Q&A: YOOX CEO Federico Marchetti on online fashion

YOOX Group was launched in Italy in 2000, and runs Yoox.com and thecorner.com, as well as providing e-commerce sites for brands such as Diesel and Emporio Armani. 

I’ve been talking to founder and CEO Federico Marchetti about the growth of YOOX, the challenges of selling fashion online, and why great customer service is more important than marketing..

Federico Marchetti YOOX

When did you launch YOOX? 

Yoox.com was founded in Italy in 2000. How is pretty simple: my dream has always been to become an entrepreneur. I pursued other careers but without great passion; I was always waiting for the right idea.

In 2000, I was 30 and was so bored with the job I was doing that I decided to start YOOX, combining those that are still my main interests: retail, fashion, luxury goods and the media. I consider the Internet as the most important invention of the past 30 years and in 1994, despite never having been a high-tech. person, I was one of the few people who used Internet to find information.

How big is YOOX now? 

As of December 31st, 2009, YOOX posted consolidated net revenues, net of returns and customer discounts, of €152.2m, up 50% from €101.5m in 2008. We sell in 67 countries around the world.

How have you funded the business since launch? 

At the time of its founding, I had clear ideas about our future goals. The first sentences of the business plan of 2000 were, in fact, very similar to those of our last three-year strategy document: we consider ourselves a global Internet retailing partner for leading fashion & design brands.

At that time, Italy was not prepared for e-commerce, so I put together a small team of trusted people. On June 21, 2000, yoox.com started to accept the first orders. So, YOOX Group, was founded in 2000 with yoox.com, the virtual boutique of Multi-brand fashion & design, and today has extended its expertise and infrastructure by designing and managing Mono-Brand Online Stores and launching the virtual space thecorner.com.

How big is the team behind Yoox? 

Every person is important for YOOX’s success. We rely very much on the strength and creativity of our team: a team of young people who have developed unique skills in a market that did not exist before the creation of YOOX.

YOOX Group today employs nearly 300 people, with an average age of about thirty and 60% of women who work at the headquarter in Bologna, and in the offices in Milan, New York, Tokyo, Paris and Madrid, a team of people from different countries and from different cultural backgrounds: from United States to Japan, from fashion to technology, to media distribution, united by the enthusiasm of being part of a single project.

You sell to several different countries, and customers in different languages? Do you tailor the websites to suit individual markets?

YOOX Group delivers in 67 countries in the world and the website is translated in 7 different languages and we offer services to cater to all costumers’ needs. We offer also a website with size, currency and language localized for the main countries.

To complete the service offer there are secure transaction systems, guaranteed by fully-backed and global processor and acquirer network, 48-hour average delivery time in the European Union, 4-day average delivery time in the United States and Japan as well as a real-time online order tracking. And finally a fast and guaranteed Return Service and phone and e-mail contact center service in 7 languages.

What are the challenges of selling fashion online? Do online retailers have to work harder to sell fashion online than other sectors?

E-commerce has become, for the fashion world, a different way to make a purchase, a somewhat less institutional, more fun way that requires the individual’s interaction. So, the customer of an online fashion product has become a wide category and not easily definable.

In general, doing shopping online is definitely a new and enjoyable shopping experience, possible from any place and at any time, even in the office. In 2000, when I opened yoox.com, I had to convince – and it was not easy – the brands to sell their products for the first time in an online store. The first one, then the second, then slowly it came to dozens, then hundreds.

In the first years, they were always suspicious but at least had the desire to try. In 2000, few people would have thought that even Italians would buy fashion online, something that has happened thanks to yoox.com. And slowly brands have become increasingly interested and began to think about having their own online store on their website.

In 2006, YOOX Group opened the doors of its own know-how to its historical partners starting to create and manage online stores on their behalf: marni.com, emporioarmani.com, diesel.com, robertocavalli.com and now we are becoming a group that operates on a global scale – in addition to our “historic” yoox.com and thecorner.com – seventeen online stores for many super brands, all “Powered by YOOX Group.”

Has your approach to customer service and a flexible returns service been a key factor in your growth?  

