Why Energy Traders Got the Eclipse So Wrong

Grid operators and traders thought they were totally prepped for the historic U.S. solar eclipse. There was just this one thing they didn’t completely factor in: “irregular human-behavior patterns.”

That’s the technical definition, from the folks who manage the electricity network at the Southwest Power Pool, for the conduct of millions of Americans who were outdoors ogling the moon shadowing the sun instead of cranking up the A/C in homes and offices. Demand, of course, tends to rise heading into the hottest part of a summer day. On Monday, it developed a weird U-shaped dip over a two-hour period across the country.

Workers monitor energy grids during solar eclipse.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

This was a bummer for traders who’d bet prices would jump as a whole load of solar-produced megawatts faded to black. “If anything, it was bearish from a trading perspective because people were more busy looking at the eclipse and talking about the eclipse,” said Tom Hahn, vice president of U.S. power derivatives at brokerage ICAP Energy LLC in Durham, North Carolina.

Spot power in California fell to negative levels as the eclipse wiped out and restarted thousands of megawatts of solar power, and they also dipped from Texas to New York. While natural gas demand rose to a one-month high on Monday, spot prices at several hubs weakened versus the U.S. benchmark.

The outage of renewable resources, fossil fuel or nuclear generation can send prices shooting up by hundreds of dollars within minutes. But grid operators, utilities and electricity generators had been planning for months to make up for big swings in supplies. Add that pesky human factor and, oops.

“The eclipse was definitely a distraction to the market,” Hahn said.

Spot electricity at Northern California’s NP15 hub averaged $21.50 a megawatt-hour at 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., less than half the price for supply secured in advance for the hour in the day-ahead market, according to grid data compiled by Bloomberg. Then at 11:50 a.m. local time — as the sun started to reappear from behind the moon — the ramp-up in solar power sent prices to a low of minus $15.97.

Cloud Cover

While that was the most dramatic case of a power-price retreat, there were noticeable dips elsewhere. Cloud coverage in places like North Carolina, Texas and New Jersey had reduced solar output before the eclipse anyway, limiting the magnitude of the loss. The moon’s shadow also reduced temperatures a bit. And then there were all those people playing hooky from work and school.

Alphabet Inc.’s Net Labs unit, which deploys thermostats and other smart home technologies, drew more than 750,000 customers into its Solar Eclipse Rush Hour experiment to cut consumption. They reduced power use by about 700 megawatts nationwide, helping to offset a 10,000-megawatt drop in solar power. In California, Nest and other partners worked with the the state utility commission to cut consumption by about 1,500 megawatts.

For the Southwest Power Pool, which manages a network stretching from North Dakota to Louisiana, electricity use came in 2,500 megawatts below the forecast. The dip was also “very evident” in New England, New York and the nearby 13-state grid managed by PJM Interconnection LLC, said Tom DiCapua, managing director at Con Edison Energy in Valhalla, New York. The network, which manages the largest U.S. grid with 65 million people, saw demand fall by 5,000 megawatts, or as much as 3.8 percent, during the event.

“People drove up the day-ahead price thinking that prices would settle higher in real time,” DiCapua said. That was the wrong way to go. “The people who tended to be short tended to make money. You wanted to be short.”

Remember that for the next total eclipse in the U.S.: April 8, 2024.

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    Trump-Murdoch relationship raises conflict-of-interest questions

    (CNN)Add the bromance between President Trump and media mogul Rupert Murdoch to the long list of messy conflicts of interest that define — and cast a shadow over — the Trump White House.

    “It is my distinct honor to introduce the commander in chief, the President of the United States, my friend Donald J. Trump,” the Australian-born Murdoch said at a recent banquet honoring US and Australian veterans who fought in the battle of the Coral Sea, a pivotal World War II engagement.
    The two men hugged as Trump came to the podium.
      Murdoch, executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, the media corporation whose holdings include Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and other properties, is more than just a wealthy pal, and his words were more than ceremonial.
      When The New York Times published a front-page analysis of the people outside the White House whom Trump contacts for advice, Murdoch was the first one listed. He and Trump speak by phone almost every day, according to the Times.
      “The president’s relationship with Mr. Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and the two commiserate and plot strategy in their phone calls, according to people close to both,” the paper said.
      The connections extend to family: Until recently, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was one of five people overseeing a nearly $300-million trust fund for Murdoch’s daughters from a previous marriage. (Ivanka Trump resigned as a trustee after Election Day.)
      The Trump-Murdoch connections might all seem like harmless coincidence — just a couple of billionaire buddies whose families get along — but it goes much deeper than that. In several cases, Trump appears to be using his presidential powers to provide a commercial benefit to Murdoch.
      It’s a troubling reminder that Trump, years ago, openly boasted about trying to make money by campaigning for office.
      “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” he said in 2000.
      That mentality hasn’t changed. Since getting elected, Trump has clearly been using the presidency to make money for himself and his family — and, apparently, selected close friends including Murdoch.
      Of the first seven sit-down television interviews Trump granted after taking office, five were with Murdoch’s Fox News (the other two were with ABC and the Christian Broadcasting Network). Murdoch no doubt thanked the commander in chief for the ratings boost during one of their regular phone calls.

