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Hong Kong 3: Drug Rules and Horse Care

When it comes to drug use, Hong Kong is one of the strictest racing jurisdictions in the world. No medications are allowed. Period. And some drugs -- Lasix, for example -- can't even be used in training.
At the same time, Hong Kong is among the most transparent jurisdictions regarding the physical condition of horses entered in races. The Hong Kong Jockey Club's web site has a link to complete veterinary information for every horse entered in every race, and in far more detail than is available to US bettors. For example, a look at Sunday's upcoming card at Sha Tin shows reports on which horses showed up lame after a race, which had fevers, which showed mucus or traces of blood in the trachea, which ones had fractured bones, which ones had suspensory injuries, and much more. I'm not sure whether all that information would actually help a bettor, though I find it valuable in explaining layoff lines, but it can't hurt.
Hong Kong, of course, has many inherent advantages…

Hong Kong 2: The Race Track Experience

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The beer garden at Happy Valley
Critics, consultants and industry insiders in US horse racing agonize over how to make race-going a fan-friendly, exciting experience, one that newcomers will enjoy and want to repeat. In Hong Kong, they've figured out how to do that. True, the circumstances are different, and Hong Kong racing doesn't face the kind of competition from other spectator sports and gambling options that tracks in the US face, but, nonetheless, perhaps there's something to be learned from looking at how it's done elsewhere.

This is the second of three reports based on several visits to each of the Hong Kong race tracks. Yesterday's dealt with the economics of Hong Kong racing. Tomorrow's will deal with care of horses, medication rules, and equine retirement.


Happy Valley

The urban racetrack is an unprepossessing species in America. Aqueduct, Hawthorne, Pimlico. Blighted neighborhoods, wind whistling through near-empty stands, a few thousand patrons whose …

Hong Kong 1. Where Even the Owners Make Money

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Sha Tin Racecourse on a busy day
Through a combination of fortuitous circumstances, my wife and I are lucky enough to be spending a month in Hong Kong, visiting our daughter, who works here, grading our law school exams far from the pleas of worried students, and, not so incidentally, checking out the Hong Kong racing scene.

Thanks to the kindness of Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing Bill Nader, formerly chief operating officer of NYRA, and Bill's assistant, Anny Kwan, we've enjoyed the best accommodations that Sha Tin and Happy Valley race courses have to offer, and we've also just wandered around in the grandstand at each track, absorbing the ambiance of being a regular racing fan.
So, for those who haven't had the chance to see Hong Kong racing in person, here are three blog postings on our experience, and how the Hong Kong scene compares with American racing. Today's post covers the economics of racing in Hong Kong; subsequent posts will deal wit…

The Business December 14th 2011, "Nato Green and Friends" Edition

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This Wednesday, we welcome back one of our most beloved and most frequent visitors, Nato Green, along with two brand-new guests! Nato Green is the creator of Iron Comic, the co-founder of Laughter Against the Machine, a prolific HuffPo blogger, and a Jew who cures his own bacon. He's such a regular friend to the show that he's earned the coveted moniker of "The Fifth Businessman," a title previously shared by Stu Sutcliffe and Brian Epstein.
We also welcome Sammy Obeid, a UC Berkeley graduate and nationally-touring comedian who was the first comedian to ever appear on the Food Network telling jokes. He placed third in the SF International Comedy Competition and won Best of the Fest at both the Arab-American Comedy Festival and the Out Of Bounds Festival in Austin. Though Sammy does five sets a night, every night, this is somehow his first visit to The Business. It's long overdue, but we are glad to have him.


Finally, all the way from the City of Angel…

The Business December 7th 2011, "Miles QUE?!?" Edition

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Who's gonna be at the Dark Room Wednesday?
Miles K!
Miles QUE?!?

Who's a witty comic comin' up in the Bay?
Miles K!
Miles QUE?!?

Who's website is http://cleverthingstosay.com/
Miles K!
Miles QUE?!?

Miles K. Stenehjem, that's que!

To quote East Bay artist Kaitlin McSweeny:

"Miles K. Stenehjem is an elegant satirist with a wit born of sensitive desperation and fearless experience, in my opinion a sort of Oscar Wilde of this time, if Oscar Wilde could lay down some pretty sweet freestyle rhymes and deliver stand-up performances that make even today's recession-depressed audiences gasp and guffaw."

Miles has also recently opened for Andy Kindler, has a show of his own called "Everything Jamboree" and now joins us on our humble show.

Sean is taking a well deserved victory lap around Los Angeles this week, but Chris, Bucky and the newly returned Alex will be on hand to stoke your hot comedy giggly-fire.