Sure. The principle on which yoox.com was founded is a great attention to quality both in terms of selection and service with the aim to build the best shopping experience for our customers characterized by quality, secure payments, delivery with original packaging in record time thanks to UPS and efficient customer service by phone and e-mail, and last but not least, returns.

In fact, our return policy is very convenient for our customers, because if for whatever reason are not satisfied with their purchase, they can return it, getting a refund of the purchase price. We have chosen to invest on customer service rather than advertising, believing that the “word of mouth” is the best communication tool.

What are some of the future challenges for online fashion stores? 

Internet is becoming a “jungle”, very crowded. The future is to build online stores that are so unique and entertaining that people know them and find them without having to go through Google.

Is a preference for offline shopping, especially the desire to try clothes on first, holding back the online fashion market in any way?

It’s not true that people can’t try clothes on. Products are delivered directly to customers’ doors. This has the added advantage of someone being able to try them in the comfort of their home, with items from their own wardrobe.

Our Multi-brand and Mono-brand online stores offer a very “relaxed” return policy. If for some reason you are not fully satisfied with your order, you may return as many items as you wish without paying return shipping cost and receive a refund for the item price. The online shopping experience is more complete and enjoyable.

YOOX Group has always invested in service: we’re a service company, not a marketing one, because we’re built to last.

How do you see online fashion sites developing over the next few years? 

My idea is that these online stores must be made not so standard but rather tailor-made. On the internet it is important to maintain and highlight the image of the brand: today you can’t have a chain of beautiful traditional stores and an unappealing virtual space on the web.

Indeed, my view of the online store is that it should be most beautiful because it is done to get in touch with a global audience and it can generate a turnover 100 times more than a single store.

In addition, the web allows you to unite the commercial and media aspects, providing users with additional options such as video, information and other content that will be increasingly important in the near future.

We will continue to run faster, because who innovates is forced to “never rest on one’s laurels,” especially in the internet era.

You have one of the better mobile commerce websites I have seen – any other plans around mobile? 

Last December, yoox.com announced the launch of a new iPhone app, an interactive mobile shopping application available for free via Apple’s App Store. The new application for iPhone and iPod touch, “YOOX.COM Style Gift Guide”, was developed in-house by YOOX Group’s Technology team and offers consumers the chance to explore yoox.com’s selection of fashion & design pieces anytime, anywhere, and ship items worldwide.

This is the second foray for yoox.com into the world of mobile e-commerce, after the successful launch of yoox.com web fashion shopping application for iPhone and Android in April 2009. The “YOOX.COM Style Gift Guide” App present the user with a special interactive questionnaire that will accompany them through the yoox.com shopping experience. Questions which appear include: Where would you like to ship your gift – Spain, United States, Russia or Japan?

What type of item are you looking for – Handmade or Classic? What is your budget? In just a few steps and thanks to a cover-flow interface, the items will be displayed with a 3D-effect, allowing users to make the perfect choice for their purchases. A few quick clicks make it easy to have the perfect piece delivered anywhere in the world. Now the purchases can be sent with a few easy taps directly from the airport, holiday vacation, or simply street-side. Sales as a result of the iPhone app have been very encouraging since our soft launch in April.

Is it harder to sell fashion via mobile? 

No, I think the possibility to sell online is a further great service to meet  customer needs…it’s a way to offer the maximum amount of freedom to our customers; in this way, they can buy the product all over the world, wherever they are…it’s simply something that really works.

Are you confident about the future of mobile commerce?  Will you be developing more mobile sites and apps? 

The mobile application is the perfect way to blend retail, fashion and technology. We like to focus on cutting-edge technology in order to give our customers the option to shop on yoox.com from their iPhones wherever they are.

In the future, we continue to foresee this technology applying to our current portfolio of seventeen Mono-brand online stores “Powered by YOOX Group”, as we have already done last November introducing the Emporio Armani online store for mobile phones.

 

https://econsultancy.com/blog/5426-q-a-yoox-com-ceo-federico-marchetti#print

BRAZIL LEGEND RIVALDO RETIRES FROM FOOTBALL AT AGE 41

MARCH 15TH, 2014

image

Rivaldo, one of the greatest midfielders of our generation and a living Brazilian legend, announced his retirement from football via Instagram Saturday:image

During his 24-year career, Rivaldo won the 2002 World Cup, the 2003 Champions League with AC Milan, and two La Liga titles with Barcelona, among many other accolades. He received the Ballon d’Or in 1999 and was voted into two World Cup all-star teams (1998 and 2002).

