Sunday, March 11, 2018
After my infatuation with the Japanese series ,I was introduced to this German series through some favorable review in a podcast. This is an intriguing series and has some elements of Stranger things and David Lynch to it. This seems to steer away from the usual time travel logic on the screen. Here is the review from The Verge by Tasha Robinson Netflix’s mesmerizing new German-language series Dark certainly is aptly named. A great deal of the new 10-episode season takes place in dim rooms and unlit garages, in an ominously oppressive forest and a shadowy cave, or under sickly, faltering lighting that suggests a kind of heavy moral decay falling over the world. The series is conceptually dark, full of cheating spouses, ugly secrets, grotesque killings, and dead birds falling from the sky in a hail of limp, twisted bodies. But more noticeably, it’s as physically dark as an early David Fincher movie, and it carries the same level of ominous weight. It’s a series meant to be watched late at night, with the lights off, experienced like a ghost story around a campfire that’s burning down to its final embers. Netflix’s first original German series — part of a growing foray into international productions, aimed at digging deeper into local entertainment markets — comes from Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese, the co-writers and director of 2014’s hacker-thriller Who Am I: No System Is Safe. It has some obvious aesthetics in common with that film. Swiss director bo Odar loves images of sleight-of-hand magic and glowering men lurking deep in the depths of giant hoods, and Dark shares Who Am I’s grimy, heavy cinematography and screaming discordant soundtrack. But Dark slows down the story from Who Am I’s more frantic pacing, using the space of a 10-hour TV series to establish an entire town of people reacting to a slow-motion series of personal disasters. In that sense, Dark is closer to the original run of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990s groundbreaker Twin Peaks, with a steaming nuclear power plant dominating the town instead of a lumber mill. Dark isn’t just about a murder that comes with a disturbing tinge of the supernatural. It’s about a community of people, all with their own problems, and all linked in different ways — both in the present and in the past. Dark is an ensemble series, but it starts with Ulrich Nielsen (Oliver Masucci), a police officer and father of three who’s cheating on his wife with a woman whose husband commits suicide in the show’s earliest moments. Her shell-shocked son, Jonas (Louis Hofmann), is part of a pack of rangy pack-animal teenagers who venture into the woods outside their small German hometown of Winden, hunting the drug stash of a classmate who recently disappeared. While they’re out there, Ulrich’s youngest, Mikkel (Daan Lennard Liebrenz) also disappears, leading the police to wonder whether someone is targeting local youths. But the disappearances coincide with weird phenomena: animals dropping dead, lights wildly flickering and flashing. Some of the town’s older residents, including Mikkel’s grandmother, mutter about how the new disappearances recall older ones from when they were younger. And a mysterious hooded figure, looking at a newspaper clip reading “Where is Mikkel?”, crosses out the first word and rewrites the headline as “When is Mikkel?” Dark Season 1 Dark Season 1 Stefan Erhard/Netflix The answer to that first mystery comes by the series’ third episode, and it raises even more questions — about time travel, official and unofficial cover-ups, and the roles of various authority figures and outsiders. It also complicates the meaning of smaller mysteries scattered throughout the show, like the ornately carved box with the suicide victim’s last letter, which bears a warning not to open it until a specific date and time. There’s a fair bit of “What’s going on?” in Dark, but the more compelling mystery is “Who knows about it?” It’s another link to Twin Peaks: that sense that there isn’t a single murderer abroad, so much as a compelling supernatural mystery, and a web of intrigue around it. But as with Twin Peaks, Dark is more of a draw for the nightmarish aesthetics, the sense of swoony horror that hangs over this elaborately drawn little world. Dark’s characters aren’t nearly as quirky and oddball as David Lynch’s — they’re more like the dour, desperate stars of a Scandinavian TV series, slowly drinking themselves to death and seeking whatever pleasures they can to compensate for the lack of light and hope in their world. Ulrich isn’t the only one in Winden having an affair. There’s more surreptitious, frustrated lust going on in the town than honest affection. Winden feels a bit like a soap opera in progress, full of secrets and lies. A strong cast full of characters who pull off “angst-stricken and unsatisfied” well contributes to the feeling of an unsettled, untrustworthy world where time-traveling children or era-hopping murderers just seem par for the course. Dark Season 1 Dark Stefan Erhard/Netflix At