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More than half of US workers are freelancing. Author shows how to do so successfully. – News & Observer

More than half of US workers are freelancing. Author shows how to do so successfully.
News & Observer
It's been 16 years since Daniel Pink foresaw a seismic shift in the American workforce in his groundbreaking book “Free Agent Nation: How America's New Independent Workers are Transforming the Way We Live.” His prediction of a rising tide of freelance …

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Brands & Branding: Mr Price, fashion blogging & branded equity – MarkLives.com

Brands & Branding: Mr Price, fashion blogging & branded equity
MarkLives.com
by Nivenia Davis & Franci Cronje. A dynamic shift has taken place in the advertising and marketing landscape. With the growing importance of the internet, marketing communication practices have come to a crossroads — both in the way media is consumed, …

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Pornogrind and flying intestines: my journey into the labyrinth of underground metal

They have names like Live Burial and Thus Defiled and go to extreme lengths not to get big or even heard. Our writer enters a place where everyone knows the difference between depressive black metal and depressive suicidal black metal

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It’s 11am on a Thursday and Millie Crampton is spending her lunchbreak explaining her double life to me. By day, she’s a student, studying mental health nursing. By night, however, she is Beryl, frontwoman of Basement Torture Killings, who deal in “serial-killing snuff grind”. Look on YouTube and you can find a video of her waving what appear to be some intestines around while singing The Rat Catcher, part of an oeuvre that also includes Shit Carcass and Necrophiled and Cannibalised.

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Beryl is a character, she explains, “like a little girl who witnessed the murder of her parents by one of the other members of the band and, because she’s been horribly abused by them, joins in and becomes a serial killer. Like their protege, I suppose.”

This is underground metal, the stuff that exists and thrives in another dimension to the stadium-filling, multi-platinum-selling world of Metallica et al – which is already pretty underground to many people. Every genre has a hinterland, but none quite like heavy metal’s: a vast, vibrant, labyrinth that finds room for everything from stuff so extreme it counts as avant garde experimental music to artists painstakingly recreating the sound of long-gone bands no one outside underground metal has heard of in the first place.

It began in the mid-80s, as a DIY reaction to the increasingly commercial sound of mainstream metal. Unmoved by the kind of hard rock that was being shown on MTV, fans traded demo tapes by ever more obscure and extreme bands from around the world – and, 30 years on, something of the bedroom obsessive still clings to it. It can appear forbidding to the outsider, not so much because of the blood-and-guts imagery, but because it frequently feels deliberately unintelligible, as if trying to ward off anyone who doesn’t display sufficient commitment: the illegible band logos, the baffling array of microcosmic sub-genres. Are you a fan of technical brutal death metal, or melodic sludge metal? Do you eschew serial snuff grind in favour of pornogrind?

Blood
Blood and guts … Basement Torture Killings’ ‘Beryl’ lets rip. Photograph: Jan Chrstn

In fairness, virtually everyone I speak to – people so entrenched in the underground scene that they understand the difference between depressive black metal and depressive suicidal black metal – seems either faintly exasperated or bemused by the proliferation of sub-genres. “I think it’s a natural response to the number of bands on the internet,” says Marek Steven, guitarist in underground metal band Amulet and promoter of Live Evil, an annual “international heavy metal festival presenting underground black metal, thrash, speed, death, heavy metal, metal punk and doom”.

Steven adds: “You can find a genre like depressive Finnish black metal and you can become an expert in the 50 bands that have played that since 1988. Everyone likes to feel belonging. If you feel a camaraderie with people that like the very specific thing you’re into, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t be elitist. There’s a bit of a genre-fication issue with underground metal. So, yeah, I would say: stop trying to be so specialised – just be open, just play music.”

Nevertheless, there are certainly areas that cloak themselves in a kind of wilful obscurity. As Marcus Mustafa – owner of London’s solitary specialist heavy metal record shop Crypt of the Wizard – puts it: “Bands want to maintain themselves as small. They’re like, ‘Don’t listen to this record, don’t talk about us.’”

He and Crypt of the Wizard’s manager Charlie Wooley reel off examples – the legendary French black metal bands of the Légions Noires collective, who refused to release any albums or play live, preferring to circulate demos in tiny numbers among their friends, which eventually leaked on to the internet; labels such as California’s Rhinocervus, which released albums and EPs without titles, artist names or track listings; festivals that decline to inform fans who’s actually playing, “so it’s like, ‘Are you strong enough to come anyway?’”