We invite you now to join us and take a moment to reminisce on Rivaldo’s brilliance. Perhaps his greatest goal came in 2001, on the final day of the La Liga season. Barcelona needed to beat Valencia in order to qualify for next year’s Champions League. Two minutes from time, with the match tied 2-2, Rivaldo stepped up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LNyTLLjHbbo

And if that’s not enough for you, here are a lot more Rivaldo highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LNyTLLjHbbo

Tchau, legend!

http://blog.foxsoccer.com/post/79692990265/brazil-legend-rivaldo-retires-from-football-at-age-41?cmpid=tsmfb:fscom:foxsoccer

Russia Hammers Ukraine With Massive Cyber-Attack

WITH A DISPUTED VOTE IN CRIMEA SET FOR SUNDAY, A POWERFUL EIGHT-MINUTE CYBER-ATTACK WAS LAUNCHED AGAINST UKRAINE THURSDAY IN THE FORM OF A LARGE DENIAL-OF-SERVICE ATTACK, ORIGINATING IN RUSSIA, THAT HAMMERED A COMPUTER NETWORK, CYBER-SECURITY EXPERTS SAID.

Thursday’s distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) against an unidentified computer network in Ukraine was notable for being 32 times larger than the largest known distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack during Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, according to Arbor Networks, a Burlington, Mass.-based cyber-security company.

It was followed on Friday by a powerful DDoS attack that temporarily knocked out websites belonging to the Kremlin, the Russian central bank, and Foreign Ministry. But it’s unclear if that was a Ukrainian response, and Russian authorities said the attack had nothing to do with the Ukraine crisis.

“A powerful cyber-attack is under way on the [Kremlin] site,” a spokeswoman for the Russian president’s press service told Reuters during the disruption. The three sites were repaired and all working later on Friday.

A group calling itself Anonymous Russia cited the Kremlin website’s attack on Twitter, perhaps signaling it was behind the attack. The same group claimed to have knocked out the website in 2012 to protest Putin’s third term as president.

Only a little is known about the powerful Thursday attack. Eight minutes is enough time to take down a site and cause an outage, according to Jason Jones, an Arbor Networks analyst. Depending on the robustness of the network gear in place it can take down the network support equipment and cause a more extended outage.

“There have been no other attacks in this size range originating in Russia and targeting Ukraine in the past week,” Mr. Jones wrote in an e-mail interview.

For two weeks it’s been mostly quiet on the cyber-conflict front between Ukraine and Russia – a handful of attacks defacing websites and some minor denial-of-service attacks notwithstanding.

A major cyber-espionage system called “Snake,” which appears likely to have infested Ukraine’s government computer systems, according to a recent report by BAE Systems, has been around for years. But such a system could be used by its originators – believed to be Russian – to conduct attacks.

The recent attacks, as well as any future attacks attempting to impair the Ukrainian government’s ability to coordinate a response to Russian activities in Crimea, may hinge on geopolitical movements outside Ukraine.

“If it does continue to heat up – if NATO goes ahead and puts in passive defensive surveillance systems and says to Ukraine, ‘here’s how we can help and signs a partnership agreement’ – that’s a tripwire,” says Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a national security think tank.

“If that happened,” he says. “I would expect to see the Russians using cyber means to throw sand in the gears of the new government and make life a lot more difficult.”

 

Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Cyber-Conflict-Monitor/2014/0314/Major-cyber-assaults-on-Ukraine-then-Moscow-on-eve-of-Crimea-vote-video#ixzz2w4VqMCtl

Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom

By Jason Corcoran and Henry Meyer  Mar 14, 2014 12:13 PM GMT+0100  
Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, in Seoul.

Even before the Ukraine standoff, foreign companies in Russia say they were alarmed by the number of executives being deported for minor infractions. Now with the West preparing sanctions, they’re bracing for more.

