.
After the death of Plagueis, Supreme Hux has been obsessed with the Sith and the Jedi and wants to become a Force-user. Unlike Kylo, who destroys all records of the Force, he has been collecting the lightsabers and ancient relics. He beheads the traitors and captured Resistance fighters on the public square by using the lightsaber he has collected to show off. Despite wanting to become a Force-user, he has no knowledge nor cares to understand it. Only for his power. To beat Kylo Ren out of his power. Basically, Hux is an Indiana Jones villain. This makes Hux an opposition to both Kylo and Rey and gives him an interesting dynamic with Kylo.
As Kylo and the Knights of Ren massacre another group of Force worshippers (Not the Jedi nor the Sith. People like Chirrut who do not fall under any side), Kylo discovers some sort of a key. They return to Coruscant and examine it, discovering it is a key to the World Between Worlds from Rebels. He tries to destroy the key at first but chooses to venture there alone, determined to close this place once and for all so no one can access it. He then dreams of Luke again in his nightmare.
NandovMovies's idea on Chewbacca is pretty fantastic. Chewbacca and C-3PO (translating the Force worshippers' words for Chewbacca) are with these Force worshippers in the intro as Rey is trying to find all the Force-related relics to rebuild the Jedi, but Kylo and his Knights of Ren came in. The Force worshipper contacts Rey through the Force to alert her. We see Rey in her hideout on Kijimi, floating with the Force. There are many new recruits beside her. Rey tells them it is time to go.
Kylo demands the Force worshippers to join him, but they refuse. Kylo and his Knights massacre the worshippers. Before Chewie gets captured, he does something to C-3PO. He captures Chewbacca, C-3PO, and his Falcon and brings them to Coruscant.
The FO attempts to extract information from C-3PO, but Chewie mindwiped him. However, Kylo notices additional modification for C-3PO with the parts that are made with Ajan Kloss steels, meaning the Resistance base is on there. The FO then tortures Chewbacca to get information, but he will not open his mouth. Finally, Kylo arrives. Chewbacca looks away. Kylo interrogates Chewbacca to gain information about where the Resistance and Rey are and what this key is about. Chewbacca resists and starts remembering his happy days with Kylo and Han Solo, and Kylo relieves these moments. Chewbacca watching the marriage... Leia holding her newborn baby... Ben's Jedi training... and Ben killing his father. Kylo tries to suppress it, killing the past but it keeps haunting him back. Despite Chewie's effort, Kylo obtains information regarding the key and Rey and the Resistance's location.
The stationed Republic troopers raid Rey's hideout on Kijimi, but they were already gone. Rey and her Jedi and Rebel recruits escape. Her new recruits comprise of diverse living beings from Kijimi, from teenagers to elders, from humans to aliens... Rey has been recruiting those who wanted to be the Jedi and the Resistance through the stories. In the last hope to preserve the Jedi's legacy, Rey grows from student to teacher and shares the sacred texts to everyone who wants to be Jedi. She has been printing and researching the texts.
We get a chase scene in the village. Rather than Rey killing every enemy in her sight unlike Luke did in Return of the Jedi, she tries more peaceful solutions. Instead of slashing trooper's head, she Force-throws objects and cuts off the bridge, etc. The villagers cheer for the Jedi and block the troopers' way. She protects her pupils and escapes without killing anyone. Connix reveals herself with the hidden Resistance ship and helps them escape. Rey tells her they are new Jedi recruits.
In the road to regroup with the Resistance, Connix thanks Rey for alerting the Resistance. The Resistance has retreated again (As Kylo extracted information about the Resistance base) and she is angry that the Resistance cannot keep running away. They are now bigger than before and this is time to fight back. A new volunteer says that time might be closer since people are resenting the FO rule and the blackout was the last straw. They talk about the sacrifice of Luke Skywalker and how it has inspired people. He asks if Rey is Luke's daughter. Rey gives a bittersweet smile and tells him she is not. She still wants to be someone's daughter.
They regroup on the asteroid world of Opuchi in the Unknown Regions like Polis Massa. The Resistance, now significantly increased in size, has just fled from Ajan Kloss. Opuchi is the last place they have. The Resistance has become a more proper military now, but there are plenty of civilian vehicles modified into the warships. They have been gathering local resistance forces and unifying them under the rebranded name of the Alliance of Free Planets.
While I agree with the Rey Sue criticism in The Force Awakens, people who still complained about Rey being Mary Sue even after TLJ's release seem to misunderstand her character. Rey's character flaw (Yes, it does exist) was that she was so gullible and naive, and The Last Jedi challenged this in an interesting way. Rather than continuing Rey being another Luke Skywalker-type hero, which would not work because of her OP set-up in TFA, Rian made Rey's story as someone with innate power already present with no direction on how to process it and how to find her place in the galaxy. You know, sort of like Superman. If you view through this lens, every Rey's 'want' fails. Her Jedi fantasy gets crushed, her optimism about turning Kylo to good shatters, and her hope about her parentage is torn to pieces. To continue her arc, in REDONE, Rey is no longer a naive optimistic character as she used to be. She is jaded, stressed, and lashes out when she sees students doing something wrong. Not only Rey has self-doubt if she will be able to lead the new generation of the Jedi, but she is also disillusioned and feels that the Jedi's way is wrong.
The Resistance has no idea what to do amidst the communication blackout. The blackout is working for the FO. The Resistance is completely cornered and has no way out. However, R2-D2, who is with Leia, tells that the Coruscant Jedi Temple has an old communication system from the Old Republic that can send a universal signal. (If you have read my ROTS REDONE, R2-D2 was the one who transmitted Obi-Wan's warning message. Even if you take the movie canon, R2-D2 was Anakin's droid, and Anakin already knew where the Temple beacon was, so I do not think it would be big of a stretch that R2 knows about it.) The FO cannot stop it since it far predates the FO, the New Republic, and even the Imperial tech. Leia plans on using it to get allies for possibly the last strike against the FO. "It will go out across all system comm channels and will be inserted into the public holonet. Trillions of beings will soon hear my voice. This is a galaxy-wide call to arms. We can no longer fight in isolation. Together, we will restore hope."
Luke's Force ghost visits Rey after she trained the recruits. Luke: "Another hard day's work?" Rey ignores Luke and says, "Leave me alone." Although Rey has come to terms with Luke, her relationship with Luke is not smooth. Rey talks about how she is not ready for such a task. She does not feel like she has what it takes to be a Jedi and cannot live up to everyone's expectations. Luke says, he has just visited Ben, in his dream, and tells her that Ben is going to the World Between Worlds. A place described in the Jedi texts as a place of balance. The texts tell where the key is. Luke tells Rey that he sensed Ben can be saved thus Rey can bring balance to the Force. However, Rey asks if Kylo is worth saving anymore. If Rey re-establish the Jedi Order, the same thing is bound to happen and the cycle of suffering continues. Rey: "Balance? The dark suffocates the light, light extinguishes the dark. Over and over and over again. How is that balance in the Force?" Luke: "I know that anger. My father had it too." Rey: "So says my master and his master before him. A thousand masters so eager to tell us how to live." Regardless, Rey decides to have a dangerous journey alone. Although Rey doubts about it, Rey still feels the need to try. Leia and Finn doubt it.
Finn then talks about Kylo. He says, "He can't change. It's too late." Rey says, "It's never too late to change. You taught me that." This sets Finn's character arc that he needs to learn people can change as he did.