It’s an extreme ethos partly founded in a rejection of commerciality. “I think it’s a bit like if you can’t make money doing something,” says Charlie, “then you do the opposite: you try not to make any money.” But it also reflects a desire to maintain a certain mystery. “A lot of it came out of the black metal scene, which was so often about creating an atmosphere and a mystique. From wearing the corpse paint makeup to the pseudonyms, it takes away from the boring bloke-playing-a-guitar thing.”

Charlie
An extreme ethos … Charlie Wooley, left, and Marcus Mustafa at Crypt of the Wizard record shop in Hackney, London. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Guardian

Indeed, if you want a quick demonstration of how easily a band’s underground mystique can be punctured, consider Lapland’s Beherit, whose early recordings bore out their aim to play “the most primitive, savage, hell-obsessed metal imaginable”, whose members were called Nuclear Holocausto, Black Jesus and Sodomatic Slaughter, and who became embroiled in a conflict between Finnish and Norwegian bands known in metal lore as “the Dark War”. Now type “Beherit live 1990” into YouTube and boggle at the footage: Nuclear Holocausto, Sodomatic Slaughter and the rest look about 14 years old, and are playing outside a branch of Benetton to a crowd of visibly bored shoppers.

The anonymous wing of black metal aside, debate rages over precisely how underground underground metal should be. In a Brighton coffee shop, I meet Paul Carter, veteran of the 80s tape-trading scene and guitarist and vocalist in Thus Defiled, who’ve spent a quarter of a century rigorously guarding their independence. “There’s an underground attitude that’s, ‘No gods, no masters.’ It’s all about the real grassroots belief in what you do. We define what we do at any point in time. It would become different if a label said, ‘There’s a load of money, now we want one album in six months and another in 18.’ If you can’t believe 100% in what you do, it becomes of no value.”

Marek Steven isn’t so sure. “I’m very passionately a supporter of the underground – I’ll travel to Sweden to see a tiny band that’s not signed yet because I love them. But when I was very young, heavy metal was huge. Everyone was into Saxon, Iron Maiden, Motörhead. That’s what I want again – I want everyone to enjoy this music that I love.”

Creating
Creating an atmosphere … recordings on sale at Crypt of the Wizard. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Guardian

But as Charlie Wooley points out, the whole debate is usually theoretical anyway. Bands occasionally break through to the mainstream, most notably Sweden’s Ghost, who played their first ever booked show at Live Evil in 2010 and whose last album reached the US Top 10 and won a Grammy. But they’re the exceptions that prove the rule. “For most bands, being underground is not a transitional phase,” he says. “A lot of underground metal is quite hard to listen to from a beginner’s perspective. If you’ve been listening to black metal for years, then put on an underground Mexican war metal album, you’ll have some purchase to start off with, but if you’re listening to it cold for the first time, it’s just noise.”

That means life in an underground metal band is frequently a hardscrabble, hand-to-mouth existence. Whenever my interviewees describe a band as “fucking huge”, it invariably transpires that means album sales in the tens of thousands: not bad, but not enough to give up your day job. Far more are looking at selling hundreds of albums and playing to small crowds, often by exchanging gigs in their hometown with another band.

I talk to James McBain, marginally better known as Hellripper, a “one-man black/speed metal band” from Aberdeen, whose self-released album Coagulating Darkness has been picking up laudatory reviews, despite being promoted largely via social media. Aside from the fact that the album features a guest appearance by his parents on vocals, the striking thing about his career is its weird combination of vast global reach (he’s played live in Romania, his stuff has been released in Colombia, Chile and the US) and the tiny pockets of audiences it finds.

A
A quarter century of grassroots dedication … Thus Defiled

“In Aberdeen, our primary venue right now is a place called Musical Vision. It’s a rehearsal room and it’s got a 40-person capacity – and it’s usually the same 40 people that turn up. Then last weekend we played in Romania and there was like 100 or 200 people there, it was a pretty daunting experience, playing with a bunch of huge bands like Necrophobic. Well,” he corrects himself, “huge bands for the underground metal scene.”

“It’s got to be a hobby,” says Marek Steven. “Most of the bands are happy just to get a record label to pay for printing their album, get a percentage of sales or get given 50 or 100 copies to sell on the road. You’re paying for rehearsals every week, you’ve got to buy equipment. Touring in the UK’s a nightmare – you’re sleeping on floors, and lucky if you sell some T-shirts and break even. It’s very DIY. People do it because they just want to play.”

