Just Landed

An Outsider’s Perspective From The Inside

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Pricing Win

Posted by anandrr on August 27, 2009

You can buy 1 of these for $3, or you can buy 15 of them for $42$45…$48. Are those your giant sized balls of steel, or are you just happy to see me?

Pricing Win!

Tsuya 1pcs US$ 3, Tsuya 15 pcs US$ 48

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Posted in Business, Capitalism, Incentives, wtf | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Annals of Error Reporting

Posted by anandrr on August 26, 2009

This has to be a wonderful new addition to the mostly ugly error reports created by software. Any time software admits to being embarrassed is a good time.

Firefox Error Message

Posted in Geek Talk | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Explaining Humpty Dumpty

Posted by anandrr on August 25, 2009

Today’s Hindu performs yeoman service by explaining to us the meaning of Humpty Dumpty as in the sentence,

The turmoil and discontent in the Bharatiya Janata Party deepened further on Monday as Arun Shourie, senior leader and MP, made an all-out attack on party president Rajnath Singh, calling him “Alice in Blunderland” and describing the party leadership as “Humpty Dumpty.”

Most newspapers would have left that there. Not Neena Vyas. Using that expensive education to good effect, she explains:

The reference to “Humpty Dumpty” was from Through the Looking-Glass, a sequel by Lewis Carroll to Alice in Wonderland. Just as Alice expected Humpty Dumpty to fall at any time, in the BJP, almost at all levels, leaders are expecting the “fall” of Mr. Rajnath Singh, whose tenure comes to an end in January 2010.

One might conclude that:

  1. The readers of The Hindu need to be explained references to Humpty Dumpty. They can read a newspaper that casually uses words like “turmoil” and “discontent,” but find themselves stumped with the most elementary nursery rhyme reference
  2. Neena Vyas used the most elementary trick in the high school student’s book  of filling up the paragraphs when on deadline.

One wonders why she didn’t go on to tell us that Mr Shourie smiled like a Cheshire cat throughout the interview.

Posted in Funny, Media, Newspapers | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

In Which The Ever Expanding Blandings Media Empire Expands Just That Bit More

Posted by anandrr on August 3, 2009

The Pelican Club is live and blogging. We recommend it highly.

Posted in Advertising | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft – Yahoo: Thoughts

Posted by anandrr on July 31, 2009

My first thought on Microsoft-Yahoo was that Yahoo seemed to have gotten the worse end of the deal. They seemed to have ceded search to Microsoft, got little to no revenue upside but certainly boosted their bottom line. Indeed Lex at the FT seems to agree. Negotiating with no leverage is a bitch. But having slept over it, I am beginning to see why Yahoo had to do what they did.

When I think about Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, they seem to have fundamentally different business foci, Microsoft and Google on one side and Yahoo on the other. Google focuses on helping consumers find what they want. In the process if advertisers have to be inconvenienced, so be it. It’s a curious business that doesn’t mind pissing off the people who pay the bills, but Google does it. This is why the Google marketplace and the Google algorithms have to be opaque, transparency would tilt the balance between the advertiser and the consumer and Google can have none of it. Microsoft is like Google in many ways. They are relatively new to advertising-based business models and would be quite happy to take the side of consumers over advertisers, it is individual consumers who helped them build their core business anyway.

Yahoo is in a different place. While they started out as a Google-like company, the downturn of 2001 forced them to think more about their advertisers. Cash was in short supply and so Yahoo changed the way they thought about their business and ensured that they were as advertiser-friendly as they could be. This worked wonders for Yahoo and they emerged from the downturn looking better than the rest of the dot-coms. The Overture search marketplace was a perfect match for them, it rewarded advertisers willing to pay the most and didn’t consider relevance, advertiser quality or any other metric that Google adds to their auction mix. But of course that made Yahoo search a terrible business, search cannot be won unless you have a consumer focus, in this way it is different from other publishing.