Maz is with Rey. Maz talks about the former Jedi who found Anakin's lightsaber. "The former Togruta Jedi" did not follow the Jedi's principles, yet was still able to do good, proving you can still serve the Force without inheriting the way of the Jedi.
Rey tells Leia that she does not feel she belongs with the heroes like Leia, Finn, and Chewie. She feels unworthy. Leia brings some senses to her. "You're not like my father or my brother. You're new. Whatever happens, remember the Force chose you, Rey. Your story isn't written by anyone else." Rey's arc in Episode 9 is about learning to stop relying on other people (or things) for validation and learn to start relying on herself. She doesn’t have to be told her place in the Galaxy, she has to find it herself and she can still be a hero despite coming from nothing.
Finn tries to persuade her not to go. The Resistance and the Jedi recruits need her. If she has to go, Finn will go with her. Rey refuses, but Finn begs her to take him. Rey uses the Force mind tricks on him, but it does not work as his spirit is too strong. Rey runs away with R2-D2 and leaves Finn without a proper goodbye.
R2-D2 wants to meet Kylo again, as he has always been with Ben until he became Kylo Ren. Rey hesitates, but Leia tells her to bring him.
Leia's mission is to gather many armies as possible for the final confrontation against the FO on Coruscant. Nien Nunb tells where Lando is and she meets Lando in his casino at Canto Bight. She asks him to join the fight but Lando refuses. What's the point of fighting when the same thing repeats. This conversation leads to Leia's decision at the end of the story. Leia gets disappointed and leaves the casino. Lando feels guilty for not helping Leia.
For Finn's arc, u/withoutamartyr seems to be ideal. Finn's mission is to get into Coruscant through the FO freighter and transmit Leia's message. Wedge is said to be there. Before they depart, R2-D2 and BB-8 come together. R2-D2's prod connects to BB-8 and gives him the map of the Jedi Temple, passing down the torch.
Finn, BB-8, and his squad, disguised as the migrant workers, are sent to one of the agriworlds in the Outer Rims. This can be Ertegas or Taris. They go through a checkpoint, which is about to close today. Only Finn gets accepted as the last migrant for today. One of the troopers recognizes Finn's face and about to detain him, but a sergeant trooper comes out and takes Finn away. The trooper takes out his helmet to reveal Wedge Antilles.
Wedge guides Finn and BB-8 to Babu Frik, who lives hiding in the migrant settlement. Babu Frik modifies BB-8's shell into the FO BB unit. Wedge talks about how people on Coruscant are starving due to the blackout as Coruscant has little to no farm. Finn has to get into the freighter loaded with bread-powder rations (The powder Rey used to grow bread in TFA), resources, and the weaponry. Here, Finn asks, "How'd you do it? How did you defeat an Empire with almost nothing?" Wedge responds, "We had each other. That's how we won."
With the help of Wedge, Finn hides in the bread-powder container and loads into the freighter while disguised BB-8 is already in the freighter and hacks the scanner examining the loads. They successfully get smuggled into the freighter which heads to Coruscant.
Among the troopers are Elite Troopers, who have been highly trained with high moral.
In the road to Coruscant, Finn, covered in bread powder, gets out of the container and sneaks into the vents. In the vent, water drops fall onto Finn and loaves of bread grow out of his skins and clothes. He gets detected and captured. The FO captain tries contacting other fleets, but BB-8 jammed the freighter, cutting off any communication from the ship. The captain says there must be a droid spy and orders them to find BB-8. BB-8 must have the Resistance location. The captain is giggling, thinking he will get promoted for killing infamous Finn. When Finn is ordered to be executed, the troopers refuse the order and shoot their captain. They take off their helmets, a boy, a 16-year-old child soldier as the FO has lowered the conscription age, and his older sister, Jannah. They are alien characters, Zabrak, Twe'lek, Chiss, Pantoran, Togruta, Mirialan... It does not matter. They say, "We all know your name." Soldiers do not know what they are fighting for anymore and their morale is an all-time low. Finn and the troopers start a breakout, and more troopers get inspired and do the same. The defected group gets larger and creates a massive mutiny and overthrow their superiors. Finn and the deserters take control of the ship before the officers were able to alert the HQ.
Jannah tells her backstory. She enlisted to the FO because they promised to give equal society for non-humans after two decades of brutal humanist rule of the Empire. Until she realized she is no different from a stormtrooper. Finn asks what was the last straw. She says it was him. It is because of the story of Finn that made her turn. She says Finn is the legend among the FO troopers and fangirls over Finn. She tells Finn's defection and myth have already caused several mutinies within the FO. "We are not alone. Good people will fight if we lead them."
The freighter of Finn and his army of the deserted Republic troopers gets into Coruscant. Coruscant is surrounded by the shield blockade like Scarif from Rogue One, reinforcing the notion that societies are isolated from each other. Large stations hover over the cities. Coruscant is no longer a vibrant city. Because of the embargo, citizens are poor and many have become scavengers. We learn of the FO's status in the galaxy and how the people feel about it. The public has turned against the government, but they cannot rebel due to martial law. They surround Hux's gigantic sky palace that is floating behind the abandoned Senate building. Like how Wallace corp. is built right behind Tyrell corp. in Blade Runner 2049. They fool the guards using the Republic trooper disguise (as the deserters are literally the Republic troopers) and go into the Jedi temple, marveled by its history and architecture.
Chased by Knights of Ren, Finn, and BB-8 restore the power of the Temple and successfully transmit Leia's inspiring message to people all over the galaxy to join the battle of Coruscant. "The First Order has continued the pretense that they would end social injustice and corruption. On the surface, their policies may seem to be aimed at righting the wrongs imposed by the tyrannical Empire. But their true goal has always been no different from the Empire: The subjugation of the thousand thousand worlds and the enslavement of all galactic citizens. They rule by fear rather than by consent. They state that all beings are equal citizens while they carry out missions designed to destroy whole populations." [...] "For too long we have watched the heavy hand of the First Order strangle our liberties, stifling our freedoms in the name of ensuring our safety. No longer. It is now time for action. Despite the First Order's threats, despite the Supreme Leader Hux himself, I have no fear as I take new action. For I know I am not alone. Beginning today we stand together as people. Today, we all vow to free the galaxy once more, and today the galaxy will indeed be free." [...] "We ask much of you. The fate of the galaxy rests in this one decisive fight for freedom. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The time has come to stop hiding and face tyranny one to one. This is our most desperate hour. Help us, everyone. You are the galaxy's only hope. Let the stars sing! Let the planets shout! May the Force be with all of us." A montage of people in the galaxy hearing her message, including Lando's casino where every droid there projects Leia's message. Even R2-D2, who is with Rey, projects Leia's message. Rey realizes the assault has begun.
In his journey to the World Between Worlds, Kylo meets Rey and fights her. However, Rey overwhelms Kylo and cuts his limbs out. He falls to the ground, tumbles near the lava. Kylo discovers he has transported to Mustafar, and in front of him is Obi-Wan, delivering his lines from ROTS. Kylo tries climbing up, but the fire catches up to his clothing. Kylo feels immense pain as fire burns his skins. Then he wakes up and his limbs are fine. An illusion. Kylo thinks this is a trick of the Force this place has set, trying to keep away intruders who aren’t worthy of possessing its power.
He meets the Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin could not contact Kylo for a long time as Plagueis has been blocking that contact. This would be a fantastic opportunity to redeem Hayden Christensen with competent direction and dialogues. Kylo at first resists Anakin and tries to destroy him. Anakin persuades him to realize errors of his power obsession and 'kill the past' mentality.