And that’s the thing. For all the shoestring budgets and day jobs, the complaints about the lack of venues in Britain or hipsters co-opting the scene, everyone I speak to is wildly enthusiastic about the health of underground metal. The way it keeps shifting and changing, how it encompasses a teeming multiplicity of styles, or the return of printed fanzines called things like Bardo Methodology or Becoming the Forest, the latter the work of a visual artist called Una Hamilton Helle, which explores “how the aesthetic and philosophy of black metal has become entangled with the topography of the northern hemisphere’s abundance of dense spruce forests”.

The list of great bands I’m told to listen to is endless – Live Burial, Wytch Hazel, Insurgency, De Profundis, Eliminator – while Crypt of the Wizard appears to be burgeoning. They’re launching a label to release an album by Ghold: “An experimental sludge band,” enthuses Charlie, “really heavy, a fucking difficult band.” And they have other plans for expansion. “People keep coming in and saying there’s nothing like this shop in the north,” he says. “So we’ve had this idea to build a mini, mobile record shop and take it on tour.” Do they have any particular vehicle in mind? “We’re looking at hearses at the moment.”

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SoftBank’s Son Chases Boyhood Dreams With $100 Billion Fund

When Masayoshi Son was a boy growing up on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, he kept a notebook to scribble down new inventions he hoped to create one day. Today, the SoftBank founder has almost $100 billion to invest on making the next big thing a reality.

Son’s SoftBank Group Corp. closed the first round of a planned $100 billion investment fund, with money raised from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, as well as Apple Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. The Vision Fund gives the 59-year-old access to a pool of capital unparalleled in the worlds of private equity or venture capital — the equivalent of four Silver Lakes or 15 Sequoia Capitals.

Masayoshi Son and Yasir Alrumayyan, managing director of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, right.

Photographer: Bandar Algaloud/ Saudi Royal Council/ Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Son isn’t one for understatement. He has said, without irony, that he has a 300-year plan for SoftBank and aims to build the world’s most valuable company. With the Vision Fund, Son vows to become the biggest investor in tech over the next decade, as he bets on the future of artificial intelligence, connected devices, satellites and the integration of computers and humans. Indeed in April, he led the $5.5 billion investment in China’s Didi Chuxing, the largest venture funding on record.

“We saw a big bang in PCs, we saw a big bang in the internet,” Son said in February on a call with shareholders. “I believe the next big bang is going to be even bigger. To be ready for that, we need to set the foundation and that foundation is SoftBank Vision Fund.”

Son has some enthusiastic supporters, with very deep pockets. Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed to make his country the cornerstone investor with a $45 billion check after a meeting with Son. Besides Apple and Qualcomm, Foxconn Technology Group and Sharp Corp. are also putting in capital. SoftBank said Saturday the fund has $93 billion in committed capital and aims to reach $100 billion with a final close within six months.

Forget Retirement. SoftBank CEO Aims to Be Biggest Tech Investor

Son’s mega-fund will unleash an unprecedented amount of money into sectors already seen as overcapitalized. Private equity returns have plummeted in recent years because there’s too much money chasing too few deals. Venture capital faces similar issues.

“A $100 billion fund is mind boggling,” says Steven Kaplan, a professor at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who co-founded its entrepreneurship program. “There’s too much capital now so bringing in more capital doesn’t make any sense.”

Billionaire Masayoshi Son at a news conference in February.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Kaplan struggled to think of a precedent for what Son is attempting. He said the closest parallel may be the late 1990s when money poured into U.S. internet companies, fueling sky-high valuations — right until the market crashed.

Private equity firms are sitting on record piles of cash. The amount of unspent money hit $820 billion at the end of 2016, up from $755 billion a year earlier, according to the research firm Preqin. The venture total hit $142 billion, compared with $127 billion at the end of 2015.

“There is already a tremendous amount of dry powder out there,” says Felice Egidio, the firm’s head of venture capital products. “Investment opportunities are getting harder and harder to come by.”

In other words, Son may be more than the most powerful investor in tech — he may be the most dangerous too. A flood of capital into artificial intelligence or driver-less cars, can inflate valuations and spawn too many competitors, leaving everyone struggling to make money.

SoftBank’s Cyber Keiretsu

Son has spent his life defying expectations. He left Japan at 16 to study in the U.S. and ended up at the University of California at Berkeley. While in school, he invented an electronic translator that he sold to Sharp, making his first $1 million.

“It’s like he’s from the future,” said Hong Lu, who began working with Son in California 40 years ago and went on to co-found UTStarcom Holdings Corp.

