Famous quotes

"Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually" - Stephen Covey

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why FLipkart & OLA is calling for protectionism

An opinion in Times of India

By Tarun Davda

First things first. As a VC, I'm a strong believer in open markets and believe healthy competition leads to better outcomes for all involved, especially consumers. Since our economic liberalisation in 1991, we've seen that foreign competition has helped our own companies build better products at more competitive prices, while becoming more nimble and customer focused. At the same time, foreign investments in sectors across retail, aviation, pharma, technology, etc. have helped unleash a new era of daring Indian entrepreneurs who have the courage to dream big and have created some of India's most well-known and valuable companies.

 A couple of days ago, we all witnessed headlines screaming that Flipkart's Sachin Bansal and Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal are allegedly "seeking government protection in their battle against global rivals". You can read the articles here and here . Not surprisingly, there has been a barrage of opinions on social media, with many criticising our local heroes for seeking government protection. Before taking sides, lets first understand the issue more deeply. At the risk of being unpopular, I thought I'd share my own views on this topic. To be clear, I don't know Sachin Bansal and have never met or discussed this with him. However, Bhavish is a founder very very dear to me and we're fortunate to be early investors in Ola. I'm more familiar with Ola and hence this post is more about Ola-Uber and less about Flipkart-Amazon, even though many of the same issues apply. Anyone who knows Bhavish, will tell you he is among the most audacious entrepreneurs this country has produced. It takes someone special to go against the mighty Uber and stay ahead of them despite all odds. So why is Bhavish raising this issue and why now? What is the real issue beyond the sensational headlines? Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal and Flipkart's Sachin Bansal

The Issue I believe many people have misunderstood Sachin & Bhavish's position. Here 's the video of their statement — take 5 minutes and see what they actually said. They aren't against competition. They aren't afraid of competing against global companies. They aren't against foreign capital or anything else the media would have you believe. Far from it — their own companies are dependent on large doses of foreign capital. They also know that fighting against their global peers has helped them improve their own service — a net positive for everyone. So what is the issue then? Simply put, their argument is that global rivals are indulging in an unhealthy market practice known as "capital dumping". They are channelizing money from profitable markets abroad to fund irrational spends and losses here in India. This is to drive local competitors out of the market by "buying" market share. And the single goal of such a practice has always been to eventually monopolize and exploit the market to its fullest potential. This dubious strategy is considered anti-competitive in many jurisdictions and is illegal under competition laws. Read more about anti-trust, capital-dumping, predatory-pricing and more here on Investopedia. If you look at the difference in gross margins of the few consumer internet companies in question, in their home markets vis-a-vis those in India, the difference is telling. Their negative gross margins in India are a far cry from the profits they earn in their home markets. This is in stark contrast with other MNC firms that fairly compete across industries like FMCG, Pharma and even certain internet segments like Search and Social Networking, and establishes their land grab approach to market share. Estimated Gross Margins of MNC firms operating in India The WTO defines anti-dumping as "If a company exports a product at a price lower than the price it normally charges in its own home market, it is said to be "dumping" the product. Indian laws were amended with effect from 1.1.95 to bring them in line with the provisions of the respective GATT agreements.

India has effected anti-dumping in the past across sectors like banking and pharma which has helped create local giants like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Sun Pharma, Dr. Reddy's among others. Read this excellent document to know more on the topic. While this is more in the context of goods, a similar principle ought to apply for services. By market estimates, Uber, selling at negative margins, burns over INR 3000 Crore (US $450 Million) per year in India — this is significantly more than Ola's burn rate despite Ola being much larger. In a letter to investors dated September 7th, Uber mentioned that it plans to further reallocate a significant amount of resources to India from China, where it recently sold its business to Didi. Product Innovation Innovating for consumers and solving real on-the-ground problems takes a serious hit because of capital dumping. I personally don't recall a single meaningful innovation that Uber has launched for the Indian market. All its growth here has come from throwing money at drivers and consumers. Not to forget, they have blindly copied many of Ola's local innovations — some have failed, while others have done them some good. But that isn't good enough for the ecosystem, because capital should never be allowed to stifle innovation. Ola's innovations are far beyond technology and category customizations e.g. by building an offline booking feature, they've not just allowed people to access mobility in no-network areas, but have inspired other apps across verticals to solve for poor connectivity in smaller towns. By quickly launching Ola Credit after the recent Demonetization, they've actually helped keep tens of thousands of Indians away from serpentine ATM queues. Or take Ola Play, a paradigm shift in the mobility and ride-sharing experience. Innovation has a direct impact on our nation's development; both as an inspiration for other companies and entrepreneurs, as well as for creating value for customers in the long run. In fact, innovation is the solution to sustained price optimization, not capital dumping.

A Level Playing Field So what are Sachin and Bhavish really asking for? All they are saying is let's create a level playing field, one where foreign companies aren't using profits they generate in their home geography to subsidise their product in India, with the singular motive of killing local players. They aren't here for charity. No business is. Amazon generates profits in the US, Uber also claims its profitable in the US. How does one compete with these giants if they have access to funding and profits from their home geography while you are dependent on funding alone? Eventually, capital sources will dry up and will lead to monopolistic behaviour by the one who survives. What's in the long-term interest of Indian Consumers? Make no mistake. Having sustainable competition is the best solution in the long term that will benefit consumers. That alone will ensure prices are fair and quality services are being provided, while both players generate reasonable profits. None of the global giants want that. They see India as a large market they want to own for decades and so are indulging in "capital dumping" with the hope that eventually local startups will run out of capital to compete and they can run a monopoly business in India. Once local rivals are out, they will raise prices. That hour-long cab ride you took to work for under Rs 100 will seem like a distant memory. Who knows what the new price will be, but suffice to say it will be significantly higher with sufficient markup to recuperate their losses. And the driver subsidy — it will vanish overnight. Case in point — here 's what happened in China where prices doubled overnight after the Didi-Uber merger.

 The Way Ahead Given the scorching pace of growth of Indian internet companies, there is an urgent need to define and problem solve for the issues outlined above. Should this issue have been raised earlier? Absolutely. Did we as an industry fail in our duty to foresee and address these issues sooner, possibly. But there's never a bad time to discuss the right things. We are seeing the emergence of India's first wave of tech mega-corns and this is new territory for all of us. Moreover, the degree of undercutting on price has intensified in recent times with the intent to drive out local players. There's a fine line between price undercutting for promotional purpose v/s unfair market practices like capital dumping. How do you decide what constitutes capital dumping? I don't claim to have the answers but at-least a recognition and discussion of the core issue will help us all gravitate towards a practical solution that is in the long-term interest of consumers. It's disturbing that so many smart people have been quick to diss our local heroes without so much as a second thought. Let's understand these issues and the ramifications they will have on our country, let alone the nascent startup eco-system. India will be better served if we have the Flipkart's and Ola's thrive to become large platforms that can match and do even better than what their global peers do in their home markets. They will inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs who will believe they too can compete against the mightiest and have a shot at victory. Whether we like it or not, we are all long Flipkart and Ola — their decline will hurt the entire tech eco-system. And when they win (that doesn't mean their global peers must lose, they just need to stop their strategy of capital-dumping and compete fairly), our country will never be the same again. We can recreate the magic that happened in Silicon Valley and China. It will open up a rush of capital and lead to a new wave of innovation, the kind our country hasn't witnessed before. And our local heroes will be the ones leading that wave. And for that, they don't need protection, just a level playing field.

Harvard Business Review article on Demonetisation

By Bhaskar Chakravorti

India is in the throes of an unprecedented social experiment in enforced digital disruption, and the world has much to learn from it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a surprise in early November, demonetizing 500 and 1,000 rupee bank notes. Modi’s war on cash is not without international precedent: Singapore, for example, withdrew its largest currency recently; the European Central Bank eliminated the 500-euro bank note; South Korea plans to eliminate at least all coins by 2020. And yet India’s initiative had the potential for chaos.

Here’s why: the government effectively took 86% of cash out of circulation in an economy that is close to 90% cash-reliant. One of Modi’s strongest motivations for this action was corruption — to expose undeclared “black” money, i.e. income illegally obtained or not declared for tax purposes, in Asia’s third-largest economy. But the government seems to have failed in meeting this objective. As of December 3, about 82% of the demonetized bills, amounting to about $185 billion, had been deposited in bank accounts and validated to be legitimately earned money (or legitimized after any additional taxes owed are accounted for). In other words, very little of the estimated $2 trillion black money estimated to be stashed overseas has been captured.