In TWBW, Kylo experiences the history of the Sith as he sort of time travels like Bran. Showing that Kylo's path is not so different from Darth Vader and other Sith. They spend a long time as these two having a journey together. Imagine Cade Skywalker meeting Anakin from Legacy. Kylo also meets his old self, deformed and scarred with deep sorrow, the inevitable fate if Kylo chooses to go down this path.
Hux finds a Sith relic. I am undecided about what this relic should be or how he found it yet. He could have sent Pryde after Kylo to TWBW and learn about it. Regardless, Hux meets the Sith ghost of Plagueis. Plagueis tells Hux that Kylo killed him, not the girl. Now, Hux has a reason to turn his military against his despised tyrant boss for treason. Hux assumes himself as the 'Lord' and promises Pryde to promote him to the Supreme Leader if Pryde kills Kylo. Kylo has lost the power he so much adored. This humbles Kylo and changes his character.
Plagueis promises Hux that he will gain the immense Force power if he lets Plagueis borrow his body. Hux can be a Sith he has so desired. Hux can live forever. Hux denies.
Rey needs to learn about the true meaning of balance to the Force and her self-worth in the journey. Her journey also needs to come together with Kylo. Maybe Rey arriving at Tython, the ancient Jedi homeworld, to find the key to the World Between Worlds, and in that process, she witnesses how the Jedi Order has changed and perverted by dogmatism. Or she goes to Lothal and goes through the Painting of the Mortis gods. Or, a more interesting one, she goes to the homeworld of Celestials. Celestials have had such immense Force powers that Jedi and Sith legends suggest that they may have merged with the Force itself, and are actually the 'guiding' part of The Force. Unlike Jedi or Sith, they did not view the Force as light and dark. To them, the Force was only the Force. They saw the Force as a single thing. They recognized the Force had more than one aspect to it, more precisely sides to it. While the Jedi see any use of the Force that breaks what they define as being natural, as being an abomination in the Force. Basically they call it an unclean and impure use of the Force that brings nothing but death and destruction. To a Jedi, the light side is the only side. The true nature of the Force. While obviously the Sith saw things at the opposite end of the Jedi. In a way, the Jedi broke up the Force and were responsible for the creation of an imbalance in the galaxy as well as the Sith. Seeing they themselves are out of balance for they only see the Force as they want to see it and not as it is. Rey finally realizes the balance. She obtains the key and goes to the World Between Worlds. The challenge here is to integrate Rey's external challenge in this part. Like Rey just wandering around the ancient relics, learning things, and exiting is boring. There need to be stakes here, and I do not know what could that be. Maybe the Knights of Ren chase after both Rey?
Another alternative is Rey arrives at Lothal first and goes through the painting to reach the TWBW. Rey goes through time and space and discovers Celestials.
She encounters Kylo. Kylo and Rey fight, as he promised to Luke that he will destroy her, but Rey tries persuading him, using the knowledge she just gained. Trying to convince that Kylo's way is wrong. To Rey, the whole dark side/light side thing is drawn out, and clearly both have major flaws. In anger that he has lost his power in the FO, Kylo defeats Rey. However, Rey manages to turn Kylo to good. However, I am not sure what triggers Kylo to turn at this moment yet. Maybe Anakin and Luke intervene and tell Rey and Kylo that both Luke and Anakin were affected by the Jedi's inability to prepare them for the darkness they would feel.
Another argument to refute Kylo is that he is wrong that he can stop the Force. He cannot stop the Force and his determination to destroy those who can use it only furthers the Force's calling.
Or you can have a moment where R2 projects the recording of Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar. "I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire!" If you want a movie canon, R2-D2 shows Anakin choking Padme, which parallels Kylo killing Rey. Urging Kylo that he is no different from Anakin and the Sith's path. Kylo decides not to kill Rey but has not turned yet. Pryde and his Elite Troopers die.
Leia's forces drop out of hyperspace and face the FO navy on Coruscant. The Resistance is hopelessly outnumbered. Now, there is no going back. Leia trusts in hope and believes people will come together.
People on Coruscant get inspired by Leia's message and the space battle above Coruscant and start rebelling against the FO. The soldiers are dispatched to suppress the riots. Hux detects where the message is coming from and sends the troops into the Jedi temple. Finn and the deserted Republic troopers escape the temple and return to the freighter to leave Coruscant.
At the most desperate moment, the civilian reinforcements led by Lando from across the galaxy to join the battle.
In the freighter, before Finn decides to leave Coruscant, he looks out the window and witnesses the space battle above Coruscant and the soldiers suppressing the revolution. Instead of running away, he decides to broadcast his message to all troopers on Coruscant through the radio. Similar to the scene from The Winter Soldier, Finn accepts his status as a legend. "Troopers, I'm Finn. You know me. You've heard my story. Make my story yours." They don't know if it works until the FO forces halt and massive mutinies take all over them. Finn hears many voices from the radio, "We hear you, Finn.", "We are with you,""We all have heard of you! " We see a long slow-motion montage of Republic troopers, who took out their helmets, joining the crowd. Finn leads the charge into the government buildings. The revolution has begun. 'People' overthrow the FO. Very much like Les Miz and Metropolis imagery. With this, Finn concludes his arc. This reinforces the theme of rebellion reborn, the power of legend, and the theme of people versus the FO.
During the chaos, Chewbacca and C-3PO escapes and flies the Falcon to assist the revolution from the sky. We get a chase sequence on the cityscape. The Falcon destroys the planetary shield gate from inside to help the Resistance fleet coming into the planet.
Meanwhile, Plagueis once again asks Hux to borrow his body. Realizing Hux has no way out, he lets Plagueis. Plagueis possess Hux and revives by obtaining the body of Hux.
During Pryde's attack, the World Between Worlds gets destroyed. In the World Between Worlds, Rey teleports herself to Coruscant to face Hux possessed by Plagueis. (As you can teleport space and time in TWBW)
Rey arrives at the sky palace and faces Plagueis, but is too weak to fight him. Rey is defeated and can do nothing. Plagueis laughs and says it matters not that the FO fall. He will flee to Unknown Regions and return someday to avenge to rule the galaxy, and the cycle will continue. Plagueis uses the Force to control the sky palace and launches it into the sky, away from the planet. (Or the palace works like a ship and has a flying function) He says he will train Rey in the ways of the dark side to make her another Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The Resistance attacks the palace, but lasers won't penetrate.
Before the sky palace lightspeeds, the palace pauses as if something is holding back. It is revealed that Ben Solo on the ground is holding the sky palace to stop escaping. Everyone on the ground is shocked to see Kylo Ren and sees his Force stopping the sky palace. However, Ben's power is not enough and the palace continues fleeing.
In the sky palace, Rey hears the voices of the past Jedi. The Force flows within Rey and everyone.
Just as Ben loses his grip on the sky palace, a boy comes out and extends his hand toward the sky palace. Others follow. Masses of the crowd gathers and reaches for the sky palace, including Finn and his band of deserters. Together, they stop the sky palace and Plagueis escaping. Here, Ben has a realization that the Force cannot be stopped. This is a payoff to the theme of everyone can be a Jedi.
Ben Force-pushes out of the wreckage and enters Hux's throne room. Rey also wakes up, keep hearing the voices of the Jedi. Plagueis's dark ghost leaves Hux's body, saying he cannot die. The Force ghosts of the Jedi appear and put their hands on Ben and Rey's shoulders. They then extend their hands and the light comes out as Yoda did in Episode III REDONE. However, it does not work and Plagueis overwhelms them still.