As always we ask but only a simple …

Convoluted Views about Media Ownership Inhibit Effective Policy

I was recently reviewing the effectiveness of media ownership policies and regulations and was struck by the limited success they have achieved during the past 50 years in Western nations.

There seem to be two central problems with ownership regulation efforts: ownership really is not the issue that we are trying to address through policy and we have convoluted views of ownership. Media ownership is not really what concerns us, but is a proxy of other concerns. What we are really worried about is interference with democratic processes, manipulation of the flow of news and information, powerful interests controlling public conversation, exclusion of voices from public debate, and the use of market power to mistreat consumers. It is thus thebehaviorof some of those who own media rather than the ownership form or extent of ownership that really concerns us.

This is compounded because media practitioners, scholars, and social critics have highly convoluted views about ownership and most have…

The Business November 30th 2011, "Sylvan Spectacular!" Edition

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Tuesday night, Sylvan Productions has their final open improv show at the Dark Room. Wednesday, they're the guest of honor at The Business, as we say goodbye to our Dark Roommates, and say hello to a new era of SF comedy. If that weren't enough, we've also got comedians Matt Gubser and O.J. Patterson - plus regular Businessmen Sean and Bucky.

Sylvan Productions has done a wildly popular Open Improv show at the Dark Room every Tuesday, which moves to the SUB/Mission starting in December. They also produce a five-hour comedy show every Wednesday at the Dirty Trix Saloon, and this Friday, their Producers Show comes to Dirty Trix as well. Their shows may be heavily improv'ed, but they could hardly be improved.

Matt Gubser is an SF comedian with the hair of a handsomer Jesus Christ and the wit of a sassier Judas Iscariot. He performs at all the finest clubs and showcases in the Bay Area, and he's also a potter, as if that's fair at all. O.J. Patterson is…

The Business November 23rd 2011, "Thanksgiving Plymouth Rockin' Eve!" Edition

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Twas the night before Thanksgiving
And all through the Mission
Everyone came to the Dark Room
Because our show was so bitchin'


It is an All Thanksgivinged Eve to remember at the Dark Room this week, as we welcome a cornucopia of guests to the Business. From Los Angeles, we have Aparna Nancherla and SF native Emily Maya Mills, and from New York City, we have Alameda's own Emily Heller! Holy shit, if the Wampanoag had brought this kind of lineup to the Pilgrims back in 1621, they all would have died of laughter! And probably scurvy or rickets, because medicine was very primitive back then.

Aparna Nancherla is a Washington D.C. native who now entertains Los Angeles with her absurdist wit. She's performed all over the place. including Last Comic Standing, the Bentzen Ball, the Bridgetown Festival, WTF with Marc Maron, and, most importantly, The Business LA. I yam excited to hear her stuff!

Emily Maya Mills - "the Edward James Olmos of comedy" - is an actor, …

The Business November 16th 2011, "Occupy Swan Street" Edition

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Whose Dark Room? Our Dark Room! No Alex this week, but The Business has two exciting guest stars this week. We welcome two of our favorite journalists, Rachel Swan and Hiya Swanhuyser, to discuss the Occupy movement, journalism, the Black Bloc, and whether Occupy Oakland is hipper and less gentrified than Occupy SF. 

Rachel Swan is the music editor of the East Bay Express, who made her standup comedy debut at The Business last year. Hiya Swanhuyser is a former culture writer and blogger for the SF Weekly who recently produced the Occupy SF Art & Performance series. They're both in the top 1% of journalists in our book.

Our corporate overlords still demand a capitalist admission fee, but it's only five dollars, dollars that sadly still bear the mark of the Federal Reserve bank. We still offer a bring-your-own-burrito program, in defiance of the authorities, but you might need a gas mask afterward.

The Business November 9th 2011, "Double Stuff" Edition

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This week The Business welcomes not one, not two, not three, but FOUR special guests, effectively doubling the base number of comics guaranteed by our standard Wednesday fare. Along with our factory installed four Businessmen, you will also receive Ivan Hernandez, Colleen Watson, Mike Recine and Erin Lennox. It's like when Oreo took the work out of assembling two cookies and smartly debuted the now legendary Double Stuff cookie. What kind of laughs will you find in our creamy center this week? Let me pull this sweet baby apart for you...




Ivan Hernandez is self described as "nerd gent comic jerk" That's right, no need for punctuation. When not forcing individual panels of comic books on the internet's population for proper acknowledgment of their radness, Ivan tells jokes all over San Francisco. I think it's his birthday this Wednesday too, so buy him a burrito and wrap it in a page from a Hellboy novella.

