The EFood Land joins the Slow Food community. Another achievement of our company and the EFood Land arrived.

We have joined the Slow Food community and ready to promote our EFood Land products worldwide.

Following, just a short introduction related to the Slow Food organization.

Slow Food is an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking. It was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986 and has since spread worldwide. Promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem. It was the first established part of the broader slow movement. Its goals of sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses are paralleled by a political agenda directed against globalization of agricultural products. At its heart is the aim to promote local foods and traditional gastronomy and food production. Conversely, this means a total opposition to fast food, industrial food production, and globalization. The Slow Food organisation has expanded to include over 100,000 members with branches in over 150 countries.

Slow Food incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:

  • developing an “Ark of Taste“ for each ecoregion, where local culinary traditions and foods are celebrated
  • creating “Praesidia” grassroots organizations to promote slow foods to the public[5]
  • forming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems
  • preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation
  • organizing small-scale processing (including facilities for slaughtering and short run products)
  • organizing celebrations of local cuisine within regions (for example, the Feast of Fields held in some cities in Canada)
  • promoting “taste education”
  • educating consumers about the risks of fast food
  • educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms
  • educating citizens about the risks of monoculture and reliance on too few genomes or varieties
  • developing various political programmes to preserve family farms
  • lobbying for the inclusion of organic farming concerns within agricultural policy
  • lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering
  • lobbying against the use of pesticides
  • teaching gardening skills to students and prisoners
  • encouraging ethical buying in local marketplaces

Founder and President Carlo Petrini, believes “everyone has the right to good, clean, and fair food.”[9]Good, meaning a high-quality product with a flavorful taste, clean meaning the naturalness in the way the product was produced and transported and fair, meaning adequate pricing and treatment for both the consumers and producers

(Wikipedia font)

Overlord Review

Let’s talk about Overlord.

This shouldn’t take too long, but I say that before all of my reviews. But you may know that there is a fine trade in Nazi Zombie B-Movies. These are usually on the SyFy Channel and if you miss them on there, they are the cheap duds you get for a few quid on DVD or On Demand. Then they get to the bottom of Netflix and Amazon Prime when you get really desperate for something to watch. Because they have such a bad reputation, I never thought I’d see a serious attempt at this genre.

But here we are with Overlord, a Nazi Zombie movie with actual money and effort put into it. A group of US soldiers are stuck in Occupied France when their plane crashes and are trying to avoid being caught by German forces. But they soon discover that the nearby church has something far worse than just Nazis. They have Nazi Zombies.

So how does the movie manage to get us to take a Nazi Zombie seriously? Well by sneaking in the fact it’s a Nazi Zombie movie. For the first 30 minutes, you’d have no clue that this had zombies in it. It seems like a fairly standard war movie about whether this band of brothers can get out of Occupied France alive. They are holed up in a house and the Germans are closing in due to their random inspections. For a while, I thought I had misremembered the trailers I saw for this. But then we get a glimpse at the French woman whose hiding the soldiers’ grandma and yep, there she is, all zombified and everything. And crucially, they are never called zombies. They are definitely zombies, they are reanimated bodies trying to kill the living, but the closest they get to a name is when a Nazi calls them the Reich’s 1000 year soldiers.

But crucially, is it any good? Yes, yes it is. This is still schlock and not that scary, but I doubt they intended it to be. After all, it’s a Nazi Zombie movie. You can do it more seriously but I don’t think anyone is ever going to be hiding behind the sofa at this sort of movie. But it does have some tense moments so I’ll give it that. Most of all though, this is a popcorn gore movie. You watch it not because you want to be scared but because you want to see a lot of blood and guts all over the screen. That’s not everyone’s thing and if it isn’t yours, there’s no point in watching. But if you are, you’ll have fun. You’ll appreciate that the vast majority of the gore is done on camera which makes it properly icky and tough to watch for a squeamish fellow like me. Gore movies have never worked in CGI so I hope this provokes a change back to doing things with models and various liquids made to look like blood.

Of course, the characters in the movie are pretty much non-existent, not that I expected them to be anything special. They are all one trait if they get that. Obviously, I’d have preferred if more development was given to the characters but I don’t think you come into this sort of movie expecting that. My major annoyance is that certain traits get forgotten about. The nearest to a lead is Boyce and the one thing we learn about him is that he struggles to kill things, with there even being an anecdote about him not being able to kill a mouse during training. This is never brought up again, even when Boyce has to kill one of the other soldiers when he becomes a zombie because yes that trope is here. It’s a bizarre thing to drop when it could at least add some extra tension to a couple of scenes.

Overlord is schlocky, it is gory, it is about Nazi Zombies in case I haven’t mentioned it yet. But it is also fun. It is fun in the way some of the old Lucio Fulci movies were, because they are so serious it allows you to have all the fun instead. This admittedly is a personal thing as I have started to get sick of movies which try to get in on the joke with you. So if you need a bit of gore to keep you entertained, this one should keep you entertained for a couple of hours.

Hello everyone! Some news from us. – Paymon – Medium

Hello everyone! Some news from us.

As you’ve noticed, there has been no news for the last couple of weeks, and of course we should give you an explanation.

In this message you can find answers to your questions and learn about the nearest future for Paymon.

About the current situation:

We’ve not disappeared anywhere: during these two weeks we have built the nearest strategy and action plan, analyzed the market state and what is our position here.

I would like to say that, of course, this “crypto-winter” doesn’t spare anyone (DASH, Ethereum classic and a lot of other projects), all funds which we collected during the ICO were in the crypto-currency and this affected us after the market fell, but we had reserve some income from the marketing Agency, which, until recently, brought income. Now the market situation is on stagnation and there are almost no solvent customers left, therefore, we are forced to create a new strategy.

Paymon is a product to which we have devoted a lot of time and we are convinced that we have created and continue to create a worthwhile product, and not going to stop developing it.

What’s new:

– We have finalized the idea with Hive and promoting it to the masses.

– Still waiting for confirmation from Apple (the iOS app is ready).

– the Hive test is begining and bugs are also being fixed.

At the moment, we are fully involved in the process of attracting investments, and if you have possible ways out and you could help us — please let us know.

Also we would like to note that we have been discussing the possibility of collaboration with one of the top projects in the crypto industry for several months. If our partnership is confirmed, it will certainly benefit the development of Paymon. So far we are doing our best, believing and waiting.

Unfortunately, now the news will come out a little less often, because:

1. Temporarily we will have to save. 
2. We have to attract investments, and that is why the huge part of the team is on the road.

Thank you for your support and understanding. Paymon does not disappear from the sight, we believe that the difficult times won’t last long and the good days will come.

Thank you for your attention, friends. 
Paymon to the moon!

CEO Paymon, 
Semyon Gleim.

Eight Technologies That Are Transforming Aquaculture

Eight Technologies That Are Transforming Aquaculture | Tech Blog
Life on earth began in the deep blue waters. Our common ancestor, of all the living organisms on this planet, can be…

Life on earth began in the deep blue waters. Our common ancestor, of all the living organisms on this planet, can be traced back to the microbes in the deep sea hydrothermal vents.

From absorption of greenhouse gases by phytoplankton to facilitating the majority of the trade across the world, oceans have been a link to all the living organisms on this planet. So, ensuring the normalcy is not an act of altruism but unfortunately an act of dire necessity. The degradation of coral reefs and the news of dwindling marine stocks have been on the rise.

Like other agricultural industries, the technologies being introduced within aquaculture are the focus of interest from the farming community and its investors. According to AgFunder, aquaculture investment increased 271 percent in 2016 over the previous two years.

While the production of fish as a primary protein source is considerably more efficient than other protein sources such as cattle or pork by as much as six and four times, respectively, on a feed conversion basis, much can still be done to improve production and efficiency in aquaculture. In this blog we’ll be discussing eight technologies that are having a profound impact on aquaculture.


3Dponics is a company that offers downloadable instructions for printing hydroponic systems. Not only could this technology be used by the aquaculture industry to produce hybrid Aquaponic systems, but it could potentially lead to personal at-home aquaculture gardens. Another example of 3D printing in aquaculture is a fish robot printed by MIT that almost perfectly mimics an actual fish’s motions and movements.

A very different aspect of 3D printing involves the production of seaweed. Algae have been used to create an environmentally friendly, inexpensive material in the form of a gel used to 3D print medical implant devices. The production of human tissue and organs is also already on the agenda ‘algae could lead to the next generation of life-saving procedures.’


Fish farms are often cramped conditions that can exacerbate issues such as diseases and parasites, leading to lower yields and higher production costs. A remarkable company that is using this technology to actively sort sick or harmed fish as well as those that are ready for processing is Cermaq.


The future of fish farming could very well lie in giant, autonomous roaming robotic cages, called Aquapods, such as the SeaStation by InnovaSea. The Aquapod is a free-floating fish farm that can accommodate several hundred thousand fish. Norwegian company SINTEF is developing an underwater robot that will be able to examine and repair these nets, providing a safer and more cost-effective way to manage the operation.

Other robotic opportunities in our oceans include SeaVax, which is working to create a large-scale, solar-powered robotic vacuum cleaner that could pick up around 150 tons of plastic from the ocean. OceanOne is a bimanual underwater humanoid that allows for safer underwater exploration. Maritime Robotics and Deep Trekker both provide robotic or unmanned ocean monitoring devices to be used in exploration and aqua farming.


Drones can be ultized for monitoring offshore fish farms and can take on any number of tasks that currently require specialized and expensive human intervention, such as inspecting underwater cages for damage or holes.

Companies like Apium Swarm Robotics use drones en masse to survey the ocean and provide analysis through the use of sensor technology. Blueye Pioneer offers live video streaming of underwater exploration through the use of the Blueye app on a smartphone, tablet or with goggles.

Drones are also able to collect information that can be used to create algorithms that further develop the technology or applications available in the production of aquaculture and offshore fish farms. Saildrone, for example, offers data collection, fish stock analysis and environmental tracking and could easily be applied to offshore aquaculture. This aquatic drone connects with a producer’s tablet, smartphone or computer and allows for information to be gathered and analyzed.


Many of the drones and robots mentioned above use sensors to navigate underwater and collect data. Biosensors such as those created by Sense-T are helping to create efficiencies in the industry through the analysis of oxygen levels and water temperature; even heart rate and metabolism can be measured.

One of the coolest technologies is that of eFishery, which uses sensors to detect the hunger level of the fish and feed them accordingly. It can be used in any size farm and can reduce feed costs by up to 21 percent.

READ ALSO SpaceX Dragon Capsule Successfully Docks With ISS

Real Tech uses sensors to monitor water quality and uses ultraviolet transmission to disinfect water of pathogens and clean aquaculture production facilities. Norwegian AKVA Group built an entire cage with cameras, sensors, feeding and re-circulation systems for use in open ocean or inland farming.

Osmobot focuses exclusively on land-based aquaculture and allows for cloud management and mobile connectivity. YSI has an array of handheld sensing devices, automatic feeding technology and transportation tanks that maintain the fishes’ ideal environment.


Many aquaculture technology companies are harnessing the power of AI to improve decision-making. The Yield, an Australian company that provides technologies for all types of agriculture, uses its Sensing+Aqua technology to create predictive analytics for enhanced data-driven decision-making.

A robotic fish known as Shoal uses AI, or Swarm Intelligence (SI), to detect pollution underwater. The robots are sent out as a group and must be able to navigate their environment, avoid obstacles, including those of other robotic fish, recharge themselves at charging stations and generally make decisions autonomously of humans.

The introduction of AI can greatly reduce over exploited fish species through camera and data collection systems that use AI to identify species and enable greater accountability of harvesting practices.


There is great potential for the use of AR in the aquaculture industry. Already the US Navy uses DAVD (Divers Augmented Vision Display), which superimposes high-resolution sonar imagery on a diver’s visual world. NASA has tested Microsoft’s HoloLens in a similar way.

Producers could use this technology to improve the efficiency of operations, analyze mortalities, health status and a variety of environmental parameters.

One of the best ways to incorporate AR into the aquaculture industry is to use it for teaching and instructional purposes. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) designed an aquaculture simulator using VR and AR, incorporating Oculus Rift’s technologies. The program has been designed to teach about fish welfare, disease prevention, escaping fish and dangerous working conditions.


The opportunities for VR in the aquaculture industry are many, particularly for training and education. VR is being used by NTNU to pique the next generation’s interest in aquaculture. NTNU has developed an aquaculture simulator that uses VR to allow students to virtually visit a fish farm. It is quite clear how such developments could also be used for training purposes in the aquaculture industry.

READ ALSO Technology is Transforming Travel and Tourism Industry


Blockchain is best known as a financially secure method of payment, which could greatly benefit the aquaculture industry. Due in part to the lifecycle of the fish and in part to the significant values involved in the transactions, the industry suffers from a poor reputation for payment contracts.

This would mean that there would be no need for the exchange of physical money, potentially saving the added expense of transaction and currency exchanges. Furthermore, information about individual harvests and production methods could be stored here and made accessible to other producers and consumers. Privacy is always a critical concern when discussing these matters, but the way blockchain is set up maintains privacy while enforcing transparency.

And connecting all of these disruptive technologies is the Internet of Things (IoT).


The adaptation and adoption of these eight digital technologies are occurring at an ever-increasing rate in many industries. Aquaculture has been a relatively late adopter, and what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. When considering that the industry is the fastest-growing sector in Food Production and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations anticipates that an additional 27 million tons of fish production will be needed just to maintain the present level of consumption in 2030. It should come as no surprise that additional Ag-Tech investments in aquaculture will be at record levels. The future of fish farming looks more sustainable, more traceable and more profitable.

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Macondo: ¿Leer el libro o ver la serie en Netflix?

Bienvenidos a Macondo

Hay una interesante discusión en el ambiente desde que a la empresa de entretenimiento vía streaming por pago, Netflix, se le ha ocurrido poner en los ojos de sus usuarios la versión audiovisual del libro de García Marquez “Cien años de Soledad”.

Hemos tenido diferentes épocas en la vida, así con el aparecimiento de la imprenta en 1450 de la imprenta, ha sido la palabra escrita la mágica. Hasta entonces, los amanuenses dedicaban su tiempo para escribir, copiar los libros.

La imprenta

Luego se sumó la imagen estática con el aparecimiento de la cámara fotográfica (1826, y me parece que las primeras imagenes interesantes de El Salvador se captan por Edward Muybridge en 1875), una maravilla pues al texto ya se le podía alimentar con la imagen. La imaginación se alimentó de la imagen y el texto para recrear pasajes. El cine, la imagen en movimiento tuvo su auge primero en estilo “mute” y luego con audio en los teatros y cinemas públicos.

Acajutla, por E. Muybridge, 1875

Con la llegada del internet, el asunto se vuelve de uso mas privado, menos gente asiste a las salas de cine, algunas desparecen y mas personas nos quedamos en casa mirando videos en la plataforma youtube y otras menos populares como vimeo. Los que ejercemos docencia nos hemos preguntado: ¿Por qué razón los estudiantes leen menos y prefieren la imagen para su aprendizaje?, ¿Cuál es la magia de la imagen que no la tiene el texto?, ¿Puede hacerse un paralelo entre el uso de instrumentos de comunicación destinados al entretenimiento y la educación?, ¿Es una adaptación de un libro novela al cine un asunto de entretenimientos o de educación?, ¿limita la imaginación la adaptación novelera al cine?, ¿es mejor leer un libro que ver el film?

El uso de la tecnología por estudiantes

De principio hay que decir que no todos nos entretenemos de la misma forma, mientras algunos les gusta escuchar, a otros les fascina mirar, algunos mas deciden por leer y otros por ser sujetos activos del entretenimiento. La comunicación tiene la belleza de ser multiplataforma, multimedia, una misma historia puede ser contada “transmedia”.

¿que tipo de plataforma usaré?: depende de mi usuario

Así pues también sucede con la educación, yo aprendí usando el texto. El uso de la imagen tanto estática como dinámica en mi época era poco pensable. Texto más imaginación. Mi contexto era similar, en casa no había por inexistentes ni dvd, ni vhs, ni cd´s de video, menos pues el acceso al internet. Yo soy de la “prehistoria” de las comunicaciones: texto, y mas texto. E imaginación. Quien tiene poca imaginación disfruta menos un texto.

Yo, leyendo en 1970

Para mi mala suerte, la educación aun no había desarrollado tanto para entender que hay varias formas de aprender y que esas maneras corresponden a tipos de personas, hoy lo sabemos: aprendizaje visual (textos, imagenes, videos), aprendizaje auditivo (podcasts) y aprendizaje kinestésico (hacer y aprender). Yo soy de estos últimos y algunos de mis estudiantes pertenecen a cualquiera de los anteriores estilos.


Si te ha pasado que al leer te aburres, puede que tu tipo de aprendizaje sea auditivo o kinéstesico y en consecuencia cualquiera de las combinaciones de estilo. Pues… en el estilo de la vieja escuela durante el bachillerato debo haber leído 25 o treinta textos distintos, entre ellos “Cien años”, y fue sobradamente uno de los textos para mí y mi modelo de aprender, de lo mas complicado, tuve que elaborar un map mind para entenderlo. Ahora que he diversificado a fuerza de voluntad mi estilo de aprendizaje, he leído creo yo todo lo de García Marquez (por cierto, pienso que “memoria de mis putas tristes” ha sido de lo mejor, quiza no coincidimos, pero eso es lo lindo de la diversidad. Por cierto, se filmó como pelicula en 2011 en México). Cierro comentando que cada uno de nosotros puede entretenerse y educarse de acuerdo a su propio estilo.

La generación que nace después de los noventa en el paísito tiene una manera distinta de ver las cosas, son nativos digitales y el video forma parte de su existencia. La mayor parte de estos jóvenes han descubierto en el documento de imagen y audio una manera de aprender que no les obliga a leer. Alguna vez he reflexionado sobre la necesidad de nosotros los docentes viejos, de que el estudiante aprenda en el estilo que nosotros aprendimos, y pienso que debemos ser flexibles, cada quien aprende como es su naturaleza. El libro de papel seguirá existiendo durante varias décadas, pero también los libros digitales y los documentales en video.

Nativo digital

Todas las películas, todas en absoluto, primero son pensadas, luego escritas, luego reelaboradas en un guión cinematográfico y luego grabadas en filme. Repetiré “todas las películas primero son escritas”. La virtud del director es ser capaz, hábil de plasmar el texto en imágenes, siguiendo con cierta discrecionalidad su instinto e interpretación del pensamiento del autor del texto. La habilidad del director es importante.

Algunos filmes basados en obras literarias son: Ben Hur, Los diez mandamientos y La pasión de Cristo todos ellos basados en la biblia, un libro especial. Todas me gustaron quizá mas que la biblia misma; Harry Poter!!! un aprendiz de mago y sus aventuras con sus amigos!. Bueno también “Crepúsculo”, esa película vampiresca. ¿Alguien vió “Orgullo y prejuicio”?, ¿o ”El curioso caso de Benjamin Button”? Sigo: Casablanca, Forrest Gump, Soy leyenda, Un paseo para recordar, Drácula, El pianista, Código da Vinci, ROmeo y Julieta, Memorias de una Geisha, Madame M, La lista de Schindler, El padrino, el diario de Ana Frank, El silencio de los corderos, El exorcisto, la guerra de los mundos y no hombre, no acabamos. ¿Alguna de esas le ha gustado? Yo fácilmente puedo identificar siete u ocho que me han fascinado. La que mas, se llama Barry Lyndon (Kubrick), mi pelicula favorita basada en la novela de William Makepeace “La suerte de Barry Lyndon”. Música fantástica! que no pude leer en la novela.

Un buen director puede hacer de una película una extensión con valor agregado a un libro o novela. Uno malo puede darnos cosas como “El Código da Vinci”, incoherente, incomprensible y con grandes vacíos por omisión de pasajes del libro.

Macondo tiene mis expectativas, y espero que el director sea capaz de regalarme un filme que le agregue elementos e imaginación al libro. Que suerte que no será un solo tirón de dos horas. Cierro: algunos jamás leerán el libro, para ellos está el filme en Netflix.

The Culture Wars: Advertising

The year is 1971 and the culture war is raging. Richard Nixon is President. The New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers. Large-scale May Day protests against the Vietnam War lead to mass arrests. Cigarette advertising is banned from television. Greenpeace is born, signaling the rise of the environmental movement. Sixty-percent of the American public is opposed to the Vietnam War. The 26th Amendment is ratified lowering the voting age to age 18. Ping Pong Diplomacy delights the public as the U.S. table tennis team visits the People’s Republic of China.

Confidence in government and business begin the long, slow decline that continues to this day.

One bright light tapped the best of who Americans want to be via a commercial and song that immediately struck a chord. The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers received more than 100,000 letters about the commercial and listeners called radio stations requesting to hear the song.

“So that was the basic idea: to see Coke not as it was originally designed to be — a liquid refresher — but as a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples, a universally liked formula that would help to keep them company for a few minutes.” — Bill Backer

Despite a deeply divided country and tumultuous time, Coke was able to tap into our better angels. This commercial was so loved it still tops favorite advertising lists, serves as a halo for Coke, and was even revived in the finale of the famed Mad Men series.

Fast forward nearly fifty years from Teach the World to Sing and we see western culture more divided than ever. Largely on political and ideological lines. Social and identity issues are at the forefront of media, entertainment, and advertising.

In the early 2000’s Dove introduced their Campaign for Real Beauty. Although the company faced some initial skepticism their consistency and advocacy for aligning beauty with real women has facilitated a conversation and helped to evolve expectations of beauty. Much like the Coke commercial, Dove celebrated what is good in people and promoted a view of how we want to be recognized.

Following in Dove’s footsteps, Always sought to break stereotypes with their Like a Girl campaign. The advertising challenged both male and female expectations and sought to champion confidence and ability in girls. The campaign, by tapping into an empowering view of girls was heralded by males and females alike.

Example after example was showing marketers that social message marketing is not just good for society, it can be good for the brand.

While true, finding the right stance is tricky business. In some cases advertising has created controversy for brands and created a deeper societal divide along with it.

Even companies with the best intentions have made costly missteps. Birthing the mantra, Get Woke, Go Broke.

Despite over a decade of advocacy for women and natural beauty, Dove was widely attacked on social media with claims of racism over a commercial for body-wash. While the black actress in the commercial spoke out quickly saying people were reading something into the commercial that was not intended, that it was simply an issue of poor editing choices, it was too late. The commercial sparked activists to point out other reasons to believe Dove was racially insensitive. The video was pulled immediately.

Similarly, Pepsi’s attempt to address race relations earned the ire of pretty much everyone, including Black Lives Matter. It was pulled the next day, it inspired an SNL skit , and continues to be the butt of jokes.

A company spokesperson responded saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are removing the content and halting any further rollout. We also apologize to Kendall Jenner for putting her in this position.”

Pepsi’s desire to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding is similar to Coke’s 1971 vision of a tiny bit of commonality between all peoples. So what exactly went wrong?

Why was Pepsi called tone-deaf and said to be using different ethnicities and religions as props to sell soda when Coke wasn’t? Social media activism is surely a part of it. Mostly though, in their attempt to promote unity they featured stereotypes. In their attempt to call for the calming of social tensions, they used a reality show star and a soft drink as a solution. Perhaps even more it’s because they set up a scenario that was about sides, identities, and differences. In that environment unity gets lost.

By contrast, the 1971 Coke commercial spoke to a hope that unified everyone. There were no sides, just our better angels together with a sincere hope of creating a peaceful world.

Soon after, Heineken launched the World’s Apart ad on YouTube. Although they identified differences they allowed people to get to know the ‘other’ before sides were revealed. It spoke to the best of who we are and how to overcome the worse of who we can be.

Fast Company expressed it this way “Earlier this month, Pepsi tried to walk in step with the #Resistance, and ended up falling on its face. Hard. The company’s tone-deaf-ad which used Black Lives Matter iconography and Kendall Jenner to suggest carbonated beverages can heal America’s wounds -inspired such a seething backlash it was pulled almost instantly, and savagely parodied. It would have been a fine time for Coca-Cola to step up and deliver a perfectly calibrated topical ad, thereby eating Pepsi’s lunch. In truth, though, Coke had to do absolutely nothing to achieve the same result. Instead, Heineken has come along a couple of weeks later with an ad that gets to the heart of the political engagement in a straightforward way that makes Pepsi’s self-congratulatory ad seem even more embarrassing.”

It was unclear how it would work out for Nike. The Kaepernick controversy had been brewing for so long and was incredibly divisive so it was no surprise when the support for Nike (and the backlash against them) was loud and immediate. The stock dropped. Shoe-burns spread like wildfire on social media (some videos mocking the shoe-burners). And, of course, Trump tweeted.

Celebrating the potential of the individual to create change is baked into the DNA of Nike.

But Nike is no stranger to taking a stand. Even more, celebrating the potential of the individual to create change is baked into the DNA of Nike. Mostly, Nike knows their audience well and their core audience strongly supported the move. “The Kaepernick campaign is resonating with the company’s core customer base, such as millennial and Generation Z men, in a way that is authentic, culturally relevant, experiential and emotionally engaging” said one analyst.

Nike gained 170,000 followers on Instagram and the Kaepernick ad was their most liked Instagram post ever. According to a Harris poll, twenty-nine percent of young men said they would buy Nike products in the future because of the Kaepernick campaign.

A Colorado sporting goods store that stopped carrying Nike because of the Kaepernick signing has recently gone out of business. Until the recent shoe blow out, Nike sales and stock were at all-time highs. Even still, the campaign has birthed snarky memes but that actually seems to have less to do with Kaepernick, and more to do with the ability of the format to make a great template for sarcasm.

Although it didn’t take much of a social hit, Burger King’s Pink Tax commercial was derided because it came across as using identity politics for social justice credibility. The core problem is simply because BK was not tackling an issue that has anything to do with their category, thus without any skin in the game it seemed like pandering.

And then came Gillette. It’s hard to sort through the rubble of the post-release explosion to know for sure how Gillette will fare. It seems likely that Gillette wasn’t surprised by the reaction as a P&G spokeswoman told Bloomberg:

“We knew this film might be polarizing. Conversations on these profound social issues can be difficult for all sides but we believe they are important and that, by sparking the discussion, we can play a part in creating meaningful and positive change.”

Gillette was already losing customers and especially struggling to gain younger buyers. In 2012, Dollar Shave shook up the industry with mail order convenience, an everyman identity, bro humor, and importantly by attacking the very selling points (technology and sex-appeal) that Gillette had been advertising for years.

At the same time, Harry’s came at them by staking out a blade-quality positioning (think German-engineering of blades) while still making the brand fun, affordable, and convenient. Although you can buy Harry’s in retail, they push their blade-replacement subscription model heavily.

Gillette was already struggling with the younger audience so they obviously needed to make changes and this may have been a good one. According to Harris polling data more than half of younger men (Gen Z and Millennial) reacted positively, while their dads (Baby Boomers) were more likely to be offended. Fifty-seven percent of the younger audience said they would be more likely to consider Gillette. The same proportion of Boomers said they are now less likely.

Time will tell if this was the right approach. It’s more likely to come down to why the younger audience wasn’t choosing Gillette in the first place. If price and convenience were the primary drivers then tackling social issues won’t change anything. If, in the process, they offended their current buyers they may be in for a bumpy ride.

Although reaction was quick and loud (both pro and con) the conversation didn’t have much to do with razors at all. Quite frankly, it was a continuation of the same argument already happening between the left and the right.

While the mainstream media reported positively about the campaign in both the US and UK, independent YouTubers were offended and loudly so. Since YouTubers tend to be younger, it was easy to see that the anger at the message was not just among the older audience as the Harris poll suggests.

A search for “Gillette Commercial” on YouTube will bring up countless rants.

There were also female YouTubers who came out to defend their son, dad, brother, husband, boyfriend. They seemed even more outraged than some of the men because that believe it portrayed their loved one (one among all men) as predators. By contrast, on Twitter the majority of women speaking out praised the film.

Common sentiment from women on Twitter

As it always is with the controversy of the week Twitter was ablaze with pro/con arguments followed by the inevitable blocking. Dollar Shave was often tagged in social media conversations with comments like “@dollarshave @gillette sent me.” This would result in back and forth arguments that can only seem to get this heated on Twitter.

#GilletteMemes popped up on Instagram. A hilarious parody of a misogynistic razor was offered as a response.

One of many #GilletteMemes on Instagram

At the same time, a real response to Gillette was offered by Egard Watch Company. Their What is a Man commercial quickly made the rounds on Twitter and Youtube. Egard, a little known brand, quickly made fans (and sales) by celebrating the good in men and highlighting the hardships they face.

Although the message probably only resonated on the reverse L/R party lines that Gillette did, it did resonate. Soon after their YouTube response made the rounds, the CEO released the following message on their website:

“The positive response to our message has allowed us to start donating to charities! We will be donating $10,000 USD To the Bob Woodruff Foundation this week! We hope to continue making numerous donations year round. Thank you all for giving us an opportunity to give back. Due to the unexpected overwhelming response we are back-ordered on many units. Please bear with us. We are accepting pre-orders as we are making new inventory. The response is beyond appreciated. Every order will be fulfilled. We want to be completely transparent about the wait.”

Offense to the Gillette film can be summed up as thinking the brand believes maleness is toxic. That Gillette believes their own customers must change in order to be good men.

If you contrast Gillette with the Always or Dove campaigns the difference is obvious. Always and Dove are celebrating the inherent rightness of girls and women. In 1971, Coke celebrated peace and human unity with Teach the World to Sing. Nike celebrated the power of courage and ideals. One wonders how the response would have been different if Gillette had sought to encourage goodness by celebrating goodness. We’ll never know. In the end, this may have been exactly what Gillette needed to boost their business.


3/20/19 update

Coming on the heels of the Gillette film which launched 1/14/19, a Gallup poll on attitudes about sexual harassment in the workplace was fielded (February 12–28). The survey shows that concern about sexual harassment in the workplace has actually decreased. Gallup’s report U.S. Men Less Concerned Than in 2017 About Sexual Harassment revealed that in February 2019 both men and women see sexual harassment in the workplace as less of a problem than they used to. While the drops among women are negligible, the decline for men is dramatic. The report shows belief that sexual harassment in the workplace is a major problem dropped by ten percentage points for men over age 50 and a whopping 16 percentage points for men under 50. That said, when breaking down to just men age 18–34 we do see higher levels of concern. Belief that it’s a problem is equal across all levels of eduction. It’s higher among caucasian than non-caucasian men. More than anything, this appears to be a party-line message with 80% of male democrats saying the issue is a problem, while 64% of independents and 39% of republicans do. One question all corporations need to consider is whether it’s wise to align on party lines when the majority of voters are independent. We’ll continue to watch for whether a bold stand like one this can both fuel business and solve social ills.

Who Was Sadie Hawkins and Why Does She Have a Dance Named After Her?

Photo by the Hub

Sadie Hawkins’ Day, which evolved into an American folk-holiday in some places, doesn’t originate from a dance but rather from a race, as we shall soon see.

Sadie was the product of the fertile imagination of cartoonist Al Capp. She was a character in his popular cartoon Lil’ Abner, set in the hillbilly town of Dogpatch, that began its wildly successful 40-year run in 1934.

The way Al tells it, Sadie was the daughter of Hekzebiah Hawkins, one of the town’s first settlers, who had the dubious distinction of being the “homeliest gal in all them hills.” The poor lass waited not-so-patiently 15 years for a suitor to show up at her door but not a single prospective husband arrived to court her. With each passing year, Sadie became more and more panicky, as did her father, who did not relish the idea of supporting a spinster daughter for the rest of her days.

So, figuring he had nothing to lose, he called all the unmarried men of Dogpatch together and declared it Sadie Hawkins Day. In a reversal of Atalanta’s race in ancient Greek mythology, the race placed Sadie in hot pursuit of the town’s bachelors; the “lucky” chap she managed to catch became her lawful wedded husband. Or, as her Paw explained it, “When ah fires [my gun], all o’ yo’ kin start a-runnin! When ah fires agin — after givin’ yo’ a fair start — Sadie starts a runnin’. Th’ one she ketches’ll be her husbin.”

Pure poetry.

Photo by Yahoo

The rest of the spinsters in Dogpatch thought the race was an excellent idea, and insisted upon making Sadie Hawkins Day a yearly and mandatory event, much to the horror of the bachelors in town, who apparently had no say in the matter. According to the strip, if a woman caught a man and dragged him, presumably kicking, screaming, and crying for mommy, over the finish line before the sun had set, by law he had to marry her. This had overtones of a caveman clubbing a woman and dragging her back to his cave and was as close to women’s lib as you’d get at the time in popular entertainment.

This entire Sadie Hawkins Day storyline was a plot device concocted by Al Capp for the romance between main characters Abner and Daisy Mae, which had a bit of a Ross and Rachel from “Friends” quality to it. Eventually, Capp put everyone out of their misery and allowed the two characters to finally marry.

The dance didn’t appear in the strip until a bit later. The Sadie Hawkins Dance took place on the evening before the race, and the spinster girls traditionally wore hob-nailed boots to “unintentionally” stomp on the feet of the single men in attendance, which, unfortunately (for them) might adversely affect their ability to run the next day during the race.

Sadie Hawkins Day as a popular culture phenomenon was all the rage on college campuses by 1939. According to Life magazine, over 200 colleges were celebrating a Sadie Hawkins Day that year, and it was obvious that the tradition was quickly gaining in popularity with the nation’s young people.

The question is — why? One reason could be that as the nation was taking its first strides out of the Great Depression, a down-home low-cost activity like Sadie Hawkins Day was something that all could participate in, without the need to rent a tux or buy a gown as prom or homecoming would entail. There was also the naughty novelty of girls inviting boys for a social outing.

Normal sized muscles. Every woman’s dream. Photo by Wikipedia

Compared to the Roaring ’20s, the ’30s were considerably more sexually repressed. Gone were the flappers, bee-stung lips and bootleg whiskey. The depression brought with it a sober prissiness that made the very idea of a woman openly pursuing a man deeply offensive to many. But an approved activity such as Sadie Hawkins Day — where a lady could state her choice with impunity and not be labeled a Jezebel — while at the same time men could pretend to be horrified while secretly being titillated — that’s a situation where everyone wins!

By 1952, it was reported that Sadie Hawkins Day was celebrated at over 40,000 different locations. In that year, Capp wrote:

It’s become my responsibility [to include Sadie Hawkins Day every year in the strip.] It doesn’t happen on any set day in November; it happens on the day I say it happens. I get tens of thousands of letters from colleges, communities, and church groups, starting around July, asking me what day, so they can make plans.

Eventually, it morphed into an event of an entire day’s duration that fell on the Saturday after November ninth.

For today’s young women, Sadie Hawkins Day seems anachronistically goofy at best, blatantly sexist at worst. But for a few decades in the middle of the twentieth century, it served as a social bridge between the years when women rarely left the home and the sexual revolution.

Photo by Pinterest

Banking M&A Digest #14

About anyone and anything anywhere related to banking and making money with money –

by Aivars Jurcans

Buying, Selling, Merging

The shareholders of Nigeria’s Access Bank have approved the USD 235 million acquisition of Diamond Bank. The combined bank will operate under the Access Bank brand from April 1 and will have 29 million customers.

Source: Reuters

Julius Baer, a Swiss private bank, has acquired additional 30% in NSC Asesores, a Mexican wealth manager, increasing its stake to 70%. NSC Asesores is said to manage assets of USD 3.5 billion.

Source: Reuters

Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, has acquired a 9.23% stake in SBI Life Insurance, a JV between State Bank of India and BNP Paribas Cardif (a BNP Paribas unit), from BNP Paribas. The deal value is estimated to be USD 653 million. BNP Paribas will retain 12.8% of shares in the insurer after the transaction.

Source: Reuters

Deal Ideas In Process

Advent, a buyout fund, has made a bid for Cerved, a Milan-based Italian credit data provider, and is said to have been granted limited access to company’s books. It is expected that a potential deal would value Cerved at about EUR 1.8 billion.

Source: Reuters

Bain Capital’s Credit Special Situations Europe fund has raised EUR 1.25 billion for purchase of bank secured debt, NPLs and real estate assets. In 2018 Bain is said to have bought 9 bank loan portfolios with a gross book value of more than EUR 4 billion.

Source: Bloomberg

PT Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s state owned lender, is said to be exploring an acquisition of PT Bank Permata, its rival backed by Standard Chartered (owner of 44.6%). The market value of Permata is around USD 2.2 billion.

Source: Bloomberg

Chubb, a Switzerland-based insurance company and a minority shareholder in Huatai Insurance Group since 2005, has received permit from Chinese regulator to take its stake above 50%. Huatai is a diversified insurer and asset manager with 11 million customers.

Source: Financial Times

Nexi, an Italian payments group, is said to be preparing for an IPO in spring 2019 that is expected to value the company at more than EUR 5 billion. Nexi’s 2018 revenues amounted to EUR 942 million, and EBITDA — to EUR 419 million.

Source: Financial Times

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, a Japanese bank, is said to be close to finalising an acquisition of the entire aviation finance portfolio of DZ Bank, a German lender, in a EUR 5.6 billion transaction (a slight premium over the face value of EUR 5.3 billion in drawn loans).

Source: Financial Times, Reuters

Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund, is said to be seeking a stake of at least 5% in Deutsche Bank. Der Spiegel has reported that QIA could either buy the shares on the open market of from HNA, the Chinese company which has a 6.3% holding in Deutsche.

Source: Reuters

Entirely German Story

The uber-bank to be created by a potential merger of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank would be the 2nd largest eurozone lender (behind BNP Paribas) with EUR 2 trillion of assets, EUR 845 billion of deposits, 2,500 branches and 141,000 employees. It is estimated that the merger could generate EUR 2 billion in synergies within 5 years but that they would be offset by EUR 4 billion in integration costs and EUR 1 billion in lost revenue due to client overlap.

Source: Financial Times

Thanks, But No Deal

Aon first admitted being in “early stages of consideration” to make an all-stock bid for Willis Towers Watson, another insurance brokerage, to issue a statement only a day later saying that it had scrapped these plans. Willis Towers has a market value of around USD 24 billion, while Aon’s market value is close to USD 41 billion. Aon’s forward price-to-earnings multiple is approaching 20x times, while Willis Towers Watson’s is said to be in the low teens.

Source: Financial Times, Reuters, Bloomberg

Valued by Markets

Direct Line, an insurer, has reported that its Solvency II ratio — a measure of capital available as a proportion of the minimum required — at the end of 2018 stood at 170%, up from 162% the year before. It is in the upper end of its target range of 140–180%.

Source: Financial Times

The FT Lex suggests that selling off Aviva’s (a UK insurance company) international operations could fetch as much as GBP 18 billion. This would allow Aviva to repay debt and to return the amounts equal to 3/4 of its market capitalisation to shareholders. Aviva has generated total returns to shareholders of 17% over 5 years, compared to 56% by Legal & General and 38% by Prudential.

Source: Financial Times

Bank of Cyprus has reduced its NPL portfolio to EUR 4.8 billion, or 38% of total assets, at the end of 2018 (compared to EUR 15 billion, or 2/3 of loan portfolio, in 2014). Its common tier 1 equity stood at 12.1%, while its shares are still trading at 0.25x times book value.

Source: Financial Times

Allied Irish Bank, which is still 71% owned by the Irish government, has reduced its NPL portfolio from EUR 10.2 billion to EUR 6.1 billion in 2018. The NPLs now account for 9.6% of gross portfolio with a plan to be reduced to 5% by the end of 2019.

Source: Financial Times

RSA, an insurer, reported the Solvency II ratio of 170%, or 10 percentage points above the top of target range.

Source: Financial Times

Planning, Investing, Moving

Mizuho Financial Group confirmed taking one-time restructuring costs of USD 6 billion to book impairment losses on fixed assets and to restructure its securities portfolio.

Source: Reuters, Financial Times

Phoenix, a life insurer, has increased its target of generated synergies from the 2018 acquisition of Standard Life Aberdeen’s insurance business from GBP 720 million to GBP 1.2 billion.

Source: Financial Times

Closer to Home

With returns on equity of 9.3% Nordea is seen as underperforming in comparison with its peers, SEB and Swedbank, which have reported almost 16%.

Source: Financial Times

Important Numbers

About 60% of Japanese companies are effectively debt free, according to Koji Fujiwara, CEO, Mizuho Bank.

Source: Financial Times

A Thought Worth Noting

“One thing is certain: flimsy or spurious risk calculations make a nonsense of the precise and intricate rules on bank capital that they support.”

Patrick Jenkins, Inside Business, Financial Times

See you again next week!

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You will find all the previous issues of Digest at

Aivars Jurcans has more than 20 years of corporate finance and investment banking experience. His services are currently available through MURINUS ADVISERS (

Sowing the seeds of hope

As life returns to the streets of Mosul, women are increasingly empowered to play an active role in rebuilding the city after ISIL’s occupation. Mahasin, a 59-year-old woman originally from the heart of Mosul on the West bank of the Tigris River, embodies that drive and determination.

A woman in charge

A graduate in Civil Engineering from Mosul University, Mahasin is the first woman to manage a rehabilitation project in the city. Although women in management positions is still uncommon, particularly in the construction industry, she explains that overall, the situation for women in Mosul is better now than it has been for many years.

“Now we can work without any fear,” says the mother-of-four. “The whole time ISIL was here I did not work — no women could work. Even a year or two before ISIL the security situation was not good,” she continues. “Some women did work before but always with a bit of fear. Now the mentality is changing for the better.”

Mahasin surveys work at East Mosul Nursery Plantation

Mahasin now manages a team of about 30 working on the rehabilitation of the Municipality Nursery Plantation on the banks of the Tigris River in East Mosul — a job she does with confidence and pride, and one that is reflected in her beaming smile.

The Nursery, which sustained significant damage under ISIL, is currently being rehabilitated by UNDP. The plants are used to beautify local streets and surrounding buildings, like schools.

It’s a gift for the people. Life is better with flowers and plants,” says Mahasin.

“In Mosul it’s unusual for a woman to be a project manager,” she continues. “But for me this work is very suitable. It feels good to be a project manager — I work with a nice team and I have no problems. I feel happy when I go to any project and I see women working. Women suffered a lot to be able to work again.”

Scars from the past

Like many of Mosul’s residents, Mahasin carries the memories of a traumatic past. When ISIL militants swept in to Mosul in 2014, Mahasin and her husband fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq with three of their children. A few months later, after hearing reports of ISIL taking over people’s homes and using them as bomb factories, the family decided to return to Mosul in the hope of protecting their home.

“We were worried that ISIL would take our house. That’s why we returned to Mosul. My house is everything to me and my children — all my memories — my whole life is there.”

A worker at the nursery plantation site

For the following two-and-a-half years, Mahasin and her family lived under ISIL occupation, hidden away inside their home, their hopes of a quick liberation fading with the passing months. “We couldn’t even leave the premises of the house,” she says. “Winter, summer, winter, summer. Until the day of liberation, we stayed like that.”

Without access to food and water, Mahasin and her family survived on dry food such as beans, nuts and biscuits that they’d stored inside the house. “Ten days before liberation we reached a point that was unbearable,” she explains. “We thought death was better for us.”

Mahasin with Mechanical Engineer Zainab, 28, in front of a pump room at the nursery plantation

At that point the family decided to risk their lives to escape across the frontline towards a water treatment plant they heard had been liberated by Iraqi forces. “We put a white shirt on a piece of wood and we tried to reach that point, but it took us 20 hours of walking. Every time the helicopters were above us we waved our white flag. When Iraqi forces were firing at ISIL we lay down on the ground, and then we ran towards the water treatment plant. We walked for 20 hours for this short distance until we reached the liberated water treatment plant.

New beginnings

“When we reached there, you can only imagine how happy we were — it was an unforgettable moment. We couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. Believe me, I need days and days to describe to you how we felt in that moment.”

With her husband now enjoying his retirement at home, Mahasin is happy to be back at work after five years, and speaks with great enthusiasm about her hope for the future. “Nowadays we are very hopeful and optimistic,” she says cheerfully. “The whole family is hopeful. We’ve returned to our previous lives — step by step, everything went back into its place. It will take maybe one more year before everything is back to how it was.

Simona Fusco — Compassion, Courage and the Drive to Win.

It’s funny, when people first look at me, they think I am this stuck-up, conceited and arrogant person, but I am pretty much the opposite and usually very quiet and keep to myself and my thoughts. I think quiet people scare those who cannot tell what they’re thinking. However, once I open up and begin talking, people see the real me. They start to see small bits and pieces of the young girl who grew up in Vienna, Austria; they start to see my upbringing, the proper manners my mother instilled in me; the way I carry myself and my courage and drive which has gotten me to where I am today.
I will never forget my seventh birthday in Vienna, Austria when my mother got me this beautiful red dress with a white bow. She told me: “It’s never about your looks Simi, but rather the way you carry yourself and walk into a room.” She taught me to be a strong woman and for her that meant to be independent just like she was. My mother said “You can walk into a boardroom with a room full of people, wearing ripped jeans, and present your latest and greatest idea. You watch Simi, if you have the courage to do this and are passionate and conviction about what it is you have to say, no one will ever notice what you’re wearing.” My mother was right, and I took her life lesson with me and have applied that principal to everything I have done with my life and my career.

About ten years ago on the eve of launching my company in a highly competitive field, I asked myself, “Simona, can I really do this? Should I really do this? What if I fail?” Then I thought about that lesson my mother taught me and not only did I launch my company the very next day, I grew it into the most successful matchmaking company today by creating a unique niche market within a larger market that was doing everything wrong. I started out slow and re-invented what matchmaking was all about … getting to know my clients on a deeper and more personal level. I created custom tailored matches for each and every client that includes a worldwide search for the type of women that my clients had been looking for their entire life. I started out in Beverly Hills, California, which now serves as our headquarters and have expanded internationally. Within a few short years of being in business, I was presented and honored by the Mayor of Los Angeles with a Global Excellence Award for the success of my business Perfect 12.

Always driven by my compassion for others and because of the success of my company, I finally had the time to do what I enjoy most, which is help people in their time of need and desperation. Having just survived the death of my beloved mother who bravely fought cancer twice, and eventually lost her battle to colorectal cancer in 2014, I started The Maria Gruber Foundation in honor of my mother. I remember thinking that I wished such an organization existed to help me get through this devastating time. The mission of The Maria Gruber Foundation is to provide support to families whose loved ones are affected by terminal cancer by turning the fear, grief and helplessness caused from this disease into awareness, compassion, and support.
My next venture is to continue helping people as I have done through Perfect 12 which helps people find true love, and through The Maria Gruber Foundation which provides support to families whose loved ones are affected by terminal cancer. This is why I’ve created Ask Simi,
a foundation founded to inspire and empower young women to believe in themselves and discover their full potential through mentorship, life skills development and exposure to opportunities.
With this in mind, I hope to be able to continue contributing to be the change in the world and inspire and help as many people as humanly possible.