        Bill O’Reilly addresses exit in new podcast

      Trump frequently praises Fox on Twitter. But it has left some journalists inside the Murdoch empire complaining about softball treatment and a pro-Trump tilt.
      Grumbling from reporters at The Wall Street Journal grew so great that the editor, Gerard Baker, held a newsroom-wide meeting to defend the paper’s coverage.
      Another possible conflict involves Trump’s vow during his presidential campaign to block the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner, CNN’s parent company. It’s widely acknowledged that the merger would create a powerful rival to Murdoch’s empire (only a few years ago, Murdoch tried — and failed — to acquire Time Warner himself).
      Now the Trump-Murdoch alliance is about to endure its most serious test.
      Trump recently leaped to the defense of Murdoch’s business when scandal engulfed Fox News. In the wake of an explosive New York Times story that revealed that 21st Century Fox paid $13 million in settlements to five women claiming sexual harassment or verbal abuse by Bill O’Reilly, the top Fox News host, only one prominent public figure came to the defense of O’Reilly. That person was the President of the United States.
      O’Reilly has denied the harassment allegations.
      “I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” Trump told reporters. “Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
      In the end, despite Trump’s expression of support, dozens of advertisers dropped O’Reilly’s show, and Murdoch’s sons forced the host out.

      Join us on Twitter and Facebook

      But the US Justice Department is probing possible illegal conduct inside 21st Century Fox related to money paid to settle sexual harassment claims by former Fox News President Roger Ailes. As first reported by CNN, the investigation centers on whether the company’s shareholders were properly informed about the money being spent on the harassment allegations. (Ailes has denied the harassment claims.)
      All of which raises a key question about ethics and conflicts of interest in Trump administration. Will Trump, deeply entwined with Murdoch, curtail or end the Justice Department investigation of Fox in exchange for favorable news coverage?
      Stay tuned.

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      Legitimate ways you can earn money from home – Bankless Times

      Bankless Times

      Legitimate ways you can earn money from home
      Bankless Times
      If you type 'earn money from home' into Google, you're met with all kinds of dubious results. Scams, illegal … Many creators have both a blog and YouTube channel giving them two separate sources of income but which can run side by side harmoniously.

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      Dallas @ Washington: How Washington will try to slow down the smoking-hot Cowboys offense – Blogging The Boys (blog)

      Blogging The Boys (blog)

      Dallas @ Washington: How Washington will try to slow down the smoking-hot Cowboys offense
      Blogging The Boys (blog)
      No offense in the NFL is hotter than the Dallas Cowboys at the moment. For three straight games they've put up over 30 points. How will the Washington defense try to cope with that machine? First thing they need to do is get healthy. Much like

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      ‘I view the hurtful messages as sadism’ – what it’s like to be Instagram famous

      Making a career out of a hobby might look easy, but living the dream online comes at a cost. Six influencers reveal what its like to be a woman on Instagram, and the truth behind their artfully stylised feeds

      In her 1970s book On Photography, Susan Sontag describes the role of the camera in everyday life as a means to construct “a portrait-chronicle of itself – a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness”. She could, of course, be talking about Instagram in 2017, except that we are becoming increasingly less connected to the images themselves. Through filters, colour washes and crops, the images we post can be little more than projections of how we want to be seen by the outside world; an ideal self. And in many cases this image bears only a passing resemblance to the reality.

      But what happens when Instagram becomes more than just a pastime? When it becomes a way to make a living? What happens when your followers start to objectify you, or your friends unfollow you because of what you post, or it starts to affect your mental health? What happens when you realise you’ve become “content”? Do you stop? Do you heck. From the biomedical scientist who tries to balance university life with makeup posts to the model who is asked to promote slimming pills, Instagram has a very real, often dark side. And these women should know. Morwenna Ferrier

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      ‘We just scroll and scroll and scroll’ – female influencers on Instagram

      ‘People assume this job is really easy but it’s hard work’

      Jayde Pierce – @jaydepierce (beauty/lifestyle Instagrammer), 960k followers


      I started Instagram just like any other person – sharing pictures for friends and family – and the more I would post, the more followers I would gain. I posted pictures of what I was doing that day, but people seemed to enjoy it and a career came out of it. I’ve always loved makeup, beauty and fashion, and now I have a way to share it and make an income. With advertising, as long as it’s a product I like and would use, then I’m happy to promote. I test things out before I do any promotion and if I don’t like something then I don’t go ahead.

      Instagram can be stressful. People assume this job is really easy but it’s hard work and as much as there are advantages there are also disadvantages. If you do everything yourself it’s very time consuming. I film and edit all my own YouTube videos and mini Instagram videos. I create content every day (with the help of my partner taking the photos), attend meetings and events, test out products, plan everything. I had a baby six months ago and have just moved into a new home, so I juggle quite a lot in life.

      But I’m grateful I’m in a job like this. The main disadvantage for me would be the internet hate and getting judged for everything you do 24/7. People feel like they can tell you how to live your life. It’s very frustrating.