In the meantime, retail and wholesale markets have stalled around the country. Supply chain transactions, real estate deals, and even weddings and funerals have been frozen. Consumers are coping with lines that are frustrating even for Indians used to standing in lines or waiting for basic services. People up and down the income spectrum are dealing with changing cash withdrawal policies and empty ATMs. The nation’s status as the world’s fastest-growing big economy has been severely imperiled and its currency risks being further devalued, a situation made worse by prospects of a strengthening dollar after the U.S. election. Sounds bad, right? But there is a question that hasn’t been asked: Is there a digital upside to this crisis? A digital idealist might argue that the demonetization move is a welcome shock necessary to get a cash-intensive society weaned off its addiction and onto modern systems of digital payments. Indeed, since the chaos erupted, the prime minister has tweeted: “Time has come for everyone, particularly my young friends, to embrace e-banking, mobile banking & more such technology.” He has urged the other side of the market to digitize as well: “I want to tell my small merchant brothers and sisters, this is the chance for you to enter the digital world,” he said in Hindi on television, encouraging mobile banking applications and credit-card swipe machines.

This is an unusual form of digital disruption of an enforced kind, about as far as one can get from the textbook kind. Consider a few of its most salient aspects: This drastic shift affects the world’s fastest growing large economy, a population of 1.25 billion, and consumers whom we have identified as bearers of some of the highest “cost of cash” in the world (see our HBR article: “The Countries that Would Profit the Most from a Cashless World”). In other words, if a significant amount of the country’s payments were digitized, the benefits would be monumental. This disruption originates not from one of the e-wallet insurgents or from one of the global payments mega-players, but has been engineered top-down by the government. The biggest beneficiaries of this disruption, arguably, would be the incumbents, i.e. Reserve Bank of India, India’s central bank, and the banking institutions. According to our study, the Cost of Cash in India, these institutions spend $3.5 billion annually in currency operations costs. Ironically, the primary losers in this disruption, at least in the near term, are the consumers themselves. The disruptive action did not originate in a small segment of the market; it was launched nationwide. The burden has been regressive, as it has been hardest on the poor and the unbanked, who have had to forgo wages to stand in lines or have lost jobs because of non-functioning markets. So can the demonetization shock push digital payments into the mainstream? Some early reports are suggesting that, indeed, it has had an effect. The leading digital payments players have experienced a bump since the demonetization experiment began. That said, it is important to keep in mind that this bump builds on a low base. According to a 2013 Mastercard study, India was in the “Inception” category of both absolute level of cashlessness and the trajectory of change. Furthermore, there are three fundamental structural factors to be mindful of as we understand the Indian context: India’s ties to cash are strong, even by developing country standards. India uses a lot of cash by any measure. Our Cost of Cash in India study found a remarkably high level of cash usage even when compared with other emerging markets and otherwise digitally under-evolved countries, according to our Digital Evolution Index, reported earlier in HBR. The ratio of money held in bills and coins to the amount held in demand deposit and savings accounts in India was 51%, as compared to Egypt (29.3%), South Africa (8.9%), and Mexico (8.7%). Moreover, the value of notes and coins in circulation as a percentage of GDP in India was 12.04%, compared to 3.93% in Brazil, 5.32% in Mexico, and 3.72% in S'outh' Africa

 There are strong reasons underlying this degree of cash reliance. Consider some of the most significant ones we found when we analyzed the 2014 landscape. Most Indians lacked the means to use non-cash payments, even if they want to. India’s infrastructure for payments was growing, but from very modest beginnings. Fewer than 35% of Indians above the age of 15 had used a bank account. Less than 10% had ever used any kind of non-cash payment instrument. Less than 3% of the value transacted used cards in the year ending March 2014. The growth in value of ATM transactions had far outpaced the growth in the value of card payment transactions. Moreover, in India, the total value of ATM transactions increased more than five times between 2007 and 2012, from about 3 trillion to about 18 trillion rupees, while the value of card transactions barely doubled in the same period from 1 to 2 trillion rupees. Despite the improvement in telecommunications, India lagged its peers in mobile payments. Fewer than 2% of Indians had used a mobile phone to receive a payment, compared to over 60% of Kenyans and 11% of Nigerians. Financial inclusion policies are bank-led rather than telecom-led. Much of India’s recent approach has focused on the supply side of financial inclusion. The priorities of the Reserve Bank (RBI), India’s central bank, are to promote safe, efficient, accessible, inclusive, interoperable, and robust payment systems. India has addressed these priorities both through the creation of national champions, such as the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and its subsidiaries. The result is that India has built the capacity to clear and settle payments. Access to that infrastructure on a sustainable and profitable basis is a key reason behind India’s investment in universal identification (known as Aadhaar)-enabled payments services. The problem is that RBI chose a bank-led model over a telecoms-led one to achieve its financial inclusion goals. As a result, telecoms firms had only recently been allowed to enter the payments space in India, and were limited only to partnerships with banks. Compare this situation to that of Kenya, for example, where a surge in mobile payments has been engineered by the efforts of Safaricom, the major telecom company. The net result of a bank-led approach has been an insufficient investment in the necessary digital infrastructure and inadequate marketing of its potential uses and benefits. Consumers have been left unaware of how they might use mobile phones for services other than communications, texting, or Facebook.

The costs of cash to the Indian consumer are among the highest in the world. In our analyses of the cost of cash across over 70 countries, we found that the cost of cash to consumers – in terms of time spent to get cash and fees — are high in some of the world’s most populous countries. Unsurprisingly, cost to Indian consumers was among the highest. When weighted for population, India fared poorly in terms of ATM access compared to even lesser-developed countries, such as Kenya, Nigeria, or Egypt. Moreover, smaller cities in India had larger problems. Long before the current crisis, we found that residents of Delhi spent 6 million hours and $1.5 million to obtain cash, while residents of Hyderabad spent 1.7 million hours and $0.5 million to do the same. Hyderabadi consumer costs were about twice as high as that of Delhiites on a per capita basis. With this structural understanding in mind, how do we evaluate the potential impact of the demonetization move in getting digital payments past a tipping point? I would argue that, despite the high costs of cash, telling people – as the prime minister did — to go cashless is putting the cart before the horse. The horse in this case is the digital infrastructure and establishing a threshold of trust in the system; beefing up this digital ecosystem should come first. India’s digital state (it ranked 42nd out of the 50 countries we studied in our Digital Evolution Index), does not engender the threshold of trust needed for cashlessness to take hold in a meaningful way. Despite a billion mobile phone subscriptions, just about 30% of Indian subscribers use smartphones. A little over a third of the population has internet access. India lacks infrastructure needed to reliably expand access. Connections are patchy and unreliable and there is great disparity in connectivity: 70% of those with mobile internet access are in cities; only 17% of Indian women use the internet, according to the Pew Research Center. With women responsible for much of household purchases, this does not provide a strong foundation for the spread of digital payments where it really counts. According to Google India and The Boston Consulting Group, by 2020, digital transactions will happen at 10 times the current level. That may well come to pass; maybe demonetization may serve as the needed catalyst. But let us be clear: in the absence of a systematic and concerted investment in digital infrastructure and Internet access, cash will stubbornly resist wholesale digital displacement. It is useful to keep in mind that any form of currency, cold hard cash or digital, involves an “equilibrium mindset” — a mutually self-reinforcing logic — whereby the parties across a transaction must share a belief in the currency and trust that it works and holds value. If there is a shadow of doubt that affects one party’s trust in a particular form of currency, the other will prefer to not rely on it. Cash, unlike digital alternatives, has the benefit of being acceptable (almost) everywhere. If there is concern about the viability or acceptability of digital payments, venturing forth without cash will make consumers feel insecure. When we studied current habits in India, in the Cost of Cash in India, we found that there is great level of comfort in keeping moderate to significant levels of cash in hand, especially in small towns and rural areas. Even credit card users keep significant amounts of cash in hand, and they keep higher balances. The proportion of respondents who keep more than 2,000 rupees as minimum cash in hand is 29% in case of credit card users, as compared to 12% in case of cash-only users. The average amount of minimum cash carried by cash-only users or “debit cash and cash” users is relatively lower than the amount carried by credit card users. The proportion that carried minimum cash in the range of 100 – 500 rupees was 13% among credit card users, as compared to 27% among the cash users. What seems like a major push from physical to digital money will, in reality, happen at a slow pace. While I do not intend to demonize the demonetizers, this unfortunate crisis is a case study in poor policy and even poorer execution. Unfortunately, it is also the poor that bear the greatest burden. Editor’s note: We clarified how money that’s deposited in banks is considered legitimate. 

 Bhaskar Chakravorti is the Senior Associate Dean of International Business & Finance at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and founding Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.

AIB Demonetisation circus

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The curious case of Trump and COI

Conflict of interest (COI)

''a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity.

