Unathi Kwaza RT from Jerm: Peter Boghossian, a mentor of mine, and man behind pranking the academia peer review system, will be on my show this coming Friday night at 9pm. He also wrote this brilliant book:
[Comics] Ultimatum: You've ruined a perfectly good alternate universe is what you've done. Look at it, it's got anxiety!
Ah, the Ultimate universe. The coward's reboot that ended up becoming a masterpiece, which in turn became one of the least popular comic book events of all time (which is saying something). This story has it all: incest (which is totally fine nowadays, haven't you heard?), cannibalism, genocide (omnicide?), a massive god complex, and the mother of all stupid retcons. A debacle that would make Season 8 of Game of Thrones look like a well planned masterpiece. More succinctly, it's Marvel comics punching themselves in the dick for several months, then wondering why they're in agony. (Quick side note: the name for these comics has changed around a few times, from Ultimate Marvel to Ultimate Comics to Ultimate Universe. I'm just using them interchangeably). Fair warning: This is one of the biggest and most ambitious writeups I've tried to do, summing up several interconnected comics as well as fan reaction and behind the scenes details, so it runs a bit long. Also, CW for brief mentions of domestic abuse and rape. In case you don't want to read the whole thing, I've added a TL;DR at the end of each section.
What is the Ultimate Universe
In 2000, Marvel comics was struggling. They'd declared bankruptcy, and had been forced to sell off the movie rights to their biggest heroes: Spider-man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four (that decision would definitely never come back to bite them in the ass). The bankruptcy was (in part) caused by the longest running issue in comics: continuity. It's hard to get new readers when they have to catch up on 60+ years of material. So, what's the solution? Bring in a lawyer who'd never worked in the comic book industry before. Which somehow, in defiance of all logic worked. Bill Jemas came up with the obvious solution no one else could: Just make the characters simple. Nobody is reading Captain America to learn about how his mom was part of a Hydra Sunday school (real thing), they're looking for a guy in red, white, and blue who kicks asses and definitely fucks. This was Marvel's hail mary attempt. One of the writers for Ultimate Marvel later admitted that "when I got hired, I literally thought I was going to be writing one of the last — if not the last — Marvel comics". Holy shit, that actually worked. There's a lot more history to go into (which may be the source for another HobbyDrama post later), but the long and short of it is that Ultimate Marvel was a success on almost every imaginable level. It was well reviewed by critics, broke sales records, and was almost universally beloved by fans, bringing in legions of new Marvel readers. A large part of this was the writing, with some of Marvel's best writing teams in decades. This writing also saw a shift in the classic tone, with some of the writers behind the Ultimates (basically just the Avengers) explaining that they wrote it like they'd write an Avengers movie, rather than a traditional comic storyline. Not only did that make it more popular and easy to read, it had long lasting effects. If you've ever watched an MCU movie, odds are that a good chunk of the content -- from costumes, to characters, to plotlines -- was taken from an Ultimate comic. Fun side note: this is actually how Samuel L Jackson became Nick Fury. Fury had been a white guy for decades, but in Ultimate comics, was rewritten to be a Samuel L Jackson clone (hoping to capitalize on the success of Jackson's rising status as a badass). The problem? Sam Jackson was a huge comics nerd, immediately recognized himself, and had his very big legal team contact Marvel. However, rather than a lawsuit, Jackson was happy to allow it to continue -- provided he be guaranteed the right to play Fury in any movie. Marvel agreed (because they couldn't survive another lawsuit, and who really would make a superhero movie anyways?). Finally, Ultimate Marvel was popular because of the worldbuilding it did. It managed to blend real world politics and superhero fantasy in a way that Marvel and DC have furiously tried (and failed) to replicate since. In the aftermath of 9/11, the Hulk rampaging through New York suddenly became a whole lot less funny, as did general collateral damage. Issues that fans had pointed out for decades became addressed as part of the actual comics. There was debates about use of superhumans in anti-terrorist operations, as well as a "superhuman arms race" that made characters feel grounded in the real world. The poster child for this was the X-men, which involved heavy themes about minorities, discrimination, and terrorism. It also saw a shift from mutants being a race allegory to being a queer allegory, something that has stuck in both comics and movies. All of these factors combined, along with how hard Marvel advertised them for teens, meant that for a lot of readers, these were their comics. Similar to how Wally West replaced Barry Allen for a generation, the Ultimate Universe was the only one a lot of fans knew. It was hailed as an experiment that had changed superheroes forever, and for some, managed to eclipse the originals. Hell, it even got a trope named after it on TVTropes. Sorry for running a bit long, but I just wanted to emphasize how influential and popular these comics were, so that you get get a picture of what came next. A snake in the garden As Ultimate comics went on, some of its flaws became more evident. First, the inevitable: Ultimate comics had tried to get away from convoluted canon, but after 8 years of material, the cycle had begun again. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as the main Marvel universe, but the bloat was building up, which translated into lower sales. Another big issue was that (shocking) continuing to keep award winning writing is really hard, especially when the original writers aren't writing anymore. New writers tried to mimic what earlier creators had done, without understanding any of the meaning behind it. Earlier comics had complex discussions on the nature of violence, and the role sex played in human relationships. And then trying desperately to mimic that, you had got a bunch of gratuitous porn masquerading as being "mature storytelling", often with some pretty creepy behavior. Comic books are... not exactly known for their realistic depictions of womens bodies, or giving female heroes normal costumes, but Ultimate comics had some exceptionally bad examples. There was also a whole plotline in Ultimates 3 about Tony and Natasha's sex tape getting leaked, which was shown in graphic detail. The writer for Ultimates 3, as well as the mind of Ultimatum was Jeph Loeb, who will be a very important player in all this. Suffice to say, Loeb's takeover of the Ultimates (and later the whole universe) was... not great. He was a pretty well regarded writer, who was brought in to try and recreate the success of Marvel's "mature, semi-grounded" heroes after the original writers left. Unfortunately, he had terrible big picture ideas and somehow even worse execution, leading to stilted (or downright stupid) dialogue. It has the vibe of an edgy fanfic, with boobs and blood shoved in so you know it's a big boy story. There were also some... less than ideal choices? Black Panther, one of Marvel's most iconic black superheroes literally had his voice taken away, and was functionally a slave for a while. Oh, and also, he was Captain America the whole time? It was weird. In fairness to Loeb I wanted to take this section here to make sure that this wasn't just trashing on Loeb. He's had some great moments in the past, and showed an ability to write good things. Not perfect, but good. A lot of the problems with Ultimatum came from the fact that he was genuinely spiralling. His teenage son had died after a gut wrenching three year battle with cancer, leaving Loeb in a very, very bad place, which he never really got out of. Many have speculated that the nihilistic, blood soaked Ultimatum (and many of Loeb's other comics) was him lashing out at the world, destroying things in a plea for help. You have to ask the question, who the hell put him in charge of a massive fictional universe, and how did none of the people he was working with notice? TL;DR: The Ultimate Universe was a "back to basics" version of popular heroes that modernized them. It was immensely successful, both in money and fan response. However, as it started to make less and less money, Marvel had Jeph Loeb step in, whose son's death had put him in a very dark place.
Road to Ultimatum
I don't have time to list off every single character in the Ultimate Universe (and that'd be way too long), but if you're ever wondering who a specific character is, here's a list. You also don't need to know too much, since most of them are Marvel's well known characters like Thor, Iron Man, etc. It's the end of the world as we know it In 2007, Ultimate Power #8 featured something odd: a banner on the title reading "March On Ultimatum". Fan speculation quickly turned to shock, as next year, new comics dropped featuring a broken tombstone, reading 2000-2008. Fans (correctly) guessed that this meant the Ultimate Universe was coming to an end. The leadup to Ultimatum was... interesting. Part of this was due to terrible communication. One artist stated in an interview that it would be the end of most (if not all) of the Ultimate Universe. Then, another Marvel source claimed that only one of the long running titles (Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Spider-man) would be ending. Loeb himself referred to it as "the end of the first chapter of the Ultimate Universe". Part of the reason for this may have been that everyone was telling the truth. Inside leaks suggested that Marvel actually planned to end the Ultimate Universe, but changed their minds later. Fan reaction was mixed. A big part was just surprised that Marvel would even consider ending the Ultimate Universe. Sure, it had hit a few rough patches, but it was still basically a license to print money. However, a decent section of comic fans weren't too surprised. Marvel and DC did this a lot whenever the continuity bloat got too bad: have a big crossover event, "prune the tree", and kill off some minor characters (and maybe a major one) to simplify things. Some were even optimistic. After all, the Ultimate Universe hadn't had a big failure yet. However, what was to come would be worse than even the most pessimistic people could imagine. To keep the analogy: instead of pruning the tree, they took a chainsaw to the trunk, burned what was left, ripped off a few branches, and yelled at the branches to sprout into new trees. And so it begins Ultimatum had three series leading up to it: Ultimates 3, Ultimate Power, and Ultimate Origins. Ultimate Power isn't super relevant here. All you really need to know is that Dr. Doom is a dick, Nick Fury worked with him, and Nick Fury was thus banished to another dimension. The first comic we're gonna go over is Ultimates 3. You remember that Iron Man sex tape? Yeah, this is that story, and it starts on page one. Also, Black Panther is here, along with Valkyrie! Sure, Panther had never showed up before, and Valkyrie had somehow gone from awkward teen cosplayer to an actual nineteen year old goddess (and started fucking Thor), but hey, the Ultimates were back! Nothing could spoil this! Loeb was a bit awkward, sure, but it wasn't like he'd... I don't know, make the entire event all about incest. Loeb made the entire event all about incest. A few pages in, Captain America talks to Wanda about a less revealing outfit. OK, he's from the 40s, he has different ideas, big whoop. Sure, Quicksilver threatening to kill him over it is a bit odd, but Pietro has always been a bit of a dick. And then the Wasp confirmed that Wanda and Pietro were in love. Very clearly and explicitly stated: not "Brady Bunch" sibling love. This was full "cast of the Brady Bunch" kinda love. And Captain America is treated as weird for being disgusted by it, with Wasp brushing it off as "Silly man from the 40s thinks siblings shouldn't fuck! We've come so far! Dr. King would be proud!" To be clear: These characters had existed for eight years. They'd always been close, but never a hint of anything sexual. Sure, Pietro was overprotective of her, but that had been a staple of his character since way back in the 60s. This reveal came at fans like a semi-truck, with absolutely no buildup, all in the first few pages of the comic. Still, it was salvageable. I mean, it wasn't like the entire Ultimatum series would be related to incest, right? Right? ...Right? I shot the Scarlet Witch, but I didn't shoot the Speedster Wanda and Pietro went on their merrily incestuous way to the ballet, when suddenly, someone fired a bullet at Wanda. Pietro moved her out of the way with superspeed... and then the bullet curved in midair, doing a 180 towards Wanda. Pietro moved closer to catch it... but failed. Wanda was dead. Also, for some reason, the doctor on the scene saw a woman with a gaping hole in her chest, and announced "I'm going to need to perform CPR". Believe it or not, that didn't work. Because that's not how CPR works. I'm not sure if this was Loeb just not understanding medicine, or him just trying to sneak some necrophilia in there along with the incest. Wanda's killing would be the spark for all of Ultimatum, setting off a hunt for who killed her. Shortly afterwards, Magneto and the brotherhood of evil mutants show up to claim her body. When Magneto was asked how he escaped his maximum security cell (something that the X-Men had a massive arc about), his basic response was "Maybe I did escape, or maybe this is all a dream." That's about as much explanation as we ever get. Quicksilver then goes with Magneto to find his sister's killer, despite Magneto's years of abuse (including blowing off Pietro's kneecaps with shotguns). Character development schmaracter schmevelopment Fans were quick to notice within just the first few issues how absolutely different everyone acted. For one, they were all massive dicks. That had been a bit of a thing for a while, but even more so, and without reason. Hawkeye hunted down a fifteen year old Spider-man, tranquilized him, and held a gun to his head. Captain America, one of Spidey's mentors showed up, stopped Hawkeye... then ran off, leaving Peter unconscious and paralyzed in a snowbank. Also, Hawkeye was now a suicidal psychopath, all of Cap's progress learning about the present had disappeared, Tony was deep into alcoholism (although he'd sober up the instant the plot needed it), Pietro forgave Magneto's abuse instantly, Magneto actually gave a shit about Pietro, etc.. It seemed like Loeb really didn't know what to do with the characters, and was just kinda ignoring everything that had been built up, and throwing a few vague ideas into a blender. The plot bombs start coming and they don't stop coming So, speedrunning through Ultimates 3 (because it'd take forever to explain everything)
Wolverine shows up, reveals that he banged Magneto's wife, potentially making him Wanda and Pietro's dad. Oh, and also, he knew about the incest, was super cool with it, and described it as "a love only they can understand". Yep.