      ‘My photos have a certain look, a certain aesthetic’ … Millie Cotton.

      ‘I can post a photograph from my bed and make money – it’s mind-blowing’

      Millie Cotton – @millie_cotton (fashion and lifestyle blogger), 19.6k followers

      My Instagram is a feed of curated photos. They have a certain look, a certain lighting, a certain aesthetic. I have a private Instagram now as well, which features “real” moments – not that photographs on my Instagram aren’t real, but they are an idealised reality. I wouldn’t put a personal selfie with my boyfriend on my public Instagram, that would go on my private one.

      I’ve been working with brands for the past few years. There’s a lot of product placement – you have to agree an idea with a brand, and then you produce the content and have to run it by them, and then put it on the internet with an agreed caption. You have to declare that they are paid for, but I think as long as the brand is in line with your regular content and the photo has personality, people don’t mind that you’re promoting a product.

      Some friends have said “You want to be ­famous”, to which I reply, “I’ve created a business from putting photographs on the internet. And I have creative control.” I can edit and post a photograph on Instagram from my bed and I make money from it, which is mind-blowing!

      ‘I don’t think the feeling of loneliness is exclusive to me’ … Alice.

      ‘It’s crazy that your number of followers going up can make you so happy and excited’

      Alice – @alxcext (biomedical scientist and makeup Instagrammer), 191k followers

      Everyone in year eight and nine had Instagram; pictures of friends, pictures of what you are doing. It was never that makeup-focused. It would eventually get to the stage where I would come home after school, get changed, sit down and do my makeup at 3.30 in the afternoon, and that’s when my Instagram changed.

      I lived with my mum, dad and brother – I’d shut the door and my dad would have a nap in the afternoon and my mum wouldn’t be back until about 5pm, so I had those few hours to take selfies with my door closed. After that I’d have dinner and do work, and that was it. I definitely think it’s an art. It started in sixth form – I was doing the same thing I’d been doing for years – coming home, taking pictures – but I think what changed was that my actual makeup was getting better. I was able to post pictures on Tumblr – that’s when things started to pick up. Overnight I would gain about 5k followers, and it just went up and up. I remember being so happy about itand – it’s crazy that a number going up can make you so excited. I remember going into school and girls that I wasn’t really friends with would be like, “There’s Alice, she’s famous!” and take photos. I never told anyone at uni. I moved into halls and people were like, “What’s your Instagram?” and I would give them my handle. I would never tell them, they could find out on their own.


      Now I’m in my second year, I’m not that close to many people on my course. One day someone said, “Did you know Alice is Instagram famous?” She was flicking through and saying, “You have so many followers!” And the lecturer caught on to what was happening, and asked if I got paid. I just wanted to fade into the background. My hands were shaking, it was horrific.

      A lot of Instagram content is stuff that I don’t agree with, I know that brands contact me because they know I have an influence in some way, but I’m very aware that that needs to be used really responsibly. There are really big accounts that post makeup pictures and the majority are white girls, but I’ve sort of discovered this world where there are so many beautiful brown girls. You just have to find them. I wish it wasn’t like that, I wish back in 2008 I could have found the brown makeup community, but it wasn’t that easy then.

      It’s actually been really recent that I’ve found myself following more brown girls and been really inspired by them and how connected they are to their cultures and background and heritage. I’m really pushing myself to get into that and also reflect that in my makeup. I really want to do more stuff connected to my parents and my background. But in terms of YouTube there is actually a big gap where there aren’t many brown YouTubers. And that’s motivated me to do more.

      ‘I sometimes get comments that I find disrespectful or creep me’ … Doll.

      ‘I am very aware that there are stalkers out there’

      Doll – @doll_cat_pvssy (feminist sex writer and model), 69.8k followers

      My life is definitely not conventional, because I’m so passionate about avoiding the 9 to 5. The best part about my Instagram is hearing about how it has helped other women find positivity in their own bodies and their sexualities. But it’s also amazing to connect with others, who you ordinarily wouldn’t get a chance to meet or speak to. I never went to uni, I started working full-time when I was 16. I’ve done a lot of office jobs and now work freelance. I don’t have an alter ego. I do think there are some people – men in particular – who build up an idea of how you are. And I think that can be quite dangerous with social media. But everyone just portrays the best parts of their lives. You don’t talk about the fall-outs you have with your family. I take my Instagram reasonably seriously because I feel like I’m trying to get a certain message across, that feminism is cool, and I’m cool and I’m a feminist. Using social media makes me happy because it is a great way to see how other people are standing up for certain things – seeing the women’s march, seeing people getting together. When I take a picture of myself I am mostly thinking of myself, I don’t really give a fuck what anyone else thinks of the picture. Getting used to being seen definitely boosts your confidence and people pick up on that and treat you in a certain way.