By electing Trump the United States has inherited an unique problem which has not happened in a democracy before. Usually all democratic leaders are either ideologues or claim to be one with apparent benefits from corporates post their official capacity . Trump on the other hand is a billionaire first and then had a side mission to become a president which suddenly became his main storyline.

How much does he love money? - Well he is more protective of maintaining is billionaire credentials than the fear of being called a misogynist, racist , bigot among other things. Why do you think Trump is still refusing to disclose his tax returns. How insecure an individual must be on the fear of being disclosed as a millionaire rather than a billionaire.

For Trump showcasing his economic success is everything. Given all that how important is the presidency for him ?

Look at the article from politico below

Bahrain to host event at Trump's D.C. hotel, raising ethical concerns

Ethical dilemmas existed even before Trump was elected. But the president-elect hasn’t taken any actions to ease concerns.

Bahrain has just booked at Donald Trump's new Washington hotel.
As ethics lawyers warn about potential conflicts of interest facing the billionaire businessman's presidential administration, the kingdom reserved space for a reception at the president-elect's flagship property less than a mile from the White House, according to an invitation from the country's embassy obtained by POLITICO on Tuesday.

On the occasion of the forty fifth national day of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the seventeenth anniversary of his majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s accession to the throne,” the invitation begins, “Ambassador Abdulla Al Khalifa cordially invites you to a national day reception on Wednesday, December 07, 2016 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM.”
A Trump International Hotel representative declined to confirm the details of the event. “It’s always been a policy of Trump that we never ever discuss individual guests or groups in the hotel,” the sales and marketing official told POLITICO.
News of the reception drew an immediate rebuke from Richard Painter, one of several legal experts who has been sounding alarms over the possible conflicts presented by the unprecedented scope and scale of the incoming president's business interests.
Painter, President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, said a foreign government making payments to Trump’s businesses while he is president would violate a provision of the Constitution called the foreign Emoluments Clause.
The clause bars officials from accepting gifts from foreign powers without congressional approval, Painter said, adding that a diplomat staying at a Trump hotel to get in his good graces would qualify as one.
Whether the Bahrain reception, set to take place a month before Trump’s inauguration, would violate the Constitution depends on whether the payments are made before or after Jan. 20, Painter argued. Regardless, he maintained that it raises serious concerns, and the only solution is for Trump to sell the hotel — either to his children or another buyer.
“The point is, this is not where we want to go,” Painter said. “This is a concern. This is not where we want to go.”
Next week’s event won’t be the first example of the blurred lines between the president-elect and the businessman who has yet to relinquish his business empire, though.
Roughly 100 foreign diplomats drank Trump-branded champagne at Trump International Hotel earlier this month as they took in a sales pitch about the hotel, according to a Washington Post report published Nov. 18.

But the ethical dilemmas existed even before he was elected president. And Trump — who still hasn’t released his tax returns and is the target of Democrats in Congress who are requesting a review of his financial arrangements for possible conflicts of interest before he’s sworn in as president — hasn’t taken any actions to ease such concerns.
Before Trump’s election, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte had already named Jose Antonio, Trump’s business partner, a special envoy to Washington for trade, investment and economic affairs. Antonio’s company, Century Properties Group, is building a $150 million, 57-story Trump Tower apartment building in Manila.
And in India, Trump’s business partners — Pranav Bhakta and Atul Chordia — are developing a pair of 23-story Trump Towers buildings in Pune. The two met with Trump at Trump Tower in New York after his election.
In an interview with New York Times reporters and editors last week, Trump said “the law is totally on my side” because, as president, he’s exempt from conflict-of-interest policies that apply to lower-level officials.
“Despite that, I don't want there to be a conflict of interest anyway,” Trump said then. “And I understand why the president can’t have a conflict of interest now because everything a president does in some ways is like a conflict of interest, but I have, I’ve built a very great company and it’s a big company and it’s all over the world.”
Trump has promised to turn over control of his company to his adult children, but has yet to provide any details or timeline for how this might work.
And even as he continues to speak with foreign leaders and hold daily meetings with current and former elected and administration officials as he works to fill out his government, he still holds meetings with business leaders and has his adult children take part in both realms.
But what penalty, if any, would face President Trump is unclear. Experts generally agree that the mechanism for enforcing the conflict-of-interest clause would be impeachment, which is unlikely given the makeup of Congress. But Painter suggested that electors who will formally cast ballots for president next month could demand that Trump assure them he will eliminate payments from foreign governments as a condition of voting for him.
“At some point, he has to be told to follow the Constitution,” Painter said, adding that Trump is “just wrong” to think a president can't have a conflict of interest.
“If he thinks he’s above the law,” Painter warned, “he’s going down a very dangerous path.”

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Is westworld better than GOT

Entering the final episode of Westworld on Monday I feel like it has outperformed the other flagship HBO series GOT. At the ery least it has clearly outperformed the first 2 seasons. There is no comparison in the acting and script as succinctly out by the Cnet columnist David priest below

"Game of Thrones" has some spectacular moments, but the core experienceThree months ago, the premiere of HBO's "Westworld" was followed by a slew of articles comparing it to HBO's biggest show: Is it the new "Game of Thrones"? Is it better or worse? Is it more or less lucrative? The comparison stuck. As recently as mid-November, The New Yorker of all places published an article titled, "The Latest 'Westworld' Reveal Shows It's No 'Game of Thrones.'" What is wrong with how we watch TV?

Of course "Game of Thrones" has more complex settings, character arcs and narratives than "Westworld" -- it's been on the air for six seasons! And of course HBO's newly minted series will never replicate the fantasy sprawl of "Game of Thrones" -- it's not trying to. The problem is, when the critics' first impulse is to compare every new ambitious show to whatever seems popular, they miss the point.
No matter what you think of "Game of Thrones," "Westworld" is doing something special: It's changing viewer expectations for TV quality. It's a show everyone should watch, a show you should watch, for the magnificent cinematography, the spring-loaded story, the editorial wizardry. You should watch for stars Anthony Hopkins, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood. You should watch to introduce your brain to its own limits. "Westworld" holds fire in its belly, and by some magic, it blows no smoke.

A story deconstructed

it offers isn't game-changing. The story moves forward at a predictable pace, the world is believable, the characters feel real -- it meets all the standards we expect out of contemporary stories.
"Westworld" bends the rules. Watching it is totally different from almost any other television show available now. Its editing keeps viewers on their toes, surprising us with revelations from the past when we thought we were watching the present. The cinematography constantly pulls us back and forth from stunning Western vistas to steel-and-glass sci-fi offices. The visual effects are brutal, and would feel at home in any summer flick at the theater.
The mind-bending, effects-driven story of "Westworld" isn't just the product of a higher budget, it shows creative intention by the showrunners to challenge how we understand any story we watch.

An actor's paradise

Award-caliber performances aren't new to HBO, but much of its best acting has been in less popular fare, such as "Show Me a Hero" or "The Night Of." "Game of Thrones" is a different beast, with a massive yet surprisingly consistent cast. But that leaves only a few standouts (namely: Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Jonathan Pryce). And even the best performances take time to really connect: Headey and Dinklage (as Cersei and Tyrion Lannister, respectively) don't get a chance to show real complexity for a few seasons, and other great actors don't show up till later in the series.
But practically any performance in "Westworld" would steal a season on "Game of Thrones." Hopkins (as the park's creator and mastermind, Dr. Robert Ford) is simply transcendent, even with meager screen time; Newton (as brothel owner Maeve Millay) sells a perilously complicated character arc in a matter of episodes; Jeffrey Wright (as the park's head programmer Bernard Lowe) folds subtlety into a role that could've easily been overplayed; and Ed Harris is irresistible as the Man in Black.
The rest of the cast, especially those who show up for half an episode like Dolores' dad in the first episode, surprise and delight viewers with pathos punctuated by the whirs and stutters of their malfunctioning operating systems. "Game of Thrones" has good acting, but the performances in "Westworld" are next level.

Wild, wild West(eros)

The world of Westeros in "Game of Thrones" is a fascinating setting, full of intrigue and secrets. But within the first few episodes, the most critical of these secrets are revealed. We know the White Walkers are coming (very, very slowly); we know who killed the King's Hand and Robert Baratheon. We understand the basic rules of this show because we've seen worlds like Westeros before. It's another fantasy world based on late Medieval European history -- not bad, but not new or particularly distinctive.
"Westworld," by contrast, takes a unique idea, a futuristic Wild West theme park, inspired by Michael Crichton's '70s flick, and spends 10 episodes spinning out its mysteries for viewers. Sure, any character could die just like in "GoT," but any of them could be human or robot, hero or villain, future or past.
What you get with "Westworld," much like the special effects these puzzles depend on, is an enigma that unfolds to reveal further mystery. And unlike past shows based in such continually unfolding worlds ("Lost" for example), there's a singular end in mind the whole time -- a beating heart in the chest.