Cap realizes something is severely wrong with Hawkeye. Not his depression, murderous rampages, or the fact that he very loudly says he wants to die. Nope. He said "fuck" in front of a woman. That's what Steve Rogers, hero and PTSD counselor focused on.
Magneto committed an ethnic cleansing of the native Savage Land tribes, which, given his history as a Jewish holocaust survivor, and his entire family's death in gas chambers... was a bad look.
Mastermind and Pyro try to rape 19 year old Valkyrie while she's unconscious. They'd always been more of comic relief villains, so that was more than a bit out of left field.
Hank Pym, the guy who had viciously domestically abused the Wasp was "totally cool now you guys", and helped save her. Also, he had made Ultron, and Ultron was their kid (she asked him how, he told her to shut up, and it was never explained).
Also, Wanda had accidentally brought Ultron to life, causing him to become obsessed with her, eventually killing her when he saw she'd never love him. Plot twist! And then he made robot copies of the Ultimates, because of course he did.
Ultron explains that he doesn't want to kill Janet because she's "basically my mother". In the single worst fucking one liner ever, Hank Pym then exclaims "I guess that makes me the motherfucker!" as he tears Ultron's head off. That line, more than anything else, sums up Loeb's writing style.
In a weird plot twist, it was revealed that Captain America had swapped costumes with the Black Panther, in order to let the real Panther return to Africa without alerting Nick Fury. Nick Fury... who was currently in a different dimension, with no power over SHIELD, and no way to spy on them.
Hawkeye tries to shoot Magneto, and Pietro takes a bullet for him. Rather than... y'know, moving him aside. Or moving the bullet, something he could do just hours ago.
Janet steps up to defend Hank Pym (again: the man who abused her for 15 years), telling Cap that he's a hero, he's back on the team, and Cap can fuck off. Given how much of Janet's arc had been her leaving Pym behind, and dealing with that trauma... yeah.
And then in a double plot twist, it was revealed that it wasn't Ultron all along, it was Doctor Doom all along! Where was the buildup for this you ask? "Fuck you", Loeb answers.
Oh, and also, Magneto managed to steal Thor's hammer, because Thor apparently forgot he could call it to him at any time. But that's never gonna come up, right? What's that? More lore dumps you said? Ultimate Origins, releasing around the same time, took a break from that story about Magneto in order to go back to the very beginning of the Ultimate Universe. Loeb introduced it as
What Ultimate Origin is going to do is sort of tell us how it all began. ... The Ultimate Universe isn't very old, so this isn't a cosmic story. You're not going to see the birth of a planet. What you'll see is how the superhero community was introduced into the human population. So you'll learn the importance of things like the Super Soldier program, which has been hinted at in Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimates 1 and 2. Now, Brian is going to connect the dots.
Here's the issue: The Ultimate Universe was never meant to be connected. In fact, it was specifically built to be as unconnected as possible. Yes, there were crossovers and tie-ins, but the goal was to keep each hero or team as separate as possible. That way, if Captain America loses popularity, Spider-man isn't affected, and so on. So as you might imagine, the whole "It was all connected!" idea, combined with the fact that all of it was a massive retcon, didn't go super great. Once again, speed running the major plot points:
Kingpin's grandad, Nick Fury, and Wolverine were all buddies in WWII, who got kidnapped and forced to take part in super soldier experiments.
Nick Fury was injected with a serum that made him the first super soldier, allowing him to kill the scientists there and escape. They managed to keep his blood, which would be used to make Captain America.
Wolverine was taken by Weapon X, where they discovered the mutant gene in him and activated it, making him the first mutant.
Magneto was the one to free Wolverine from Weapon X, after discovering he was a mutant and killing both his parents.
Magneto apparently didn't need his helmet to block Professor X from getting inside his head, he had natural mental blocks.
Fury explains that he doesn't blame the very explicitly racist violations of human rights that were committed against him, because "I deserved it" for not serving America hard enough. Whoof.
At Nick Fury's orders, Peter Parker's dad had apparently worked with Sue and Johnny Storm's dad, Bruce Banner, and Hank Pym to create the super soldier serum (accidentally making the Hulk). The Hulk then killed Peter's mom and dad in front of him, because even as a baby, Spider-man can't catch a break.
The Watcher possessed Sue Storm long enough to say that it was there on Earth to "witness the coming devastation" (gee, I wonder what that could mean).
Nick Fury discovered that mutants -- all mutants -- had been a failed lab test. He then killed all scientists involved so that no one would ever know. Mutants had been one of the single biggest plot points in the entire Ultimate Universe, so this reveal was... well, it impacted some things.
The Watcher chose Rick Jones as a herald and disappeared
It should come as no surprise that none of this fit previously established canon. The worst offender was Magneto, who had talked about his entire family being killed in gas chambers... but apparently lied? Him faking his past as a holocaust survivor is fucked up, for very obvious reasons. Adding on to that, he'd never had mental blocks before, and had specifically had his memories erased for close to a year. Apparently he faked that too? Hell, even Ultimates 3, which was happening at the same time, planned by the same people contradicted this story. Not to mention, there had been a few dozen mentions of Peter's parents surviving until he was 4-5, along with photos, videos, etc. In short, the story went over like shit. There was obviously the racist undertones with Fury, and the whole mess with Magneto, but even without all that, the comic was just... terrible. It smashed a "definitive new canon" into a story that hadn't needed it... then didn't end up actually using half of their big revelations. They tried to connect everything, but really didn't end up doing much. Also, it included this panel, which I can only assume is Magneto having the worst orgasm face ever. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? After all that setup, after months of comics and tweets and hints, Ultimatum was finally happening. If you think it was long reading through this writeup, imagine how fans felt at the time. They'd been promised great things, and although there were worries (quite a few more after the flop of Ultimates 3 and Origins), there was still some excitement. Loeb kept hyping it up, saying that
I think the general feeling editorially, and certainly with Brian and me, who are sort of left to our own devices in this world, that there was a time, and this is not to take anything away from the people who have worked in the Ultimate Universe because they've done some amazing, amazing stuff… but there was a time when some truly shocking things were going on there ... Over time that started to tip towards simply retelling stories that had already been retold. Characters were acting in the same manner that they would in the 616 Universe without the same reasoning except that's the way they were. So we looked at it and had a couple meetings and pitched this idea to the group at the last summit which was I think fairly revolutionary. We didn't think anyone was going to go for it. But they really liked it and it really spoke to what the Ultimate Universe could be and should be in terms of being a place people are reading and going "What the F are they doing? Holy… holy… had to bleep that out… I have to read the next issue! This is bizarre and exciting and adventuresome and character driven!" (You can read the full interview here)
So not only praising what he was doing, but taking shots at other (generally beloved) Ultimates writers. His description of how the story would go was everything that people hated about the Ultimates: Shock value for the sake of shock value, and poorly written to boot. TL;DR: Loeb's initial forays into the Ultimate Universe weren't received well. He tried to have a lot of big plot reveals and retcons, which he'd done little to no work actually setting up, much of which contradicted previously established canon. The important plot points to know are that Magneto's kids died, causing him to go a bit crazy, and that mutants were made in a lab by humans.
