Metro 2033

Metro 2033I read the book Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. For a change, I read of piece of fiction. Metro is an international best-seller and deservedly so.  Metro 2033 was originally published online in Russian for free because it was rejected by the conventional publishers. The book became a hit and an English version of Metro 2033 with its sequels Metro 2034 and Metro 2035 are available. The books were also adopted in a video game format, Metro Redux (includes both 2033 and 2034), and Metro Exodus just came out. The games are first-person shooter survival horror but I haven’t had a chance to tried it out and they do look good. Point your weapon and blow up stuff. Kotaku has a review of the Exodus here. There’s also discussion of a TV series or a movie. I hope a TV series format is adopted because there’s just so much stuff to cover that I don’t think a 2 hour movie would do justice. But again look what at what they did with The Lord of Rings trilogy or Harry Potter.

About Metro

Metro 2033 is based in the Moscow Metro in a not so far future (2033) after the nuclear weapons blew up the world. I didn’t know this, but the Moscow metro system is one of the world’s largest (196 stations) and it’s also used has a nuclear bomb shelter. Moscow is ready for nuclear war. Here’s a map of the Moscow Metro:

Moscow Metro map.png
Moscow Metro has 196 stations and doubles as a nuclear bunker.

They also have another “secret” metro, Metro-2, that supposedly runs parallel to public one. Apparently it’s only for special government function. The Russian government has neither denied or confirmed its existence.

There’s a lot in this book. A lot. Artyom, the protagonist, has a mission that caries him across the metro. Each station has its own story. Artyom has various encounters with communists, neo-nazis, cannibals, cultists, bandits among others. All these people are leaving underground and they don’t really like each other. The book is very ambitious and quite an achievement for a first novel. I was intrigued to learn about the author. It would be fun to have a conversation with the author to learn more about his aspiration for such a book. Here are a couple interviews with Dmitry Glukhovsky:

In some interview he mentioned the video games Fallout having an influence on him. I played the originals (Fallout 1 & 2) when I was a kid and absolutely loved them. There are some difference however. Fallout presents the post nuclear apocalypse world as rough, tough, but playful and cheerful. Metro presents the post nuclear as rough, tough, gritty and dark. One version is Americanized and the other is Russianized. In Fallout exploring the world is the fun part. In Metro you don’t leave you station. In Fallout, a mutant can become your friend. In Metro you avoid monsters. Fallout is for a younger audience. Metro is for a more mature audience.

Metro series

The post-apocalyptic theme might seem over-exploited.  It’s really in vogue right now with all the zombie shows/movies/games coming out. Metro is not another run of the mill product. Dmitry did not simplifying the theme and the tone of his work is not water down. This is not a series for idiots. It’s complex. It’s high-quality. I believe that by not trying to be a mass-market product, by not trying to be everything for everyone, Dmitry has built something extremely solid that became has became a massive international best-seller.

The success also led to the creation of the Metro universe. There are over 100 books published in the world of Metro written by authors all over the world (*link in Russian).

This is a good franchise. My reading pile is growing and I will try to get them the rest of them. I don’t know when but I will.

Metro 2033 artwork

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Charlie Munger Google Talk?

I just recently found out that Charlie Munger was interviewed by Ruth Porat, CFO Alphabet Inc. I found a set of notes from this blog: http://d0j.blogspot.com/2016/09/notes-from-charlie-munger-talk.html. The notes are from 2016. Despite the weird formatting, it looks legit and it’s Charlie in the picture. However I can’t find any video evidence of this. Usually Google Talks are recorded, available on Youtube with 40 views. There’s nothing on Google either (I even tried Bing in case Google was suppressing results). It appears to be a private talk. If anybody know more about this feel free to share.

Other business: I got back from the Fairfax AGM and have a ideas for a couple new posts in the coming weeks.

I made a copy of the notes below just in case they get lost on the Internet. It seems to be the only copy I could find.

Charlie Munger notes from Alphabet interview. Sorry for the formatting. It’s straight copy and paste from the website.

Reposted from d0j.blogspot.com
By thus spake hareesh nagarajan

Notes from the Charlie Munger Talk
Charlie Munger was interviewed by Ruth Porat, CFO Alphabet Inc earlier in the Mountain View campus today. Here are some (unedited) notes I jotted down:

munger: “What you have to learn is to fold early when the odds are against you, or if you have a big edge, back it heavily because you don’t get a big edge often. Opportunity comes, but it doesn’t come often, so seize it when it does come.”

take a simple idea and take it seriously
to get a good spouse, you need to deserve a good spouse
the google culture is unique
what do you like about google culture?
you got more brain power
larry created a different culture
ruth “incrementalism leads to irrelevance”
charlie: not all companies keep growing. you cannot compound infinitely
berkshire hathaway is decentralized
we are similiar to google in how to accumulate money. we dont know what to do with it.
investing money is difficult
professional investment used to be simple and stupid in old days
when u compete with idiots you can do well
ruth “competition is one click away”
audience “which sectors are attractive to you”
folks that have momentum
if i had to buy one tech stock id buy google
the Chinese are hungry. the engineers are coming out of poverty

berkshire is like a swimmer that keeps swimming with or without the tide. we dont anticipate swings in the tide.
vc in 2000 took 100B
sam goldwyn — “Gentlemen, You May Include Me Out “

we own the biggest carbide cutting tools company
these israeli guys run it as fanatics
we dont know anything about carbide cutting tools.
but these israeli guys are winning
the culture they’ve created fosters winning

berkshire avoids mistakes by continous learning
judging people has been crucial
our philisophy: if a guy can juggle 20 milk bottles, then why would we interfere?

a mistake we learned from:
guy we had from beginning from berkshire had cancer. we kept him. but he signed bad contracts. we learned from that. you dont want wrong compassion

advice for the young:
underspend your income.
you may not get rich but you won’t do badly.
keep at it.
investing money is harder TODAY
world today is radically different
you don’t have the time to find value stocks like warren used to.

ibm let gates put out software on their hardware. they lost.
“it’s never going to be easy”
avoid the crazyness
crazy bubbles should be avoided.

“i want a fair advantage”
you have to specialize to succeed
specialization works
5-10% time to think of your hobbies

what i learned from other fields:
psychology was most important. “why is everyone so crazy”
i was going to synthesize psychology with everything else i do.
psychologists on the other hand just focus on psychology.
but i’m trying to figure out how to use psychology in investing and everything else i do .

you have to be alert when the rare opportunity comes by. u have to have patience.
‘your opportunities are rare but you have to move’ said his great grandfather
few decisions get to be very important
venture capital is a bubble. there has been overpaying.

i dont understand computer software. i dont understand your culture.

but it can’t be easy
what we are good at: “we know how to buy businesses”

you need to be able to destroy your own idea.
you should be ok with making a dumb mistake

everyone is useful. he can always be used as a bad example