These violent delights'

During the sixth season of "Game of Thrones," I placed bets with friends and family on characters' mortality -- how and when they'll die. It was one of the most enjoyable seasons of TV I've experienced. But aside from predicting plot lines and the demise of characters, conversations about "Game of Thrones" rarely transitioned to anything more substantive. Why? Because it is so predictable: The universe is brutal, and people are brutish. Thematically, "Game of Thrones" is a Thomas Hobbes wet dream, set in the Dark Ages with dragons.
Conversations about "Westworld," however, quickly turn to its deeper themes: violence and sexual exploitation in the stories we tell and what those stories say about us; our commoditization of the human experience, and what experience truly makes one human.
Dive a little deeper and you find nuanced commentary on gender, sex and race, and how they all shape the roles we're given. Suddenly, after rejecting her role as a prostitute and unshackling her mind from the code that limits her intellect, Maeve's rebellion is all the more powerful. The questions "Westworld" asks viewers don't just matter inside its own universe, they matter deeply to us.

'Now entering...'

"Westworld" might just keel over after season one, like "True Detective" did, or it might turn into a massively successful super-series. But debating its future as a show, or how it compares to other shows, kind of kills the magic. So when the "Westworld" finale airs this Sunday on HBO, I won't be thinking about "Game of Thrones," I'll enjoy an hour and a half of TV that's like no other show I've watched before.

I believe it is special especially for a gamer like me.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Westworld : Theories

Memento --- Yes Memento was my first experience with the Nolans. I didnt watch the movie but I read the script back in the day when I used to prefer readingstuff rather than watching it. That was one the best scripts ever written and crystalized my desire for the matters untold, left to the understanding of the reader/viewer., I believe the script is still available in Drews ScriptOrama.

Ever since Stanley Kubrick there is no other storyteller who dealt with ambiguity in such a nuanced manner than Nolan brothers. Westworld is so nuanced and exciting at the same time with clever writing, editing and not to mention amazing acting. After the slight stepdown Mr Robot in the second season, it was refreshing for me to watch Westworld.

I have caught with all the episodes till now and there are multiple thories among fans. Like this one

I have my own 'Bulk Apperception' on this

 Man in Black (Ed Harris ) is Logan from the earlier timeline (yes there are two timelines)  

Bernard is arnold in consciousness

The Maze is the clue to Arnolds fate

William dies in the first timeline

Saturday, October 22, 2016

TVF pitchers

This has to be the best tv series in india right now

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Why is the UFC worth 4bn$

Here is the explanation from Bleacher report


When the announcement finally came that the UFC had been sold after weeks of speculation, the $4 billion price tag entertainment agency WME-IMG paid for it raised eyebrows around the sporting world.
It's the largest sale of a sports franchise in history, easily topping the $2 billion former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. It's even more than the current valuation of the Dallas Cowboys, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, the New York Yankees and Manchester United, according to Forbes, though there's a good chance any of those organizations would top the UFC's sale price in the current market.
Why was WME-IMG willing to pay a record-setting price for the UFC?
On the most basic level, it's because the UFC is already a tremendously profitable company. According to various investment metrics such as enterprise value (EV), earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and forward-revenue multiples, per Bloody Elbow's Paul Gift, the UFC stacks up favorably compared to both other sports franchises and the entertainment industry writ large.
Fight Pass now features major fights like Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping.
As currently constructed, the UFC is set up to make its owners substantial profits from day one. It has a bevy of international TV deals, a solid and well-oiled domestic TV agreement in place with Fox, a burgeoning digital platform in Fight Pass and, last but not least, the volatile but always profitable pay-per-view business.
It's safe to say WME-IMG didn't buy the UFC for its current value, however, but because it thinks the UFC is a growing business moving forward. It has a plan, or a series of plans, to maximize the UFC's revenue.
Leaving aside the issue of expansion into the enormous Chinese market or other international development plans, along with projected growth from Fight Pass, there are two major areas where WME-IMG expects to make its paper on the UFC deal: the next domestic TV contract and growth in pay-per-view revenues.
The 2016 version of the UFC offers its consumers two different products.
On the one hand, it's a TV sport like the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA or the NHL, which spreads its tentacles across a major-network platform (Fox) and then smaller outposts (Fox Sports 1 and occasionally Fox Sports 2). Shoulder programming, like The Ultimate Fighter or UFC Reloaded, appears on a variety of related family networks, such as Fox Deportes and the regional Fox Sports affiliates.
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Six hundred thousand people tuned in on a Wednesday night to watch a Fight Night held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Viewers can tune in practically every week to find a UFC-branded Fight Night in some corner of the world, and even pay-per-view cards have a free TV component. The UFC has a stable viewership on Fox and a dedicated and growing audience of fans who will watch a show on Fox Sports 1 essentially regardless of who's on the card.
There are still bumps in ratings for premium fighters. Per Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter and MMA Fighting, Dominick Cruz's return against TJ Dillashaw in January was the second-highest-rated show in Fox Sports 1 history, after the Conor McGregor-Dennis Siver Fight Night card the year before.
In general, however, the UFC's ratings on Fox Sports 1 are remarkably stable. Per Meltzer, its June Fight Night card featuring Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson and not much else, and which happened to air starting at nearly 11 p.m. on the East Coast, still drew nearly a million viewers.
These ratings have risen over the course of the Fox deal to their current level. There's no real reason to think they'll drop, and they speak to a durable base of fans who know and consume the UFC as a TV product.
On the other hand, the UFC is still a pay-per-view business. Its premium content, in the sense of its best and best-known fighters, can be found only when consumers fork over $59.99 to watch via their cable provider or through one of many online options, including UFC TV and PlayStation or Xbox apps.
Pay-per-view isn't the same business in 2016 that it was in 2010, when the vast majority of the UFC's content and revenue had to be consumed through that model. On paper, the business isn't much smaller now: The UFC sold 7.55 million units in 2015, compared to a record 8.805 million back in 2010, despite spreading its name fighters across a multitude of different platforms and networks now.
The major difference lies in whom, exactly, consumers are buying on pay-per-view.
John Locher/Associated Press
Brock Lesnar was the UFC's biggest draw in 2010.
Back in 2010, Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre were the UFC's biggest draws. They headlined four of the year's 16 pay-per-view cards and accounted for just under 40 percent of the year's total sales.
Compare that to 2015. Last year, McGregor and Ronda Rousey, by far the promotion's two biggest draws, headlined five of the 13 events and combined to sell 61 percent of the year's total.
In other words, the UFC is more dependent than it has ever been on a small contingent of stars to sell its pay-per-views. The trend is clear, obvious and runs directly from Lesnar and St-Pierre in 2010 to Anderson Silva and St-Pierre in 2013 to McGregor and Rousey now.
John Locher/Associated Press
Fans tune in for McGregor.
Unlike the television product, fans aren't tuning in for the brand; when it comes to paying a substantial additional fee, consumers want stars. As the UFC has become a TV property, fans are only willing to pay that extra money when they feel they're getting something truly special. Otherwise, they'll save their cash and watch the next Fox Sports 1 card, or they won't tune in at all.
WME-IMG can grow both the TV product and the pay-per-view product in distinct ways.
The TV product is more straightforward. The UFC signed a seven-year deal with Fox in 2011 that at the time was reported to pay the promotion somewhere north of $100 million per year. By the standards of sports broadcast deals in the recent past, this is a steal of epic proportions.
As we discussed, the UFC's audience is real, it's stable and it tunes in for practically everything. Take the week of July 11-17 as an example: Half of Fox Sports 1's top programming came from the UFC. A mediocre Fight Night card on a Wednesday came in just behind a Kansas City-Detroit baseball game, that card's preliminaries cracked the top five and a replay of the main card clocked in at number seven.
The UFC's value to Fox is undeniable. What's even more striking is how little it costs.
In the age of the DVR and cord-cutting, live sports broadcasts are one of the last bastions of live TV viewership, with all the value that implies for advertisers. The enormous TV contracts sports organizations have received in the last decade reflect this value.
Between Fox and NBC, for example, NASCAR's current TV package is worth a staggering $915 million per year by way of a series of deals signed in 2012 and 2013. While the Los Angeles Dodgers' current exclusive deal with Time Warner has been an "unmitigated disaster," per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, it's still worth $332 million per year over its 25-year life.
The smaller-market Seattle Mariners signed an agreement worth nearly $118 million per year in 2013 but also own a majority of their regional sports network, which pushes the deal's true value to somewhere in the range of $150 million per year.
The NFL's 2011 renewal of its agreements with Fox, CBS and NBC dwarfs them all, coming in somewhere in the range of $3 billion per year. When combined with its deals with DirecTV, NFL Network and its radio partners, the league's annual media revenue is around $7 billion.
Every team, then, receives around $200 million per year before accounting for gate receipts, concessions, jersey sales and every other form of revenue.
This is the landscape in which the UFC will be signing a new TV deal.
Its current $115 million annual deal looks like a paltry sum by comparison, though it was a good deal at the time, and it has provided tremendous value for both the UFC and Fox. The UFC has matured into a TV property and built its core audience, while Fox has received a tremendous amount of cheap programming to build a base for its fledgling Fox Sports 1 network.
The UFC certainly had this on its mind when it went up for sale. According to Michael Smith and John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, the numbers the UFC supplied to potential buyers projected its next media deal's annual worth at around $400 million, a nearly fourfold increase from its current agreement.
WME-IMG has a ton of experience in negotiating these deals. After all, it represented the UFC in the 2011 negotiations that produced the Fox agreement in the first place.
There might not be smooth sailing into a landmark new rights deal, though. The sports media landscape is changing rapidly as more and more consumers cut the cord. ESPN has lost more than 10 million subscribers since 2013, and each of those subscribers is worth $80 per year to the company.
ESPN played a huge role in driving the value of these rights deals through the roof with agreements like its $130 million annual fee to the collegiate Southeastern Conference, and now it's losing the enormous, lucrative subscriber base that made those deals possible.
This dynamic is happening with every media group as more and more consumers ditch their cable packages for Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Now and the WWE Network, but nobody has been hurt more than ESPN.
This is a problem for the UFC, which presumably hoped to have ESPN as an interested bidder in its next rights deal, and $400 million annually might be wishful thinking. Still, even in the shrunken landscape that succeeds the current sports-media bubble, the value of its TV deal will increase dramatically.
The UFC is the biggest player in a growing sport that reaches a coveted demographic, and somebody will be willing to pay for access to it.
Despite the uncertainty in the current market for TV rights deals, this aspect of WME-IMG's purchase of the UFC is straightforward: The TV deal will be up in a couple of years, and the next one will be worth much, much more than the current agreement. This is what most analyses of the sale have focused on, and with good reason.
The less appreciated aspect of the sale is its contribution to the UFC's other major product, pay-per-view.
We're living in the era of the celebrity fighter, as Bleacher Report's Jonathan Snowden memorably termed it. While the TV product is stable and reliable, stars sell pay-per-views, not the UFC brand.
It's easy to forget in all this talk about the media landscape and TV rights deals, but WME-IMG is at heart a talent agency.
What do talent agencies do? They build stars.
Dan Steinberg/Associated Press
Ari Emanuel in 2015.
Following the merger between WME and IMG in 2014, the organization is working even harder at integrating its sports and entertainment businesses with the overarching goal of collaboration. Mark Shapiro, IMG's chief content officer, noted as much in a Hollywood Reporter piece by Matthew Belloni on co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.
"One of the smartest things Ari and Patrick did was to incentivize collaboration," Shapiro said. "You're incentivized to push business to other areas of the company."
In an excellent and comprehensive piece, MMAjunkie's Ben Fowlkes reported at length on this aspect of WME-IMG's business:
Now WME-IMG represents athletes, actors and musicians. It handles licensing and marketing for more than 200 college sports teams. It owns an e-sports league and a bull-riding organization. It has negotiated TV deals for European soccer and Indian cricket leagues. It runs Fashion Week events all over the globe, and represents several top models and designers. It owns the Miss Universe pageant, which it bought from former client and current Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. It represents Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
WME-IMG has played a role in makingDwayne Johnson a legitimate star.
As Fowlkes pointed out with regard to WME-IMG's newly purchased Professional Bull Riding organization, the parent organization books its clients on talk shows that reach millions of viewers, places them in magazine stories and negotiates sponsorships with major brands. WME-IMG is already trying to create stars in a sport far more niche than the UFC.
Placing individual entertainers or athletes across multiple platforms is the essence of the talent side of WME-IMG's business. That's how you build starsrepeated exposure to mass audiences. It worked for the UFC with Rousey and McGregor, but as successful as it's been with those two, its in-house public relations and marketing operations can't touch what WME-IMG is capable of.
The math is simple. More than ever, pay-per-view audiences are buying stars, and WME-IMG has all the tools necessary to create them.
Whether WME-IMG understands how to pick and choose its potential breakout talents and what connects them to MMA's audience and the fringe of the mainstream that might also buy in is another story. At least on paper, though, the fit between a UFC that's increasingly in the business of selling celebrities and a parent company that excels at making and polishing celebrities is seamless.