Colleen Watson is an idiot, according…

The Business November 2nd 2011, "Featuring Anna Seregina and Saurabh Kikani" Edition

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We've got a full lineup of regular Businessmen this week, plus two exciting guests - Anna Seregina and Saurabh Kikani!

Ms. Seregina is a talented actress and improviser who recently turned her focus to the world of stand-up comedy. She was born in Moscow, which she credits for her sharp, cynical wit, but also means that if all goes well, she should have very her own theater in Branson, Missouri in twenty years. Also, she works just down the street from at the Beauty Bar, where she tends bar beautifully.

Mr. Kikani visits us from Los Angeles, where he is a regular at the Comedy Store and the world-famous Improv. Also, he has a law degree, so if you don't laugh your ass off, he'll sue your pants off! Just kidding. Please put your pants back on.

All this plus Alex, Bucky, Chris, and Sean, a one-eyed dog, unlimited in-and-out privileges, and Six Hours In A Car, and it's just five bucks! Though for an extra dollar, you can also feel Bucky's biceps. Just kidding…

The Business October 26th 2011, "Maximum Fun" Edition

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The Business returns triumphantly from Los Angeles this week, and welcomes a special guest - comedian and broadcaster Jordan Morris! Jordan is the co-host of MaximumFun.org's "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" and was an original co-host of "The Sound of Young America." You can also see him on Fuel TV's "The Daily Habit" and at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles. See the face attached to the voice you love!

We've also got all of your favorite regular Businessmen, making this a veritable "Jordan, Alex, Bucky, Chris, Sean, Go!" event. Tickets are still just five dollars, and we enable, nay, encourage the bringing of one's own burrito.

Terrorists on the Backstretch?

Six New York-based trainers have sued the Department of Homeland Security over its refusal to grant seasonal work visas to backstretch workers. The lawsuit, filed October 7th in Federal Court in Brooklyn, in the court district that includes Belmont and Aqueduct race tracks, claims that the government's refusal to renew the temporary visas means that it will rapidly become impossible for trainers to find enough workers to take care of the horses currently in their barns, much less care for any new arrivals.
The story is mis-reported here in the Daily News. Contrary to what the News says, the lawsuit was not filed by the NY Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (disclosure: I'm a member of the NYTHA Board of Directors), but rather by six individual trainers. The lead plaintiff is Kiaran McLaughlin, and the other five who've joined in the lawsuit are Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Mike Hushion, John Kimmel and Bruce Brown (more disclosure: Bruce trains horses for my partnership …

The Business October 12th 2001, "Witty Redux Edition"

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This week at the Business we swap out our ever-changing parts for some familiar local faces and a few charming visitors. Chris and Alex are once again cheating on the Business with some dirty fling somewhere, but Bucky and Sean will be on hand to welcome Business favorites Caitlin Gill and Chris Thayer. Plus, after one previous false start, we are happy to have Isaac Witty here at the Dark Room. Also, secret special guests in the works!

As always the Business is just $5 and starts at 8pm. And as always we are close to many burrito and drink options (although few burrito drink options)

Not Ready for Prime Time?

The powers that be at the New York Racing Association, not to mention nouveau uber-owner Mike Repole, have risen up to protest the Breeders Cup's decision to hold its 2012 edition at Santa Anita. Last Saturday, NYRA returned to the glory days of old with a "Super Saturday" card that included six graded stakes, five of them Grade 1s and the 6th, the Grade 2 Kelso, featuring Repole's local hero, Uncle Mo. Repole, who also had Stay Thirsty running in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, celebrated in the Belmont Room with 50 or 60 of his closest friends.
Compared to the average Saturday at Belmont, the results were more than satisfactory. Attendance, on a day when rain threatened all afternoon and finally arrived late in the day, was a solid, if not overwhelming, 10,481. And all-sources handle was a very healthy $16.7 million.
On the same day, Santa Anita, running its own Breeders Cup preview card, had four Grade 1 stakes in an 11-race card, featuring Bob Baffert's Game On Dude …

Friday October 21st: The Business LA @ Meltdown - LAST BIZ LA OF 2011!

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Hey LA!  We've had fun playing in your sandbox this year. However with Santa and the Great Pumpkin and some turkeys coming our wayin the next few months, we won't see you guys again for a while. So our October Business LA show is going to be a big send off for 2011! Bring all your friends and relatives and let's celebrate every holiday at once!