      The worst feeling I get from Instagram is that of being misread when a guy doesn’t realise what you are portraying and sees you as an object. But I really just view all the hurtful messages as sadism, a reflection of their insecurities, and if anything I’m like, they must be kind of jealous of me. I’m quite thick-skinned, but I don’t get that much negativity from Instagram. You definitely have to be very careful with posting your location. I don’t put where I am until I have left the place, because I am very aware there are stalkers out there, so I take extra precautions. But other than that I don’t feel emotionally vulnerable. I sometimes get comments that I find disrespectful or creep me, but I let them off the first time because most men haven’t been brought up to respect women and their sexuality. I have always been a very independent person – I love my own company and hated sleepovers as a kid.

      I don’t feel like I’m losing time to hang out with my friends when I’m using social media. If anything, I think it’s forced me to meet other creatives and make art together, so I think I’m more social because of it.

      I think everybody uses social media to seek some form of validation. You definitely get more likes with the more flesh you have out – sex sells and that’s always going to be the way. Instagram likes might encourage people to reveal more flesh, but essentially it was more about revealing a new layer of confidence. It wasn’t about the likes – it was about exploring myself. I would advise somebody who wanted to build up an Instagram account not to be commercial and to be really raw. That might come across as a bit controversial – it might make you feel uneasy when your boss confronts you about it. You need to be aware that your family is going to know. You just have to be really confident in yourself and if you’re trying to gain followers you need to keep it personal. My family have been surprisingly supportive, and my mum loves to tell her colleagues. It definitely helps to have that support.

      ‘Suddenly I was gaining thousands of followers every day’ … Joanna Kuchta.

      ‘Without Instagram I wouldn’t be working in my dream industry’

      Joanna Kuchta – @joannakuchta (Instagrammer and model), 1.1m followers

      I think it’s completely OK to monetise your content by advertising brands. We all have to make money some way, and this is how bloggers have been making money since before Instagram. I enjoy working with fashion brands and creating content for them. However, I don’t do a lot of paid posts, because when I started out three years ago I didn’t intend to make money. I just used it as a creative outlet for fashion and photography and I want to keep it that way. I don’t want to sell anything I would not myself use or wear. I would not advertise any teas, shakes or pills that promise you can lose weight.


      I’ve been approached by these companies. It’s really transparent what they do – they approach skinny girls and ask them to pose with the product and claim that they use it. No amount of money would make me promote a product like that to my 71% female following. Some of my followers have been following me since I turned 18, when I started using Instagram properly. I feel so connected to them, because they have seen me grow so much.

      When I started I lived in a tiny village in Ireland. I loved fashion and taking photos, so I did that for fun. Then suddenly I was gaining thousands of followers every day. It became my career. With such a large following comes a responsibility that every public figure has. I make sure my followers know that half of the clothes I wear I wouldn’t be able to even afford myself as they are sent to me. I’m so grateful, because without Instagram I wouldn’t be here working in my dream industry.

      ‘I just see myself as a content creator’ … Ama Peters.

      ‘There’s a divide between white commercial stuff and people with my skin tone’

      Ama Peters – @ama.peters (finance student and lifestyle Instagrammer), 38.3k followers

      I made my account when I was about 15 and was just into posting selfies and hashtags. When I started getting emails from companies I realised it was quite a good way to network, so I thought I might as well pursue it. I like to dabble in a few things, but I’m trying to find a specific route to go down so I’m easier to market to brands. Some people who are naturally superficial might get attached – they can’t separate it from real life. But if you have the basic grounding, then I think it’s easy. Because I really couldn’t care less, I just see it as my job, advertising and marketing. But I don’t really care about if I get 2,000 likes on a selfie or one like. It isn’t going to follow me when I’m enjoying my life with my friends.


      We’re the influencers, but the people being influenced don’t have a clue, they think it’s real life. And that’s kind of dangerous. As an influencer, you have aresponsibility to not exaggerate things too much. I feel like society is just a massive quest for influence in general. I just see myself as a content creator. It’s like if you work for an advertising agency, you get given a job and you create the content. This is the same, but you’re the content. I don’t take selfies for fun, I think about the best way to show off the product that I’m posting.

      I think race affects the work I get. Working with a lot of British brands, they kind of favour the average English-looking blogger. I want to break through that ceiling and show other people they can have a career in fashion, blogging or anything, no matter the race they are. Because I think there’s a divide between white commercial stuff and people with my skin tone – they get completely different jobs. And it’s not fair at all. It’s difficult because I get way fewer jobs than someone with the same following and the same or even worse content quality, just because they fit into the stereotype of what these brands imagine their customers to be like. You’re missing out a huge amount of people who can’t relate to that. There needs to be more diversity.