Rey represents the light and Ben the dark. Ben tries to help Rey by shooting out light with her, but it still does not work. Plagueis says the light cannot match the dark. Rey realizes something and encourages Kylo to find balance within the Force. They embrace balance. Rey and Ben extend their hands and the light and the dark come out. They do what Jacen Solo did in the Unifying Force and achieve complete oneness with the power of the Force. The light and the dark mix together and shoot out grey. The balance in the middle. Strengths and weaknesses of both sides. Rey and Ben obliterate Hux's body as well as Plagueis's soul.
I am not sure if 'grey' is an optimal option when the theme is about abandoning the light and the dark dichotomy. The scene is somewhat too cheesy in my taste, but so far this is the best way I can think of to go about it for now until I can think of a better solution.
There is a cool concept art of Treverrow version where Rey reaches a place of the Force beyond what we know and meets the Force ghosts of the past Jedi like Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Luke. The gray gets to Rey and she arrives at the sand field, where sand is black and the sky is white. Not heaven nor hell, a limbo. From the fog, hundreds of the Jedi walk out before her. Yoda reveals Rey succeeded where they failed. "You choose to abandon the light and dark dichotomy of the Force. To find the balance within."
The FO collapses and the Resistance assumes the control of Coruscant. Leia now sees it was corrupt out of touch bureaucracy of the Old and New Republic that birthed the Empire and the FO. In the half-destroyed Galactic Senate, instead of establishing the New New Republic, Leia declares there will not be a central galactic government. She will let each system to secede and declare independence.
Ben Solo turns good at the end, but is not 'redeemed'. I like Stephan Krosecz's idea. On Tatooine where Anakin was born, Ben defeats the FO remnants and stands before the mass grave where Ben ordered his men to slaughter the villagers and killed Mon Mothma. He is directly facing 'the past' and owning it. Ben tells Anakin's Force ghost that he will reject the surname, "Solo", as he feels he does not deserve his father's legacy and wander the galaxy alone to atone for his sins by helping people. Anakin tells him to carry that name. Solo is who you are and you should not bury it. Ben agrees and decides to carry that name in his journey to repent for his wrongdoings. This would be a far interesting angle for his character. This works with the theme that we should change for the better without forgetting the past. Acknowledging that people he has hurt should not feel obligated to befriend and accept him.
Yoda calls Luke "Master Skywalker" as a payoff to Yoda calling Luke "Young Skywalker".
In the end, Rey achieves balance in the Force by what Lucas has revealed in his interviews during the Prequels: "...The Force has two sides, the good side, the evil side, and they both need to be there.", "It is not a malevolent or a benevolent thing.", "Too much light or dark would be the undoing of life as you understand it." The prophecy is not the light side reigning the galaxy as the Jedi have thought, nor the dark side reigning the galaxy as the Sith have thought. It is about incorporating the pros of both sides and be better. After the victory, Rey gathers her pupils on Ahch-To, where everything began. Finn and Jannah are among them. Rey gives a speech.
She establishes the Jedi Academy, not the Jedi Order, that embraces the legacy of the Jedi but learns from the failures of the past Jedi Orders and erases rigid dogmatism that ultimately doomed her parents and the Jedi. The light side, the dark side, these are outdated binary concepts. It only becomes a cycle of reaction: the light side rules, which births the dark side, which births the light side. The cycle that only creates pain and suffering. As George said, "It rhymes." Rey believes there is a healthy middle ground. We should allow all human emotions and encourage the worshippers of the Force to follow their feelings and live to the fullest without a petty dogma controlling their lives. Rey announces the new Jedi code: "Emotion, yet peace. Ignorance, yet knowledge. Passion, yet serenity. Chaos, yet harmony. Death, yet the Force." It sends the opposite message to the original Jedi code and emphasizes a true balance. Rey believes it is important to accept these emotions rather than overcoming them or acting like they do not exist. The latter leads to Jedi falling to the dark after years of suppressing emotion and feelings that are natural and perhaps necessary to be compassionate and selfless as Jedi are. Emotions and passion exist because we are living beings. Rey allows people to express their darkness to others, not hide it away until it takes over them. We are all ignorant of some things which drive us to educate ourselves. Rey lets the students interpret the ancient texts freely as interpretations of religion to evolve as time passes, democratizing the Jedi. Individual Jedi can practice the Force in their own way they believe in. She recognizes this will not lead to the perfect world, but it is a step in the right direction. "Because we must try to be better." Rey breaks the cycle of pain and re-invents the Jedi for future generations. The story ends with Rey igniting her now white lightstaff, with the Jedi flag attached, and raising skyward, and her hundred students following her as Force-ghost Luke, Yoda, and Anakin, watching and smiling at the new generation finally bringing balance to the Force.
I was trying to figure out whether I'm Transgender or NB, and I came out too early. It's destroying my relationship.
Update: We are separating for an indefinite period of time. This was just a catalyst for other issues, mainly her overwhelming anxiety and depression, and our mutual codependency. I'm in a crisis, and I need to write this. Questions at bottom. I'm AMAB, and started experimenting with transgender thoughts around age 14. I mostly forgot about how serious it was until recently, about 14 years later. In that time, I've come to understand transitioning and transgender people much better, and it hit me hard because for the first time it seemed like a real option. I'm at an age and point in life where I'm doubting everything about myself, and feel like I'm close to "locking in" a future. I need to know what to do with these feelings. So I started questioning. Saw a therapist, shaved my beard and legs, and played around with the idea. Had to see if it felt right. Started training my voice to see if I could. Need to know if I'll pass. If I wouldn't pass, what's the point? I hate my body, I hate the way I look and talk, is that dysphoria? Or is that just my depression? How much of this is anxiety and how much is dysphoria? I am motivated to take care of myself for the first time possibly ever, and I hit the gym and diet. I'm down 10 lbs. After a couple times seeing my therapist, she says some things that didn't really stick with me until later. First, she suggests that being trans isn't necessarily the only thing that these feelings indicate, that being non-binary is also on the table. At this point, I'm not sure and I continue to wallow in questioning anxiety and panic. Fast forward a few weeks, and I can't take it anymore. My girlfriend of 5 years can tell something is going on with me, but she doesn't know what. I am stressed beyond belief and it's leaking out. So we get coffee and I come out with it, hoping that she's understanding enough to support me through the process. I drop some lines that I think extra fucked me over: I said that based off some kind of imaginary "checklist" I meet like 90% of the criteria for trans. Even worse, I explain how I'm worried about the clock running out on a viable passing transition and I could regret it 10 years from now. I'm still questioning, but I've heard that cis people don't think about it like this at all. It starts supportive and confused, but the focus turns instead to how she's going to "lose" me. Uhoh. She cannot see herself attracted to women and knows it won't work. This is going to be a breakup. She's already having a difficult, stressful time in life prior to this, and losing one of her biggest supporters is too much. She lives with her parents, and when we separate for the night they see her devastated. I learn a couple days later they already didn't like me and while they don't know exactly what we talked about, they don't want her to see me again. I get to dwell on all this with little sleep for about 24 hours. Panic attack for most of it. However when I calm down, I start to consider some things my therapist said to help me figure out what I want. They're simple, but they're questions I don't often ask myself:
What do youwantin your future?
Would transitioning make you significantly happier than not transitioning?
What about yourself, right now, feels wrong?