99 Mutant Balloons Ultimatum starts with a normal, peaceful day. Reed Richards is about to propose to Sue Storm; the Ultimates are still pretending like having a domestic abuser on the team is super chill; Peter Parker is on a date; and a handful of the X-men are having a fun day on the town. And then everyone died. ...no, really. A massive flood and lightning storm hit the city, flooding it instantly. This isn't a "streets are flooded" situation, it's "six story buildings are completely underwater". It wasn't just New York: Latveria (and most of Eastern Europe) froze solid, killing everyone besides Dr. Doom, while volcanoes began to form and erupt in South America. Sue Storm managed to push back the wave with her powers... but fell into a coma doing so. A number of characters died immediately, like Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Beast, and Franklin Storm, while many others were missing. Professor X felt a great disturbance in the force, and almost had a psychically induced seizure. He then telepathically announced to the heroes that Magneto was behind everything, and that they needed to band together to fight him -- or everyone on Earth would die. The first issue ended with a warning in all bold reading "NEXT: IT GETS WORSE". Ironically, that was very true... just not how Loeb would have hoped. It gets much, much worse Cap was caught in the wave, and is stuck in a coma. Thor finds Valkyrie dead, and travels to Valhalla (but Valhalla is also Hel? Don't worry about continuity, Loeb sure didn't) to try and save her from what I can only presume is the goddess of Dominatrixes. There, he finds Captain America, and the two fight some zombies for a bit. Meanwhile, Hank Pym and Hawkeye search for the Wasp, and in one of the most infamous scenes in all of comic book history, they find her. Dead. Being eaten by the Blob. Hank Pym then flies into a rage and bites the Blob's head off. It's then revealed by Doom that Magneto is behind everything, using Thor's hammer to reverse the magnetic poles. Magneto then teleports into the X-Mansion (didn't you know? Magnets let you teleport). After giving an unhinged speech about how he will outdo God, Professor X compares him to Bin Laden, Pol Pot, and Hitler. Apparently, the Hitler comment insulted Magneto's imaginary Jewish heritage, causing him to snap Professor X's neck with his bare hands. Issue three kicked off with Magneto, confirming that the Academy of Tomorrow (the X-men's spinoff in Chicago) were all dead, as were pretty much every significant good-guy mutant (and some of Magneto's own henchmen for some reason), who had been hunted down and killed. The Multiple Man (who could duplicate himself) had been used to create thousands of suicide bombers, destroying nearly every notable world landmark or place of government. That of course included the Triskelion, home base for SHIELD and all surviving heroes. In a dramatic moment, Hank Pym tells Tony to "use the Jocasta files" on Janet's corpse, before heroically dragging every suicide bomber safely into the ocean when he blew up. Again: this is a man who viciously abused (and nearly killed) Jan, who had been an egotistical, selfish douche for years... who Loeb now decided was actually a super nice and honorable guy. Cap and Valkyrie then return from death, with Thor staying behind in Valhalla. Reed Richards and Doom managed to find Nick Fury, who revealed he knew this was likely to happen, and exposed Doom's plan: Doom had planned to get Magneto angry enough to kill most humans, before stepping in and stopping him, ruling over the survivors. Flawless plan. But with those losses behind them, it was time for the heroes to band together and save the world! Right? Oh, also, Spider-man died. Yeah, in a throwaway scene vaguely set up in a separate side comic, Peter Parker, Ultimate Marvel's very first (and best selling) character was killed when Doctor Strange's house exploded. Strange himself then was gruesomely killed by Dormammu, who was stopped by the remaining Fantastic Four. Spider-man's death was barely acknowledged in the comic, which as you can imagine, left more than a few fans pissed. Also, there was a mysterious glowing figure who showed up to get Dr. Strange's body? And due to an editorial mixup, none of the setup for the fight was explained until a comic months later. Still though, things were happening. The surviving heroes banded together, found their motivation, and hunted down Magneto. These warriors were on a righteous crusade, a mission that -- Oh fuck, they're all dead. OK, not everyone. But Angel, a core X-man died almost instantly, in an overly graphic scene where Sabertooth tore him apart. Magneto then managed to kill Wolverine, shredding every single atom from his skeleton to prevent him from ever healing. Once again: breaking all kinds of canon, but Loeb had passed that at this point. Nick Fury then showed up, and revealed the truth to Magneto, from way back in Ultimate Origins: Mutants weren't special, or pre-destined, or anything Magneto had believed. They were just a lab test gone bad. Obviously, this drove Magneto more than a little insane, since it invalidated his entire life, but he survived just long enough to reverse the poles again, preventing further damage. And then Cyclops blew his head into bloody chunks. Yay team. Eight days later The scene then cut to Cyclops standing in front of an angry crowd on the steps of the Capitol. He gave a powerful speech, reminding people that despite Magneto's actions, mutants could still -- holy fuck, someone shot him in the head. Mark off one more X-man I guess. The scene then moved to Dr. Doom brooding in his castle. The Thing walked in, explaining that Reed had told him everything. And while Reed couldn't stomach killing Doom, the Thing could, crushing his head like an overripe apple. Finally, the series ends with a scene of Quicksilver (who's apparently alive I guess? Just go with it). He reveals that he helped plan this entire thing, along with Sabertooth, Mystique, and a mysterious shadowy woman. And also he killed Cyclops for some reason. The last page had the message "Dedicated to Brian, Mark, Bill J, and Joe Q who started it all". Because nothing says "I respect your work" like ignoring eight years of plotlines and development to do your own thing. The series ended with a death toll that can only be described as catastrophic. Countless civilians dead, untold amounts of vital infrastructure destroyed, and all of their most popular heroes killed off. Side Issues In between each issue, there were some tie-ins from each solo line: Ultimate Spider-man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and Ultimate X-men. Since these were written by the same people who had been doing them successfully for years, they tended to be a bit higher quality -- although Loeb still made all the big calls. In Ultimate X-Men, Rogue went... well, rogue trying to hunt down Magneto, all while a group of anti-mutant zealots swept through the X-mansion, killing nearly everyone there. The mutant school that they'd been building up, the children that had taken refuge there, the work of eight years of canon -- nearly everyone was killed. Including the (apparently very stoppable) Juggernaut. They then had a... kind of touching tribute to Madrox? It included him reminiscing about his life as his mind starts to fracture, intercut with scenes of the X-men cutting through his duplicates. It ends with Wolverine realizing Madrox genuinely doesn't know what he's been doing wrong -- but kills him anyway, ending the threat. In Ultimate Spider-man, we got to see a bit more of the chaos on the ground in New York. Spider-man and friends jump into action, with even the Hulk stepping in to help. I want to hate these issues, but they were legitimately some of the best I've read. The final issue contained an especially touching tribute, with a broken J Jonah Jameson looking out his window to see Spider-man diving into the water to save someone. As everyone he knew died, Jonah realized that he'd wasted his life attacking an actual hero. However, fans were more than a little pissed off at the inclusion of Daredevil's corpse. How did he die? We don't know. The fan favorite character was just found in a pile of bodies, killed offscreen. As you can imagine, people weren't thrilled. Finally, Ultimate Fantastic Four. This was... one of the more out there side stories, but you remember how Sue Storm was in a coma? Well, it wasn't just any coma, it was a superpower coma, and they had to hunt down a specialist to help her, getting a hand from Sue's mom (who is definitely a good guy and no longer working for Doom). Also, the only doctor who could save Sue was a pedophile obsessed with her. Yeaaah. I'm gonna skip most of this, but the TL;DR is that Sue was brought back, with no help from her boyfriend Reed, who ran off to do his own thing. TL;DR: Ultimatum was poorly done. Little connection or organization between issues, bad writing, and 90% of it just being extremely graphic or sudden things thrown in for shock value. Magneto reversed the poles, tons of people died, most major heroes died, Magneto was killed.
Ultimatum was, on nearly every conceivable level, a failure. In order, the review site Comic Book Aggregator has the five issues scored by critics out of 10 at 6.3, 4.8, 3.7, 2.2, and 2.8, with fan reviews being even lower (4.9, 3.8, 3.2, 3.3, 1.7). The IGN review for the series ended with the reviewer bluntly stating that "Ultimatum is one of the worst comics I have ever read", calling it the "Ultimate nightmare" In a fandom where people can find an excuse to argue about any topic, if you bring up Ultimatum, it's enough to pull everyone together in hate. The writing, as you may have guessed, was abysmal. It reads like a toddler smashing action figures together, while his older brother looms overhead and delivers edgier and edgier narration of what's happening. Things like the Wasp being cannibalized were thrown in out of nowhere, purely for shock value. Loeb seemed to confuse "You feel sad when I kill all your favorite characters" with the ability to create genuine emotion. There were also some truly terrible lines of dialogue, such as:
If you’re God, then God is dead! You think you can rape my brain? Xavier tried that and failed. Think again you giant Zippo -- the freakin' cavalry is here! Blob: (after eating the Wasp) Hey man, it was nothing personal. Hank Pym: (Bites off head) It was only personal. Sabretooth: (as he eats Angel) Murdered an angel. Guess that means I'm going to Hell for sure. Hawkeye: (Shoots Sabretooth) That's gonna leave a mark!
The dialogue got so bad that some fans made a running joke out of editing the panels to make them more ridiculous and over the top. This is my personal favorite. People also criticized how interconnected it was. If you wanted any chance at understanding the five issue event, you had to buy around ten other comics, the reading order for which was left extremely unclear at the time. That means that most fans had no clue what was happening, and found out about critical events abruptly, or not at all. The event also screwed over a number of female heroes. Sue Storm was left functionally catatonic for most of it; the Wasp's entire arc of empowerment got cut short by being eaten, then saved by her "one true love" who had horrifically scarred her; in general they were just left without much agency. Sales for the comic started pretty well, with 114,230 copies sold. By the second issue, that had dropped to less than 75,000 copies. It managed to pull back up around 85,000 by the end, but even then, it was estimated that Ultimatum had managed to lose over 20,000 dedicated readers, without bringing any new ones in. Sure, those numbers were decently high, but the issue was, they'd killed the golden goose. Ultimate comics hadn't been selling quite as high, but their sales were still steady. Now, readers were dropping left and right, and they didn't have any series to hook them on. Loeb's strategy was to sacrifice eight years of buildup and character development for a few brief moments of sadness and anger. Ultimatum could shock, horrify, and sicken people, just as planned... but there was no plan for what happened next. According to some insider leaks, Marvel had actually planned to end the Ultimate universe fully, but changed their minds, and wanted it to continue. OK, so apparently Reddit has a 40,000 character limit, which I went well over. The post is continued in the comments here.
