Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Money’

The Strand’s Last Stand?

November 25, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Money, Places 1 Comment →


Naah, the famed New York bookstore is still doing well in the age of Amazon, but its survival depends on whether the next generation of owners continues to love books. Because they are sitting on very expensive real estate.

Read How the Strand keeps going in the Age of Amazon, in New York magazine.

Cinemalaya X: The Economics of Indie Cinema

August 13, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Movies 1 Comment →


At the Cinemalaya awards night last Sunday, the talk was less about the art and craft of film than intellectual property rights and economics. The previous day, filmmakers from the 8th and 9th editions of the annual indie film festival discovered that their films had been uploaded to YouTube in their entirety. The films were taken down, and the Cinemalaya Foundation issued apologies at the closing ceremonies, but it will take some time before the indie community stops seeing Cinemalaya as The Big Bad.

This is not the first controversy Cinemalaya has been embroiled in, but it is certainly the worst because it calls into question the very integrity of the project. We will wait for the outcome of the dialogue between the Cinemalaya Foundation and the filmmakers (Though it was a major jerk move, trying to pin the blame on technical staff). We hope that the foundation invites the most vocal critics of its policies, that these critics show up, and that the discussion is calm and productive. It is difficult to reach a consensus on Twitter, much less delve deeply into the issues.

For now we interrupt our Cinemalaya X reviews—which are late anyway (We blame the weather and especially the horrible traffic, which has reached civil rights violation levels)—to look into the cost of making indies, and their economic potential.

Read our column at

In the podcast: New Adventures in Micro Entrepreneurship

March 24, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Podcast No Comments →

Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi leads a discussion with participating microentrepreneurs.

We attended a round table with Citi Philippines CEO Batara Sianturi and eight beneficiaries of the Citi Microenterprise Development Center (CMDC). CMDC trains, coaches, and mentors high-potential micro business owners. It has been recognized with a social empowerment award by the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Program.

In part 1 of the podcast, the microentrepreneurs tell us how they got started in business, and express their fears about the future of their enterprises. We’ll hear from a former overseas worker who had had enough of being separated from her family for long periods, so she set up a business that would keep her at home in the Philippines. Then there’s the former sugar plantation laborer who got a small plot of land in the agrarian reform program and turned it into a thriving plantation.

In part 2, the microentrepreneurs tell us how they overcame personal hardships, what they’ve learned about running their own businesses, and how entrepreneurship has changed their families’ fortunes. A start-up entrepreneur recounts how she switched from a hollow block-making business to something closer to her heart: native Filipino snacks. A widowed mother of three marshaled her inner resources to build a thriving meat processing business and now extends financial assistance to other microentrepreneurs.

Hear their stories in our two-part podcast at the Citi Microenterprise Development Center.

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The Breaking Bad School of Business

September 30, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Money, Television No Comments →

Heisenberg poster from the Breaking Bad Store.

There are obvious reasons for watching “Breaking Bad”: for once the Hollywood hype surrounding the television series is justified. But there is also a less obvious reason: it is one of the best studies available of the dynamics of modern business. A Harvard MBA will set you back $90,000 (plus two years’ lost income). You can buy a deluxe edition of all five seasons of “Breaking Bad”, complete with a plastic money barrel, for $209.99, or a regular edition for less than $80.

“Breaking Bad”, whose finale airs on September 29th, takes place in a recession-ravaged America where most people are struggling to get by on stagnant incomes but a handful of entrepreneurs live like kings. The hero, Walter White, is a high-school chemistry teacher with a second job in a car wash. When he is diagnosed with cancer he is also shaken out of his lethargy: he decides to go into the highly lucrative methamphetamine business to pay for his cancer treatment and leave his family a nest-egg.

Read Schumpeter: The best show on television is also a first-rate primer on business, in The Economist.

Thanks to our friend who could’ve saved his tuition at Harvard Business School for the link.

Interesting how some of the best television shows of the 21st century are about business. Deadwood chronicles the rise of the free market during the Gold Rush. The Sopranos is a primer on capitalism. The first season of The Wire is a dissertation on the drug trade.

Update: Our friend’s spoiler-free review of the final episode of Breaking Bad.

“Pitch-perfect ending, like a good poem.”

Customer service guys, read this.

January 24, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Childhood, Money 8 Comments →

Lego Ultra-Sonic Raider. Thanks to Jackie for the alert. We remember how upsetting it was to lose parts of our toys so we really like this story.

From Forbes: Seven-year-old Luka Apps spent his Christmas money on the LEGO Ninjago Ultra Sonic Raider set. Against his father’s advice, young Luka took his newly aquired Jay ZX with him when they went shopping. And then, disaster struck: the figure went missing, never to be seen again.

Luka decided to write a letter to the folks at LEGO asking for a replacement:


My name is Luka Apps and I am seven years old.

With all my money I got for Christmas I bought the Ninjago kit of the Ultrasonic Raider. The number is 9449. It is really good.

My Daddy just took me to Sainsburys and told me to leave the people at home but I took them and I lost Jay ZX at the shop as it fell out of my coat.

I am really upset I have lost him. Daddy said to send you a email to see if you will send me another one.

I promise I won’t take him to the shop again if you can.



Teaching kids about money

August 14, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Money No Comments →

Have you observed how easily children can manipulate their parents? We’re talking about children between the ages of 4 and 10 whose parents have jobs. They sense that their parents are guilty about not being around to watch all their milk teeth fall out or take them to ballet class or praise them for every B+ they ever get in school, and they cash in on this guilt. Literally.

When they’re in a toy store, computer/electronics store or video arcade, they expect their parents to buy everything they point to, and if the adults refuse there’s hell to pay. Many parents, already frazzled from work, will cough up the money just to make the kids stop sulking, screaming and throwing those tantrums they know to be effective. The adults end up bribing their kids for a peaceful weekend.

Meanwhile the kids grow up thinking that all they have to do to get what they want is act up. Why not, when they’re rewarded for being bratty. The notion of saving up/working to get what you want never takes hold, and they don’t learn about the value of money. How do we know these things when we don’t have kids? Well we have seen them in action and used their tactics successfully.

How do you teach kids about money? Theoretically, by having a serious conversation about financial responsibility. Be strong. And let them read the Oishi Peso Smart series—books written and illustrated for the youngest readers, with lessons about money that they can appreciate.

Here’s one that’s especially relevant in these days of climate change: Making Paper Boats With Papa.

Click on images to enlarge.

Read the book:

Read the Oishi Peso Smart Series online.