Things finally start to click. Perhaps the shock of all this got me into a more constructive mindset. Being male means nothing to me other than a series of assigned privileges. I don't like the male body aesthetic, but that doesn't mean I'm not male. I may not adhere to stereotypes, but even at my girliest I wasn't wanting to feminize much. Being female wouldn't change most of the faults I find with myself, or drastically change the way I want to socialize. It's just extra work and stress for little payoff. Being a better and more complete me doesn't have to include changing everything about me. I imagined myself as an old father with my wife and child. I said it's something I wanted but I never really put myself in the role. I realized the thing I needed was just a goal. The best thing about leading up to transition was the drive to finally start taking care of myself, but transition doesn't need to be the motivator. I can just do it for myself, with what I've been given. And that would be enough. I think I can be happy knowing I'm somewhere on the NB spectrum, maybe opening myself up to things I'd write off due to repression. Maybe I'll pierce my ears or something, dye my hair, get creative. I'll grow out my hair anyway, cause why not. Okay questions
How will I know if I'm coming to a NB conclusion to repress further transition? It's an anxiety thing but I have a hard time trusting my own judgment. How can I know that I won't change my mind later? I love my girlfriend more than I love myself and while I don't feel it now, future me could regret my actions now.
Can I even be Non-Binary if I'm presenting as my AGAB? For me this feels more like an internal acceptance thing than a presentation thing, but it almost feels like stolen valor or something.
How the hell do I start repairing my relationship? She's still super confused and hesitant to talk to me, but after some loooong texting sessions it sounds like a non-binary partner is not out of the question for her. I don't know how I'm going to face her parents, they think I'm basically a deadbeat and no good for her at this point.
Thanks for listening. Update: We are separating for an indefinite period of time. This was just a catalyst for other issues, mainly her overwhelming anxiety and depression, and our mutual codependency. ADDITION: I want to make clear that my experience does not reflect on the experience of anyone else, and if I end up not being trans it does not mean your feelings aren't valid. I suppose we can only decide for ourselves.
Dancing Tier List S: Should be nerfed, insanely good A: Very solid card, put in almost all decks B: Good card, but there are reasons to drop it C: Eh. There are reasons to run it, but also reasons to not D: Bad, but has at least one thing good about it F: The letter says it all S A Disco Dance Floor: Very good in dance decks, since damage is almost guaranteed. Disco-naut: Even though it got a nerf, all that did was make it more balanced. Now it's just very good instead of being insane. Flamenco: The main finisher in dance decks, you'd be insane not to include this in your dance deck. Line Dancing Zombie: Very flexible, makes good trades or almost guaranteed 6 damage, players always have to be aware of this card when they're playing against grave decks. Synchronized Swimmer: Very good in almost all situations, various combos that work well. Valkyrie: All the nerf did was, like disco-naut, make it a little more fair. It's still very good and fares well against other decks as a combo/aggro deck. B Aerobics Instructor: Massive potential, can be a bit hard to pull off the ability, though. Binary Stars: The payoff is very rewarding, but it's vulnerable the turn played and is pretty slow. Headhunter: Very good, especially with the evolution, can be cut for faster options, though. Moonwalker: Very solid card that is ran even in non-budget decks. C Loudmouth: Outclassed by hover goat, although this has better timing and can be used on itself. Unlife of the Party: This starts off very weak, but can quickly get out of control and force your opponent to pay attention to it. Can be a pretty solid option in zoo decks too. D Backup Dancer: Sure, it's a 1 1/1, but it has two tribes, even if one of them is pretty bad. B-Flat: Pretty bad removal, better on budget. Bonus Track Buckethead: Bad just like buckethead, but if you run into a lot of bonus attacks, this will be kind of relevant. Conga Zombie: The one damage is sort of low value, but in the right circumstances, this can be pretty good. Cosmic Dancer: Bad stats, much better on budget. Disco Tron 3000: Right after flamenco, the things it makes are pretty useless, at least it's decent at swarming. Disco Zombie: Kind of bad, but has decent synergy with unlife. Jester: Not bad, seeing as most graves hate being fronted, but this is chip damage at best and doesn't do much. Pied Piper: Very low value, but value nevertheless. F Blowgun Imp: This is one of the reasons BMR sucks, the traits are kind of like Laser base alpha: play it with big cards, it's deadly, play it with small cards, it's strikethrough. You get what I mean. Note: Why is this in dancing? Drum Major: Outclassed by many cards, it's bad, end of story. Monster Mash: Too slow, even outclassed by leftovers. Orchestra Conductor: I question why this was made. Dragon Tier List S Snapdragon: Insane, good value, 3/3 is just ridiculous. A Dark Matter Dragonfruit: Despite what many people think, DMD is not insanely good, it's just regular good. It does what the price suggests. As always, thanks for reading, and if you have any disagreements, post them down below. The next tier lists will be gargantuar and flytrap. Bye!
Dear Reader (including the poor Biden staffers who have to white-knuckle their armrests when not sucking down unfiltered Marlboros every time Joe Biden gives an interview), If you’ve never heard the Milton Friedman shovels and spoons story, you will (and I don’t just mean here). Because everyone on the right tells some version of it at some point. The other Uncle Miltie (i.e., not the epically endowed comedic genius) goes to Asia or Africa or South America and is taken on a tour of some public works project in a developing country. Hundreds of laborers are digging with shovels. Milton asks the official in charge something like, “Why use shovels when earth moving equipment would be so much more efficient?” The official replies that this is a jobs program and using shovels creates more jobs. Friedman guffaws and asks, “In that case: Why not use spoons?” The story might not be true, but the insight is timeless. Here’s another story: When I was in college, we were debating in intro to philosophy the differences between treating men and women “equally” versus treating them the “same.” At first blush, the two things sound synonymous, but they’re not (indeed the difference illuminates the chasm of difference between classical liberalism and socialism, but that’s a topic for another day). I pointed out that there were some firefighter programs that had different physical requirements for male applicants and female ones (this was before it was particularly controversial—outside discussions of Foucault—to assume there were clear differences between sexes). Female applicants had to complete an obstacle course carrying a 100-pound dummy, but men had to carry a 200-pound dummy, or something like that. A puckish freshperson named Jonah Goldberg said: “I don’t really care if a firefighter is a man, a woman, or a gorilla, I’d just like them to be able to rescue me from a fire.” A woman sitting in front of me wheeled around and womansplained to me that “you can always just hire two women.” I shot back something like, “You could also hire 17 midgets, that’s not the point.” (I apologize for using the word midget, which wasn’t on the proscribed terms list at the time.) But here’s the thing: Sometimes it is the point. Whether you’re talking about spoons or little people, the case for efficiency is just one case among many. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an important one, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes older children are told to bring their little brothers or sisters along on some trip. They’ll complain, “But they’ll just slow us down!” or, “But they aren’t allowed on the big kid rides.” Parents understand the point, but they are not prioritizing efficiency over love. Or, they’re prioritizing a different efficiency: Not being stuck with a little kid who’s crying all day because he or she was left behind. One of my favorite scenes in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is when the chess tutor Bruce Pandolfini, played by Ben Kingsley, tells the chess prodigy’s parents that they have to forbid their son from playing pickup chess in the park because he learns bad chess habits there. The mom says “Not playing in the park would kill him. He loves it.” Kingsley replies, accurately, that it “just makes my job harder.” And the mom says, “Then your job is harder.” I love that. I love it precisely because it recognizes that good parents recognize that there are trade-offs in life and that the best option isn’t always the most efficient one. This is one of those places where you can see how wisdom and expertise can diverge from one another. The Unity of Goodness Efficiency can mean different things in different contexts. In business, it means profit maximization (or cost reduction, which is often the same thing). In sports, it means winning. Always giving the ball to the best player annoys the other players who want their own shot at glory, but so long as he can be counted on to score, most coaches will err on the side of winning. Starting one-legged players will wildly improve a basketball team’s diversity score, but it’s unlikely to improve the score that matters to coaches—or fans. I’ve long argued that there’s something in the progressive mind that dislikes this whole line of thinking. They often tend to find the idea of trade-offs to be immoral or offensive. I call it the “unity of goodness” worldview. Once you develop an ear for it, you can hear it everywhere. “I refuse to believe that economic growth has to come at the expense of the environment.” “There’s no downside to putting women in combat.” “I don’t want to live in a society where families have to choose between X and Y,” or “I for one reject the idea that we have to sacrifice security for freedom—or freedom for security.” Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were masters at declaring that all hard choices were “false choices”—as if only mean-spirited people would say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Saint Greta Nowhere is this mindset more on display in environmentalism. Everyone hawking the Green New Deal insists that it’s win-win all the way down. It’s Bastiat’s broken window parable on an industrialized scale. Spending trillions to switch to less efficient forms of energy will boost economic growth and create jobs, they insist. I’d have much more respect for these arguments if they simply acknowledged that doing a fraction of what they want will come at considerable cost. Consider Greta Thunberg, the latest child redeemer of the climate change movement. She hates planes because they spew CO2. That’s why she sailed from Sweden to a conference in New York. As symbolism, it worked, at least for the people who already agree with her. But in economic terms, she might as well have raised the Spoon Banner off the main mast of her multi-million-dollar craft (that may have a minimal carbon footprint now, but required an enormous carbon down-payment to create). The organizers of this stunt had to fly two people to New York to bring the ship back across the Atlantic. And scores of reporters flew across the Atlantic to cover her heroic act of self-denial. Her nautical virtue signaling came at a price. The organizers insist that they will buy carbon offsets to compensate for the damage done. But that’s just clever accounting. The cost is still real. And that’s not the only cost. It took her fifteen days to get to America. In other words, she actually proved the point of many of her critics. Fossil fuels come with costs all their own—geopolitical, environmental, etc.—but the upside of those downsides is far greater efficiency. If you want to get across the Atlantic in seven hours instead of two weeks, you need fossil fuels. The efficiency of modern technology reduces costs by giving human beings more time to do other stuff. The Conservative Planners The unity of goodness mindset has been spreading to the right these days as well. The new conservative critics of the free market see the efficiency of the market as a threat to other good things. And they’re right, as Joseph Schumpeter explained decades ago. For instance, just as earth-moving equipment replaces ditch-diggers in the name of efficiency, robots replace crane operators, and the communities that depended on those jobs often suffer as a result. I have no quarrel with this observation. My problem is with the way they either sell their program as cost-free, or pretend that the right experts can run things better from Washington. They know which jobs or industries need the state to protect them from the market. They know how to run Facebook or Google to improve the Gross National Virtue Index. Many of the same people who once chuckled at the Spoons story now nod sagely. I don’t mean to say that there’s no room for government to regulate economic affairs. But I am at a loss as to why I should suspend my skepticism for right-wingers when they work from the same assumptions of the left-wingers I’ve been arguing with for decades. Embracing Trumpism to Own Trump Instead I want—or I guess need—to talk about another trade-off. I’ve been very reluctant to weigh in on the Joe Walsh project for a bunch of reasons. The biggest is that I am friends with some of the people cheering it on. But I think I have to offer my take. I don’t get it. Oh, I certainly understand the desire to see a primary challenger to Trump. I share that desire. And I understand the political calculation behind the effort. It’s like when one little league team brings in some dismayingly brawny and hirsute player from Costa Rica as a ringer. The other teams feel like they have to get their own 22-year-olds with photoshopped birth certificates in order to compete. My friend Bill Kristol is convinced that Trump must be defeated and that Walsh is just the mongoose to take on the Cobra-in-Chief. I try not to recycle metaphors or analogies too much, but this seems like another example of a Col. Nicholson move. As I’ve written before, Col. Nicholson was the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The commanding officer of a contingent of mostly British POWs being held by the Japanese, Nicholson at first follows the rules and refuses to cooperate with his captors in their effort to use British captives as slave labor for a bridge project. But then his pride kicks in and he decides he will show the Japanese what real soldiering is like, agreeing to build the bridge as a demonstration of British superiority in civil engineering. [Spoiler alert] It’s only at the end of the film that he realizes that building the bridge may have been a kind of short-sighted moral victory, but in reality he was helping the Japanese kill allied troops because the bridge was going to be used for shipping Japanese troops and ammunition. When this realization finally arrives, he exclaims, “My God, what have I done?” Walsh’s primary brief against Trump is that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office and a con man. Fair enough. But he has to focus his indictment on Trump’s erratic behavior. Why? Because he’s a terrible spokesman for much of the rest of the case against Trump. I may not call myself “Never Trump” any more, but I was in 2016. And back then, the argument against Trump wasn’t simply that he was erratic. It was also that he wasn’t a conservative, that he happily dabbled in racism and bigotry, and that he was crude, ill-informed, and narcissistically incapable of putting his personal interests and ego aside for the good of the country. I’m sure I’m leaving a few other things out. But you get the point. Walsh may be sincere in his remorse over all the racist and incendiary things he said in the very recent past. He may regret supporting his anti-Semitic friend Paul Nehlen, though I haven’t found evidence of that. But none of that history should be seen as qualifications for the presidency, the Republican nomination, or support from conservatives. And yet, it is precisely these things that make him attractive to his conservative supporters. Trump is an entertainer who trolls his enemies with offensive statements for attention, so let’s find someone who does the exact same thing! Walsh may have been a one-term congressman, but his true vocation was as a shock-jock trolling provocateur. It’s ironic. As I’ve argued countless times, much of Trump’s bigotry in 2016 stemmed less from any core convictions than from a deep belief that the GOP’s base voters were bigoted and he needed to feed them red meat. Trump's reluctance to repudiate David Duke derived primarily from his ridiculous assumption that Duke had a large constituency he didn’t want to offend. He may have believed the Birther stuff, but he peddled it because that’s what his fans wanted. And Joe Walsh was one of those fans. It may also be true that Walsh never really believed most of the bilge he was peddling and that he was doing the same thing Trump did—feeding the trolls—on a smaller scale. But if that’s the case, then he’s a con man, too. I don’t want to beat up on Walsh too much because, again, his epiphany may be sincere. There are lots of people who pushed certain arguments too far only to recognize that the payoff was Trump and the transformation of conservatism into a form of right-wing identity politics. There are a lot of Col. Nicholsons out there. And I have too much respect for Bill Kristol to believe that he would lend his support to someone he believed to be as bigoted as the man Walsh seemed to be a few years ago. But from where I sit, the prize we should keep our eyes on isn’t defeating Trump; it’s keeping conservatism from succumbing to Trumpism after he’s gone. This isn’t easy, and no tactic is guaranteed to be successful. We’ve never been here before. My own approach is to agree with Trump policies when I think they’re right—judges, buying Greenland, etc.—and disagreeing when they’re wrong. My own crutch is to simply tell the truth as I see it, regardless of whether it fits into some larger political agenda or strategy. Truth is always a legitimate defense of any statement. But for those who see themselves as political players as well as public intellectuals, I think this is a terrible mistake. Intellectually and morally, the case for continued opposition to—or skepticism about, Trump cannot—or rather must not—be reduced to simple Trump hatred. But by rallying around Walsh—instead of, say, Mark Sanford, or Justin Amash, or, heh, General Mattis—that’s what it looks like. Because you can’t say, “I’m standing on principle in my opposition to a bigoted troll and con man as the leader of my party and my country and that’s why I am supporting a less successful bigoted troll and con man for president.” Walsh isn’t a conservative alternative to Trump; he’s an alternative version of Trump. And his candidacy only makes sense if you take the “binary choice” and “Flight 93” logic of 2016 and cast Trump in the role of Hillary. Let’s imagine the Walsh gambit works beyond anyone’s dreams and Joe Walsh ends up getting the GOP nomination (a fairly ludicrous thought experiment, I know). If so, I have no doubt that my friend Bill Kristol will say, a la Col. Nicholson, “My God, what have I done.” Various & Sundry Canine Update: It’s good to be home. The beasts were delighted to see us. Everything is settling back to normal, except for one intriguing development. I think Zoë has finally had enough with Pippa’s tennis ball routine. The other day on the midday walk with the pack, Kirsten managed to film Zoë putting an end to the tennis ball shenanigans. She took the ball and buried it. It was, to use an inapt phrase, a baller move—and she was unapologetic about it. Maybe she just didn’t like all the commotion with the other dogs, because she’s tolerant of the tennis ball stuff again. Or maybe she was being protective of her sister given that many of the other dogs in the pack are known thieves. Regardless, they’re doing well and having fun. If you haven’t tuned into The Remnant lately, please give it another try. The first episode of the week was with Niall Ferguson and the feedback has been great. The latest episode is with my friend and AEI colleague Adam White on all things constitutional. Word of mouth is really important in building up audiences, so if you can spread the word about The Remnant or this “news”letter, I’d be grateful.