Message me via reddit or follow the link https://namae.me/20dollarcourse 1 2018 Client Getting Bot Blueprint 2 Adam Ackerman, John Galley - Crowdfunding Cash System 3 Adam Thomas - Dropshipping Accelerator 2018 4 Adrian Morrison – eCom Success Academy 2017 5 Adrian Morrison eCom Success Academy 2018 6 Alex Becker - H-Com 2020 (Updated) 7 Alex Fedotoff - 7 Figure Ecommerce Blueprint 8 Alex Schlinsky - Prospecting On Demand 9 Amiee Ball - Pay To Play 10 Andre Chaperon - Auto Responder 3.0 11 Anik Signal Facebook Ads Mastery 12 Anik Singal - Copywriting Academy 13 Anik Singal - FB Ad Academy 14 Anik Singal – Copywriting Academy 15 Anthony Groeper - The 100k Blueprint 16 Anthony Groeper – Viral Venum IG Mastery 17 Anton Kraly - Dropship Lifestyle 6.0 18 Arie Scherson - E-Commerce Inner Circle Program 19 Beau Crabill - Online Retail Mastery (Amazon FBA University) 20 Billy Gene - Clicks Into Customers 2.0 21 Billy Willson - 6 Figure Facebook Ads Agency 22 Bradley Riley - Social Media Marketing Academy 23 Chalene Johnson - 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2.0 127 60 Minute Stamina 128 Advanced Sex Techniques For Guaranteed Orgasms 129 Blow Her Mind The First Time 130 Extreme Female Orgasms 131 Forbidden Sex Secrets 132 Multiple Orgasm Methods 133 Oral Sex Magic 134 Orgasm Of The Month 135 Rear Entry Made Easy 136 Secrets of Squirting Orgasms 137 Sex Positions for Orgasm and Excitement 138 Shawna's Porn Star Sex Secrets 139 Squirting Orgasm Mastery 140 Superman Stamina 141 Threesome Code 142 Jason Julius 143 Extreme Stamina 144 Female Orgasm Blueprint (2009) 145 #Social Skills 146 Alpha Man Conversation Persuasion 147 basic social Skills, body language and self help stuff 148 Humor 149 Power Social Skills 150 Pure Personality [Vice] 151 Ultimate Inner Game Modules 152 Texting 153 Micheal fiore texting 154 Online Dating And Texting 155 swipe text date pdf 156 Text Game Greg C 157 Text that girl...Race depriest 158 Texting on steriods 159 Texting related products 160 Adam Gilad - Relationship God 161 Alex - NRYNE 162 Alex - Social Encrypted 163 Books 164 RSD Library 165 Brad - Evolution 166 Brad - Lifestyle Academy 167 Charlie Houpert - Charisma University 168 David Tian 169 Deepak Wayne 170 Derek Rake 171 Engage by Evolutiondaily 172 Engage-EvolutionDaily 173 Glenn - Energy Awareness Training 174 Gordon Ramsay - Cooking 175 Hypnotica - Collection Of Confidence 176 Jason Capital 177 Jeffy - Execute The Program 2.0 (SD) 178 Julien - PIMP (SD) 179 Julien - Shift 180 Julien - TenGame 181 Julien - Transformation Mastery 182 Julien - Transformation Mastery (Full HD) 183 Leo Gura - Ultimate Life Purpose Course 184 LifePurpose 185 Luke - Social Circle Blueprint 186 Luke - Social Circle Blueprint (Full HD) 187 Madison - BOSS 188 Mark Manson 189 Marshall Meditation Method 190 Max - The Natural 191 Max - The Natural (SD) 192 Mystery 193 The Mystery Method - Revelation 8 DVD & 13 Audio CD 194 other game 195 Papa - RSD Founder's Club 196 PickupDance 197 Resonator 198 RSDMax - Girlfriend Game 199 1. Inner Game Debunking Myths 200 2. How To Get a GF 201 3. Monogamy and Polygamy 202 4. Problems In Your Relationship 203 5. Advanced Girlfriend Game 204 6. Bonuses 205 Shae Matthews - Sensual Massage Mastery 206 Social Supremacy Blueprint 207 StealthSeduct 208 Todd - Daygame 209 Todd - Text & Dates Machine 210 Todd - Valentine University 2.0 211 Todd - Women 212 Transformation Mastery Academy 213 Transformations 214 Tyler - Foundations 215 Tyler - Hot Seat at Home (SD) 216 Tyler - The Blueprint Decoded Books 219 Mastering Your Hidden Self.pdf 220 The Art Of Seduction.pdf 221 The Red Queen.pdf 222 The Red Queen.pdf
Do not waste time, and we will immediately pass the verdict: the Swissstand broker is decent. Why do we think so? Our experts carefully analyzed all the information published on the network, studied customer reviews, and spoke with representatives of swissstand.com. Of course, you will be able to meet a certain amount of negative reviews, but you must not forget about the strong competition among Forex brokers. Quite often it is easier to throw mud at someone else's company than to promote your own services. In any reviews about Swissstand are mostly positive. A distinctive feature of criminals is that they have a low-quality site. The site of the Swissstand Forex broker does not seem to be bad, as the criminals do not have a serious amount of money. Their websites are often banned. Such sites are almost always developed in a site builder, for example, on Wordpress. The company's website in this context does not look like fake at all. It is noticeable that a lot of time was spent on the site, swissstand. Most likely the company has its own staff of developers. Another obvious indicator is how swissstand.com maintains feedback from traders. Questionable managers almost always call cold calls. Scammers pretend to be brokers, contact potential victims and from the start offer to invest in dubious projects, and as much as possible, this has not been noticed on swissstand.com. In general, the organization is well known. As for those brokers, which of course are a scam, swissstand.com is all the more significantly distinguished by its reputation, which is almost impossible to buy online for money. First, let's look at the broker as a whole. Everything is known in comparison, respectively, we will compare the company with swindlers. You can draw your own conclusions. Studying the company's policy, we also come to the conclusion that this is not a fake company. It can be seen that the broker has its own legal department. The scammers on the official website have the devil knows what. Based on our experience, we can state that often, they have absolutely no legal data or any information about the organization's policy on their official websites. The swissstand website has it all in stock. You also need to talk about reviews. Criminals have either exceptionally bad reviews, or a significant percentage of reviews are 100% fake. swissstand has good reviews. There are positives, there are negatives, and they are all authentic. Again, with regard to criminals, it is likely that without our help, criminals produce reviews in order to somehow improve their reputation. Therefore, we assume that if swissstand.com has an adequate situation with reviews, then the company itself is credible.
About swissstand partners
The organization has a partnership with the Swift bank transfer system. This system is a recognized world leader in this field. A significant part of banks and Forex brokers work through this system. Of course, that unreliable companies are not able to boast of this. Therefore, swissstand is certainly not a scam. Swift diligently evaluates potential partners before approving a collaboration. If you give access to the system to a broker that raises even the slightest doubt, then this is fraught with serious damage. For example, if swissstand.com were criminals and made an attempt to profit from this system, it would be a big reputational blow at best.
Overview of the Swissstand broker platform
swissstand.com has a user experience department. The functions of this division include, as the name implies, monitoring the satisfaction of traders with the services of the company. The department also carries out the development of new products, and the improvement of existing ones. Employees are engaged in improving the IT infrastructure of swissstand Forex broker. The work goes in similar directions as testing new functions on the trading platform, correcting inevitable problems in the software. But the main role is given to the improvement of the swissstand.com platform. The goal is clear, to make working on the platform as convenient as possible. This is what the swissstand reviews say. Thus, it becomes obvious that the company cares about its own users. As part of the question: is swissstand a bad company, this is important for 3 reasons:
Fraudsters don't care about victims. They only care about profit;
As it was said at the beginning of the article, swissstand.com has a well-established official website, and dubious organizations, as a rule, cannot boast of such;
Scam sites are quickly banned, even if the criminals planned to look like a decent company, they would not have time.
Another important thing to say about reviews is that they are extremely difficult to fake, and not only because false reviews are easily detected, but because of the similarity. Review portals that care about their own interests will not allow this. Of course, if the swissstand broker tried to improve its popularity, then the site admins would quickly stop it. If a site is seen to be doing poorly with fake reviews, then it will suffer. It is the same with consciously closing one's eyes to this kind of activity. In any case, swissstand has seen no such attempt to influence reviews. Our employees specifically got in touch with the site employee, and he agreed that this is what happens with cases of buying reputation. Based on the fact that the reviews of the company are real and it is almost impossible to wind them up. The conclusion is: swissstand is not a hoax!
Briefly about the level of Swissstand service for Forex.
In general, the company provides normal market conditions for traders. In this regard, swissstand is also unrealistic to be suspected of something criminal. As mentioned above, the firm is working on the level of the trading platform. Here is a short list of what the company offers to potential clients:
Ability to work with MetaTrader 4. Feedback from inexperienced and serious traders regarding trading with Swissstand is generally good;
Earnings on the commodity exchange;
Trading on currency and crypto;
Education and work on Forex with a consultant.
More about broker Swissstand
The MetaTrader 4 trading terminal has established itself as a reliable program that is suitable for a variety of types of traders. MetaTrader 4 is designed to implement even the most complex trading strategies. A wide variety of indicators that are suitable for both basic and fundamental analysis are in the program. Since the company under study is cooperating with MetaTrader, you don’t have to worry about the prospects of earning money with a broker.
Why is it important to choose a firm carefully?
It would seem that the consequences of a wrong decision in choosing a broker are obvious, but we are not able to talk about it in more detail, and here's why: It is extremely difficult to get back finances in the event of a conflict with scammers; After such a development of events, it is very easy to lose faith in trading; Additional signs of criminals:
The organization interferes with the withdrawal of the account balance;
Forces trading in certain assets;
Practices parasitic conditions in trade and not only;
Manages the trader's investment portfolio in his own interests;
Advertising guarantees earnings under any circumstances;
The quotes on the broker's trading platform differ too much from the quotes of other exchanges. And so, imagine that 30% of this is used by scammers with whom you started working. What will happen in this case? Of course, you will not receive income, as well as your own money. Conclusions: All of the above should be applied as parameters when choosing a company. With regards to swissstand.com, everything is clear. An organization differs from bad companies in literally every way. Finally, let's add real customer reviews about Swissstand: Alex: Very happy with the broker. I started earning from scratch, the mentor taught me for six months. For half a year, I reached 10% profit in one month. Richard: Already tested several brokers. And didn't like it anywhere. I liked the fact that everything was sensibly explained in this company and I began to receive income in the long run, and not with varying degrees of success. I give the company a solid five. Chris: I have been interested in Forex trading for a long time, but I did not want to run into a scam or lose my investment. A friend has been working with this broker for a long time and recommended him. Decided to try it and didn't regret it. My mentor explained everything from the basics in a very accessible way and I was able to start making some decent money. I advise everyone!))
First of all, we analyze the company as a whole. Everything needs to be considered in the system, so we will compare the organization with suspicious companies. You will draw conclusions without our help. A striking characteristic of suspicious companies is that they have a poorly designed website. The official website of the company under study does not look like a fraudulent one, since the scammers do not have a large amount of money. Their websites are quickly taken down. Such websites are almost always developed in an online website builder such as Tilde. The company's website in this regard is absolutely not like fake. It can be seen that the official website, Keller Finance, has taken a serious amount of time. Surely the broker has its own IT department.
What else is important to analyze in the context of a review on Keller Finance forex broker?
Another characteristic evidence is how Keller Finance maintains feedback from traders. Dubious citizens almost always call without preparation. Managers pretend to be brokers, get in touch with potential victims and from the start offer to invest in dubious projects, and as much as possible, this has not been noticed for kellerfin.com. In fact, the company has a good reputation. As for those companies that are obviously bad, Keller Finance is all the more strikingly distinguished by its reputation, which is almost impossible to buy for money online. We consider this to be one of the most important criteria in the context of the Keller Finance investment review. Let's not waste your time, and immediately voice our opinion: Keller Finance is not a bad company. On what basis do we think so? Our employees carefully studied all the data available on the Internet, checked customer reviews, conducted interviews with kellerfinance.com employees. Of course, you can find some amount of negative information, but you should not forget about the strong competition among Forex brokers. It is often easier to sling mud at someone else's brokerage organization than to improve your own services. In any case, there is no such negativity in the reviews on Keller Finance forex broker. Analyzing the company's policy, we also conclude that this is not a fake company. Obviously, the firm has its own division of lawyers. The criminals on the website have the devil knows what. Based on our experience, we can conclude that, in general, they have absolutely no legal information on their official websites, nor any information about the working conditions of the company. The Keller Finance website has it all. In addition, it must be said about the reviews on Keller Finance. Bad companies have either extremely negative reviews, or some percentage of reviews are one hundred percent fake. Keller Finance is doing well with reviews. There are positives, there are negatives, and they are all authentic. Again, with regard to scammers, it is likely that the scammers themselves create reviews for themselves in order to somehow smooth out their fame. Accordingly, we conclude that if broker has a situation with reviews similar to the truth, then the company itself is credible.
About Keller Finance Partners
The firm cooperates with the system of transfers between banks Swift. This system is a well-known world leader in this field. A significant part of financial institutions and honest Forex brokers operate through this system. Of course, dubious companies cannot boast of this. So kellerfinance.com is definitely not a bad company anymore. Swift diligently researches potential partners before launching a partnership. If you give access to the company's system, which raises even small doubts, then this will result in gigantic damage. For example, if Keller Finance were bad financiers and tried to profit from this system, it would be a big reputational blow at best.
Checking the quality of the Keller Finance trading platform
Keller Finance has a department for quality control of work with users. The functions of this division include, as the name implies, tracking user satisfaction with the company's services. The department also develops new products and improves existing ones. Employees are engaged in improving the IT infrastructure of Keller Finance. The work goes on such fronts as testing new functions on the trading platform, eliminating inevitable problems in the software. But the main role is given to the modernization of the company's platform. The goal is clear, to make trading on the platform as convenient as possible. Reviews of Keller Finance speak about this. Thus, it becomes obvious that the organization takes care of its customers. As part of the question: Is Keller Finance a bad company, this matters for three reasons:
Dishonest brokers do not care about the victims. They only care about profit;
As it was said at the beginning of the material, Keller Finance has a well-established website, and unreliable organizations are most often not able to boast of such;
The official websites of criminals are often deleted, even if the criminals wanted to become like a serious company, they would not have time.