When a consumer searches for a car, she would hate it if the results included advertisements for Tylenol. It wouldn’t matter that Tylenol had research that revealed that 80% of all car-buyers needed a Tylenol within a day of commencing their search. But this does not apply to a page on autos.yahoo.com. Yahoo can show any banner/display ads it wants on those pages so long as the ads perform well for the advertiser and the advertiser is willing to pay for the impression. Yahoo does not risk alienating its consumers by showing irrelevant ads alongside its content (so long as the ads are not objectionable in content or overwhelming in number). So long as Yahoo owned and operated a search advertising exchange, they were in constant internal conflict, the search exchange required Yahoo to prefer its consumers over its advertisers, the advertising business side required Yahoo to prefer its advertisers. This could not hold.

The current deal breaks the dichotomy for Yahoo. All of Yahoo can now focus on helping their customers get the best advertising deal on the Internet across search, display and any other platforms that Yahoo is/will be on. By jettisonning the exchange, Yahoo’s sales team is free to treat the search exchange as just another platform on which clicks and impressions may be bought and consumer data may be gathered. They can even help their customers integrate their display purchase with advertiser click-streams driven from, gasp, Google.

It is in this way that what appears to be a financially weak deal for Yahoo could turn out to be a strategically great deal.

Next up: Google is attempting to create an advertiser-focused exchange on Doubleclick. Our new-found theory indicates that this cannot be the roaring success that it could be, Google will be as internally conflicted as Yahoo was. Yahoo will win that battle with Rightmedia on its side.

Posted in Advertising, Business, Incentives, Internet | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

New Yorker Moment of Zen

Posted by anandrr on June 3, 2009

How better to ensure that your quote gets published in the New Yorker than, 6 months after the end of the Bush administration, to get a random dig in about him? Elizabeth Kolbert writes about the mass extinction of animals around us and is talking to Al Hicks about what was happening to bats in the northeast US:

… dead bats everywhere … animals looked as if they had been dunked … in talcum powder … [sent] the photographs to … bat specialists … [n]one of them could explain it…

So far so good. But then Al Hicks gets into gear, almost immediately:

“We were thinking, Oh boy we hope this just goes away,” he told me, “It was like the Bush administration. And, like the Bush administration, it just wouldn’t go away”

What the hell? I hated the Bush administration as much as the next guy, but isn’t it a little late to be getting in gratuitous digs? But all that aside, I do highly recommend the article itself, like every Kolbert article in recent memory, she does a wonderful job of writing about the very real impact that humans have, inadvertently or otherwise, on the ecology around us. Unfortunately online access to the article for subscribers only, the rest of you have to buy the paper version or ask a friend for a photocopy.

Of course, if, like some people I know, you hate the New Yorker length essays and would rather read the Economist’s shorter edition just wait another 50 years or so at which point all the extinction will raise them out of their conservative slumber and write a quick page and a half wringing their hands about the situation and decrying the absence of free market rhetoric in the proposed solutions. Mission Accomplished!

Posted in Funny, Uncategorized, wtf | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AM Radio Moment of Zen

Posted by anandrr on June 2, 2009

Every now and then, I have what Jon Stewart terms a moment of zen. Herewith the first in an occasional series. This was heard on my local right-wing AM radio station on my drive home yesterday. Paraphrasing:

You know that previous caller who compared Dr Tiller’s murder with Muslims killing our soldiers…he needs to realize that Dr Tiller was going to hell anyway whereas many of the soldiers are not, so there’s a real difference there.

One can only imagine Johnnie Cochran tweeting:

If the victim had a date with Say-tan

You must acquit this man.

Posted in Funny, wtf | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Film Review: Star Trek

Posted by anandrr on June 2, 2009

I had the misfortune to watch the new Star Trek flick over the weekend. Normally I would write a long essay on the many ways I didn’t like it. Works as a camp movie, but not as a good movie. But why waste precious pixels when Antony Lane has already covered it all in the New Yorker? The bit about not wanting to have my hero origin myths explained to me was particularly on-point.