This is a continuation of the discord project to rate every card in the game on two main criteria: playability and flexibility.
Category 1: Playability
How good is the card in the decks it fits in? S: Best of the best. The card should probably get nerfed in the state it's currently in because it's just that good. You're going to play it all the time in the decks where it works. A: Very strong. Not something you'd see nerfed, but still a very strong card that you want to play every time. B: Good. A very strong option in the decks, but it can theoretically be gone without for one reason or another. C: Decent. It can be worth playing, but there are reasons to drop it as well. D: Bad. It's really not worth playing, though it at least has some merit one way or the other. F: Terrible. There's absolutely no reason to play this card.
Category 2: Flexibility
How many decks can this fit in? S: This is a good option in basically any deck of the class. Top tier crafting material. A: This is a good option in at least 3 different decks. B: This is a good option in at least 2 different decks. C: This is a build around card that itself enables a deck, but doesn't really fit into anything else. D: This is a good option in only one deck. F: This card just doesn't have a deck where it fits in, either because it's just that outclassed by other cards for the deck it wants to be in, or because it wants to be part of a deck that simply doesn't exist. Finally, since there are two key factors that these criteria do not cover, there are two extra modifiers that can be added onto each rating: *: This is a tech card, and can move up or down significantly depending on whether or not you run into what it counters a lot. #: This is a budget card, and moves up in the respective category if your resources are limited. Backup Dancer: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Fun fact, this is the only basic 1/1 that doesn’t have a card strictly better than it due to it having a mustache. It’s also the one you’re most likely to see due to dance off. It’s also still complete and total garbage, and I’m only writing this because it doesn’t need a justification and I’m bored. Bungee Plumber: Playability: B Flexibility: B Justification: While it is a main removal card that doesn’t really run into much competition, it runs into the issue of competing with mission in aggro and not removing anything bigger than a 1 drop (most of the time) and thus falling off way faster than something like berry blast which consistently deals with cards above cost, leading to it being a bit less flexible and a bit more cuttable. Disco-naut: Playability: A Flexibility: B Justification: Still a 2/1 bullseye that lets the cards that need it most ignore the mechanic designed to slow them down, which is a mechanic so powerful that this has gone through 2 nerfs and still remains uncuttable in anything remotely aggressive. Grave Robber: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: Not really a bad card in a vacuum considering it’s a 2/2 bullseye, but competing with Disco-naut and having an ability that is very hard to use effectively due to crazy’s lack of good gravestones and sneaky having a better payoff for gravestones leaves it in a very mediocre spot, even if going for pirate synergy. Loose Cannon: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: Block charger incarnate. Trading poorly and charging block when it’s not trading leave this card in a very poor spot on average, with its main application being it being okay in budget imps from being okay with Imp Commander. Mystery Egg: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: RNG does not lend itself to good cards, and this is no exception. In the most budget decks this can be a decent combo with Unlife of the party, but it falls off in usefulness quite fast. Quickdraw Conman: Playability: A Flexibility: S Justification: From S/S to just not quite S/S, conman remains an absolute monster of a card that you need a very good reason to ever consider cutting due to being easy chip on a very durable body. The only thing that could make this better is if plants had good draw for it to punish even harder. Tennis Champion: Playability: D# Flexibility: D Justification: 4 damage for 1 in aggro, but becoming a heavy block charger afterwards leaves it with very few applications compared to something like bonk choy, especially with differences in phases. If it was a 2/1 with +2 attack on turn of play it would be about 20 times better, but as is it’s mainly just a budget card. Trapper Territory: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Too low value to really see play anywhere, and with PoTG gutted it doesn’t even have it’s moderate usefulness as an anti-cyclecap tech. Unlife of the Party: Playability: C# Flexibility: D Justification: While very weak initially, if it can be set up a bit it snowballs quite hard. Its main weakness is not being playable solo on 1 like you would want to with most 1 drops you run which makes it weaker in non-budget aggro, but it’s still playable and quite useful in Zoo Z-mech decks which can grow it incredibly fast. Aerobics Instructor: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Solid snowballing card for dance decks, and though moderate inconsistency at actually doing anything can make it mildly cuttable, you usually want to run it anyway from massive potential snowballing and not losing stats for it. Barrel of Deadbeards: Playability: A Flexibility: D Justification: It’s a bit awkward to play, which leaves it quite inflexible, but in valk decks or very specific impfinity decks (that are quite a bit weaker with the BoB nerf) it’s an absolute all star for being able to clean up youyour opponent’s board respectively and leaving behind a very good body. Conga Zombie: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Trades like a 3/2 or occasionally a bit better, but the one damage is unlikely to kill and it’s not good at pushing due to poor stats, which leaves it with much better alternatives. Cuckoo Zombie: Playability: D# Flexibility: F Justification: If left unchecked, Cuckoo Zombie will absolutely clock your opponent, so they better watch out, but on the second hand, its low health and poor timing means it won't last a minute against an average defence making it a poor play on the average day. Disco Dance Floor: Playability: A Flexibility: D Justification: An absolute all star card in aggro and dance that will usually generate at least 6 damage and often more if you can get a good fusion off. Generally not worth it elsewhere due to not trading at all. Explosive Fruitcake: Playability: A Flexibility: B Justification: In a weird spot as a removal control sometimes doesn’t want to run because it’s an inherent -1 but also aggro doesn’t want to run because it’s a bit too slow. Would be amazing in midrange as a massive tempo card if crazy midrange was more of a thing, and is a staple in valk and trickster since they’re combo decks and don’t care as much as control decks about the card advantage, along with being a sometimes inclusion in control if you can stomach the card disadvantage. Final Mission: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: No longer S thanks to costing a reasonable amount, but still a very solid finisheremoval for aggro and valk decks since you will inevitably have fodder lying around for it. Meteor Z: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: If you really need a buff, just play sugary treat, but you probably shouldn’t need either of them since they really don’t help all that much from not providing (much) more survivable trades and automatically 2 for 1ing yourself. Newspaper Zombie: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Too much investment for something too easy to shut down, running into the same problem Hibernating Beary had where you invest into it to become good but a lack of other targets for your self-hurt means it gets shut down and you’re left lost. Quazar Wizard: Playability: A Flexibility: A Justification: Midrange, Aggro, and Valkyrie absolutely love this card as it’s an easy to activate body that produces a super at the loss of a single stat point. Control can also think about it, though lack of activators can sometimes lead to problems. Generally just a fantastic card you want to run most of the time. Space Ninja: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: This card has some very sick combos you can set up with it, but they’re incredibly unreliable and with the Barrel of Barrels nerf even slower than before. It does have the advantage of being a 2 cost 3/2, but with the ability rarely if ever going off it doesn’t see much play. Sugary Treat: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: A pretty poor buff card due to a lack of health provided which makes it unlikely to compensate for the