Will the WME-IMG purchase be good for the UFC in the long run?

These kinds of initiatives would undoubtedly help to grow the UFC as a whole, but they would also have the specific effect of creating more fighters consumers are willing to pay for. There's a direct connection between this star-building operation and a more lucrative UFC.
The TV deal is a straightforward and well-understood opportunity for WME-IMG to generate return on its $4 billion investment in the near term. In the long run, the real value lies in the parent company's ability to integrate the rest of its talent and marketing operations with a sport starved for stars.
Whether all of this will come to fruition or not remains to be seen. In the abstract, however, WME-IMG is uniquely placed to maximize the UFC's value.
Patrick Wyman is the Senior MMA Analyst for Bleacher Report and the co-host of the Heavy Hands Podcast, your source for the finer points of face-punching. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

An excerpt from 4 hour work week

An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctors orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large tuna. The american complimented the Mexican on the quality of the fish.
"'How long did it take for you to catch them ? the American asked.

Only a little while

Why dont you stay out longer and catch more fish

I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends

But.... W'hat do you do with the rest of your time

I sleep late fish a little play with my children take a siesta with my wife Julia and stroll into the village each evening where i sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life senor.

Sir Im a Harvard MBA  and can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat.I no yime you could buy bigger boats with larger hauls .Ebentually you will have a fleet of fishing boats

Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you would sell directly to the customers eventually opening your own cannery You would control the product processing and distribution.You would need to leave this small coastal village and move to Mexico city or Los angeles where you could run the expanding enterprise with proper management.

But senor how long will all this take ?

15-20 years. 25 tops

But what then senor?

Thats the best part, when the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich.You would make millions

Millions senor? Then what?

Then you would retire and move to a small coastal village where you could sleep late ,fish a little, play with your children,take a siesta with your wife , and stroll into the village in th'e evenings where you can play guitar with 'your amig'os............oh wait

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Mr Robot S02 - What the heck is goin on ?

Mr Robot season started promising but soon it went into lala land. We dont know what is real anymore. I thought it took inspiration from Fightclub but it has now gone into David Lynch Twin peaks territory.

Angela going into a Red room and having a conversation with Mini me was more like a horror noir feeling than the suspenseful thriller it was in the first season. Its not that it is wrong to bring such confusing multidimensional plot into the mix, it is just that Mr robot for all of its 20 episodes never even looked like a science fiction/horror series. If you are going to bring"supernatural/everything is in your head" plotline then thats where you are going into a gimmicky surprise element rather than portraying tangible plot. The very reason Mr Robot is popular is that it very much reminiscent of the times where hackers can basically control anything. This episode 11 has thrown everything out of the window.