Almost 1,000 people from countries outside the former Soviet Union have had their work visas revoked for committing two or more “administrative violations” since the end of last year, when the migration service and traffic police linked their databases, according to immigration authorities. Such offenses can be as minor as a parking ticket, smoking in prohibited areas or even jaywalking.

“Individuals have been stopped on the border for having two speeding tickets and told their visa is no longer any good,” said Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, which promotes the interests of Exxon Mobil Corp., PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) and 800 other companies.

Before the Kremlin-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted last month, prompting President Vladimir Putin to pour troops into Crimea and prepare to annex the peninsula, officials said they were working with foreign businesses to resolve the deportation problem as quickly as possible. Now those talks are effectively on ice, according to the Association of European Business, which lobbies on behalf of European companies including BP Plc (BP/)and Siemens AG. (SI)

Russian Retaliation

Lawmakers meanwhile are preparing legislation that would allow Russian authorities to seize assets of western companies in case of sanctions. Russian Deputy Economy Minister Sergei Belyakov, who’s in charge of luring foreign investment, said that he’s working with the migration service to resolve the visa difficulties.

“On a personal experience, I know of the existence of such problems,” he said today by phone.

The Moscow-based migration authority said by e-mail in mid-February that while it wasn’t planning any legislative amendments, the government is preparing to issue an order on the issue.

Airport Detention

One of the people caught up in the crackdown is Quentin O’Toole, Deloitte & Touche LLP’s local chief operating officer. When the New Zealander tried to return to Moscow from a trip abroad in December, he was detained at the airport and held in a cell overnight before being deported, according to two people familiar with the matter. The reason: speeding tickets.

O’Toole didn’t even commit the offenses — his wife did, while driving a car registered in his name, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Moscow’s automated traffic cameras issue tickets by license plate, rather than by driver. It took Deloitte’s lawyers six weeks to get O’Toole’s visa reinstated. O’Toole and Deloitte both declined to comment.

Even foreigners employed by prominent Russian enterprises have been deported. One executive of a mining company said he was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in mid-January along with his wife and children because his driver had racked up about $1,000 of speeding tickets.

While his family was allowed into the country, he said he was denied a lawyer and held for 12 hours in a detention area with about 30 other people before being deported. His company eventually got the visa reinstated, the executive said, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Mayakovsky Theater

Mindaugas Karbauskis, the Lithuanian artistic director of Moscow’s Mayakovsky Theater, said he was banned from Russia for a year when he tried to fly back in February. Karbauskis said on hisFacebook Inc. page that he’d received five speeding tickets of about 300 rubles ($8) each, all paid. He was allowed back in only after his bosses at the storied theater intervened.

“We vouched for him,” said Olesya Vartanova, a spokeswoman for the theater, declining to be more specific.

Lawmakers who drafted the legislation in 2011 said at the time that stricter visa rules were needed to curb the number of illegal immigrants, which the government puts at 3.5 million. The vast majority of those come from poorer former Soviet states, according to the Federal Migration Service in Moscow.

Like AmCham, the Association of European Business has warned its members about the risks of even minor legal infringements by foreign employees — particularly since Russia’s takeover of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, evolved into the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Nothing Happening

“There is nothing immediately happening and the current political situation will possibly not accelerate providing a solution to the problem,” AEB Chief Executive Officer Frank Schauff said in a phone interview.

“It’s certainly a similar situation to the one we faced in 2008, when the EU threatened sanctions but didn’t implement them,” Schauff said, referring to Putin’s five-day war with Georgia. “The pressure is higher this time. Ukraine is a much bigger country and is more in the center of Europe.”

The migration service won’t comment on how the events in Ukraine are impacting the visa issue, according to the office of spokeswoman Zalina Kornilova.

President Barack Obama said after talks in the White House with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on March 12 that the U.S. and the international community “will be forced to apply a cost” if Putin doesn’t change course. Sanctions on Russia could “get ugly fast” if events justify them, Secretary of State John Kerry said at a congressional hearing.

‘Massive’ Damage

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in parliament yesterday that Putin risks “massive” political and economic damage if he doesn’t de-escalate the conflict.