inherent dangers of buff cards, being massive potential to get 2 for 1d and being useless without a target. Can at very least be okay at pushing damage, but generally there are better options for that too. Zombie’s Best Friend: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: The randomness of the ability means the body generated will often be useless, so it’s very important to run this in a deck with final mission and that really wants lots of fodder. That leaves valk, in which it can be a decent option, but valk has a LOT of decent options so it can also often be cut. Abracadaver: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: This card runs into a major problem with the current gravestones, which is that there is no gravestone that meaningfully punishes you for fronting it with a small card. That means that most gravestones will be fronted with small cards, and this will die for free. If it had any chance of getting through on its own it would be at very least decent, but right now the situations counter it too perfectly. Disco Zombie: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Poor body that produces a body that will more often than not weaken your board state. There is always better things to run. Exploding Imp: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Suffers from the same problem as abracadaver (will be fronted by its exact counter most of the time) with the added problem of additionally being garbage on its own too. Fireworks Zombie: Playability: B* Flexibility: D Justification: A cheap, 1 card method of disrupting swarm while putting out a body, along with being decent on its own as well for finishing off anything heavily damaged from combat. The more swarm you see the better this gets, and if you don’t see much it’s more cuttable. Gizzard Lizard: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: It competes with fireworks while being significantly worse due to requiring a sacrifice to do anything and not really helping much more against swarm. Jester: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: Theoretically, this doesn’t run into the same problem as Exploding Imp and Abracadaver because it wants to be fronted by small cards. However, the reward being mediocre chip at best and outright block charging at worst leaves much to be desired, so the main application of this is to evolve headhunter, which can simply be done by better cards. Moon Base Z: Playability: C Flexibility: D Justification: Can be a decent damage pusher for aggro but reliance on having another card and being generally a bit slow make it often not the best option. Can combo with cards that trigger upon hitting the plant hero, but that’s even slower and less useful. Unexpected Gifts: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: Has mild merit due to being the only direct source of card advantage in crazy, but the card quality is questionable and it’s very unlikely to provide cards you want to advance your gameplan. Zombot’s Wrath: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: If it hit for 6 more often than once a year, then it would maybe be a better card. As is, it’s just a bit too expensive to be worth it since aggro has final mission and control decks have other small removal. Cakesplosion: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Add fruit and make it cost 2 less and do more damage, or just run wrath instead because basically nothing relevant has 4 health. Cosmic Dancer: Playability: D# Flexibility: D Justification: Too expensive for what it does normally, but can be an okay budget option for dancing decks. Headhunter: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Restricted to only dancing decks but quite a good card in them. Solid body unevolved that can help open up the block meter for a flamenco, or evolved on any of the fodder you have lying around a massive body that provides free damage. It also crosses the 4 threshold with its evo, so you can strategically avoid either hammer or shamrocket depending on your matchup. For some variations of dance it’s too slow and can be cut, but a lot of the time it’s good to have around. Orchestra Conductor: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: This card’s existence is a misconduct. Stupid Cupid: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Comes down in the wrong phase, like old cryo yeti. If it had gravestone, it would become ridiculously better, also like cryo yeti. As is, it’s complete trash. Tankylosaurus: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: The subject of a sort of build around in impfinity that was massively hurt by the BoB nerf and already kind of inconsistent as is since this card can hit face. Still an okay deck that can completely demolish some plant decks though, as long as you can get around hitting face constantly. The Chickening: Playability: D* Flexibility: D Justification: The massive lack of swarm decks right now really hurts this card. If they ever come back this will be a solid option for control, but as is it’s simply not necessary. Valkyrie: Playability: A Flexibility: C Justification: Formerly S/S, the cost nerf took it out of usability for everything not built around it since it’s no longer completely busted. Still an amazing build around card that enables an aggro/combo deck, which is an unorthodox and good combination since it doesn’t run into the normal problems combo decks have of being overwhelmed early. Binary Stars: Playability: B Flexibility: D Justification: Very combo reliant to be useful and is thus quite inflexible, but has the strength to back it up if you do have the synergy for it due to straight up doubling your damage output. Flamenco Zombie: Playability: A Flexibility: C Justification: The dance finisher that is basically the entire reason you play dance because it can semi-consistently kill on 5 and very consistently kill on 6/7. Not much else to say here, it’s a dance card through and through. Foot Soldier: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: This would probably still be bad even if it didn’t have the play restriction. As is it’s god awful. Frankentaur: Playability: C Flexibility: F Justification: As of now it actually has stats to be playable, but it just really doesn’t have anywhere to fit into since the stats are really all it has and unlike Supernova Gargantuar it can’t also break through blockers to be a 1 card threat. So it’s just in a kind of purgatory where it’s technically playable but it doesn’t have a deck to be playable in. Gargantuar-throwing Imp: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: I’m as shocked as anyone that the massive 1 strength buff this got wasn’t enough to make it anywhere near playable. Which is to say, not shocked at all. Hippity Hop Gargantuar: Playability: D Flexibility: F Justification: Kinda just clogs lanes, so it’s outclassed by Frankentaur at whatever the niche of being a good crazy 5 cost garg is. It’s not exactly a niche in high demand. Imp-throwing Gargantuar: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Kinda funny that Crazy got the first two throwing cards, meant to synergize with the self hurt they have going in fireworks and barrel, and they got the two that aren’t playable in any form while Gargantuar-throwing Gargantuar is a high tier finisher and Imp-throwing Imp is the best card in its deck, and they don’t even have the synergies. Poor crazy. Anyway, this card is bad, it’s always been bad, and it’s beaten out by pretty much every card in the game in usefulness. Don’t play it. Disco-tron 3000: Playability: F Flexibility: F Justification: Swarm the field the turn after your finisher can come down with bodies that would barely be relevant 2 turns ago. It’s really bad, and becoming a gravestone way back when didn’t help it all that much, though it got a bit better, it’s still unplayable. Gas Giant: Playability: B Flexibility: F Justification: By all rights this should be a good card, and it is, but crazy has no midrange deck to use this as a finisher in, so it just doesn’t go anywhere. Solid body with 1/4 of your opponent’s health down the drain when it dies, while also functioning as a board unclogger to help get other threats down and get them through chump blockers. Gargantuar’s Feast: Playability: D Flexibility: D Justification: The Mt. Everest of control finishers. Getting to it is the game winning pinnacle of the game, but actually getting there is a massive ordeal that fails most of the time and is too impractical to be a good idea. If you'd like to have your voice heard on these tier lists, feel free to join the discord, where we have these discussions on the cards, or to make a comment, which I will try to respond to as well explaining why a card was given a certain rating. The next class we're covering is Smarty.
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