Here is Tim surrette from Tv.com on this confusing episode

 I'm not sure where to begin with "Python Part 1," the ridonkulous first half of Mr. Robot's two-hour Season 2 finale, so let's start off with what we didn't learn. After the nail-biting shooting that ended the previous episode, the fates of Cisco, Darlene and that nice waitress at Lupe's are still unknown, because the episode barely mentioned them at all (however, eagle-eared viewers will notice that Dom said "several" people were killed). C'mon, show, we're dying over here! It's a trick that Mr. Robot has deployed liberally throughout Season 2, with its effectiveness moving from potent to mediocre and now to somewhat frustrating. There's obviously a question of whether we, the audience, are entitled to those answers and details right away, or if we're just watching a televised piece of art one hour at a time and we should shut up. What we're left with are dangling threads all over the place even as the current timeline has moved past them, missing answers to old questions fading in the background as the story continues to move on. Even Tyrell's (Martin Wallstrom) grand return was somewhat stunted because we've waited so long for it and it happened without anything to digest from it. Namely, he just reappeared. We don't know where he was or what he's been up to. I find this method of storytelling fascinating if nothing else, a mix of audacious and adventurous behavior on creator Sam Esmail's part as he twists the rules of conventional television through obvious borrowing (or ripping off) of other properties and repetition of his own techniques. Esmail's love of withholding information continued to the max in "Python Part 1," one of the most confusing episodes of Mr. Robot to date. Stuff happened, but not a lot of it made sense because we don't have all the pieces needed to put this puzzle together. Instead we dove deeper into Philip Price's (Michael Cristofer) E-Coin conspiracy, watched a mini-Angela give full-sized Angela (Portia Doubleday) the worst Buzzfeed quiz ever and saw Elliot (Rami Malek) frustrated to the point of maniacal screaming because he couldn't figure out what was going on. I feel you, bro. But hear me out, even though this may sound like a far-fetched defense from a fanboy (because it kind of is). Maybe this is all purposeful! Part of Mr. Robot's appeal is its confidence with tone, and that tone combines paranoia with uneasiness, which oozes out of the screen and nestles inside our heads. It's part of how we relate to Elliot. The confusion is intentional, and not a product of aimless showrunning that you see when network sci-fi shows go off the rails because they don't know where they're going to go. Esmail has a plan in place, and that's a big difference. Is Mr. Robot gaslighting Elliot? That said, let's take a closer look at some of these bizarre scenes, starting with the most striking of the bunch: Angela in the aquarium Yeah, it felt like Angela walked into an episode of Twin Peaks just like Elliot went into ALF, and maybe questions like "Have you ever cried during sex?" from a well-dressed, no-nonsense pre-teen Angela clone were weird for weird's sake, but things really took off when Whiterose (B.D. Wong) showed up. Moving us closer to the idea that something odd is going down at the Washington Township Plant, Whiterose brought up the possibility that Angela's mom and Elliot's dad died for a greater purpose, "so humanity could go to the next level." He didn't they say they voluntarily sacrificed themselves, but it does support the idea that Elliot and Angela are somehow special and a result of what happened in the plant, either intentionally or by accident. Whether it's a special microchip in their brains or subtle increased powers (Unbreakable began rather normally before revealing itself to be one of the best superhero films ever), I'm now convinced that Mr. Robot is tip-toeing into science-fiction via human augmentation, bio-enhancing or -- my original idea -- immortality. Technology is the core of Mr. Robot with computer hacking at its center, why can't hacking people be the next logical step? It all makes sense, people. here was also an inkling that Whiterose and the Dark Army may start to turn on Philip as he continues to reach for too much power. That would presumably ally her with Elliot and Angela, and I think that's what the meat of Angela and Whiterose's meeting was leading to. Whiterose let Angela in on her little secret of the definition of real, and whatever part of their conversation we missed -- there's Esmail withholding information again -- had a profound effect on Angela, because the next time we saw her she wore a knowing smile as she told her lawyer to never call her again and keep her nose out of the Washington Township Plant's business. That wasn't a "Hey, I got two pink Starbursts in a row" smile, that was a "I know the secret of the universe" smile. Mr. Robot and Stranger Things are bringing the '80s back with a vengeance Tyrell's return is a little harder to unpack. His return is unsurprising though, as I've always thought he was alive. And for the record, I'm certain that Elliot isn't imagining him and that he's very much real. However, it's clear that Mr. Robot has been meeting with Tyrell and making plans about Stage 2, whatever that is. And as long as Elliot doesn't consciously know those plans, we won't either. With just one hour left in the second season, Mr. Robot has too many questions left to answer them all. What happened to Darlene? Cisco? Where's Mobley and Trenton? Is Leon gone? What is Stage 2? What does Angela know? What's Philip's plan? What's happening at the Washington Township Plant? How does Whiterose fit into all of this? What in the world is going on? Luckily, Mr. Robot is still intriguing without all the answers, and even when we know we're being toyed with. However, this first part of the finale felt less like a penultimate hour and more like one of the hours that USA added to the season just weeks before the Season 2 premiere. A lot still needs to happen in order to call Season 2 a success.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Smart nation Singapore

Berserk : Anime series

It has been a longtime since I have really watch a full anime series. So  went to my animeguru GRarkada for any new series which would intrigue me.The recommendation was Berserk.

They said that the original 97 version is the better than the current version so I went to th'e aniem streaming' website to view this cult classic

Two episodes in and I should say Im hooked !!!. What is really interesting is that the way they started 'the' series with an interesting' narrative on the mindset of the protagonist Gatsu literally dealing with his inner demons .

After  the intial fight scene we could see that the story would be told in flashbacks ala street fighter. I guess the relationship & tension between Gatsu and Griffith would play a pivotal role in the series. It is 25 episodes long. Lets see whether I would be able to finish it. Would be my first in a long time.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mr Robot is back !!!!

Yes it is back for Season 2 which means some amazing writing is due. This shows creator Sam Esmail has always managed to provide some quality material in all 10 episodes of Season 1. Hope it continues with Season 2 also. Here are some of my favorite writing from the first few episodes.

I still don't understand why people like sports. They get so emotional over the we'irdest things. But I do see the beauty in the rules, the invisible code of chaos hiding behind the menacing face of order.'

In the fallout of the Great Depression, FDR closed all the banks for a bank holiday, and then he reopened them in stages when they were reported to being sound. Later, historians discovered what we in this room now know, that those reports, they were mostly lies. Nevertheless, it worked. It worked because the public believed the government had everything under control. You see, that is the business model for this great nation of ours. Every business day when that market bell rings, we con people into believing in something, the American dream, family values. Could be freedom fries for all I care. It doesn't matter as long as the con works and people buy and sell whatever it is we want them to. If I resign, then any scrap of confidence the public is already clinging onto will be destroyed, and we all know a con doesn't work without the confidence.

A guy walks up to a woman at a bar. He flirts with her. He makes small talk, but the woman insists she isn't gonna go home with him. Guy says, "What if I offer you $1 million to sleep with me?" The woman's never had a million dollars in her life. She stops and considers the offer very seriously. The guy changes his mind, says, "What if I change my offer to a dollar instead?" Woman is aghast. "What kind of woman do you think I am?" Guy says, "We already figured that out. Now we're just negotiating."

God can help you. Is that what God does? He helps? Tell me, why didn't God help my innocent friend who died for no reason while the guilty roam free? Okay, fine. Forget the one-offs. How about the countless wars declared in his name? Okay, fine. Let's skip the random, meaningless murder for a second, shall we? How about the racist, sexist, phobia soup we've all been drowning in because of him? () And I'm not just talking about Jesus. I'm talking about all organized religion... exclusive groups created to manage control, a dealer getting people hooked on the drug of hope, his followers nothing but addicts who want their hit of bullshit to keep their... their dopamine of ignorance, addicts afraid to believe the truth... that there is no order, there's no power, that all religions are just metastasizing mind worms meant to divide us so it's easier to rule us by the charlatans that want to run us. (CHUCKLING) If I don't listen to my imaginary friend, why the f... should I listen to yours? ♪ ♪ People think their worship's some key to happiness. That's just how he owns you. ♪ ♪ Even I'm not crazy enough to believe that distortion of reality. ♪ ♪ So f... God. ♪ ♪ He's not a good enough scapegoat for me. ♪ ♪ Please tell me I didn't say all of that out loud. ♪ ♪ sh1t. I did.

Nic pizzolatto, take note this is how you maintain the quality of writing in season 2. Im still bitter about the second season of True detective.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

People who refuse to age

Paul Rudd

Can anyone of us believe that he is born in 1969. Here he is at the TV movie Great gatsby at 31 years old.

In 2000

And now at 47 years old he looks like.....

Does this guy even age. It is almost as if he has aged backwards like Benjamin Button.

no one knows what is happening '''with him..

Is he a vampire ?
What does he do to look ageless ?
Is he an immortal ?
Some ancient tantric/yoga ritual ?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Penny dreadful series finale

I was so disappointed to note that penny'dreadful h'as come to an end.

H'ere is a series finale review by price peterson of tv. com

Much like Victorian London, the television industry is a dark, macabre game of shadows. Ghouls stalk its blood-stained streets and night creeps devour the innocent whole. Also sagas about strong-willed monster magnets sometimes get struck down too soon. Which is to say... Penny Dreadful is over.
Yes, just when Season 3 started to really heat up, it petered out in an almost astonishing fashion. This week Showtime aired the final two episodes back to back as if to say "Please get out of here, Eva" and even with a full 120 minutes to say farewell the entire thing felt rushed and anticlimactic and, if we're being quite honest, beneath these characters. Still, there were a number of amazing action sequences and eloquent turns of phrase (as always). But friends, I choose to embrace my bitterness with both hands. Penny Dreadful deserved better. Let's talk about these last two episodes!

The main thing you need to know is it all ended with this title card, so if there was any question as to whether this series would be coming back for a fourth season, this put that to bed immediately. Is it even worth lamenting why Showtime would seemingly cut the season short and then unceremoniously dump the series finale without advertising it as such? Was getting Ray Donovan back on the schedule such a huge priority? Grumble grumble, etc. Anyway! (Still grateful to Showtime for greenlighting this thing in the first place.)

The first half of our two-parter began with several shots of poisonous fog flooding London. As we later learned, it was literally toxic and had killed several thousand citizens already. So, Vanessa's (Eva Green) prophecies were true: Permanent night, air as pestilence, jerks eating live frogs in their boss' office:

Ugh, Renfield (Samuel Barnett) is disgusting. This was what Patti LuPone walked in on. Some weirdo listening to all her audiotapes and eating live frogs! That is grounds for firing in my opinion.

But then again, Renfield WAS doing her an act of kindness by helping get rid of these things. They were popping up from every drain pipe!

Honestly, the one flaw of Magnolia was that next to no characters ever picked up a frog and ate it. Hopefully the inevitable Magnolia reboot (original soundtrack by Ariana Grande) will address this.

So then the boys finally arrived back in London and they IMMEDIATELY missed America. Like, London was literally poisonous now, and a stampede of rats greeted their feet. The London tourism board was really going to have their work cut out for them.

When they all arrived back at Sir Malcolm's (Timothy Dalton) pad they were greeted with a number of annoyances. First of all, someone had hung a slaughtered wolf above Vanessa's bed. (Ugh, vampires love dumb symbolism apparently.)

Also, the house had been overrun by night creeps! Fortunately Catriona (Perdita Weeks) showed up and shot a lot of them. Who WAS this lady? She's a new character and instantly great, but whoops! The series is over now. We'll never learn more about her. (Frown.)

One of the vampire creeps managed to bite Sir Malcolm on the throat and he immediately was like, "Well, time for suicide." But Cat grabbed a fire poker and burned the vampirism out of him. It didn't feel great, but it did the trick. Sort of like a back-alley massage. I'm guessing.

Then things got sadder. John (Rory Kinnear) was trying to enjoy a nice meal of, like, a bean, with his poor family and every time he tried to make plans with his son to do fun stuff, the son just coughed blood everywhere. Kids never listen.

I liked a few episodes back when John started robbing rich old men in order to support his family, but we haven't seen him do that in a while. Maybe he lost his nerve, who knows. Either way, his son looked like sh*t and that is just bad parenting.

Now that Dorian (Reeve Carney) had fully sold Lily (Billie Piper) out to go get her brain damaged, he had no use for the whore-horde (whorde) hanging out in his dining room. He let them keep their frocks but he truly needed them to GTFO please.

But Justine (Jessica Barden) is a feisty one, so she went and playfully stabbed him. Dorian might be immortal, but he does not tend to love grievous bodily harm.

At this point Justine refused to leave, stating that she'd rather die here than have to go be a hooker again. (Were there only two options?) So Dorian kissed her and then snapped her neck, and it was sad and kind of pointless and it was the first time this season started to feel like it was just wasting opportunities that it had painstakingly set up. Rest in peace, babygirl.

So, now it was time for Victor (Harry Treadaway) to finally inject electric poison into Lily's brain so that she'll be his chill, mindless girlfriend again.

But that's when Lily decided to enlighten him on the time she used to have a daughter, and how one time a john knocked her unconscious and her baby froze to death in the night. It was not a very fun story, but it was enough to convince Victor that he had been truly a piece of garbage for this. He ended up unlocking her shackles, and she kissed him goodbye. So ended another in-retrospect pointless subplot.

Things got pretty fun when Ethan (Josh Hartnett) attempted to track Vanessa back to the vampire lair (she was now Dracula's girlfriend, remember?) and got attacked by Dracula (Christian Camargo) and his stooges. But what they didn't expect was that he suddenly turned into a wild dog and ate most of them!

But then, what ETHAN didn't expect was that another wolf man ran up and helped out!

It was Wes Studi! He was a wolf man also. (But his hair got long for some reason; it looked chic and ponytail-capable.)

Just a couple of wolf men, hanging out and growling at each other. A real wolf-a-palooza.

The second episode began with word spreading of Vanessa's friends seeking to find her. Dracula seemed slightly concerned about this, but guess who wasn't?

Vanessa! I liked that they had a definite Gomez and Morticia thing going on. Anyway, she seemed ready and willing to ditch her friends and stay with Dracula forever, so this was going to be a heartbreaker of a showdown if we're being quite honest.

At this point Wes Studi admitted that HE had been the one who turned Ethan into a wolf man back in the day. He did it because he wanted Ethan to be the one to become God's dog or whatever the prophecy foretold. Ethan wasn't super stoked about this, on account of the fact that he had mass murdered much of the civilized world by now. Outside of maybe presidential candidates, nobody willingly signs up for something like that, you know?

Speaking of a plotline and character that ultimately didn't really go anywhere: Dorian Gray! In his final scene, he just sort of talked about being lonely and immortal and jaded, and then when Lily decided to leave he was like "You'll be back." No she won't! Just ask Showtime.

Oh well. They were a fun couple while it lasted.

Oh man, this was dumb. Why even introduce Dr. Jekyll (Shazad Latif) if he never becomes Mr. Hyde? In this case on his way out, Dr. Jekyll casually mentioned that his dad died and he inherited the name Lord Hyde. Uhhhh okay. That's not really how that story worked, but whatever. Get out of here, you useless sidekick.

At least Patti LuPone got a great final episode out of it. Here she was hypnotizing Renfield into divulging where Vanessa had been hiding out. Renfield is a creep and an idiot, so it took barely any time at all for her to suss out that Dracula had been hiding out in an old condemned slaughterhouse. At first I laughed because they probably should've just immediately checked all the condemned slaughterhouses to begin with. But then I realized that this version of London probably had millions of condemned slaughterhouses. So yeah, hypnosis it was.

So then John's son finally hacked out his final blood clot and died, and do you know what John's wife then suggested? That John go take the dead child to Dr. Frankenstein's office and resurrect him into a pale-faced abomination ASAP!

John did not love this idea (probably because he didn't want to have to share his expensive goth makeup), but when his wife threatened to divorce him, he had to think it over. Decisions, decisions.

Things then got VERY fun when the entire gang rolled into that slaughterhouse and started murdering night creeps for days.

Like, seriously, so much carnage. Patti LuPone was up in the mix shooting creeps in the face. Cat was running up poles and stabbing everybody. Man, what a good time. No wonder Victor just blindly agreed to tag along for no reason. Who doesn't love a creep slaughter?

But while that was happening, Ethan went to go look for Vanessa. And he found her just sort of hanging out in a dramatically candle-lit room. Dracula wasn't there because he was busy standing on a balcony watching all his friends get killed. Which meant Vanessa and Ethan were able to enjoy one final convo.

You know, for a show that has been about Vanessa finding the strength within herself to keep dark forces at bay, it sure is a shame that this saga ended with her utterly failing to save herself or stop the bad guys. She just sort of became Dracula's girlfriend, and then her only solution to get out of it was to allow Ethan to shoot her. That's not only dark, that's very unsatisfying.

Anyway, they said one last Our Father and then suddenly Vanessa was dead. And what kind of effect did this have?

The sun came out. Dracula just sort of snuck off. I'm not sure if frogs were still coming out of the toilets, but at least that sun came out. So our protagonist's death wasn't TOTALLY pointless.

We were then treated to a series of denouements, the first of which had Ethan and Sir Malcolm hanging out in Vanessa's old bedroom and promising to become travel buddies. (Or Whatever.) Good for them?

Also, John opted not to resurrect his son, and instead dumped his corpse into a polluted river. But, you know, tastefully.

And to finish off an otherwise delightful day, John swung by Vanessa's freshly dug grave and just sort of stared at her tombstone like, "Wait, what happened?" Or maybe that's just how I was feeling.
Friends, Penny Dreadful was a truly wonderful, inspired, audacious television show. I wasn't super in love with this finale, mostly because it seemed to have been forced into a "series finale" late in the game and rendered much of the earlier season setups pointless. It also didn't do justice to the characters in my opinion. But every single frame was a pleasure to behold and we are still so lucky to have had Eva Green on our TV screens week in and week out. Showtime may not have known what it was getting itself into (and I shudder to think about the budgetary spreadsheets involved) but I am so grateful it ever existed. This season as in the previous ones, Penny Dreadful felt like a secret. A macabre, beautiful, poetic secret. I shall miss it dearly.
Okay thanks bye.
... Did you find the series finale satisfying? - No it seemed abrupt
... Did Vanessa deserve a more heroic death? - May'be  no't sh'e ha'd a g'ood run
... Are you disappointed we never met a proper Mr. Hyde?- Nope
... Will Ethan ever find love now? - Yes and sh'e will die

Friday, July 01, 2016

MIRROR (by Sylvia plath)


I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful ‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit explained

The song the end was just amazing

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How the B in BRICS just fell off the radar

Washington post article on the failure of the rising Brasilian economy and the challenges it faces leading upto the olympics by Nick miroff and Dom philips

BRASILIA — It was called the “Brazil model,” or simply “the Lula model,” back when this country’s economy was roaring and its president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was a superstar of the developing world. By balancing support for big business with big social-welfare programs, the union boss turned statesman presided over an era of growth that lifted tens of millions of Brazilians out of poverty. Lula’s presidency cut a new template for a Latin American left that had long insisted that class struggle and revolution were the only road to fairness. The coronation came when Brazil was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, confirming its rise as a global power. 