Posted in Films, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Film Review: Anvil

Posted by anandrr on May 11, 2009

I watched Anvil over the weekend. Going into the movie, I had not heard about the rock band, and had no idea what the movie was about. Only the sub-head on the marquee gave me any idea what I was getting into. “This is not Spinal Tap,” it read. But as the movie opened to shots from a rock festival held in Tokyo in the mid-80s where the performers included the Scorpions, Metallica and Anthrax all of whom went on to sell millions of records and also Anvil which went on to oblivion, and then moved to interviews with Lars Ulrich from Metallica telling us how the sound of Anvil was the best sound he’d ever heard and Slash telling us that Anvil practically invented metal, it was hard not to imagine that far from not being Spinal Tap, I had indeed walked into a This is Spinal Tap tribute, another mockumentary only this time the band recedes into oblivion instead of making it big. It only gets worse from here: the drummer is called Robb Reiner, and the equipment that their album is being recorded on has dials that go to eleven. Could I be faulted for thinking that this was not a documentary but a work of fiction?

The story picks up in the present where the principals behind Anvil, Robb Reiner and the lead singer Lips Kudlow (both Canadian Jews one of them with an Auschwitz history concerning his grandfather), are consigned to the dustbin of metal history, both of them in their 50s, the former involved in manual labour of some kind with power tools, the latter a catering service delivery man. They have been together for 30+ years, and still meet to rock together. The documentary follows their story arc over the next few months, and the comparisons to Spinal Tap don’t end. The band goes on a tour of Europe, and their manager can never manage to book their tickets, or get to the railway station on time, or even get to the gig in time. On the tour, they play to a lone rocker sitting in a lazy-boy and banging his head, to a meager 170-odd audience in a venue that can hold a couple thousand, and wait eagerly back-stage to meet with Ted Nugent. Eventually the manager marries one of the band members (and we’re told at the end of the movie is now arranging a tour of the Scorpions and wishes to move on to the opera). But throughout, Kudlow stays optimistic. He throws out such Zen as, “at least there was a tour for things to go wrong on,” and, “at the end of the day after all has been said and done, I can say that all has been said and done.”

And it is that which makes Anvil so likeable and human. Both Reiner and Kudlow have been together for a long time. They agreed when they met as teenagers to keep rocking, and they do keep rocking. They are supported (financially and otherwise) by family most of whom also want them to finally make it big, they are devoted family men, sometimes rockers have to play badminton in the backyard with their little children too you know.

Sacha Gervasi who made the documentary has made a masterpiece of a documentary. You might go in not caring for rock or metal, you might even go in thinking Anvil is a poor poor band, in no way comparable to Slayer or Anthrax, or what have you, but even the most hard hearted person will melt a little by the end. As I read a little about Gervasi, it was quickly obvious where his empathy for the underdog comes from: Gervasi started his career as a musician, he founded a band with his friend, then left it because he thought they had no talent, his band then renamed itself to … Bush, he then became a screen writer and turned down a Warner Bros opportunity to adapt a screen play about a young wizard named … Harry Potter.

But in a real life documentary, there can be no redemption. Life sucks. And Anvil’s does too. The tour of Europe is a disaster. An album is recorded, nobody will distribute it, many days will be spent meeting with record execs and such, but a 50+ year old rocker is an old rocker, whichever way you cut it. The film reaches its slow climax when a tour opportunity arises in Japan butwhen they get to the Tokyo venue, the scene of their last big success 20+ years ago, their show is scheduled for 11:30 in the morning. Will anyone come to a metal show at 11:30 am? We know what the answer would have been if this were a Hollywood fantasy, but how will it play out in real life? We also know that Kudlow won’t much mind either way, but we want him to succeed, we want to will the Japanese to show up for their act.