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      Dynasty showrunner takes you behind the scenes of that drama-filled gala – (blog) (blog)

      Dynasty showrunner takes you behind the scenes of that drama-filled gala (blog)
      And to celebrate their return, Dynasty showrunner Sallie Patrick will be blogging major episodes for EW throughout the show's first season. This week, she's sharing some insights on “Guilt Is for … The twist of the story being, of course, that Sammy

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      Should the Dallas Cowboys go for two more often now that they have a new kicker? – Blogging The Boys (blog)

      Blogging The Boys (blog)

      Should the Dallas Cowboys go for two more often now that they have a new kicker?
      Blogging The Boys (blog)
      Blogging The Boys Blogging The Boys, a Dallas Cowboys fan community. Log In or Sign Up · Log In · Sign Up · Fanposts · Fanshots · Sections; Library; Cowboys · Odds · Shop · About · Masthead · Community Guidelines · StubHub; More. All 319 blogs on.
      Mike Garafolo on Twitter: "Cowboys are signing veteran K Mike Nugent, source says. He'll replace injured Dan Bailey."Twitter

      all 61 news articles »

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      Homeless below the Las Vegas Strip: where city’s vices exist in the shadows

      Theres an even darker side to the gambling mecca a homeless community in underground tunnels that struggles with addiction

      Broken glass crunched under shoes, alerting tunnel dwellers that outsiders had arrived. Deeper in the dark, squat-ceilinged space, 25ft below the Las Vegas strip, Kregg Nattrour rested on a pile of gutted mattress foam.

      I wanted to make this my last month down here, he said. I cant handle another month of this.

      Matt OBrien, a homeless advocate and writer who visits the tunnels twice a month, said Nattrour looked skinny; apparently casino trips prevented the 54-year-old from eating well. I gambled all my money! he complained.

      Our flashlights shone on empty water bottles and jugs of urine on the tunnel floor; fidgeting as he spoke, Nattrour moaned about a man further in who pisses and shits where he sleeps.

      Hundreds of homeless people live in Las Vegas flood channels the citys literal underbelly, according to homeless advocates. They include full-time wage workers, panhandlers and self-described hustlers.

      They say theres no better place to be homeless than the Strip. Tourists drop money on the ground. Gamblers give winnings away, or leave slot machines loaded with credits. Sometimes people nod off at gaming machines, allowing men like Nattrour to withdraw cash vouchers on the sly.

      Yet theres an obvious dark side to trolling Las Vegas for cash round-the-clock access to gambling, drinking and drugs .

      I should have been out of here a couple months ago. I just got depressed, Nattrour said. I dont even drink, but I bought a cocktail. And the next thing I know, Im gambling. I spent $60 of my [social security] check on dope and over $600 playing slot machines.

      After 16-years as a truck driver, Nattrour moved to Las Vegas when his wife died. Three months later, he was broke and homeless sleeping on, then under, the street. Ive had some problems since Ive been down here, he admitted. Last month I put $400 into a video poker machine, and I never got a four of a kind! It pissed me off so much. I hate losing, so then Im chasing that first forty bucks. I say fuck it, its only money!

      OBrien gave him a sandwich, new socks and underwear. In 2007, OBrien published Beneath the Neon, a book about tunnel dwellers that he hoped would inspire the city or a nonprofit to help. Yet neither panned out.

      God dont live here. Only me is painted on the wall near John Aitchesons camp near the tunnel mouth. Aitcheson, 59, sleeps there between his shifts at a Strip convenience store.

      I could get an apartment, he said. But all my money would go to rent, food, electricity, water … By the time I was done thered be no money left over to do anything.

      John Aitcheson sleeps in the tunnel between his shifts at a convenience store. Photograph: Dan Hernandez

      Outside, an empty luggage case sat open in the sun. Aitcheson said a bus from California recently dumped two-dozen homeless people at a nearby McDonalds, many of whom headed straight for the shadows.

      He and Nattrour both claimed that California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada regularly swap homeless. For his part, Aitcheson says he moved here by choice, from Orlando, to enjoy the citys vices. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, you can gamble, drink, smoke, get hookers, he said. Whatever you want is here in Vegas.

      Drug addiction is the most pernicious problem below ground, OBrien said, with tunnels often segregated by whether denizens prefer heroin, crack or meth.

      Like Nattrour, Aitcheson prefers gambling. I dont know how many times Ive walked into a casino with $20, hit $600, and spent every dime of it playing every other machine in the house, he said.

      Lori Flores, clinic manager at the Problem Gambling Center in Las Vegas, is familiar with that cycle.

      At the beginning, before I stopped gambling, it was the only thing that gave me relief, she said, talking about casinos. I went there to not feel. I went there to not deal with anything. I was definitely using it as an escape from problems.

      So I would assume as a homeless person, someone that has pretty much hit rock bottom, they dont have anywhere else to turn. In their mind probably, whats the point. What I can do is take this $5 Ive made getting change from people and turn it into a $100,000 and get my home back, get my wife back, try to get my life back on track. But thats not the way it works.

      Frank Parenti, HELP of Southern Nevadas behavioral health services manager, said: Its the underlining mental illness that has gone untreated thats the real issue.

      There is a disproportionate number of mentally ill who are homeless, and addiction, as a co-occurring disorder, is a part of that. You have people that are using drugs to self-medicate.

      At the other end of the tunnel, was a man they called Jazz. His camp was guarded by multiple trip wires, his bed elevated by shopping carts, and his eyes covered by sunglasses, even in the dark. Jazz lost his girlfriend, Sharon, to a flash flood in June one of three people to drown in the tunnels during a late night rainstorm.