least their uncertainty is set in a beautifully rendered world. The jangling nails-on-chalkboard music and the bleak cinematography are off-putting, but in a conscious, controlled way that again recalls David Fincher. And by the end of the third episode, when bo Odar and Friese take time to visually compare the modern-day Winden residents with their younger selves, the series has gone in a lyrical, longing direction that feels miles away from Fincher or Lynch. In this moment, there’s an aching sense of beauty and loneliness to Dark that places it far above the usual procedural mystery or supernatural horror story. Suddenly, it’s not a series about dead birds and dead children, and the question of what links them. It’s about what links past and present, and how easily people drop the promise and premises of youth and become old and tired. Like so much of Dark, it’s a dark and dreary message, presented with an artfulness that becomes beautiful — and inevitably, addictive. Netflix is so often looking for bingeable, c’mon-just-one-more-episode entertainment. With Dark, it has a series that’s both hard to watch, and impossible to stop watching.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Is there now a tax on doing good? Well, if you’re referring to Angel Tax, that’s not what it is. What we discuss today is a change the Government recently proposed in tax rules for investments made by Indian residents in startups, also known as Angel Tax. What is it? Closely-held private companies receive equity funds from outsiders. When these investments are made at a premium to the fair price, tax laws have so far held that the amount raised in excess to the fair value is taxable. The amount is reckoned as “income from other sources” and taxed under Section 56 (ii) of the Income Tax Act. The rate of tax was a hefty 30.9 per cent. This was applied not just to mature private companies, but also to small startups that took early-stage investments from residents in India. As startups have very few sources of mainstream funding, investors and startups lobbied for the tax to be removed. Already, funds sourced from non-residents and venture capital funds were exempt from this tax. Now, the Centre has moved to exempt investments made by Indian residents in companies certified as ‘innovative’ startups, from Angel Tax. To qualify, the venture must fulfil certain criteria on age (not more than five years old), turnover (not exceeding ₹25 crore), purpose (building new product or services), and method (technology or intellectual property). It must also be officially recognised as an ‘innovative’ startup by the Inter-ministerial Board of Certification. Why is it important? Angel Tax was, therefore, problematic for a few reasons. For one, valuing startups based on their assets alone, given intangibles such as goodwill is not easy. Nor is it easy to arrive at a ‘fair value’ for them, based on discounted cash flows. So, startups are often valued subjectively and the valuation which seems sky-high to some, may be fair to others. Two, higher valuations when raising funds, are beneficial to founders as it means giving up less equity. But given the closed nature of these deals, there were concerns on whether there was creative financial planning happening. The tax was introduced as an anti-abuse provision in the 2012 Budget to curb attempts to launder undisclosed income. Now, the relaxation could signal the willingness to nurture innovative firms. Three, as opposed to the idea of taxing angel investors, investors in countries such as US are actually offered tax benefits when they fund small companies. There are also ways for angel investors to save tax by re-investing gains from one small business into another venture. But in India, there was an element of suspicion over startup investments. Attempts to simplify the tax treatment are hence welcome. Why should I care? For startup founders, venture capital firms and overseas investors are the key sources of funds and angels typically make up a small portion of the capital. But who knows? The removal of the tax may encourage more participation by local investors and help a newbie entrepreneur make a pitch to the crorepati next door. If you are a resident investor and wealthy enough to play angel, you still need to note that only certified startups are exempt from Angel Taxes. So far, given that the scheme to certify startups is yet to flag off, no startup has a readymade certificate. Experts expect only a few startups to file and given the requirements only 1-2 per cent may pass the test. The bottomline The change, while good, may help only a few startups take wing
Saturday, February 17, 2018
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Downloaded the first season of this new series after watching extensive promos on youtube. Could see that no budget was left unspent in the trailers and wanted to watch it. Thereby I binged all 10 episodes in a span of 6 days and the overwhelming feeling i got esp after the first few episodes is "BLADE RUNNER" It almost felt like a Ridley scott series to me.