All the regular Businessmen will be in attendance this time around: Bucky and Sean and Chris and Alex will all be on hand, as well as our special guests Brendon Walsh and Beth Stelling! We'll have some special surprises and as always the Medically Transported Mission Style Burrito Raffle will reward some lucky audience member with sketchy goodness.

Tickets are $8 online (no service charge!) and $10 at the door. I think you know what to do.

BUY TICKETS ONLINE!

http://www.nerdmeltla.com/tickets/index.php?event_id=75

The Business, October 5th 2011 - "Monday Night Foreplays & Natasha Muse" Edition

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The Business opens its doors to the fairer sex this week as we welcome two of our favorite acts: Monday Night ForePlays, and comedian Natasha Muse. The feeling's right, oh what a night! Monday Night ForePlays is Piano Fight's acclaimed night of female-driven sketch comedy. This month, they're presenting “Don’t Tell Mom the Weekend’s Dead!”, a show that promises to help keep the Saturday spirit alive! How? Through the showcasing of common Saturday night motifs and scenarios; you’ll see bison pan-sexuality, a vinyl-brassiered pop group giving financial advice, gamete on gamete romance in fertilization, and a special appearance from 90’s teen book club favorite, The Babysitter’s Club. If that’s not a recipe for weekend sustainability, we don’t know what is! This Wednesday, enjoy sketches entitled "Dr. Poonberg's Button Glove" and "Say Hello To Your Friends".  Natasha Muse promises that she is at least the second-funniest transsexual you kn…

How to Destroy Your Customer Base and Investor Confidence

Netflix used to have a charmed life.

This year, however, poorly thought out strategy and lurching decisions are stripping away many of its advantages and making it vulnerable to competitors.

Established in 1997, its founders saw opportunities in creating an Internet-based DVD-by-mail distribution system. It was designed to be a competitor to physical video stores, making it more attractive by offering a larger selection and using a unique IT driven distribution system that combined distribution centers across the country to serve customers within 24 hours at highly attractive prices.

The DVD-by-mail service became a hit, ultimately devastating the market of physical stores such as Blockbuster. By 2007 it had delivered more than 1 billion DVDs to customers. That same year it launched on-demand video streaming service so customers could also select a video and stream it to a PC (and later other platforms) for immediate viewing. The company allowed viewers a highly popular choice of physica…

How Much Cheating?

Big kerfuffle over at the Paulick Report on the just-released report from the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) on drug test results from 2010. The report says that, of some 324,000-plus samples taken from horses last year, only 47 were found to contain Class 1 or 2 drugs -- those that have been determined to enhance performance and not to have any therapeutic use in horses, or in which the therapeutic effect is outweighed by the performance-enhancing potential.

Most of the commentators at Paulick's site think that the RCI report amounts to a whitewash. To a certain extent they have a point; the report specifically excludes Lasix, which has both therapeutic AND performance-enhancing effects. But the bulk of the criticism seems to be that, well, of course there aren't many positive tests, because the real cheaters are using brand-new designer drugs that can't even be tested for.It's a clever bit of logic; if you can't find the drug in the lab, t…

The Business August 17th 2011, "I Feel Witty" Edition

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Jesse Elias and Issac Witty join The Business this Wednesday, which will most likely cause a pulsing force-field of quirky and awkward delivery styles to envelop the entire theater. That means it will be very very funny night.



The Business is excited to welcome Issac Witty's unique and hilarious comedy style, which has been featured on the Late Show with David Letterman, A Prairie Home Companion, Comedy Central, and Bob and Tom radio show just to name a few. His CD "Zero Balance" was released last year on the Rooftop Comedy label. There is much to be said of his delivery, which feels both classic and completely left field at the same time. All in all, Issac Witty is very...Issac Witty. You'll see what I mean.



Jesse Elias is probably too smart for his own good, but obviously not smart enough to stay away from a career in stand-up comedy, and audiences all over the Bay Area are all the better for that oversight.

A recent winner of the not-even-close-to-…

The Business August 10th 2011, "One In, One Out" Edition

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This week at the Business is about hellos and goodbyes as we welcome Phoebe Robinson FROM New York, and send-off Emily Heller TO New York.



We say hello to Cleveland-native Phoebe Robinson who is in town from New York, where she performs at clubs like Carolines, New York Comedy Club and runs her own show as well. Recently, she was a finalist in NBC’s Stand Up for Diversity competition and co-created and co-hosts a weekly podcast Shelarious.