      Jazz: I make money any way that I can. Photograph: Dan Hernandez

      The pair had relied on the credit hustle to get by, which entails finding slot machines with money on them. Jazz continues to survive off casinos by doing one hustle or another, as he put it. Clenching his jaw, he strung words together. I make money any way that I can. Except robbing somebody Im too old for that shit.

      We walked out into the sun, where the ex-con said, some days are better than others, and some days are really good. He admitted that hes not above pulling hustles that require fleeing security. If the chase is on they got to catch me, and I got wheels.

      Ascending the flood channel embankment required walking past Rest easy Sharon 6-30-2016, which Jazz had spray-painted within sight of a gold-tinted resort glimmering on the horizon. He went back to the tunnel, then, to rest in the dark until nightfall.

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      5 Self-Help Books That Got Very Popular Being Very Wrong

      In an ideal universe, trained educators and/or leading experts in their field would exclusively write self-help books. Unfortunately, in our universe, self-help books are written by sad sacks of shit for much sadder sacks of shit who buy them as last-minute gifts for the world’s saddest sacks of shit. Let’s discuss a few of them!


      Kevin Trudeau’s Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About Is Borderline-Criminal Insanity

      Kevin Trudeau won’t let The Man keep him down. Despite spending two years in a federal prison for impersonating a physician in order to commit credit-card fraud, becoming the only person ever banned by the Federal Trade Commission from selling products on television, and getting kicked out of multiple states for running a pyramid scheme, Trudeau is always able to bounce back. Of course, as of press time, he is back in jail serving another ten years. But surely he’ll rebound soon! Possibly in author form.

      See, Kevin decided that a few years of impersonating a physician was basically the same as decades of medical training, so he wrote a medical advice book called Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About. It’s about secret magical cures suppressed by the medical industry, those greedy bastards. But while pharmaceutical companies might do questionable things for money, Kevin certainly does questionable things for money.

      For only $10 per month (or a generous $500 lifetime membership), you can subscribe to Kevin’s website and get some hot, hot tips on beating cancer. Luckily, we’ve managed to smuggle some of these carefully guarded tips through his impenetrable paywall. For instance, here’s how you can prevent skin cancer … by avoiding sunscreen:

      “Sun block, which is overrated, is a loser. The sun is unfairly attacked by the fake news! Sad!”

      You might be thinking, “Duh. Go outside without sunblock to prevent skin cancer. A child knows that. What about my full-blown AIDS?” You’re in luck, AIDS victim, because that shit doesn’t even exist.

      “AIDS was invented by the Chinese to make sex less appealing. THIS IS MCCARTHYISM!”

      “Drugs are sad losers invented by the Chinese to give AIDS to the sun! BAD (OR SICK)!!!”

      You’re starting to get the idea. This is a man who overheard two separate conversations — one about naturopathic medicine, and one about government cover-ups — then mashed them together in his pudding brain, and now believes everyone is lying to everybody, except for a few very specific, very crazy idiots who share his views. Clearly, only a lunatic or a legally elected United States president would think this way, so readers saw through Trudeau’s absurd lies and only bought his books hundreds of thousands of times.


      The 48 Laws Of Power Is A Field Guide For Assholes

      Who comes to mind when you think of powerful historical figures? Genghis Khan? Joseph Stalin? Conan the Barbarian? Conan the Destroyer? The awkward, pasty author of The 48 Laws Of Power?

      That’s Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws Of Power, a book guaranteed to turn you from an aspiring douchebag into a full-blown men’s rights blogger. It’s an extensive practical guide on how to win tiny victories in a social game that only you will be playing. Think of it like masturbation, only it’s less sexual, more lonely, and you can only do it in public (where it still makes everyone uncomfortable.)

      It all began when Greene observed that today’s powerful elite had some traits in common with history’s biggest baldest asses. Possibly. If you’re stupid.

      For instance, Vlad the Impaler would exert dominance over rivals by going to shake their hand and then yanking on their arm while holding onto them for way too long. We obviously made that up, because that would be a fucking ridiculous, wildly insecure “power” move that no functional human being would ever try. But it is exactly the type of thing Robert Greene made up in his book The 48 Laws Of Power.

      Based on little to no research, Greene wrote down the “laws” all historical tough guys must have lived by. It instantly became the go-to handbook for overbearing fucks. It’s beloved by bullies and aspiring rapists, but it’s especially popular in the rap community. 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes both love it, and Mr. Cent even co-authored a book with Greene called The 50th Law. It serves the double purpose of being a 50 Cent biography, as well as a dictionary of “street terms” for hustlers. Because nothing is more street than looking up how to properly call someone a bitch in the present perfect tense.

      The book is also big with prisoners, probably because of the book’s celebration of amorality. The laws are so ruthlessly amoral, in fact, that Greene himself doesn’t even follow them. But he’s fine with helping other people act like evil dictators for $13.99 plus tax.