And ultimately that is why this documentary wins. Two old rockers, their long hair barely covering their bald spots, leading sad lives, and yet continuing to live the dream, and as it happens, still making good music, and we care about them. We want the dream to succeed. This is probably the best documentary you will watch this year. Which means that with Kanchivaram earlier this year, I should probably stop watching movies altogether for the year.

Posted in Films, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Like A Rock

Posted by anandrr on May 11, 2009

Like a virgin
Touched for the very first time

— Madonna, Like a Virgin

Mr Pink: “Like a Virgin” is all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick. The whole song is a metaphor for big dicks.
Mr Blue: No it’s not. It’s about a girl who is very vulnerable and she’s been fucked over a few times. Then she meets some guy who’s really sensitive–
Mr Pink: –Whoa…whoa…time out Greenbay. Tell that bullshit to the tourists.
Joe: (looking through his address book) Toby…who the fuck is Toby? Toby…Toby…think…think…think…
Mr Pink: It’s not about a nice girl who meets a sensitive boy. Now granted that’s what “True Blue” is about, no argument about that.
Mr Orange: Which one is “True Blue?”
Nice Guy Eddie: You don’t remember “True Blue?” That was a big ass hit for Madonna. Shit, I don’t even follow this Tops In Pops shit, and I’ve at least heard of “True Blue.”
Mr Orange: Look, asshole, I didn’t say I ain’t heard of it. All I asked was how does it go? Excuse me for not being the world’s biggest Madonna fan.
Mr Brown: I hate Madonna.
Mr Blue: I like her early stuff. You know, “Lucky Star,” “Borderline” – but once she got into her “Papa Don’t Preach” phase, I don’t know, I tuned out.
Mr Pink: Hey, fuck all that, I’m making a point here. You’re gonna make me lose my train of thought.
Joe: Oh fuck, Toby’s that little china girl.
Mr White: What’s that?
Joe: I found this old address book in a jacket I ain’t worn in a coon’s age. Toby what? What the fuck was her last name?
Mr Pink: Where was I?
Mr Orange: You said “True Blue” was about a nice girl who finds a sensitive fella. But “Like a Virgin” was a metaphor for big dicks.
Mr Pink: Let me tell ya what “Like a Virgin”‘s about. It’s about some cooze who’s a regular fuck machine. I mean all the time, morning, day, night, afternoon, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.
Mr Blue: How many dicks was that?
Mr White: A lot.
Mr Pink: Then one day she meets a John Holmes motherfucker, and it’s like, whoa baby. This mother fucker’s like Charles Bronson in “The Great Escape.” He’s diggin tunnels. Now she’s gettin this serious dick action, she’s feelin something she ain’t felt since forever. Pain.
Joe: Chew? Toby Chew? No.
Mr Pink: It hurts. It hurts her. It shouldn’t hurt. Her pussy should be Bubble-Yum by now. But when this cat fucks her, it hurts. It hurts like the first time. The pain is reminding a fuck machine what is was like to be a virgin. Hence, “Like a Virgin.”

— Opening Scene, Reservoir Dogs

I was doing a brief tour of Indian mythology the other day and was reminded of the story of Ahalya. Ahalya, wife of Gautama the rishi, was supposedly the most beautiful woman of her time (hence the name). But presumably not entirely happy with her relationship with a mere rishi, she promptly fell for the seductions of Lord Indra, the chief of the Devas. Gautama on his discovery of this infidelity, got so enraged he turned Ahalya into a rock, and cursed Indra to have a thousand vaginas all over his body. Ahalya was released from her curse when Lord Rama stumbled on her during his teenage expedition with his brother Laxmana and the sage Vishwamitra.

As I was thinking of this story, the arc of Ahalya from promiscuity to frigidity and then back to life on being touched by Lord Rama, the curse of Indra to be covered by a thousand vaginas (for some reason I had once thought a thousand penises, which gives “Dick, dick, dick, dick…” a whole new meaning) all of this indicates to me that perhaps Quentin Tarantino missed the real meaning of Like a Virgin.

Posted in Culture, Films, Funny, Sexuality, Showbiz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »