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## Archive for February, 2010

February 24th, 2010

## A New Financial Model for YouTube

I posted a new financial model for YouTube in my software blog.

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February 20th, 2010

## Lack of Fairness in News Media

From calling killers “terrorists” in London, and “gunmen” in Mumbai (British Biased Corporation), to something as simple as a recent news story on AFP: India restaurant bombing toll ‘rises to 12′ (note the quotes), lack of fairness exists at many levels in news media.

Here is how the story extends:

“The death toll from a blast that ripped through a packed restaurant last weekend in western India, which was claimed by a previously unknown Islamist group has risen to 12, a report said Saturday.”

A little later it says: “The latest fatality was a 26-year-old Sudanese student, Amjad Elgazoli, who was studying at college in Pune…”

So, my question – what part of the title made the editor so nervous that he had to put the toll in quotes? What part of the news report was debatable or not solemn enough to justify adding some quotes?

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February 18th, 2010

## Free accidental health insurance = Free advertising for insurer

Everyone gets these kinds of annoying offers all the time, so let us dissect one of them:

Dear xxxx,

Bank of America will pay for you to receive \$1,000* of Accidental Death Insurance for one full year at no cost to you………

Realizing that \$1,000* may not enough…. bank is happy to make available to you an insurance underwritten by Monumental Life Insurance Company of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Signed,
Vice President of North America

This is one of the oldest tricks in the game. Give something free, so you don’t have to call what you are doing advertising. But it is advertising nevertheless, if what you are giving away is of so low a value! How low is the value of this free offer? Let us do some math:

As per their own letter – \$10,000 of coverage costs \$1.24 per month, and \$100,000 costs \$12.40 per month. The relationship being linear, we can deduce that \$1,000 of coverage costs \$0.124 per month – which is a whopping \$1.488 for the entire year. Really, you are shelling out a buck fifty for me, and reminding me of my mortality. Thanks.

That \$1.50 is WAY lower than the customer acquisition cost that an insurance company is paying, if considered in competition with other forms of pure advertising – print/radio/TV/referral etc. And the best part is, this is all positioned as a free offer, not as advertising. Makes full economics sense to me, even though it is REALLY annoying.

February 14th, 2010

## PS: Elements of metafiction in Steppenwolf

Hesse slides in somethings with such subtlety that you can easily miss them, and you don’t want to blame him for that (Ha!). For you believe in the truest of your heart that he meant no guile in you missing that point – this isn’t a master story teller running a suspense job, but a fair person having a fair conversation.

The said element of interest here is metafiction. In the extended stage setting preface, the narrator describes Haller and then laments that he got too carried away in the description, and ended up disclosing more than he wanted to the reader, thus, subtly confessing to the reader that there is a reader and there is a writer, and such is the frankness and the directness of the communication between them that the writer is not willing to go back and tear away a page which he has written contrary to his plan. To quote Haller’s words from a bit later, “Is that not witty?”.

This reminds me of frequently written “PS” note in an email. Of course it was very meaningful in the olden paper times – if you thought of something after writing (post script) the main portion, it was easier to address the additional thought as a post script rather than rewriting. In electronic times, its utility is more doubtful, so it is almost never seen in electronic documents, but occasionally makes its appearance in emails. Now, if the sender thought of something before sending it, why don’t they go ahead and change the content anyway, rather than using a PS construct? Or perhaps the sender means it as “Post Sending”? The answer clearly lies in a metafictional sense as well – the sender of the email would really like to convey that this additional point is merely a PS, perhaps in an attempt to deemphasize it, even if it is the most important point the writer makes.

February 9th, 2010

## Beautiful Kiev!

With 30 inches of snow outside, I am really missing thinking about some summer days. I spent beautiful 2 days in Kiev this past summer, and I can honestly say that Kiev is one of the hidden gems of Europe, if it is hidden at all. From my very short stay there, I felt that the number of things to see there exceeds that from many other cities, and thus Kiev should really be on most tourists’ plans.

Here are some of the sites in Kiev that I enjoyed the most.

1. St. Andrew’s Church
This absolutely beautiful church from the middle 18th century is located on top of a steep hill on a lane bustling with hundreds of souvenir shops and thousands of tourists. As you walk up the hill, you are treated to this absolute gem.

The church was designed by Rastrelli.

The inside of the church is very beautiful as well, although my camera didn’t take as nice a pictures in the dark as it takes outside.

2. Kiev Pechersk Lavra and Sv. Sophia Cathedral
This must be the largest set of churches, perhaps outside of the Vatican. The original cave church was built in 1015, so one thousand years of this breath taking building must be coming up.

3. Just hanging out in the city center
The Kiev city center is a very nice area as well. Really pretty, and absolutely perfect for people watching. If you have weeks in Kiev, you can spend days in the center. This area is around the Khreshchatyk and Maidan Nezalezhnosti metro stops. There are many cafes and restaurants up and down. There is an underground shopping area as well, which for no good reason really reminded me of Shanghai.

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February 6th, 2010

## No Axe To Grind

Hesse remains my favorite author of all times. Here is one of the many lines from his writings that put me in an immediate trance.

“He had thought more than other men, and in matters of intellect, he had that calm objectivity,that certainty of thought and knowledge, such as only really intellectual men have, who have no axe to grind, who never wish to shine, or to talk others down, or to appear always in the right.”

From Hesse’s Steppenwolf
- page 9.

February 5th, 2010

## When you are far from me

[This is a poem translated from a Bollywood song - video link at the end. All credit to the music writer and director. The song is a duet, hence pink and blue colors.]

When you are far from me
Remember me
And make me remember you

Don’t forget

That I will come back
I am going just for a little while

When you are far from me

Remember me

And make me remember you

When you are alone, it shouldn’t be like that
The beautiful smile that you wear now

Shouldn’t disappear when I am gone

Laugh with them and make them laugh a bit

If you meet a good looking girl

Perhaps she is in need of your friendship
If she approaches and smiles at you
Then really so should you

When you are far from me

Remember me

And make me remember you

But don’t forget

That you will come back

You are going just for a little while

Translated from a song in the movie Mashaal.

February 1st, 2010

## Best scenes in Hollywood

Citylights’ final scene remains one of the best scenes ever produced in Hollywood, in my utmost humble opinion.

Here, take a look:

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