Learn more about reviews on Keller Finance
It is important to say one more thing about reviews: they are very difficult to fake, and not only because false reviews are very noticeable, but because of the stereotype. Review sites that care about their own interests will not allow this. Of course, if the Forex broker Keller Finance was trying to strengthen its reputation, the site admins would quickly stop it. In the event that the portal is caught doing poorly with fake reviews, then its reputation will suffer. The same thing happens with the deliberate aversion of eyes to such incidents. In any case, Keller Finance has not been found to be trying to influence the reviews in this way. Our employees specifically contacted the site representative, and he confirmed that this is the case with attempts to cheat reviews. Based on the fact that the reviews of the company are authentic and it is almost impossible to wind them up. The bottom line is: Keller Finance is a decent company!
Briefly about the quality of the company's trading platform.
In general, the firm offers market-standard conditions for traders. In this regard, Keller Finance is also hard to suspect of something criminal. As mentioned above, the company is working on the quality of service. Here is a short list of what the firm offers to potential clients:
Ability to work with MetaTrader 4. Feedback from young and professional traders regarding trading with Keller Finance is generally good;
Trading on the commodity exchange;
Trading on currency and crypto;
Education and work on Forex with a mentor.
More about the broker
The MetaTrader 4 trading service has established itself as a good program that is suitable for various types of traders. MetaTrader 4 is built to execute even the most complex trading strategies. There are a variety of indicators suitable for both basic and fundamental analysis in MetaTrader 4. Since the company under study is in partnership with MetaTrader, you don’t have to worry about the prospects of working with Keller Finance.
Why is it important to choose a broker carefully?
It would seem that the consequences of a wrong decision in choosing a firm are obvious, but we are unable to not report on this in more detail, and here's why: It is extremely difficult to get back funds in the event of a collision with scammers; After such a development of events, it is very easy to lose faith in trading; Additional features of scammers:
The organization resists the withdrawal of the account balance;
Persistently offers trading in certain assets;
Uses parasitic conditions in trading and not only;
Manages the trader's investment portfolio in his own interests;
Advertising guarantees profit under any circumstances;
Quotes on the trading service of the company differ too much from the average. And so, imagine that a third of this is used by the criminals you encountered. What will happen in such a case? Of course, you will not see profits, as well as your money. Results:
All of the above should be used as strict criteria when choosing a firm. With regards to Keller Finance, everything is clear. The organization differs from criminals in almost every way. Finally, let's add real feedback from traders about Keller Finance:
I am extremely satisfied with the work with the broker. I started from scratch, the analyst coached me for three months. For the year I went to 7% profit per month.
Already tested several brokers. Didn't like it anywhere. What I liked about this company was that everything was sensibly explained and I began to earn income over the long haul, and not with varying degrees of success. I give the company a solid four plus.
I have been interested in Forex trading for a long time, but I was afraid to run into a scam or lose money. A friend has been working with this broker for some time and recommended him. Decided to try it and didn't fail. My analyst explained everything from the basics in a very accessible language and I was able to start making good money. I recommend to everyone!))
I only recently found out about Fantasy's book bingo, and it's been very helpful in getting me to read more (not that I wasn't already having phases of frenetic reading, followed by month-long lulls), more consistently, and more broadly. This week, I managed to complete my first row! So I thought I'd do some mini-reviews. https://preview.redd.it/k0h89e6crzv91.jpg?width=640&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5932855a0ecea014f9e3ddf19ba1694802ddf618 Using row-first numbering: 1-1: A Book fromFantasy's Top LGBTQIA list:The Deed of Paksenarrion, by Elizabeth Moon (HM) The shining example of a paladin's arc. The Deed of Paksenarrion is an immediate nostalgia read for me, who grew up thinking G. A. Henry's With Clive in India was the pinnacle of military fiction (I'm Indian, and I was an idiot). It's also a damn good series/omnibus, following the progress of Paks from bright-eyed runaway to honorable soldier under the tutelage of the most decent mercenary in the country. We follow her adventures as a solo mercenary, chasing bandits and cultists, her training as a paladin, her fall to dark forces, and her heartbreaking struggle with a metaphor for PTSD. Eventually, she receives help (as we all must), and she ascends like a star to the heavens, showing us that the strength of a paladin is not in their arms or their magic, but in their faith and their infinite compassion. The final scene still gives me chills to think about, and it is the most inspiring narrative I've read in a long time. Also, she's asexual (as am I), but I did not twig this until I saw it in the LGBTQIA list. I am an idiot. What a refreshment to have a female character who doesn't have an obligatory romance. 5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 3-1 (well, if you use the omnibus title, the one used here) and 4-4 (at least the second book). 1-5: Set in Space:Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson (HM) Ah, what's a fantasy bingo without a Sanderson novel? But hey, this isn't in the Cosmere. Skyward is one of Sanderson's sci-fi(ish) YA novels, centered on the world of Detritus, a mostly-underground military colony of humans desperately fending off alien assaults with shitty retro-engineered tech and a dwindling host of children turned military pilots. Like in every YA novel, a very special (and sassy, gritty, doesn't know when to quit) kid saves the world — and in a rather typical YA fashion, too — but Sanderson still delivers a very enjoyable story of a group of kids getting their shit together and learning to work as a team in the world's deadliest game of dodgeball. And, of course, his worldbuilding is excellent, and the tidbits we get of the Cytoverse's magic system in this book are quite promising. Also bonus points for funny AI friend and cute pet. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 5-4 and some of the novellas in the series might count for 1-2. 2-5: Revolutions and Rebellions:Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett Do I really need to write a review for this one? The 6th in the Watch series and the 29th of Discworld proper, it kicks an older, wiser Vimes back in time to the days of the Revolution and the overthrow of the mad Lord Winder, and sends a notorious serial killer along with him for company. The following confusion results in older Vimes having to play the role of his own role model for his younger, more impressionable self. Night Watch is honestly an excellent look at what Vimes would be as a father (or, at least, a mentor figure). It's hard to compete with the magnitude of "WHERE'S MY COW?", but boy, if it doesn't give it a run for its money! 5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 4-2 and 5-4. 3-2: Author Uses Initials:Paladin's Grace, by T. Kingfisher (HM) Honestly, this deserves to be used somewhere else, but it does count for Hard Mode. A very cute, sad, adult romance between a paladin whose god died (and damn, this gives me so many ideas for DnD stuff) and left him broken, and a perfumer who was abused by her ex and pretty much every single person before that. One of those long, drawn out romances where both sides struggle to admit their love for one another, it is also very funny throughout (at least for me), and both protagonists are a delight to follow all the way to their happy ending. The sequels are similarly delightful, if you find the mental gymnastics and order of priorities the lovers have as entertaining as I do. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 5-4. 3-4: Urban Fantasy:Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovich Honestly, I try to look on the positive side for this one, but I keep coming back to how much I did not want to know about Peter's boner. Why. Still, it's clearly a labor of love, written by someone who has taken the concept of a police procedural and fed it a beat cop (with fears of ending up in a desk job) who can see ghosts. It's very geeky, and considering that the protagonist learns magic and immediately discovers new aspects of magic's interaction with technology, I have high expectations of how the setting's magic system will be explored in the future. The story itself is good as far as urban fantasy mysteries go, though I did not feel particularly compelled by it. Will not be continuing this one, but I still recommend it for anyone who likes Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. 3 out of 5 stars. 4-4: Features Mental Health:Harrow the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir The second book in the Locked Tomb series, and the one that stuck with me the most — Muir just loves making unusual choices for narrators, clearly, with the second person narration that makes up a good half of the book. Harrow the Ninth is a very different book from its predecessor; instead of kickass idiot Gideon trying to navigate a murder mystery, we have the precocious, insane, and unfortunately relatable Harrowhark. Of the two narratives going on throughout this book, the first is a tale of a bone-achingly desperate mouse in a cats' world — when you're not sympathizing with poor Harrow's terrified machinations, you get to enjoy the scenery of worldbuilding and global narrative: who is God? What are the Nine Houses? What does it mean to be a Lyctor? Of course, there's still the second narrative, which is just a treat for the reader: why the fuck does Harrow's retelling of Book One make no fucking sense? This book does an excellent job of helping the reader relate to someone who cannot trust their own senses, and even their own memories, and who has to navigate reality regardless in the most abusive household their world has ever known. 5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 1-1, 1-5, 3-1. 5-1: Award Finalist, but Not Won:Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence The first book in the Book of the Ancestor series. Altogether a mixed bag. We follow the trail of Nona, a young girl sold by her shitty village for her magical bloodline potential, wanted for attempting to murder a lord's son, and kidnapped/rescued by the Abbess of the Convent of Sweet Mercy. Like the best religious names, Sweet Mercy is steeped in irony: it's a school that trains warrior nuns, spy nuns and nuns who can walk the Path of magic or use lesser magics to devastating effect. The fantasy visuals are spectacular — the concept of paths and threads sticks with me, and I am fascinated by the strangeness and potential of the setting. The characters are quite entertaining, and (as is often the case in a school setting) it is rather heartwarming to see them overcome their dislike for one another and band together in the hour of need. Some of the narrative choices definitely drive home how much of a YA book this is, though... and I, sadly, am not young enough anymore to look past these things all the time. 4 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 1-2, 5-4. 5-2: BIPOC Author:Murder in G Major, by Alexia Gordon Also a first book in an urban fantasy mystery series (is there a compact name for this genre?). This one is rather different from my usual reads, however, in that it reads much like your standard fare murder mystery: Gethsemane Brown, through disastrous levels of bad fortune, arrives in a small village and takes up an impossible job as a music teacher for a class of unruly high schoolers — and, as if this were not enough of a workload, she also decides to investigate the case of her home's former resident and her own idol turned (supposedly) murder-suicide, Eamon McCarthy. The main fantastical twist is, of course, the fact that while Eamon is quite dead, his ghost is very much alive, and is arguing quite vigorously with Gethsemane every night to prod her along. A bit of a formulaic whodunnit, but entertaining enough, and the entrance of more fantastical elements at the climax (I don't kiss and tell!) left me very interested in the sequels. 3.5 out of 5 stars. Might count for 3-4 (set in a small village)? 5-3: Shapeshifters:Rosemary and Rue, by Seanan McGuire Yet again, a first book in an urban fantasy mystery series! I am very fond of stories that explore the concept of Faerie and the fey, and this book is a pretty deep dive. It follows the rather tragic story of October Daye, half-fae changeling, who used to serve as a private investigator before getting properly fucked up (in a way that would earn this category, if Tybalt didn't already) and leaving the fey world for the mundane. As these things go, she all but drowns in her misery, before being dragged out of her gloom by the murder of a friend. The following investigation is a heck of a trip, exploring high fantastical themes, introducing several different fey folktales, a smouldering romance interest (ah, Tybalt), lives on the line, and an aptly named case study on child exploitation. An excellent mystery thriller, with a delicious icing of fantastical elements — and feelings! Lots of feelings! 5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 3-4. 5-4: No Ifs, Ands or Buts:Fated, by Benedict Jacka And another! First book in an urban fantasy series! (Yea, I had a big urban fantasy phase this year.) Honestly, out of the Dresden Files, PC Peter Grant, Gethsemane Brown, October Daye and all the other urban fantasy series I've read, this would probably be my general recommendation. Alex Verus is a fairly boring fellow, not so different from Harry Dresden himself: in a world of Light and Dark wizards, he has managed to alienate the Light by the incorrigible sin of being enslaved by a Dark wizard one time, and he has managed to alienate the Dark by telling them to fuck off and not being a pushover. This leaves him in No Man's Land, and he's quite okay with it. Right until one of the very few friends he has, a woman with a powerful hereditary curse, finds the key to an ancient artifact sought by Light and Dark mages alike — and both sides are okay with collateral damage if that means the artifact ends up in their hands. To make matters even worse, his special talent is seeing the future... which makes him incredibly well-suited for disarming the traps guarding this artifact, and makes him a hot commodity that both sides want working for them, and would kill to prevent him working for someone else. A quality thriller with an entertaining collection of plot twists, and a fun (if a little overdone) power trip on how hard someone with foresight can flex on everyone else. Also, cutest elemental ever, and no (IIRC) weird chauvinism, which is a boon in and of itself. 4.5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 3-4. Does NOT count for 2-2, but if you get far enough along the series, some of the sequels might. 5-5: Family Matters:Jade City, by Fonda Lee Another urban fantasy, dear god- well, okay, this one is quite different. Still, one of the most popular recommendations of adult fantasy, for good reason. Jade City follows the stories of the No Peak clan — one of the two mob families that control most of the island of Kekon, known for its unique jade that confers magical powers. This is a relatively gritty, adult series, and Fonda Lee chooses some excellent narratives that many Asian readers will relate to. Shae, with her experience of leaving against her family's wishes, trying to reject her suffocating heritage, and finding she does not quite belong in or out of Kekon, is only too relatable; and Lan, trying and failing to live up to expectations in his ailing (and, frankly, abusive) grandfather's shadow, hits home just as hard. And these are just my two favourite POVs; each and every single one is excellent, and resonates with a different part of my soul. A must-read, and one of those that would get a 6 out of 5 if I could give it. That said, like many adult fantasy series, this is a bit of a cynical book. The good guys don't win, nobody gets a happy ending, and a terrible price is paid before the climax is resolved. And I have a very small quota for anything that doesn't have feel-good qualities, so I don't think I will be continuing. Still, I'll say it again: must-read. 5 out of 5 stars. Also counts for 2-2 (Hilo), 3-4, 5-2. ... God, that took me so much longer to write than I thought it would.