President Lula

Now Brazil is limping to the Games. Its economy is facing its worst crisis since the 1930s. A Zika virus epidemic rages. And on Sunday, lawmakers will vote on whether to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, Lula’s hand-picked successor. Their three-day debate opened Friday with Rousseff opponents shouting “Dilma out!” in raucous proceedings. [Zika’s terrifying path]

 “We are in an extraordinary situation,” said Otaviano Canuto, the top International Monetary Fund official for Brazil, in an interview. “And it is even more extraordinary because the political dynamic overshadows everything else.” Supporters and opponents of the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff protest in Brazil 

Brazilians take to the streets as lawmakers weigh whether to impeach the president. If two-thirds of the lower house votes to remove Rousseff and a similar measure clears the upper chamber, Rousseff will be suspended. Senators will then have 180 days to conduct hearings, raising the possibility that while the world’s elite athletes are jumping, diving and racing for Olympic glory, lawmakers will be conducting impeachment proceedings against the president on live television. The plunge that Rousseff and the country have taken has laid bare the frailty of Brazil’s commodity-driven growth. Big parts of the Brazil model, it turns out, were glued together with kickbacks, dirty money and lies. Rousseff is not accused of illegal personal enrichment but of improperly using money from government banks to cover budget gaps. A separate inquiry is examining whether her Workers’ Party benefited from an illegal campaign-finance scheme, which could lead to an annulment of her victory and force new elections. [As Lula faces charges, a divided Brazil wonders: What’s next?] 

Rousseff and her supporters, Lula chief among them, have likened the impeachment push to a slow-rolling political “coup,” a loaded term in a country that lived under military rule between 1964 and 1985. Yet there is little doubt that Rousseff would not be facing the mutiny if she were not so politically weak, with an approval rating of 13 percent. The country is facing a 3.8 percent economic contraction for the second year in a row. In a telling sign of how investors and business leaders view the president’s economic policies, every step that takes her closer to impeachment seems to bring a rally on Brazil’s stock market. “She’s a bad manager, and she’s behaved irresponsibly,” said Eduardo Mufarej, chief executive of a 5,000-employee company that makes educational materials for private schools. Vote to impeach Brazil's Rousseff moves one step closer Play Video1:10 Committee members in Brazil's lower house of Congress voted to recommend impeaching President Dilma Rousseff by a vote of 38 to 27, sending it to the full lower house for a vote on April 17, 2016. Rousseff faces charges of breaking budget laws to support her reelection in 2014. (Reuters)

Enrollment in the private school system was 7.8 million students in 2014, but since then, nearly a million students have gone back to the public system because their parents no longer can afford tuition, Mufarej said. The Lula approach Lula grew up poor and never finished high school, but his masterstroke as leader was speaking like a populist while governing as a pragmatist. He put conservative bankers in his cabinet and did not attack business leaders or the United States. It was a marked contrast to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who stood for the more confrontational version of Latin American leftism. Latin America had been simmering with ideological tensions for decades, and Brazil was no different, with an elite walled off from a huge underclass living in squalor. Lula, who was elected in 2002, worked diligently to build political consensus. He dramatically expanded a program known as Bolsa Família that provided welfare payments to families whose children showed up for classes consistently and got their scheduled vaccinations, and it became the signature social program of his presidency. With the economy humming from a global commodity boom and Lula’s government passing the pie around, more than 30 million poor Brazilians found a foothold in a new, aspiring middle class

Lula left office in 2010 with an 87 percent approval rating, so high that President Obama called him “the most popular politician on Earth,” telling reporters: “I love that guy.” The riches flowing from Brazil’s mines, oil fields and farms fueled a consumer spending binge, but they patched over the structural problems that made Brazil a creaky, onerous place to do business. A privatization plan to build much-needed roads and railways faltered. Productivity remained low because the workforce was badly trained and poorly educated. Companies wasted thousands of hours deciphering a greedy tax system. And all the while, the old way of making deals — lubricating them with graft — went unchanged. Big construction and energy companies grew fat on state contracts and government loans under Lula and Rousseff, and the opportunities for illegal enrichment were infinite. Slush money poured into political campaigns. The dirt from those years is now being unearthed by a hard-charging team of prosecutors and a tough lower-court federal judge, Sérgio Moro, who is overseeing the investigation of a bribery scheme at national oil company Petrobras. Through wiretaps, raids, arrests and plea deals, the probe has exposed spider webs of corruption throughout Brazil’s elite. [Brazil’s economy tanks as multibillion-dollar corruption scandal expands] At least 130 people, including company executives, former lawmakers and others in the pay-to-play scheme have been jailed at one point or another. Nearly two-thirds of federal lawmakers are undergoing some form of investigation or legal probe. Rousseff lacks her predecessor’s back-slapping personal touch, and critics say she has governed rigidly and intervened in the economy with disastrous results. That criticism extends to her 2012 decision to force power companies to slash electricity rates. As the boom years ended, “a combination of mistakes created a crisis of confidence” in her leadership, said Rafael Cortez, a political analyst at the Sao Paulo consulting firm Tendências. If lawmakers vote to remove her, she would be replaced by Vice President Michel Temer, her former running mate turned political enemy. Known for his flashy suits and slicked-back hair, he also has been named in the Petrobras inquiry and is potentially facing his own impeachment process. [Hundreds of thousands protest throughout Brazil] Next in line is lower-house leader Eduardo Cunha, the figure leading the drive to oust Rousseff. He also happens to be under investigation on suspicion of money laundering, corruption and allegedly funneling $5 million in kickbacks into Swiss bank accounts. In all, federal police think as much as $12 billion was siphoned from Petrobras, once one of the world’s mightiest oil companies. Much of the affair has come to light through the “Car Wash” investigation, which has reached all the way to Lula. Brazilians were shocked last month to see him taken in for questioning by federal police amid allegations that he received properties and other gifts from former government contractors. Rousseff tried to appoint Lula to her cabinet as chief of staff, a move that would afford him broad legal protections, but a judge blocked the attempt, opening yet another courtroom battle. With both sides digging political trenches, anger has surged in a famously easygoing country whose unofficial national symbol is a beach sandal. “I don’t remember another moment in Brazilian history when passions were as visceral as they are now,”said Ricardo Boechat, a popular radio and television commentator. “Not even during the military dictatorship.” A symbol of polarization With the expectation of large pro- and anti- demonstrations outside Brazil’s Congress during the impeachment vote, prison laborers were brought into the capital last week to put up a separation barrier between the two sides. The structure was the most poignant symbol yet of Brazilians’ polarization. It has become something of a cliche to say that Brazil will inevitably emerge stronger from the corruption investigations and the political bonfire they have lit. Another possibility is that the damage will be so extensive that the country and its politicians will languish in scandal and cynicism for years. [Brazil’s new hero is a nerdy judge who is tough on official corruption]

 No single figure has emerged as a strong, corruption-free alternative to Brazil’s current leaders. Lula would be eligible to run again in 2018 and has all but said he plans to do so, meaning he could soon be back in power — if he does not end up in prison for corruption. He remains popular among Brazilians who remember his presidency as the best years of their lives. WorldViews newsletter Important stories from around the world. “This whole crisis is about the possibility that Lula will run again in 2018,” said Wagner Santana, secretary general of the metalworkers union where Lula was president in the late 1970s before going on to found the Workers’ Party. Santana sees the anti-corruption drive as a witch hunt and the impeachment attempt against Rousseff as a naked power grab. But many Brazilians, including quite a few who once cheered Lula, are fed up. Santana’s office at the union’s shiny headquarters on the industrial outskirts of Sao Paulo looks out on new condominium towers that sprouted during the boom, but also the slums that have grown with the crisis. Between them is a massive Volkswagen plant, the largest in South America, where many of the union’s rank and file are employed. The plant has the capacity to produce 390,000 cars a year, Santana said. This year, it will make fewer than half that number,