Book Review of “Titanicus”

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from Warhammer 40k novels recently. Mostly I’m waiting for the next outing in the Horus Heresy series, which is available for preorder now and coming out in November.However, I decided to dip my toes in the Warhammer 40k universe, just to keep my Waaargh juices flowing and so I picked up a copy of “Titanicus” by Dan Abnett, who I generally consider one of my favorite 40k writers.The book focuses on a war between the legendary Titans of the Warhammer 40k, which are gigantic two legged machines of uninhibited apocalyptic power.
A Titan is something that is incredibly rare in Warhammer 40k lore and every single one is considered a holy relic by the machine worshiping Mechanicus order.In Titanicus the reader is witness to the extremely rare event that is an Imperial Titan Legion coming up against a Chaos Titan Legion, and the resulting destruction is appropriately crazy, even if the whole experience does perhaps feel a bit flat.The plot sees the forge world of Orestes come under attack. Forge worlds are critical worlds for the Empire in the Warhammer 40k universe, as they serve the purpose of producing incredible amounts of military hardware that is needed to fuel the constant fight for survival that mankind finds itself in.Luckily the Titan Legion Invictus is stationed on the world and are ready to aid in the defense. It soon becomes apparent that the Chaos invaders have brought Titan war machines of their own, however, and so we are treated to many pages worth of description of tense god-machine on god-machine action.Besides the tale about the actual war and the many battles, Titanicus actually spends a large amount of time on trying to tell a story about political intrigue and attempts to build up characters that you will feel emotionally connected to.You will notice that I use the words “trying” and “attempts” and I sadly must say that they are very much apt.I do not feel that Abnett really nails at all the exotic culture that you would expect to find inside a Titan Legion or among the inner workings of the Mechanicus. Instead I was slightly riled to encounter several attempts at light humor that seemed pretty forced and uncharacteristic coming from the kind of people that it did.So at least the Titan battles are awesome, right? Well… I have to say, they did not really do it for me either. Maybe it is just me, but I feel that Titans have been built up in the Warhammer 40k mythology to a point where just having a couple of them together in the same place should be an incredibly epic experience and the battle between two of these kinds of machines should be city leveling stuff.But in Titanicus there are just so many Titans that it almost reduces combat between them to a mundane event.
Giant city block sized Warlord and Reaper class Titans get taken out several times over the course of the book and frankly it cheapens the feel of awe and wonder that I have for 40k Titans.I am sorry if this review ends up sounding very negative, but after finishing Titanicus I feel that massive battles between large groups of Titans is perhaps something that sounds cool on paper (or well, not on the paper of this book, but whatever) but doesn’t actually work out that great in practice.Furthermore I feel that the non-battle sequences in the book left a lot to be desired, so I couldn’t even just gloss over the battles and try to follow a gripping story of political maneuvering, which is actually something that I usually also enjoy in Warhammer 40k books.All in all I can’t really recommend Titanicus to you, unless you are absolutely incredibly stoked about the idea of Titan on Titan smackdowns.

Think You Don’t Need Estate Planning Because Everything is Owned Jointly?