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Reverse mentoring was pioneered just over a decade ago by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and has been embraced by a growing number of companies, including Ernst x26amp; Young, General Motors, Citibank, Johnson x26amp; Johnson, Mars, Cisco and Procter x26amp; Gamble. All now offer formal reverse mentoring programs. via What are the best mentoring programs? Here are three companies with great mentoring programs:Caterpillar. The goal of Caterpillar's mentoring program is to facilitate continual learning and development. ... General Electric. GE has long been a leader in mentoring and was one of the first companies to adopt reverse mentoring. ... Bain and Company. via Is a houseboat cheaper than a house? Yes, living on a houseboat is often significantly cheaper than a traditional home. The average annual cost of living on a houseboat is estimated at only around $6,000. 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Code is a Craft, not a Competition-- and why it matters.
I've been thinking about and working on this question for the last five years. I would be so grateful to hear what you think. In particular over the last two years, I have interviewed more than 1000 developers all all levels of seniority but especially the senior ones about their work:
what they love about coding,
what they’d want to improve, and
what blockers are getting in their way of achieving their personal and professional goals.
My goal was to get input on next-generation tooling that could make a positive difference, whether they were working on Open Source or private projects, from minor to giant teams. More than any specific feature or need, the most important thing I learned was a metaphor: Code is a craft, not a competition. I wanted to share my thinking with you and get your feedback. Part 1 what is a craft? Part 2 is coding a craft? Part 3 if coding is a craft, and I believe it is, what are some of the implications for software tooling to support that craft? Let’s delve into it.
Part 1: What is a craft?
When Engineers started talking to me about craft-like elements of their work, I did some background reading on the history and nature of the craft. My favorite source was Peter Korn’s “Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: the Education of a Craftsman.” It’s a biography of a master woodworker, but the first third begins with a discussion of crafts vs. arts vs. other vocations. From this book and other sources and conversations, here is my distillation of what a craft is. First, A craft is a skill that improves with knowledge and wisdom. As the old adage goes, knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Knowledge is information in its rawest form — domain-specific facts, methodology-specific facts, and guiding principles. Wisdom, on the other hand, demands insight. It is the judgment to apply knowledge to specific contexts to pick a correct approach or approach with the highest likelihood of achieving the desired goals. When a craftsperson possesses greater knowledge and wisdom, their ability to create a quality finished product increases. So how does this growth happen? Both knowledge and wisdom can be self-discovered, passed on through codified sources, or taught. However, as with any skill, high-quality teaching is the best way to accelerate skill adoption. Here’s where things get interesting. Though Knowledge is important, it can’t do much on its own — in fact, it’s something that seems more valuable than it is. In isolation, it can be just rote memorization or facts lacking critical context that’s needed to apply in a useful way. When it’s combined with and refined into Wisdom, Knowledge begins to pay dividends. Wisdom is applied Knowledge - used to chart a course with the highest likelihood of achieving what one set out to do. Wisdom generally can’t be memorized. Instead, it’s forged in the crucible of experience and repeated mistakes. When someone developing a craft is nurtured with high-quality teaching, the acquisition of Wisdom is again greatly accelerated, and so is their ability to create a quality finished product. Second, the craftsperson derives pleasure from doing the work for its own sake. Important to the definition of craft is autotelism: the principle that pleasure comes from the work itself, intrinsically, separate from any external purposes or goals. This doesn’t mean crafts don’t generate external benefits – compensation, critical recognition, or the delight from users appreciating a creation. But as Korn writes “there is great satisfaction to be found in work that engages one as an end in itself.” Third, working on a craft can generate flow state, when a creator is totally engrossed. The very smart, and very hard to pronounce, sociologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly identified nine components of generating flow:
There are clear goals every step of the way.
There is immediate feedback to one’s actions.
There is a balance between challenges and skills.
Action and awareness are merged.
Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
There is no worry of failure.
The sense of time becomes distorted.
The activity becomes an end in itself (autoelic).
Working on one’s craft can generate this flow state. Fourth, the finished craft has to work. This is the single biggest difference between art and a craft. For a craftsperson, unlike an artist, ultimately, the item being produced has to function and provide utility to a user. As Korn says about woodworking: “The craftsman does not have the luxury of ambiguity. Soon enough his beliefs are subject to the test of the real. Either the chisel is sharp enough to pare wood effectively or it isn’t. … The sturdiness of a table and the comfort of a chair are immediately apparent to any observer.” This standard of “does it work in reality,” while harder to achieve, ultimately leads to more satisfaction: “The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a [person] quiet and easy. They seem to relive [them] of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of [themselves]... [they] can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs…. Craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.” He wrote it about woodworking, but it reminds me of every intense conversation I've had with devs before, during and after building a feature or driving down tech debt.
Part 2: Is coding a craft?
I believe that code meets this definition of a craft. To investigate, let’s compare the activity of writing code against the four tenets I outlined previously. A craft is a skill that improves with knowledge and wisdom. Coding most certainly involves the collection and synthesis of information:
Domain-specific facts e.g. making a project GPDR-compliant,
Methodology-specific facts, e.g. database structures, algorithm optimization and style conventions
Guiding principles: both for the individual (understandable code is a priority), and for the team (code reviews are a priority)
And coders develop wisdom the longer they code. The biggest difference between Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert coders is the ability to apply wisdom to the coding situation at hand. In the world of coding: Knowledge can be thought of as the skill necessary to solve a certain problem through code Judgment would include whether to build the solution vs. use a third party library Coding knowledge and wisdom can indeed be self-discovered, passed on through codified sources, or taught. While it is possible to become an “Advanced Beginner” developer through self-discovery or research, the practice of teaching accelerates this process and unlocks far greater maturity. For coding, “teaching” can include informal Q&A, code reviews, mentorship, and classroom coursework (if it’s relevant and involves true back and forth between a student and teacher). When teaching, a developer also engages in the learning process. It allows them to absorb the mistakes made and lessons learned from multiple people and angles. They can learn to communicate with various skill and competence levels. The craftsperson derives pleasure from doing the work for its own sake. Important to the definition of craft is autotelism: the principle that the pleasure comes from the work itself, separate from any external purposes or goals. This is a fundamental guiding force for almost every developer I talked to. Yes, of course, some coders see their work as a 9-5 job. Many appreciate that it is an unquestionably great career when measured by compensation, flexibility, and autonomy. In addition, almost all engineers are thrilled to see the code they’ve written used in action, helping their organization (or if they’re lucky, the world) be more successful. But at the heart of most engineers I spoke with, having code simply work successfully is immensely satisfying, regardless of any other factors. At the heart of code quality is a deep passion for the code to work, and work in the right way. This speaks to engineers' devotion to their craft — a devotion to producing a workable outcome and an elegant solution with enduring value. It evokes mindfulness and appreciation for the process and propels them to explore ways to improve it. Working on a craft can generate flow state, when a creator is totally engrossed. Coding in the right environment – which of course, is not 100% of environments! – can lead to the flow state:
There are clear goals every step of the way: Functional and non-functional requirements join themselves in code written in a flow state.
There is immediate feedback to one’s actions: The code compiles, or it doesn’t, it runs, or it doesn’t, it passes tests, or it doesn’t.
There is a balance between challenges and skills: Engineers can keep working on harder and more complex technical challenges in higher performing coding teams. An Engineer might get a consistent quantity of constructive feedback in their code reviews because they are enabled to keep pushing themselves beyond what they already knew.
Action and awareness are merged: Yes!
Distractions are excluded from consciousness: Many a teammate has wondered why a Slack message has gone unanswered during the first half of a day. A mind engrossed in the complexities of a challenging problem being solved well has no time for interruptions or context switching.
There is no worry of failure: Yes, Business / Sales / Finance pressures do intrude, but when a dev can be focused on the task at hand, they have moments of energy and clarity without fear.
Self-consciousness disappears. Coders get lost in the work and can code without eating, sleeping or any other need.
The sense of time becomes distorted: I’ve heard stories from hundreds of engineers losing track of time and completing just ONE more feature, or optimizing just ONE more method.
The activity becomes an end in itself (autotelic): Timelines are an unavoidable real part of commercial software development, but flow is not generated by the prodding of a scrum master or the pressure of deadlines.
The finished craft has to work. To figure out something magical in code can be a delightful feeling, but for almost all coders what matters is what happens when the code is used. Ultimately, the code needs to work. For the coder, “working” means “does it compile,” but it also means “does it work for users” and “does it work to the level of my team’s standards at this particular moment (since the tradeoff of scrappiness and excellence varies over time).”
What it means to treat code as a craft, and not a competition - and how to enable it.
