It’s Cool To Hear Liu Cixin’s Thoughts on His “Three Body Problem” Trilogy and Other Cool Sci-Fi Things in an Interview.

Liu Cixin’s “Three Body Problem” put me in an annoying state but in a good way. Why? After getting to know his “Three Body Problem” epic trilogy, I couldn’t find any other sci-fi work to surprise or wow me anymore. Since then I keep wanting to be introduced to a similar or better trilogy but I had found none. To appease my thirst for sci-fi I’d to settle with my older favorites like Star Trek, but what I want is something as epic as “Three Body Problem.”

I’m really happy to see Liu Cixin talks about his work in the interview in which you can watch it in the video below.

I also heard that a new Chinese sci-fi big budget movie is coming out to a theater near you soon in the United States known as “The Wandering Earth (2019),” which is also based on one of his short stories. I can’t wait to go to see it in a theater near me. Hopefully, it won’t be a disappointment because sometimes a great story doesn’t make a great movie. The reality is sometimes rather cruel to a book lover because a movie may fail to reimagine a book in live action for various reasons such as budgetary problem and so forth.

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Opinion: Can Sears Be Revived After Eddie Lampert Won Auction Bid, Saving Sears From Liquidation?

Can Sears be revived after Chairman Eddie Lampert won $5.2 billion auction bid to save Sears from liquidation?

When thinking of Sears I got nothing to be excited about! On the top of my head, I don’t even know what I care to want to buy at Sears. Whenever I need new clothes I think about stores like Kohls. Whenever I need new gadgets I think about stores like Amazon. Sometimes, Best Buy and Micro Center make to the top of my head for buying computer related items. Video gaming stuff I would just usually get from an online store like Valve’s Steam. Something needs to be improved for the home, I usually go to Home Depot. I usually go to Home Depot or Best Buy for big items such as the refrigerator. If I need everyday cheap, items I just go to Walmart. I still don’t see what I would need so much that I would rush to Sears to get it.

I think Sears will have a very tough uphill battle even it got itself out of liquidation. In order for Sears to be relevant, I think Sears got very few options. The first option is to find out what makes Sears unique in today competitive online/offline retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. If Sears cannot compete against Best Buy, Amazon, and so forth, then I think Sears needs to go with the second option which is to cater to luxury stuff only. Nonetheless, this would be like completely changing the business model of Sears inside-out. This would mean Sears would not even try to be competitive against brands like Amazon and Best Buy. Instead, Sears would just cater to the rich.

Let’s fantasize how Sears would just cater to the rich would be like OK? Let’s imagine instead of selling a normal refrigerator Sears now sells a gold plated refrigerator. This gold plated refrigerator is one of a kind since very few of them were made. The price is around $25,000. The refrigerator is not only gold plated, but it is also a tech hub center for the kitchen where the large glassy part of the refrigerator door could go translucent so you can interact with it like a smart TV or a computer. It also got a smart AI assistant to help stock up the refrigerator when something is about to run out. In this scenario, normal people wouldn’t buy this refrigerator since it’s too expensive and luxurious. Wealthy people though, they could buy this refrigerator without blinking twice.

If Sears targets the rich, then its business model would be completely different than before! The stuff Sears needs to carry in the store are going to be totally different than before. Furthermore, when targeting the rich Sears may not even need to care about being competitive against other players at all. How come? I think buying luxurious stuff is an experience! A few clicks of the mouse through online stores won’t get you the experience! Instead, I can see rich people would drive their supercar or Rolls Royce to Sears, get greeted by super friendly and helpful staff — feeling like a king when buying something — and feeling like a king when leaving Sears store afterward. Such an experience you would never get from online stores or from the stores that cater to the middle-income class. Sears can go this route to stay profitable even though Sears won’t be competitive against players such as Amazon.

Of course, there is always a third route which is to use the old model but providing better customer service. Nonetheless, I don’t see how Sears can stay competitive and relevant when people don’t have the need to go to Sears. Sears could learn from Kohls even though Kohls is just a retailer for clothing. Why? I think Kohls is really good at attracting me to buy clothes from its online store! Kohls got discount programs such as Kohls Cash, and these programs somehow encourage me to spend more. Although Kohls doesn’t provide free shipping unless you buy more than $75 worth of items (if I’m remembering this correctly), but this somehow encourages me to spend more than $75. Kohls always announces a new clearance sale, and so it’s like Christmas all over again. If Sears can learn how to give out discount like Kohls does, I think Sears can begin to become relevant in no time. Nonetheless, Sears must carry the stuff that when giving out discounts it does make sense for people to care to buy. Yep, even on discount, unwanted stuff won’t get sold.

Just An Obvious Thought: Advertising In The Age Of Streaming!

Streaming is proliferating nowadays, and so people are slowly switching from watching traditional TV contents to streaming contents.  In fact, whatever that is streaming can also be duplicated on TV and vice versa.  The big difference is that TV is scheduled and streaming is an on-demand kind of things.