We say "Goodbye Heller Brick Road" to Emily Heller, a Business favorite who needs little introduction but deserves a grand send off. She performs all over the Bay Area, produces the popular Girl Talk show at the SF Punch Line and hosted the podcast Slumming It (well, up until last week) We are happy to have Emily for one of her last SF performances before heading east.



The regular Businessmen Chris, Sean, Alex and Bucky will all be on hand to make sure all this transitioning runs smoothly and stays hilarious. Burritos and ref…

The Business LA Edition - Hot August Night (Singular)

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UPDATE: King Of Tweets, ROB DELANEY will join the Business at Meltdown August 26th!

Listen up LA.



Carmageddon couldn't stop us.



The Electric Daisy Carnival couldn't stop us.



You think Gwyneth Paltrow can stop us?



HAHAHAHAHAHA!



July has been defeated and we're charging into August like a pair of wind-swept bangs at a Neil Diamond concert. And I'm mixing metaphors for one simple reason: YOU DON"T WANT TO MISS THIS ONE!



Chris, Alex and Sean Proudly return to The Nerdist Theater @ Meltdown Comics Friday August 26th to bring you the comedy sweeter than Caroline herself.



Bucky is away that night, but we've got Special Guests Kyle Kinane and Matt Knudsen! More guests to come! Plus the raffling off of the sacred Burrito From Above (Bakersfield) returns and heaven knows what else!



Tickets are $8 if you get them online, and $10 at the door. You know what to do.



http://www.meltcomics.com/​webstore/index.php?main_pa​ge=index&cPath=6



"...San Francisco does hav…

The Business August 3rd 2011, "Lest Ye Be Erin Judge" Edition

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This week the Business regains it steadfast foundation of all four Businessmen Chris, Alex, Bucky and Sean while welcoming Comedian Erin Judge all the way from Brooklyn, New York. Erin Judge describes herself as "a comedian, writer, and caffeine enthusiast" who has been featured on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and praised by Vanity Fair and Time Out New York. She is in town for the very funny Girl Talk show at the SF Punch Line (run by friends of the Biz Emily Heller and Janine Brito) and we are lucky enough to snag her here for a night at The Dark Room.

As you may know the show is but a mere $5, starts at a mere 8pm and is located a mere street-widths away from fine burritos and tallboys.


FCC Moves to Give Viewers Choice and Provide More Competition on Cable Systems

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has adopted rules designed to halt cable system operators from retaliating against independent channels when there are business disputes or discriminating against them in favor of ones in which they ownership stakes.

The rules are intended to ensure that the monopoly power of cable operators is not used to deny viewer choice or harm competition channel providers.

One rule is designed to prohibit systems from dropping channels when there are business disputes with systems that have been taken to the commission for resolution.

Another rule is designed to create a more level playing field for independent channels by making it possible for them to reach more viewers. Comcast Corp., for example, has been accused in recent years of forcing competitors’ sports channels into premium packages that fewer viewers select.

Given that price rises for cable services have far outstripped inflation rates in recent years, that service providers create bundles of …

What Legacy Media Can Learn from Eastman Kodak

What do you do when your industry is changing? What do you do when your innovations are fueling the changes? Those problems have plagued Eastman Kodak Co. for three decades and the company’s experience provides some lessons for those running legacy media businesses.

Eastman Kodak’s success began when it introduced the first effective camera for non-professionals in the late 19th century and in continual improvements to cameras and black and white and color films throughout the twentieth century. Its products became iconic global brands.
The company’s maintained its position through enviable research and development activities, which in 1975 created the first digital camera. Since that time it has amassed more than 1,100 patents involving electronic sensing, digital imaging, electronic photo processing, and digital printing. These developments, however, continually created innovations damaging to its core film-based business.
Digital photography created a strategic dilemma for the compan…

The Business July 13th 2011, "More Scott Than Sean" Edition

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This week The Business sheds a Sean and gains a Scott. With Kean off doing an honest fifteen minute's work for an honest fifteen minute's pay, The Business welcomes Scott Capurro to it's stage!

San Francisco favorite Scott Capurro has appeared on television, movies and stages worldwide, and occasionally performs encores in the nightmares of audience members long after the show. His act is not for the timid or frankly the stupid, and we are lucky and excited to have him on the show. This quote sums up nicely:

“Yet accept the ferocious, corrosive material in the provocative spirit it’s intended, and it is brilliantly, shockingly funny. So far beyond the pale that the only reaction IS to laugh, partly out of discomfort, partly out of the sheer audacity of it all.” - Chortle

Bucky, Chris and Alex will also be around, but don't expect any hand holding. Your a big audience and you can take it.

Remember: don't let the grey days of Summer get you down. Let th…