If we’ve done our job, you know what’s coming next: the implications of treating code as the craft it is. We are persuaded that code is a craft – which means that engineering teams and their supporting tools and systems need to be set up to support creating code as a craft, not a competition. No doubt you can think of many examples of where devs and dev teams were not treated in this way– rewarding or measuring lines of code created is our favorite, worst example. We believe any engineering manager or organization with developers should want to facilitate the flow state of craft from the folks developing for them. Here’s what I'd tell CEOs and Engineering leaders for what that looks like. Because craft relies on knowledge, tools that put expertise at the fingertips at developers are incredibly important. That’s why Stack Overflow has been one of the most revolutionary tools for developer flow in the last decade. Resist the dogma of velocity at all costs. Instead, be methodical about identifying and removing blockers to flow. Blameless, inclusive retrospectives, and continuous testing to find better methods for dev flow, are essential. Feedback methods, particularly code reviews, mentoring, and paired programming, are essential to transfer knowledge and develop wisdom. The most important measurement of code quality is the subjective assessment of engineers with knowledge and judgment. Linters have their place… but the truth is what other craftspeople say. Metrics about coders shared without permission are dangerous. The choices that coders make every minute, hour, day can not be reduced to a robot’s review of your code. And stay far, far away from measures like LOC / day. Finally– coding exercises during interviews need to be handled very carefully. The best way to understand how a coder works is by observing their past performance, or coding/problem solving under conditions similar to what they’ll face while working. Reviewing the details of their previous work– a true portfolio, not just the front end– can help here.
I hope this piece persuades you, and it gives you ideas to help support the craft of coding in your own organization. But if you’re not persuaded, I really hope you weigh in and help make these ideas better. A true joy for me of the community of coders is a deep belief in the power of ideas, and a willingness to jump in to improve things– whether’s it's twitter or reddit posts, articles or, of course, the code. Here’s to the wonderful global community of coders and, yes, to the craft of code.
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Scott Fitzgerald’s grandson, Samuel Lanahan, III. • “Until the Full Moon” a novel by Charlet Wang • “Kilie the Dreamer” a novel for young adults by Humera Ansari • “The Maiden Voyage of Soñador” a novel by Mark Overturff • “The Divine Fiat: Black Excellence in Herbalism” a non-fiction book by Kwame M. Vaughn • “Lucky Dog” a memoir by Dallas White • a series of literary reviews on diabetes • a bio for a spa business website • a doctoral dissertation on patent litigation • a book on holistic cancer cures • a letter to a collection agency • master’s thesis: privacy concerns arising from technological advancements • medical journal articles on pediatrics • a doctoral dissertation on nursing management • a podcast script on marijuana entrepreneurs • a business proposal for hydroelectric power in Africa • a master’s thesis on social geography • engineering reports for the federal government on soil contamination • an advertisement for a new day spa in New York City • a master’s thesis on computer servers • proposal for waste disposal and recycling for the Congo • letter to a judge pleading for leniency in divorce case • a medical report on difficult diagnoses • a master’s thesis on the feasibility of the Airbus • a magazine article on women empowerment in India • a book on child psychology • a booklet on the power of positive thinking • letter to the courts for obtaining child custody • personal statements for dental school, med school, and law school • a magazine article on violence against women in India • a collection of childhood anecdotes • a personal memoir about coming of age in rural Texas • a master’s thesis on electric car use • a personal memoir about growing up in Texas • a research paper on autism • a master’s thesis on electric car use • a press release for a new author • a letter to a judge pleading for custody of a minor • a novella of mainstream young adult fiction • a letter to a traffic court judge to lessen charge for reckless driving Some past writing experiences include: • “Revolutionary Gentleman” rock opera, Washington, D.C., Writer, Composer, Lyricist • “What’s that Word” vocabulary textbook, Author • Cavalier Daily, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, Columnist • “The Will to Get Married” comedy, Hudson Theatre, New York City, Playwright (Ozark Writers’ League Award for Best Play of the Year) • Northern Lights, Ernst Community Cultural Center Newsletter, Publisher and Writer • “All Write Already” English writing textbook, Author • Letters, lyrics, poems, press releases, WriteEditoFormatter • “Dead Lovers” comedy play, Nat Horne Theatre, New York City, Playwright • songs & instrumentals performed live and streamed on dozens of sites, Composer, Lyricist, Arranger (see soundcloud.com/mistercomposer) • “Peter the Great” musical, composer, co-lyricist, co-librettist • “For the Love of Mr. Paradise” comedy, Auburn, New York, Playwright • Doggie Notes, Social & Political Commentary, Writer Reviews “As an author, I believe that the editor is the most valuable asset I have. Without that special relationship with your editor, your reader will never be led to hear your true voice, or that of the characters you want to be brought alive and remembered forever. For me, Steven Rodgers is, and shall always be, the man who understands my style of writing and has made me a better writer. He is a sweet, loving, and caring man who you can trust, and delivers on time. An editor who is a joy and a privilege to know and work with. He is a treasure among all editors.” August 4, 2022 Drake A. Gaetano, “Open Arms,” “Purple Violets” “Steven Rodgers is one of the most professional, kind, and talented people I have ever worked with. I used his services while applying to post-graduate education programs and I am so glad I have found him. He's always on the other side of my email messages, responding in a timely manner, providing constructive feedback, and most often gives me a better perspective on my writing. I strongly recommend hiring him -- for a small or large task -- he's simply the best!” February 2021, Y.P., M.D. “Steve is a well-educated man that knows how to write. He knows what works and what doesn’t. But what separates him from the rest is he is one of those guys that goes the extra mile. He said he would not abandon me after the initial edit, and he didn’t. Steve is not a 9 to 5 guy; he does whatever it takes to get the job done. He kept me informed every step of the way. I think he always did his best to satisfy my requests far beyond our original agreement to edit my first novel. He gained my trust and kept it. With his help, my first novel was successfully published. I will never be able to thank him enough. Read my book and you will see. It’s my story and I wrote it the way I saw it, however, Steve put the polish on it, and he went through everything it took to put it in print, far beyond our original agreement.” December 14, 2020, Mark Overturff, “The Maiden Voyage of Soñador” “Steve Rodgers did a very splendid job of editing my book: Kilie the Dreamer. He is very extremely professional and has a vast knowledge in his subject. He went above and beyond as an editor to assist me with my work. I will highly recommend him to anyone with full confidence and trust. He is extremely nice and helpful.” December 14, 2020, Humera Ansari, “Kilie the Dreamer” “I chose Steven to be my editor for a graduate program thesis paper and am really happy with the decision. His suggestions for grammar and word choices put a beautiful polish on my work. I enjoyed and benefited from the collaborative, back and forth, environment; and learned a bit about writing as well! I highly recommend Steven and plan to hire him for some business projects as well!” Apr 24, 2020, Michael G. (also posted on Thumbtack.com, 3rd party site) “Steven was exemplary on every level. He is experienced, critical, and intuitive in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of key story elements such as premise, flow, and structure. He returned my work quickly and provided as much feedback and interaction as I needed. He was very thoughtful in his comments, and revisions or additions he suggested were always right on target. Thanks for ensuring that my project reaches its fullest potential.” Kwame V. (also posted on Thumbtack.com, 3rd party site) Apr 25, 2020 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Q What is the difference between line editing and proofreading/copy editing? A. A line editor takes proofreading and copy editing to a much higher level. In addition to correcting errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation, a line editor emulates the writer’s ‘voice,’ improving sentences, enhancing style, verifying correct usage and grammar, making the writing more succinct, improving word choice, word form & word order, and finding better phrasing to make it all flow. Q How much does it cost? A Most line editing will cost between 3 and 4 cents a word; slightly more for technical articles and dissertations, slightly less if only proofreading is required. Book-length manuscripts generally fall in the lower price range. Once I see your work, I can give you an exact quote. For books, I am happy to edit a few sample pages, at no obligation. Q How do I pay? A The default method of payment is by PayPal invoice (but Zelle and Venmo are available on request). Payment is generally required in advance for orders under $200. For larger works, you may opt to pay only half upfront, with the balance due on completion. All that’s needed to proceed with the transaction is your full name and email address. Q What’s the turnaround? A The turnaround time depends on several factors: how many projects we are working on at the time, the length and difficulty of your project, your deadline, and if it’s something I would need to do personally, or if it could be done by a member of my staff. If you let me know when you need it, I will do my best to get it to you by the deadline you request. Q Do I have to pay extra for “rush” jobs? A No. we don't charge for rush jobs. If you have an emergency and we are able to meet your deadline, we will try to make it work. If we think it will be difficult to finish on time, we will let you know before starting the project. Small projects can often be done within 24 hours of receipt of payment. we work most weekends and holidays, too. Q What if I have questions about my project after I have already paid? A We do not abandon our clients just because the job is finished. If there are questions or concerns, we’re happy to assist if possible. The only thing we cannot do is to “re-edit” the entire manuscript after the client has adjusted it and added more materials, etc., which essentially constitutes another job. However, if you highlight specific sentences that you want us to take a second look at, we’ll try to help. Q Will you write my paper for me? A We’d prefer not to. We ask that you at least write a rough copy, including all necessary content and then have us edit it for you. There are plenty of sites online that are willing to write and do the research for those willing to pay the price, but there are just too many unknown variables, not to mention the ethical issues. We don’t know your professor, we didn’t take your class, and we think you should really do your own work. EDITING EXCERPTS ORIGINAL: The same principle whether or not I could lead others for the better was applied when I was choosing my first job. EDITED: Likewise, when I chose my first job, I considered first whether or not I would have the opportunity to lead others and enrich lives. ORIGINAL: I did not feel motivated to apply to those companies because I did not find such work meaningful. EDITED: I did not feel motivated to apply to those companies because it would not have been as fulfilling to me. ORIGINAL: As illustrated in these two examples, a bigger picture of what I am doing and where my life is heading is very important to me. Likewise, as a person, I try to be resourceful and helpful. EDITED: You might not need to say “as a person” ... we know you’re a human being! ORIGINAL: I was a mentor. I visited middle and high schools to make a presentation about majoring Education in college, helping students decide what to study in college EDITED: “… lives in Korea, mentoring high school students about their college majors.” ORIGINAL: I like the way my values have thus far led my decisions and my life, and I assume that they will keep my life on the right track like a lighthouse. EDITED: This is what we call mixing metaphors (right track and lighthouse). Also, ‘assume’ is a weak word here. Another option is ... “I trust that they will act as a beacon of light, drawing me ever closer to my ultimate goals.” ORIGINAL: Many of his questions are the things regarding the text books, and at the same time, those were related with advanced concepts that is already had written in another advanced books. He made such his own original thinking at the very time after my lectures end without any help. EDITED: Many of his questions pertained to advanced concepts that students were not yet expected to understand, but his curiosity and passion for learning prompted him