Olga's Blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dan Millman's Peaceful Warrior

Dan, a successful young athelete who has everything to be happy, is lost in his own thoughts. In this state of unrest he meets an old man who amazes him with his philosophy and physical fit. Dan calls him Socrates... And the journey begins.

I would probably never read this book if I saw it in the store (a flashy subtitile "a book that chages lives", standing next to reincarnation books.... hmm). I saw a web banner for the movie preview and it caught my attention, I read the summary and I was in.

The blend of western and eastern philosophy in the book (Socrates probably needs to be called Confucious instead :) is mind opening. It makes you ask some good questions and reflect on some fundamental stuff. Will not talk about the book much, needs to be read. While I am waiting for the movie to come out, right on my birthday :)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Alaska's Gas Pipeline

I attended a presentation in Fairbanks last week on Alaska Pipeline. This $25 billion project really has a lot to do with both Russia and venturing :) It's actually funny to realize that Alaskans view Russia as a serious competitor for gas. Well, at least finally Russia poses some competitive threat to America even if it is just natural resources.

The main lesson of the meeting is manipulation of information. Both oil companies and the state realize that opinions don't really influence public as much as facts do. But the border between an opinion and a fact can be very pale. At
Conoco Phillips' presentation Joe Marushack was making a point that oil comapnies will be significantly taxed under the new Alaska Gas Pipeline Fiscal Contract introduced by Governor Murkwoski and supported by oil producers themselves. To back his point, he introduced the graph sowing how significantly a tax base jumps with a price increase and how much more it is compared to old ELF taxation system. The first factual bias here is presenting a tax base rather than looking at the effective tax rate. The second is comparison to ELF system, which was a tax heaven for oil companies since it wasn't progressive on the oil price increase and was lower than 90% of the world's large oil exploration sites would pay, according to the State.

It is interesting to see that the other side of the equation - mainly Alaska's House of Reps is pushing the other statistics showing that the difference between 20/20 deal pushed by the Governor and the producers and 25/20 pushed by the House is insignificant for the producer (and "fair" on the world scale) but will result in significant return to the state.

The truth is one, but there are apparently different ways to look at it. Right now, the debate on the Gas Pipeline looks more as a statistical battle.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why did I open a blog?

One of the main fights for freedom has always led to the question of an independent opinion. My personal belief is that every one is biased in one way or the other. But the bias is not a challenge, groupthink is. If people have access to independent information, valid or invalid, they can read, test and analyze its significance for themselves. I intend to make this blog follow two main principles - credibility and independence.

The future of venture capital in Russia is bright. I will try to stick to this topic but I will also address issues that touch me in everyday life.