      And even aside from the cold malevolence of suggesting readers gain power by “posing as a friend, work[ing] as a spy,” half the laws seem to contradict each other. For example, Greene suggests that you “Make Your Accomplishments Seem Effortless (Law 30)”, but also “Never Appear Too Perfect (Law 46).” He tells you, “In Victory, Learn When To Stop (Law 47),” but at the same time, “Crush Your Enemy Totally (Law 15).” On its worst day, the book is an idiot’s idea of how to cheat society, and on its best day it’s a list of excuses you can try to use to live with yourself, on the off chance you’re self-aware enough to realize you’re a total shithead.


      The 4-Hour Workweek: Exploit Others, Be Born Well-Off! That’s All You Got To Do!

      Do you want to get paid for sitting around doing nothing, but hate the hassle of staging workplace forklift accidents? Then The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss is for you!

      Ferriss went from being an overworked sports nutrition salesman to a successful author, writing for only the most respectable and upstanding websites. Step one to this plan is writing a book … and hoping no one notices it’s stupid until after they buy it. But Ferriss also gives other valuable tips, like how you should outsource jobs to cheap foreigners. It’s a complicated system, wherein if someone hires you to do something, you keep most of the money and hire less American people to do it.

      A lot of the book is spent debunking folksy wisdom with different folksy wisdom. For instance, Ferriss writes “People are fond of using the ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ adage as an excuse for inaction, as if all successful people are born with powerful friends. Nonsense.” Ferriss does not tolerate vague adages from people who say things that are only sometimes right, given certain situations! In fact, the people who use adages as an excuse for inaction absolutely molest turtles. If we’re wrong, then defend yourself, people who use adages as an excuse for inaction!

      The main problem with the book is the author didn’t seem to arrive at any of this folksy wisdom through industriousness or success. Remember two paragraphs ago, when we mentioned the sports nutrition company he worked for? They sold a thing called BrainQuicken, a hilariously useless snake-oil product that did nothing except separate the gullible from their money. And remember last paragraph when Ferriss talked about powerful friends, and how they’re nonsense? Well, Ferriss comes from a wealthy family and went to Princeton. So maybe he’s right that you don’t need to know anyone to find success, but he made his fortune by being born into money and selling nothing to the stupid.

      After a few years of selling placebos to shitheads, Ferriss took a trip to Europe. It was there, on his three-week vacation, that he decided he had learned enough about the struggle for success to write a book about it. It began with a brilliant set of rules. The rules included insights like “cut back on email” and “don’t read newspapers and magazines.” Basically, they were just a list of things Ferriss didn’t like doing, and rules you could only really follow if you were the boss anyway. Obviously, if you’re building a business, ignoring your email is strange advice some of the time, and terrible advice most of the time. Which should be the tagline for this moronic book.

      But assuming your rich parents helped you get your snake-oil startup off the ground, this is all fine advice, right? Maybe, but he wouldn’t know. Ferriss doesn’t even come close to working only four hours a week. He is always blogging and self-promoting, and since he sold his awful BrainQuicken company, all his new income is generated directly from this desperate self-promotion. What he’s really saying is that you can work only four hours a week, but you need to spend the rest of your week doing things to make money. So good luck, future millionaires!


      The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets For Capturing The Heart Of Mr. Right Is Mostly About Preserving The Male Ego

      The year 1995 brought us the O.J. Simpson murder case, the Unabomber, and the saddest guidebook that will ever be written: The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets For Capturing The Heart Of Mr. Right. Nearly two million lonely ladies bought the book, but some of those sales must have come from panicked men wondering which of their mysterious secrets had been revealed to women.

      The book (and its countless sequels) all revolved around what women should do to coddle the fragile male ego. It’s not bad advice to “keep your date’s insecurities in mind” or whatever, but The Rules seems to think men will break down and cry at the slightest deviation from gender roles. It gives tips like “you must never offer to pay,” and “remain silently supportive when he can’t remember where he parked.” Seriously, here’s an actual sample from the book:

      There’s a lot of advice like this — to shut up and smile while your date is an idiot, and to build your life and personality around his thin skin. It may also help the relationship if you scream when you see his penis, each time fleeing from it like a terrified child meeting Godzilla.

      “It! Was! So! Big!” you should tell paramedics, through panicked breaths, before finally fainting from “over-stimulated genitalia.”

      The book doesn’t just give great dating advice. It also gives great sex advice … in that you shouldn’t talk about it. And you KNOW the book’s two female authors are experts on men, because they tell you how much men hate horny women. It was one of the best-kept male secrets until this was published:

      Of course, the sure-fire way to tell if a man is into you or not is by the gift he gets you for your birthday. Did he get you jewelry? Then congratulations. He wants you to quietly smile while he searches for his car for the rest of your lives. Did he get you something practical, like a pen or a book? Sorry, that’s code for how he has no romantic interest in you. Or not. There are billions of men and the authors of this book haven’t quite fucked all of them. So, like all dating advice books, this one is uncanny in its accuracy … right up until it totally isn’t.


      Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: Relationship Advice From A Twice-Divorced, Sexist Cheater

      Steve Harvey has been a rich man and also a poor man. He has been homeless and he has also asked contestants to name the most popular terms for “fart” on Family Feud. He has been an unapologetic, sexist asshole, and also felt qualified to write a book telling women how to behave in relationships.