to go above and beyond what we were studying at the time. ORIGINAL: It has been three years when he talked me that he wants study more but he couldn’t for his circumstance. EDITED: I was not surprised with his decision because it was something that I had encouraged him to do for years. WRITING SAMPLES Everyone's a Doctor! Everyone is a doctor today … at least that is the impression one might get by the number of people introducing themselves as such. In fact, about the only ones I know who DON’T call themselves doctors, are some doctors … doctors with real credentials and enough confidence to know that titles are a superfluous means of elevating one’s self-esteem. But doctors who are not doctors are crawling out of the woodwork! Dentists call themselves “doctors.” They’re not doctors. A chiropractor calls himself “doctor.” He’s not one, either! I went to the optometrist the other day and the first thing she said was, “Hello, I’m Doctor Hahn.” Doctor? Mmm, sorry. An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor. An optometrist is a person who checks people’s vision for glasses. Even a basketball player, with a Ph.D. in physical education, calls himself a doctor! One of my best friends is a real doctor who works as a research scientist, curing diseases. When his graduate students call him “Dr. Smith,” he always corrects them. “Just call me ‘John,’” he tells them. Why does he need a title? He doesn’t depend on meaningless titles to gain respect. He is respected. Now there are even Ph.D. programs for nurses. Imagine the fun trying to sort out that at the hospital before surgery! “The doctor will be with you in a moment.” “The doctor? Oh, but … I thought the nurse was going to prep me for surgery!” “Yes, the nurse will be here.” “Oh, not the doctor?” “Yes, the doctor. The nurse IS a doctor. Dr. Wang has a Ph.D. in nursing.” “So … if both the doctor—the real doctor—and the nurse, who calls herself a doctor but is not one, were both in the room at the same time, and I called out 'doctor,' who would answer?” “Both of them. It would be elitist of the doctor to think such a title is his exclusive domain! He’s not the only one who worked hard to get where he is!” “Well, for that matter, the janitor probably works harder than anyone in the hospital! Should I call him a doctor, too?” “No of course not. That would be silly.” “Thank God.” “Refer to him as the resident expert in anti-microbial engineering.” Skin Tone, and other misplaced priorities I'm sure you've all heard someone say “I'm going to work on my tan!” I can't help but wonder what “work” is actually required. It seems to me that such labor generally consists of lying on the beach, and, perhaps less often, sitting or squatting, but it all pretty much amounts to the same inactivity. It's always amazed me, anyway, how society places such importance on skin color. Over the years, it has changed, of course. A century ago, young white women in polite society, carried around parasols in sunny weather, to prevent their skin from becoming dark or freckled. These days, much to their detriment, it has become fashionable to soak up the rays and acquire a darker complexion. In the movie "The Talented Mr. Ripley," the very tanned Jude Law, upon seeing the very UNtanned Matt Damon, remarked disparagingly ..."You are sooooo white!" It was not a compliment. Unfortunately, the societal pendulum which has swung in a decidedly darker direction does not bode well for tan seekers. Note to sun worshippers everywhere: skin becomes dark under the sun's rays as a negative reaction to being poisoned by the ultraviolet rays of the sun! People! This is not a good thing! One of the supreme ironies of life is that all those things that we need to survive (such as the sun) also kill us! The sun is not something it's particularly wise to expose your skin to. It can lead to all kinds of radiation poisoning that wrinkles the skin, causes cancer, and decreases longevity. The next time you are tempted to lie in the sun and get a tan, spend eight bucks, get an umbrella, and shade yourself from the celestial orb which is doing its utmost to shorten your time on planet Earth. When Words Can Mean Anything I don’t know what anyone is talking about anymore! I hear people referring to a good friend as “bad,” a thin girl as “phat,” a great movie as a “bomb.” Any time I lament the decline of the English language, however, and complain about the confusion that results from people using language incorrectly, someone will invariably chime in with the obvious cliché: “language changes!” Well of COURSE language changes! That’s obvious, but saying this is a little like cutting off your nose, and when asked why you did it, you respond by saying, “Hey, people change!” Not only DOES language change, it MUST change, but there is a real difference between stupid change and smart change. Smart change is modifying the language to help express things that could not have been expressed before, such as 'email,' 'cyberspace' and 'software.' There were no terms for these just a few decades ago, and they had to be invented … which is a bad thing. (And by 'bad' I really mean 'good'.) Stupid change, on the other hand, is using words to mean the opposite of their known meaning, or taking words that already have a meaning but changing them to the point where everyone and his dog is beyond all hope of understanding. Take, for example, the word 'vegetarian.' A perfectly good word (here I really do mean 'good'), meaning one who eats only plant-based food: no fish, beef, milk, eggs, or cheese. Tragically, this perfectly fine word has been misused so often that it has come to mean a non-meat eater, although since most people don’t consider fish to be meat, they can actually eat animals and still feel as if they are morally superior to those who eat poultry, pork and beef. The ugly word 'vegan' has now come to mean what vegetarian has always meant to begin with: one who doesn’t eat animals or anything that comes from an animal. Now I have no idea what someone means when she says she’s a vegetarian because I don’t know if she is using it in its original context, the modified and incorrect modern use, or some kind of pathetic hybrid. This has not enhanced communication; it has obfuscated it. 'Decimated' is another fine word that is falling by the wayside. From the root meaning 'ten,' the word 'decimated' means to destroy 10% of something. If a tornado wiped out 100 houses out of 1000, you could correctly say that the neighborhood or village was decimated. Today, however, so many people use decimated to mean 'destroyed' or 'obliterated' that the real meaning has gone by the wayside. Stupid change. A few weeks ago I had a conversation in a bar with a young man on the subject of rap. I don’t have anything against rap, and I even like some of it, I just don’t call it 'music' because it’s not. There is no music there. There is no tune. They are words recited to a beat; it is poetry, some of it very good poetry, but poetry, not music. My young friend, however, said that rap is music because they call it music, which reminded me of the Abraham Lincoln quotation: “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? 5? No ... 4 ... because calling a tail a leg does not it make it one.” “Yes,” the young man insisted. “‘High’ is ‘low’ and ‘low’ is ‘high’…. words can mean anything you want them to mean.” Unfortunately, he doesn’t get it. When words can mean “anything,” they cease to have any meaning at all. You’re Getting Warmer! We’re not in the ice age anymore my friends. The evidence is overwhelming. The ice caps and glaciers are melting, the oceans are rising, average temperatures of the air and water continue to increase, and bizarre weather patterns have become the norm. And still, there are detractors. Of course, that is part of what makes the world go around. Someone is going to always disagree with what seems obvious to most. There are those who still believe the earth is flat, that men never walked on the moon, that the pyramids were constructed by aliens from outer space, and that Donald Trump is a good choice for president. And, of course, there are those who say that global warming is just another liberal scheme to get citizens dependent on the government. They say that temperatures have always gone in cycles, and even if the earth is getting warmer, we had nothing to do with it, and cannot change it anyway. Never mind the fact that 90% of all scientists affirm that global warming is a fact. And let’s ignore for a moment a still more obvious fact, that humans can and have contributed to the phenomenon. Still ... are the proposed solutions really that unpalatable? Would it cause anyone great harm if we were to comply with the very logical recommendations set forth by the scientific community? What exactly would it take to help slow the rate of global warming? ... cutting down factory emissions, creating increasingly fuel-efficient cars, encouraging the use of alternative modes of transportation (including bicycles and electric vehicles), reducing the use of electricity, using alternative, cleaner forms of fuel and energy such as tidal and wind power, reducing coal emissions ... and the list goes on. The way I see it, the question of whether global warming is a fact ... doesn’t matter in the end. The solutions that will help slow the process are good for us all and ought to be embraced. Sample from play “The KGB Takes Up Interior Decorating” Dmitri: My name Dmitri Minkovsky. I decorate interior. I can do without even using brain…how you say…off top of left head. These bowl of fruit on table, for example? Should move slightly to right. Svetlana (In awe): Is he not amazing way he just do that! And he never wrong! Dmitri: …or … perhaps to left. Veronica (She rushes to coffee table and moves fruit): Oh, ok. So… to the left? Dmitri (Gesturing theatrically): Little more. Veronica (Adjusting fruit bowl): Like this? Dmitri: Dah. That perfect! These change whole room now. Svetlana: I agree! It like before, you were living in hole in ground, and now are living luxurious palace. Veronica: Huh. Just from that … little … thing … wow. Svetlana: By the way, I am Svetlana Anikinova, his administrative assistant … and secret lover. Dmitri (Angrily to Svetlana): Ah!!! Nyet privacy! Nyet privacy! Must whole world know our business?(Pointing to Svetlana accusingly)Yah neena veejzu tee byah!! [“I hate you”] (Dmitri and Svetlana whisper for some time, occasionally looking over at Veronica. Finally, Svetlana approaches Veronica) Svetlana: Sorry, my mistake. We not lovers. Dmitri: We never even see each other before. Veronica: And yet … you both … work together? (Svetlana and Dmitri realize their mistake) Svetlana (To Veronica): One moment.(Once again, the two quietly confer. Svetlana crosses to Veronica). All right. Is true, we are somewhat well acquainted …. even … at times … (Glances at Dmitri) … intimate. Dmitri (Quickly interjecting): … but we do not like each other! Svetlana (Suddenly angry): Dah! Sometimes I want kill him! Veronica: Then how do the two of you … ? Svetlana: You no understand. Officially, Russians never intimate with each other. Veronica: Even married couples? Dmitri: Especially married couples! Svetlana: If Politburo found out man was sleeping with own wife…(Approaches Veronica sinisterly) I think you know what would happen. Veronica: You don’t mean … they’d kill him?! Svetlana (Incredulous): Kill him?! What kind of barbarians do you take Russians for? Of course they not kill him! No, they just laugh at him because he not man enough to attract mistress. Is humiliating for Russian man. Veronica: But … I thought Russians … don’t have sex. Dmitri: Never … and what’s more … we do not enjoy it. Svetlana: In fact, we hate it! Dmitri: Every time! Svetlana: How many books you write so far? Veronica: Seventeen. Dmitri: If you write seventeen books, how come we never hear of you? You must be terrible! Veronica: I like to use the word ‘obscure.’ Dmitri: I am sure you do. But let me ask you something … if you call a tail a leg … Svetlana(Exasperated): Ah, Gohs-beh-dee! [“Oh my God”] Not with Lincoln again! He always quoting Abraham Lincoln. Dmitri (angrily): Mohs Dyets! [“shut up”] Svetlana: Etta Peez Dyets! [“This is fucked up”] Dmitri (To Veronica): If you call tail a leg, how many legs you think dog has? Five? Nyet. It has only four, because calling a leg a tail does not make it so. These words are from your own president, Abraham Lincoln, who, despite being capitalist pig was admittedly decent writer of prose. Svetlana: Lincoln is only American whose writings Dima can read without becoming nauseated. Dmitri: Dah. Is true. Svetlana: Dima, didn’t you vomit last winter when you reading “Puddin’ Head Wilson”? Dmitri: Dah, I always vomit when read Mark Twain. Svetlana: I thought so! I never forget a major vomit. Dmitri: I also vomit when read F. Scott Fitzgerald … and I especially vomit when read Ernest Hemingway. His putrid novels with his pedestrian dialogue give to me infinite sickness … or make me comatose, I can’t remember which. I no longer even drive while reading his work. Either I get furious and crash car into ditch, or it so boring it put me to sleep, and again, crash car into ditch. Russia have much ditches. Svetlana: … and potholes. Dmitri: Shtoe? (what?) Svetlana: Many potholes in Russian roads also? Dmitri: Dah, dah. Many potholes … is no picnic for front-end alignment, let me tell you! Svetlana: … is enough to make even our glorious president want to kill own mother! Dmitri (Casually taking a bite of an apple): Sveta … don’t you remember? President mother already dead. Svetlana: Dah, is true. But … if she alive, he would murder her … don’t you agree, Dima?
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