Saturday, February 03, 2018
Based on a sudden inkling to buy the best pencil in the world, went to Amazon and shipped the kuru toga all the way from Japan for myself. This pencil uses the rotating lead technology. Simple to operate with excellent results on top a stylish, minimalist design. A pen for a serious drafter. The Kuru Toga pencil comes in many different flavors but the standard version of the pencil is outstanding in many respects. It looks great with the solid pencil barrel not showing off the self-rotating mechanism and has a chunkier feel to it as opposed to other mechanical pencils on the market. That being said it is very comfortable to hold. What aids in the comfort of this pencil is the superb grip, the plastic has a series of raised bumps which enhances your grip. In addition, the pencil also has a strip of rubber on the nib for those people who like to hold their pencil a little closer to the nib. Even though it’s an all plastic pencil, it is very robust in design, so dropping the pencil won’t be an issue. The performance of these mechanical pencils are excellent, the rotating lead mechanism needs to be experienced, keeping that lead sharp and even when writing. It’s no wonder this pen is so highly rated and you won’t go wrong selecting the Kuru Toga as your pencil of choice. Features The exclusive lead rotating technology keeps the lead sharp at all times. The pencil uses a diamond-infused lead which gives it a strength other leads cannot match. Very well crafted and comfortable to hold. A clean, stain-free eraser albeit a little on the small side. Comes standard with replacement lead refills and extra erasers
Sunday, January 07, 2018
Washington post article by Amir Vardaht and Jon Gambrell TEHRAN, Iran — A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment. The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election. Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims. The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence, acknowledging it hadn’t reported on them on orders from security officials. “Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said. The protests appear sparked by social media posts and a surge in prices of basic food supplies, like eggs and poultry. Officials and state media made a point Saturday of saying Iranians have the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues. However, protesters in Tehran on Saturday chanted against high-ranking government officials and made other political statements, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, with riot police massing at the school’s gates as they shut down surrounding roads. Fars also said protests on Friday also struck Qom, a city that is the world’s foremost center for Shiite Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shiite shrine. Social media videos purport to show clashes between protesters and police in several areas. At least 50 protesters have been arrested since Thursday, authorities said. State TV also said some protesters chanted the name of Iran’s one-time shah, who fled into exile just before its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi send a message by Twitter to the CEO of messaging service Telegram, Pavel Durov, saying: “A telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest.” Telegram responded saying it had suspended the account. “A Telegram channel (amadnews) started to instruct their subscribers to use Molotov cocktails against police and got suspended due to our ‘no calls for violence’ rule. Be careful - there are lines one shouldn’t cross.” Durov tweeted. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy commander of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard base, Brig. Gen. Ismail Kowsari, as saying: “Peace has returned to city of Tehran and its surroundings.” He added that if inflation was the reason the protesters took to the streets they should not have destroyed property, according to the report. The Semi-official ILNA news agency reported on Saturday that the security deputy of Tehran’s governor, Mohsen Hamedani, said that Tehran’s provincial security council held a meeting to address the protests, but that its decisions were “classified.” Earlier Saturday, hard-liners rallied across the country to support Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others. The rallies, scheduled weeks earlier, commemorated a mass 2009 pro-government rally challenging those who rejected the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid fraud allegations. State TV aired live the pro-government “9 Dey Epic” rallies, named for the date on the Iranian calendar the 2009 protests took place. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing Khamenei’s image. In Tehran, some 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran for the rally. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the 2009 protests who have been under house arrest since 2011. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held. Mohsen Araki, a Shiite cleric who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, praised Rouhani’s efforts at improving the economy. However, he said Rouhani needed to do more to challenge “enemy pressures.” “We must go back to the pre-nuclear deal situation,” Araki said. “The enemy has not kept with its commitments.” Ali Ahmadi, a pro-government demonstrator, blamed the U.S for all of Iran’s economic problems. “They always say that we are supporting Iranian people, but who should pay the costs?” Ahmadi asked. Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft. That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests. While police have arrested some protesters, the Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election. The economic protests initially just put pressure on Rouhani’s administration. Trump tweeted out support for the protests Saturday. “The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most....” he tweeted. “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!” It’s unclear what effect Trump’s support would have. Iranians already are largely skeptical of him over his refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal and Iran being included in his travel bans. Trump’s insistence in an October speech on using the term “Arabian Gulf” in place of the Persian Gulf also has also riled the Iranian public. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments in June to Congress saying American is working toward “support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government” has been used by Iran’s government of a sign of foreign interference in its internal politics. The State Department issued a statement Friday supporting the protests, referencing Tillerson’s earlier comments. “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” the statement said. Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments. “The noble Iranian nation never pays heed to the opportunist and hypocritical mottos chanted by the U.S. officials and their interfering allegations on domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.
Monday, December 25, 2017
Lady Lazarus By Sylvia Plath I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it—— A sort of walking miracle, my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade, My right foot A paperweight, My face a featureless, fine Jew linen. Peel off the napkin O my enemy. Do I terrify?—— The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? The sour breath Will vanish in a day. Soon, soon the flesh The grave cave ate will be At home on me And I a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die. This is Number Three. What a trash To annihilate each decade. What a million filaments. The peanut-crunching crowd Shoves in to see Them unwrap me hand and foot—— The big strip tease. Gentlemen, ladies These are my hands My knees. I may be skin and bone, Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman. The first time it happened I was ten. It was an accident. The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all. I rocked shut As a seashell. They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls. Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I’ve a call. It’s easy enough to do it in a cell. It’s easy enough to do it and stay put. It’s the theatrical Comeback in broad day To the same place, the same face, the same brute Amused shout: ‘A miracle!’ That knocks me out. There is a charge For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart—— It really goes. And there is a charge, a very large charge For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood Or a piece of my hair or my clothes. So, so, Herr Doktor. So, Herr Enemy. I am your opus, I am your valuable, The pure gold baby That melts to a shriek. I turn and burn. Do not think I underestimate your great concern. Ash, ash— You poke and stir. Flesh, bone, there is nothing there—— A cake of soap, A wedding ring, A gold filling. Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware Beware. Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air.
An excerpt from the art of think clearly by Rolf dobellli In 1913 Maxmillian Ringelmann, a french engineer studied the performance of horses.He concluded that the power of two animals pulling a coach did not equal twice the power of a single horse.Surprised by this result he extended the research to humans.He has several men pull a rope and measured the force applied by each individual.On average if two people were pulling together each invested just 93% of their individual strength when three pulled together it was 85% and with eight just 49%. Science calls this the social loafing effect.It occurs when individual performance is not directly visible, it blends in to the group effort.It occurs among rowers but not in relay races because here individual contributions are evident.Social loafing is rational behavior why invest all of your energy when half will do especially when this little shortcut goes unnoticed. When people work together individual performances decrease.This isn't surprising.What is noteworthy however is that our input doesnt grind to a complete halt.So what stops us from putting our feet up completely and letting the others do all the `hard work ,the consequences. Social loafing has interesting' implications.In g'roups we tend to h'old back not only in terms of participation but also in terms of accountability.Nobody wants to take the rap for th'e misdeeds or poor decisions of the whole group.We hide behind team decisions.Th'e technical term for this is diffusion of responsibility. In conclusion: people behave differently in groups than when alone.The disadvantages of groups can be mitig'ated by making 'individual performances as visible as possible.Long' live meritocracy!! Long' live th'e performance society!!