The EU announced a three-stage sanctions process against Russia last week, starting with the suspension of trade and visa-liberalization talks. Stage two includes asset freezes and travel bans for as-yet unidentified officials and would be imposed if Russia boycotts international talks on a settlement. Stage three envisages “additional and far-reaching consequences” if Russia further destabilizes Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers meet March 17, a day after Crimea votes in a referendum about joining Russia, to consider asset freezes and travel bans on Russian political and business leaders they consider responsible for instigating and profiting from the events on the Black Sea peninsula.

Kerry arrived today for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in London, where the U.S. will seek to end moves by Russia to annex Crimea.

All Tools

“Russia may use all the tools in the tool box” to retaliate against sanctions, including visa regulations and tax audits, Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the Republican-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington, said by e-mail.

Russia has been selective in applying its visa rules to foreigners in the past.

Hermitage Capital Management Ltd. founder William Browder, a U.S.-born citizen of the U.K., was barred from Russia without explanation in 2005. Browder, whose fund was once the largest stock investor in Russia, had spent much of the previous decade tangling with state-run companies over shareholder rights.

“Foreigners are most vulnerable because one swipe of the pen and they’re out for good and there is nothing you can do,” Browder, 50, said by e-mail. “I was the poster child of the use of corrupt visa bans, but they now do it all the time for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with the law.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Jason Corcoran in Moscow atjcorcoran13@bloomberg.netHenry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net; Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net Brad Cook, Paul Abelsky, Andrew Atkinson

5 referendums that the West has not taken issue with

Published time: March 14, 2014 14:38

 

Sealed packets containing invitations calling citizens to take part in the referendum on the status of Crimea, in Constutuency No.8 of Simferopol’s Kievsky District.(RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)

Download video (27.6 MB) 

The West has condemned the upcoming referendum in Crimea as “illegitimate” and is preparing sanctions against Russia. However, the West’s seemingly random policy on other referendums hints at a double standard in their governments’ rhetoric.

Crimea will vote Sunday whether to remain an autonomous region in Ukraine or to join with Russia. Western leaders have claimed the referendum is a farce and that Russian forces have occupied the region. Moscow, however, maintains there has been no such invasion and the referendum represents the Crimeans’ right to self-determination.

In the past the West has not batted an eyelid when countries sought to hold referendums and in some cases actively supported them.

Kosovo

Washington was quick off the mark with Kosovo, backing the region’s independence two years before the UN declared it was legal in 2008. NATO forces intervened 1999, carrying out a massive bomb campaign on targets in Serbia and in Kosovo. Human Rights Watch reported that over 500 civilians were killed in NATO’s incursion into the former Yugoslavia.

Protesters hold banners against the the EU-brokered Kosovo accord and call for a referendum on the deal as they march in Belgrade April 22, 2013.(Reuters / Djordje Kojadinovic)

Protesters hold banners against the the EU-brokered Kosovo accord and call for a referendum on the deal as they march in Belgrade April 22, 2013.(Reuters / Djordje Kojadinovic)

South Sudan

After a long and bloody conflict, South Sudan separated from the north in 2011 to become the world’s youngest nation state. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed the move as a historic day and“a testament to the tireless efforts of the people of South Sudan in their search for peace.” Washington has since spent around $600 million in building the new nation, but has frozen payments because of an escalation of violence in the fledgling nation.

People wave South Sudanese flags as they celebrate referendum results in town of Abyei October 31, 2013.(Reuters / Goran Tomasevic)

People wave South Sudanese flags as they celebrate referendum results in town of Abyei October 31, 2013.(Reuters / Goran Tomasevic)

The Falklands

The UK government held a referendum in overseas territory the Falklands in 2013 to ascertain whether the islanders wished to remain a British colony. In spite of Argentinian protests, the West did not move to intervene and stop the vote. Argentina lays claim to the Islands, calling them the Malvinas. In the referendum an overwhelming 98.8 percent of the Falklands population voted to remain British.

Islanders celebrate after the annouce of the referendum's result in Port Stanley, Falkland (Malvinas for Argentina) Islands, on March 11, 2013.(AFP Photo / Tony Chater)

Islanders celebrate after the annouce of the referendum’s result in Port Stanley, Falkland (Malvinas for Argentina) Islands, on March 11, 2013.(AFP Photo / Tony Chater)

Scotland

The Scottish government has scheduled a referendum for September 2014 to ask its population whether it wants independence from the United Kingdom. Britain has said if Scotland breaks away it will not be able to use the pound and will have to reapply for EU membership. The Scottish government, for its part, has resolved to eject all British nuclear weapons from the country should its population vote to be separate.