Son founded his own company in 1981 and began to distribute software for companies like Microsoft Corp. He then built it through a series of high-stakes bets. In a deal that would supply him with cash for other investments, he acquired Vodafone Group Plc’s struggling Japan business and turned it into a profit machine.

His fearlessness almost cost him his company. During the internet bubble, he invested in about 800 companies, vowing to create a "netbatsu," the digital age equivalent of Japan’s zaibatsu industrial conglomerates bound by cross-share ownership. SoftBank shares surged and Son’s net worth hit $68 billion in 2000, almost surpassing Microsoft’s Bill Gates as the world’s richest man. Then the bubble burst and hundreds of his investments went under. His stock fell 99 percent.

But among the wreckage, Son had some winners. He was an early backer of Yahoo! Inc. and he bet on China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which turned into one of the best venture bets of all time. He parlayed an initial $20 million investment into a stake that is now valued at more than $90 billion, or 4,500 times his original investment.

If Son was spooked by the crash, he never let it show. He continued to cut big deals, including the $22 billion acquisition of U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp. Last year, he made the biggest deal of his career, buying chipmaker ARM Holdings for $32 billion.

After the announcement, his stock got hammered as stunned investors fled. “It would be unfair to Masa Son if we said we were not warned that some ‘crazy ideas’ were on anvil,” Atul Goyal, an analyst at Jefferies Group, wrote at the time. “To us, the ARM acquisition announced yesterday appears largely inconsistent with SoftBank’s investment strategy … It does not inspire much confidence.”

Son responded with an impassioned pitch. He argued this is a rare moment in history when technology’s rapid evolution provides opportunities that may never appear again.

“People think this was a stupid move, they’ve voted with their money,” Son said at the time. “It’s easy to look at where your pieces are now and place the next one nearby. This one is 10, 20, 50 moves ahead.”

SoftBank Closes Funding For Record $93 Billion Investment Fund

That set the stage for the Vision Fund. Son saw once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, while SoftBank’s investors fretted the risks. The question was where he could find a new set of backers willing to finance his vision of the future.

Masayoshi Son.

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Then the Saudi deputy crown prince came to Tokyo last September just as he was looking for ways to diversify his country’s economy beyond oil. The prince needed to invest billions of petro-dollars in new industries — he even called his effort ‘Vision 2030.’

SoftBank’s Vision Fund was announced publicly in October and Son’s deal-making synapses have been firing even before the fund closed. Son agreed to invest $1 billion in OneWeb Ltd., a startup that aims to beam internet connectivity to every corner of the globe. He is also putting $300 million into WeWork Cos., a New York-based startup that rents out offices to small businesses and freelancers.

Son is raising the Vision Fund because he sees deals he thinks are even more promising than Alibaba. In his February call, he cited the leaders of the sharing economy, including Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc.

SoftBank is behind major funding for rivals to Uber. Didi, the biggest ride-hailing service in China, last month announced its record $5.5 billion fundraising, led by the Japanese company. Southeast Asian operator Grab plans to raise more than $1.5 billion in a round backed by the Japanese company, people familiar with the matter have said.

“Uber is redefining the transportation industry now; Airbnb is doing it to the hotel industry. You can expect that to happen in every single industry,” he said in February. He has given a few details of how he plans to use the capital. It is likely to be a mixture of many investments on the scale of OneWeb with a handful of very large deals.

“This won’t be a typical fund,” he said in February. “Most of our investments will range between 20 and 40 percent, making us the largest shareholder and board member, in a position to discuss strategy with the founders.”

Uber’s Kalanick Should Fear This 59-Year-Old Billionaire: Gadfly

The Vision Fund will be based in West London’s Mayfair and advised by SoftBank subsidiaries collectively called SB Investment Advisers. Rajeev Misra, SoftBank’s head of strategic finance, will be chief executive officer of SB Investment Advisers and a member of the fund’s investment committee.

Son will have unusual influence. He will be the only so-called key man in the fund, according to a person familiar with the matter. There are typically several people with such a designation in investment funds, which gives limited partners the option to withdraw from the fund if one of those key men leave.

Dealmakers are cautious. Ted Gooden, managing director at Berkshire Capital Corp., predicts returns are likely to decline given the excess of capital. “There is so much money in the system, it changes the industry,” he said.

Not everyone outside of Son’s orbit is a skeptic though. David Brophy, a finance professor at the University of Michigan, said the sheer size of SoftBank’s fund will give Son advantages that no other investor has. He can jump into deals that are more capital intensive than anyone else can handle and he can keep funding them longer.