I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they are not worried about estate planning because they own everything jointly with their spouse, so it doesn’t really matter.WRONG!Here are a few reasons why that kind of thinking costs thousands of dollars (at least):1. What if you both die at the same time?If you and your spouse die in the same accident and you have no planning in place, you’re looking at spending a heck of a lot in probate fees. We estimate right now that probate costs approximately five (5) percent of your gross estate value. So (to give a little perspective) if all you own is a house worth $500,000, you’re paying $25,000 to the court and your personal representative, possibly more when you take attorney’s fees into account.And that’s not all. If you have minor children when you die without any planning in place, your kids are each going to get their share of inheritance when they turn 18. Yes, the law requires this! The law also does not discriminate with age when it comes to inheritance. So, your 20-year-old son and your 2-year-old son will inherit the same amount of money! Not what most parents would have wanted.2. You could miss out on certain tax advantages only afforded married couples.When you plan for death with joint ownership, what you effectively do is delay tax payment. What you lose when you plan this way is the tax benefit that married couples are afforded. Each person has a certain tax exemption when it comes to paying estate taxes ($3.5M for 2009, No tax in 2010, then $1M in 2011 and beyond). But with joint ownership planning, you lose one of those exemptions all for the sake of delaying payment. Each married couple should be planning for two tax exemptions. It might not be worth it in your case to lose that all for the sake of delaying any payment.3. Your assets are not protected after your death.If you die before your spouse and own everything jointly, you’re leaving an unprotected estate to your spouse and kids. If your spouse has creditors, they can reach all of the estate. If your spouse remarries then divorces, he or she may lose some of your estate to the ex. Or, if your spouse remarries and dies, there’s no guarantee your kids will see any of that inheritance. Even if your spouse doesn’t remarry, if he or she doesn’t do any further estate planning, after his or her death, your children will receive their inheritance outright and unprotected. So, your child’s creditors or ex-spouse may have a claim to it.4. You lose the benefit of stepped-up basis.Many married couples don’t plan for taxes, maybe because their estate is not taxable for estate purposes. But what happens when one spouse dies and the survivor needs or wants to sell the family home to pay for new expenses or just to downsize?Normally, when you sell property, you are taxed on the gain – the difference between the sale price and the “basis” price (usually the amount you paid for the property). When people own property as tenants by the entirety or as joint tenants with right of survivorship, they receive a stepped-up basis on half the property, but retain the same basis on the other half.Here’s an example based on one from the book The Living Trust, by Henry Abts. (The book is really written for non-lawyers to understand the benefits of planning with a Living Trust.)A couple buys a piece of land for $20,000 and holds title as Tenants by the Entirety. By the time the wife dies many years later, the property is worth $1,000,000 because they built their dream home on it and it’s in a great location. The husband’s half of the property retains a $10,000 basis, but the wife’s receives a stepped-up basis at her death – $500,000. So, let’s say that the husband decides that he can no longer live in this beautiful house that he and his wife built together and spent so many happy years in. He sells it for $1,000,000. With a basis of $510,000, his taxable gain is $490,000. However, he does still get the personal residence exclusion of $250,000, so his taxable gain is $240,000. At 15%, husband would pay $36,000 in taxes.By contrast, had the couple put their home into a community property living trust, the home would have received the entire stepped-up basis at the time of the wife’s death, and the husband would have had no taxable gains.
(By the way, the situation is even worse if the husband had decided to rent out the home for a few years before selling it, because he couldn’t have claimed the personal residence exemption, but this would have been a non-issue if the home had been held in a living trust.)(Another by the way: A living trust is especially necessary when you have multiple properties, because you can only claim one as your personal residence for the exemption.)Planning with a Revocable Living Trust is a far better way to go. You retain lifetime control over your assets, but leave a much cleaner situation for those you leave behind.

Why Your Fears Hold the Keys to Strong Personal Growth

Our fears are what can be holding us back the most in our lives. Everybody has them; it is a part of being human; we collect them throughout our lives until we have the wisdom to let go of them. They affect us in our everyday lives and we are not even aware of most of them.The energy we have, the belief system we have in any given moment can be affected by our fears. How do we know? Well unless we feel completely at peace and enlightened then there are fears somewhere in our subconscious mind that is affecting us.It is what we are all here to do, to learn to get back in touch with our true inner selves and our state of enlightenment. We come here to experience and learn lessons that are aimed towards living in harmony with our environment.Most of the mistakes that we make are because of the influences from a given set of fears. Then we should look at them, understand them and overcome them. Well it is not that simple because our society has not taught us to do that properly, instead we are encouraged to be defensive and try to control the situation better next time. That means instead of letting go and being free, we do the opposite. It goes against the true meaning of self growth.We can learn to control situations better or we can let go of our fears so we don’t have to. When we are free we have the room to connect with our true potential.Most of us don’t know how to deal with fear properly in our mainstream society, it is one of those mysteries with many different theories. We can learn to think differently, that slightly changes a belief system that becomes less vulnerable to the side effects of fear, although doing that doesn’t solve the problem and may compensate the belief system for something else.There is nothing like resolving fear at the source. Learning how to do this can really align us on a strong path of personal growth. Because when we resolve fears, we learn how and why we do certain things. Then we can see it in others as well. This new knowledge creates more compassion towards others. We can also see parts of our true vibration that have been suppressed. It can also shed light on why everything happened the ways they did in our lives, we can see purpose out of them.For example if you are afraid how you are going to accomplish something in an important situation, you can either keep over-analysing or you can choose to find your intuition. This is when you need to take a short private moment and take deep breaths where you can let yourself go into a light mediation. Your body becomes more aware and you can confront this fear. You will either be able to let it go completely or weaken it’s power over you. Then you’ll be better able to use your intuition which is how you’ll get the best results. The key is to do this over and over again so that you build trust in yourself.

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