      The book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man is an absurdly misogynistic collection of advice for ladies from a guy whose main source of female information is hearing Cedric the Entertainer describe booty smells.

      And yet somehow it has sold over two million copies, reached #1 on The New York Times Non-Fiction Best-Seller List, and was made into a major motion picture featuring Turtle from Entourage.

      All of this from a man currently in his third marriage, who has been publicly accused of serial infidelity. When Steve Harvey kisses his wife hello, six pounds of other women’s pubic hair falls out of his moustache. For his wife’s birthday, he gave her three kinds of hepatitis and both herpes.

      Steve’s book, as you might expect, treats women like they’re a pile of sexual currency. You see, all relationships are essentially transactional, and women should date based on their own value. When Steve Harvey says “think like a man,” he mostly means “think like a man buying pussy from an escort service.” Women need to realize that sex — or, as he and Fred Durst, and only he and Fred Durst call it, “the cookie ” — is a thing men need. Well, we’ll let him explain how men think:

      They are powerful words from a brilliant mind, and like all great metaphors, it can be stretched in every direction. Does it mean Steve Harvey will sleep with different races of women? Yeah, sure. And does it mean he eats white women? Yes, probably. And does it mean that when the very stupid are paid to list what kinds of cookies they want to fuck, our world is so forsaken it no longer matters who lives or dies? Yes, of course: We are now living in a perpetual madness where meaning is forgotten.

      Steve Harvey feels very, very strongly that a woman should be paid, as if carrying a vagina was highly skilled labor. He says, “KNOW THIS: It is your right to expect that a man will pay for your dinner, your movie ticket, your club entry fee, or whatever else he has to pay for in exchange for your time.” It’s a dating tip that’s both a little bit true, and a little bit like turning sex into a business transaction. He’s not exactly telling you to sell your birth canal’s entrance, he’s just pointing out there is a market value for it, and with some classic money-laundering tricks, you totally could.

      Harvey also has a section on how men have a protective instinct towards women. In his case, that means that when his wife is SCUBA diving, he hires a security guard to dive with her, because he can’t swim.

      “I have a security guy who can swim,” he says. “So he puts on the snorkeling gear and when she goes down, I tell him, ‘You swim over and just keep an eye on my wife.'”

      It’s … look, not all of the book is insane advice on how women should treat their vaginas like relationship currency. Some of it is just insane in general.

      Steve Harvey is a flailing dumbass of a comedy writer. Whether or not he’s funny on stage may be debatable, but without his physical timing and practiced expressions, his little musings barely qualify as observational humor. He tells women, “You’re an investigator — can’t nobody find stuff out like a woman. Y’all put the police to shame, make the little investigative tricks they show on CSI and Law & Order: SVU look like counting lessons on Sesame Street.”

      With a hilariously huge purple suit and the right bug-eyed expression, that might get a laugh from a drunk crowd. But written down, it sounds like a teenage boy learning to speak English from TV.

      He delivers a lot of his thoughts via these pointless analogies. Steve builds elaborate parallels between sex and other activities that only manage to lower the reader’s understanding of each. For instance, “A man fishes for two reasons: He’s either sport fishing or fishing to eat, which means he’s either going to try to catch the biggest fish he can, take a picture of it, admire it with his buddies and toss it back to sea, or he’s going to take that fish on home, scale it, fillet it, toss it in some cornmeal, fry it up, and put it on his plate. This, I think, is a great analogy for how men seek out women.”

      So wait, is that to help fishermen understand fucking, or sex addicts understand fish? A-are we supposed to be tossing women in cornmeal? We haven’t been doing that.

      Steve Harvey is more careless with his words than he is with the emotional needs of his string of cheated-on wives. He actually blames that cheating on the women themselves. “Men can cheat because there are so many women willing to give themselves to a man who doesn’t belong to them.”

      So, who should women give themselves to? The answer may surprise you: It’s four men.

      We’ll let Steve explain: “I’ve said over and over again jokingly that the only way a woman can truly be completely satisfied is to get herself four different men — an old one, an ugly one, a Mandingo, and a gay guy. Now the four of them combined? They got you covered.”

      Mandingo! Part man, part dingo. We assume that’s what that means. We’re too terrified to look it up.

      Jordan Breeding has a blog, a band, and reads self-help books about how to become a radioactive spider. It hasn’t worked yet. Nathan Kamal lives in Oregon and writes there. He co-founded Asymmetry Fiction for all your fiction needs.

      Also check out 7 Insane Dick Moves Committed By Famous Self-Help Gurus and 4 Unintentionally Depressing Self-Help Books on Happiness.

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      Perez Hilton: The OG Who's Still Killing It 14 Years Later – Forbes


      Perez Hilton: The OG Who's Still Killing It 14 Years Later
      Long before social media was a thing, he was blogging and giving us our celebrity gossip on the daily. Now … I assigned the books for review for every month and all of the books that weren't going to make the cut; I was selling them on Amazon for money.

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