Pro-independence supporters as they gather for a rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

Pro-independence supporters as they gather for a rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

Catalonia

The autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia has announced it will hold a vote to decide on whether it wants independence from Spain in September. Madrid has slammed the referendum as illegal and in violation of the Spanish constitution because it questions Spanish sovereignty. Spain’s crippling financial crisis has led to a growing separatist movement in Catalonia over the last few years.

Catalans against the region's independence hold a Spanish flag during a demonstration for the unity of Spain and against the independence of Catalonia marking the Spanish constitution Day in Barcelona on December 6, 2013.(AFP Photo/ Josep Lago)

Catalans against the region’s independence hold a Spanish flag during a demonstration for the unity of Spain and against the independence of Catalonia marking the Spanish constitution Day in Barcelona on December 6, 2013.(AFP Photo/ Josep Lago)

Source: http://rt.com/news/referendums-ukraine-west-relations-782/

China Warns West that Sanctions on Russia Could Spiral into Chaos – U.S. & E.U. Indicate Sanctions to Begin Monday

13.Mar.2014
China Warns West that Sanctions on Russia Could Spiral into Chaos
The showdown in Ukraine is about to escalate on Monday if neither side backs down.

According to Reuters, China’s top envoy to Germany has warned the West against punishing Russia with sanctions for its intervention in Ukraine, saying such measures could lead to a dangerous chain reaction that could spiral out of control. This comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a public statement letting Russia know that it has until Monday to reverse course in Ukraine, and the E.U. made it clear in a separate statement that the decision to implement sanctions starting Monday has already been made.

 

The Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk was quoted by Reuters saying the following:
“When it comes to sanctions on Russia, a decision has in fact already been made, especially on the procedure of introducing sanctions. The consequence of this will be the start of sanctions on Monday,”

John Kerry used even stronger language in his statement, hinting at full scale economic warfare:
“I don’t want to go into all of the detail, except to say this: It can get ugly fast [if] the wrong choices are made,” he said. “And it can get ugly in multiple directions.”

It’s hard to believe that this is really happening.

Are the people who run the U.S. government really stupid enough to think that they will be able to control this? It’s hard to fathom why they would attempt to take it all the way, especially now that so much evidence has gotten out to the public showing that the U.S. government funded known Neo-Nazis and covered up the fact that it was the new coalition government behind the sniper attacks. But unless this is all just an epic bluff, our world is about to be shaken to its foundations.

 

Sources

Evidence that the U.S. backed coalition was actually behind the sniper attacks: http://scgnews.com/the-ukraine-crisis-what-youre-not-being-told

China warns of dangerous Russia sanctions ‘spiral’: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/13/us-ukraine-crisis-china-idUSBR…

EU approves framework for asset freezes, travel bans on Russia:http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/12/us-ukraine-eu-russia-sanctions…

John Kerry says Russia has until Monday to back down: http://washingtonexaminer.com/john-kerry-russia-has-until-monday-to-reve…

Kerry says sanctions would ‘get ugly fast’: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140312-709326.html

20 Fictional Characters I’d Have A Beer With

101 Books

Ranking books is a fruitless exercise. It’s inherently subjective and people get pissed.

For example, I loathe Mrs. Dalloway. But when a Woolfite sees that I have Mrs. Dalloway ranked almost last in my rankings, I’m the equivalent of an abortion protestor screaming at the front door of a clinic. THESE DOCTORS MUST DIE!!!

I have an opinion. They have an opinion. We argue, everybody leaves angry, and nothing gets changed.

So, yeah, it’s kind of fruitless to rank books, but I do it anyway ‘cause it’s fun. But what about book characters? Can I rank them in some sort of sensible, somewhat objective way?

That’s doubtful too. But I’m going to try it today anyway.

And here’s how I’ll do it. I’ll ask myself the following question: Which fictional characters would I most (and maybe not so much) like to have a beer with? Then, I’ll rank accordingly.

You’ve…

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