For advertisers, streaming is something radically different than traditional TV because streamers may not accept forced advertising contents.  TV viewers may not care how long or how many advertisements get push through during a viewing experience.  The big words here are may not since TV viewing experience is about potato couching.  On the other hand, the streamers want contents quickly and sometimes prefer the shorter the content the better.  When advertisers push through advertisements in streaming contents, the streamers often get turned off.

The puzzle here is all about how to get viewers who stream to watch advertisements!  We’ve seen clever advertisements been done in movies such as marrying a brand into the content of the movie itself.  For an example, let’s create a fictitious brand of soft drink known as Blahboulous and we marry this Blahboulous can of soft drink with a character in the movie who often loves to carry the can of Blahboulous soft drink around.  This tactic could also make a brand viral since a famous actor or actress is being associated with such a brand!

The question is how to marry multiple brands into streaming contents!  Doing this too obvious would also be a turnoff.  Perhaps, there would be a better method?  I think forced advertising contents can still be done in streaming contents, but this gotta be super concise and short and the fewer the better!  Meanwhile, advertisers should marry their sponsors’ brands into the streaming contents more often.  The combination of both could elevate the advertising streams while irritating the streamers less.

Idea of the day: Omni-Membership

Although Groupon is trying to help online shoppers saving a few bucks here and there through collective discounts, I have to wonder isn’t there a better way to do this?  I think Amazon Prime is onto something great, but could it be better?  I imagine that someone is probably out there and thinking about forming a company that would bundle almost anything they could into one subscription-based program which is similar to Amazon Prime but better.

So, imagine when you go to the movie theater or eating out or shopping in a mall or go online or whatever, you just have to be authenticated as you who is a member of this omni-membership and you automatically got a discount.  Wouldn’t this be way easier than having to pick out a discount yourself on Groupon?  Obviously, this would save you time.  If this could also save you a ton of money, this is definitely a way to go then.

Could Trade War Be A Blessing In Disguise For China?

What I’m about to write could be controversial for the time we’re living in now.  As we all know president Trump’s tariffs on China are the means to push China to negotiate a fairer trade — at least this is how the president promotes to the public.  So far China isn’t willing to be a pushover and so they decide to retaliate pound for pound.  This means whoever blinks first would lose a lot more in the long run, but in the end, both the United States and China would lose in short-term — well, at least this is how the news programs promote this.

I’m thinking that could tariff be a blessing in disguise for China?  How come?  China has been known as the factory for the world since they opened up their market and joined the World Trade Organization.  This means China can ramp up production of almost anything!  As Trump’s tariffs hit China, companies that want to avoid tariffs from the United States and still want to export to the United States would move their operations out of China.  Nonetheless, there are Chinese and foreign companies in China that produce the same stuff but have yet to export their products to the United States would find the vacuum suddenly is a lot more pleasant to navigate and do business.

The Chinese government could also be more lenient toward companies that decide to keep their operation within China, thus allowing these companies to prosper while China’s internal consumer market ought to grow bigger in time.  Remember Google?  Google left the Chinese market a long time ago but now Google has shown signs that it wants to grab a chunk of the Chinese’s huge consumer market.  Unfortunately, Google isn’t making much progress in this front and allowing similar Chinese homegrown companies to grow unchallenged within China.

Since Chinese companies that are going to stay in China could ramp up their production unchallenged as the trade war between the United States and China heats up, these companies ought to grow bigger in a more empty but lucrative Chinese consumer market.  Perhaps some European companies may want to open up their operations in China to give the Chinese companies some competitions.  Anyway, I think Chinese companies could grow unchallenged in their home market and mass produce even cheaper products to saturate the world market even more.  In the end, I think trade war could only harm a weaker foe who got no means to fight back and could not ramp up production.  In the case of China, I think trade war could be a blessing in disguise for the reasons I surmised thus far.

 

Could The Yuan’s Sliding Allow China To Unload Treasury Bonds?

I’m just wondering!  Lately, the headlines are screaming that China is devaluing the Yuan to help cushion the blow of Trump’s tariff on China’s exports to the United States.  Although this is a legitimate concern that the headlines raise, I’m wondering if there is another hidden motive for the Yuan to slide.

Could it be that the Chinese government is letting the Yuan slides so the treasury bonds that the Chinese own which Americans are in debt to China could stay valuable?  This way China can begin to sell the treasury bonds while the treasury bonds are still valuable.  Once China unloads enough of the treasury bonds onto the market, whatever value China receives from such transaction could then be converted to other favorable assets, investments, and currencies.

Of course, China could always convert the selling of treasury bonds into Yuan and then raise the Yuan’s buying power back up to stave inflation — but then it could begin a deflation.  How?  Well, if too many Yuans that are chasing the same thing could raise the price of whatever, but when the buying power of Yuans get push up the Chinese government then could lend out these Yuans to other countries and International projects such as Belt and Road Initiative projects to stave inflation.  A more powerful Yuan could also allow the Chinese to get more bang for the buck whenever they use the Yuans to acquire whatever.  Thus they also have to be careful about the deflation.

I’m no economist and so I could be wrong on what I’m suggesting.  Nonetheless, I would love to hear other people’s opinions on the suggestion that I’m suggesting.  Am I wrong?  Am I even close?