“You can walk in with muscle that no one else has,” said Brophy, who is also director of the university’s Office for the Study of Private Equity Finance. “I wouldn’t focus too much on what we see in the rear view mirror. It’s more important to look ahead.”

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Cowboys News: Can Eagles contain Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence? – Blogging The Boys (blog)


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Cowboys News: Can Eagles contain Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence?
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Dallas' offensive staff has done a lot to try and make the most of Prescott's strengths, and have helped him transition from a shotgun spread offense in college to the NFL. With Prescott's athleticism, his legs have been an integral part of the

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Cowboys vs. Eagles live game discussion – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Cowboys vs. Eagles live game discussion
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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 …

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Keselowski closing truck team partly because of finances

Brad Keselowski is closing his truck series team at the end of the season, a decision that in part came down to him losing money on the venture.

Brad Keselowski Racing has fielded trucks in NASCAR since 2008, and more than a dozen young drivers have come through his organization. His team has won nine Camping World Truck Series races and twice contended for the championship. Keselowski fields two full-time Fords for Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric and has about 50 employees.

Yet Keselowski has not turned a profit on his passion, and has said before he loses $1 million a year on the program. Red Horse Racing also suspended its truck operations in May.

DANICA PATRICK SAYS IT’S ‘CUP ONLY’ FOR HER NASCAR CAREER

“There wasn’t really one reason, but certainly at some point every business needs to have some profitability,” Keselowski said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “But I never went into it expecting to make money, so I can’t really blame that. Everybody is losing a little, but that was one of the factors. I wouldn’t say it was the only one.”

His father, Bob Keselowski, was a Truck Series team owner until 2005.

“The Truck Series is truly special to me given my family’s ties to the history of the sport, and this decision comes with much contemplation,” Keselowski said.

He hopes to one day field cars in the NASCAR Cup Series, and the decision to close the truck operations could move that along.

“I’ve never made it a secret that I would eventually like to be an owner at the top level of the sport,” Keselowski said. “And, while this is many years down the line, I want to start to prepare for that possibility now.

“Part of that preparation is seeking to develop an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that would be housed out of our 78,000-square-foot facility in Statesville (North Carolina) and ultimately help to support this vision.”

The decision to close the team came last month, Keselowski said, when he signed an extension to continue to drive a Ford for Team Penske. Many thought the lengthy contract negotiations were in part because Keselowski wanted more support from Ford for BKR.

“You always want more, but it’s a pie and there is only so much to go around. I don’t know exactly what Ford’s interests are or weren’t,” he said. “I can’t really speak to that. It wasn’t really a factor in the decision.”

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This Is The Dumb Reason We Always Vote On A Tuesday

America definitely has a lot of problems with its voting system, but one of the biggest problems is the fact we vote on Tuesdays.

It just doesnt make sense, and its part of the reason the US has low voter turnout.

We vote on Tuesdays because of a law passed in 1845, back when the US was still an agrarian society.

Tuesday was a convenient day because people traveled by horse and buggy back then, and needed at least a day to travel to get to the polls.

It also didnt conflict with days of worship (Saturday and Sunday) or market day, which was typically Wednesday.

But this law is obviously incredibly outdated.

To put this into perspective, it was passed when women couldnt vote and slavery was still alive and well.

At that point in time, there were even some white men who couldnt vote because of a property ownership requirement.

Were long overdue for a change.

Tuesday is a very inconvenient day for Americans to vote in the modern era.

Its in the middle of the week, and conflicts with peoples work schedules.

Unfortunately, we all have to make money in order to survive. On top of that, many Americans have families to attend to.

Its true early voting is available, but not in every state.

In 2016, 37 states and the District of Columbia allowed some form of early voting, but that doesnt do enough to make voting easier for Americans.

Americas voting system is in desperate need of a makeover.

There are many logical changes that should be made to Americas voting system.

Election Day should be a national holiday so Americans arent forced to choose between doing their most important civic duty and making a living.

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ESPN article dissects the feud between Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

ESPN article dissects the feud between Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Those who have discussed the contract situation with him have described him as "furious" and "emboldened" at the notion of accepting a deep pay cut after making the owners a lot of money over the years, watching their teams' valuations skyrocket and …

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Eagles' view: “There's not a whole lot about the Cowboys' offense that scares me right now.” – Blogging The Boys (blog)


Blogging The Boys (blog)

Eagles' view: “There's not a whole lot about the Cowboys' offense that scares me right now.”
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