Sunday, August 18, 2019
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from eating disorders and most are teenage girls and young women. Among the three types of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa is the most common type. It is a disorder in which the person has a distorted body image and an intense fear of being fat. Binging, or eating large quantities of food in a short period of time, and then purging, or vomiting to empty the stomach of food, are all actions commonly found in anorexics. An anorexic is extremely afraid of becoming fat and might believe she/he is fat even when he/she is very thin. While there is no single known cause of anorexia, several things may contribute to the development of the disorder. For example, social influences, genetic and biological factors, psychological issues, and family environments all contribute to the development of Anorexia. Social influences are a big contribution to anorexia. The American society places high value on thinness among women. Thinness is frequently mistaken or identified as beauty. As a result, young girls often think that they must be slender to be attractive. Kids are deluged with images of fat free bodies in the pages of heath, fashion, and teen magazines. Such media that feature photographs of thin super models and actresses are under attack for encouraging young women to starve themselves. One factor possibly leading to anorexia nervosa is the way a person looks at the world, or the psychological factors. An anorexic might have a fear of growing up, a drive to be perfect, or family problems. Some psychological characteristics are low self-esteem, poor body image, need for control, and the need to feel special or unique. Additional contributions to anorexia are family environments. Some families of people with the disorder are more likely to be overprotective, rigid, and suffocating in their closeness. Also parents who place too much value on appearance, diet themselves, and criticize their childrenÃ¢â¬â¢s bodies are more likely to have a child with anorexia. Other contributions to anorexia nervosa are genetic, biological factors, stressful events, and life transitions. It occurs 8 times more in people who have relatives with the disorder. Women whose mothers or sisters have had the disorder are more likely to develop the condition than those who do not. Life transitions can trigger anorexia nervosa to someone who is already vulnerable. Things like starting a new school or job or being teased to traumatic events like rape can lead to the onset of anorexia.
Black Women in Sports: Sexuality and Athleticism Men and women who chose to engage in sports from which they would traditionally be discouraged because of their gender, particularly as professionals, redefine the sport. The social and cultural "costs" are not the result of the individual's participation, but rather the way in which sports have been socially, politically, and economically constructed. Gender is only one of the few ways in which people are categorized according to their proficiency for some athletic activities. Race and class are also factors which may prevent individuals from engaging in sports that have been traditionally excluded to them. Socially constructed notions of race, class, and sexuality compound the way in which the history of sports has developed. For example, black women athletes may be more accepted in certain sports than in others, i.e. black women in the WNBA might seem as less an anomaly for black women than for white women, and yet the success of the Williams sisters in tennis may seem more out of the ordinary for many Americans than the success of their white counterparts. Race, class, sex, and sexuality are the operative notions in which certain sports are less "traditional" for certain groups. Black women have a long history with such sports and track and field. Tuskegee Institute (later Tuskegee State University) led the nation as powerhouses for the production of Olympic competitors from the fifties to the seventies. Despite the relative lack of funding received by these schools as compared to white schools in Jim Crow Alabama, their track and field programs flourished. Perhaps this is because track and field did not require expensive equipment to train and play. While white schools... ...more free to develop their game plans rather than their outfits before the match, but hopefully their sexuality will not be completely submerged by the game either. In an article entitled, "Absent Anna Has Sexy Impact," it was noted, "Serena Williams has no problems with Kournikova's beauty bringing a tennis boost even if the subject herself cannot take a title....The majority of the credit pretty much goes to the Williams sisters and Kournikova. Those three have really made the biggest difference in the amount of publicity, the amount of popularity in the sport." Hopefully, there will come a time in women's sports when all women will be recognized for their superior athleticism, and the unique sexuality of each individual female athlete will be appreciated for how it transforms, challenges, and redefines the social, political, and intellectual dimensions of sport.
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Final Paper Mamet and HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s Suspenseful Similarities While comparing the filmÃ¢â¬â¢s Strangers on a Train, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and The Spanish Prisoner directed by David Mamet, two suspenseful mysteries unfold. In this essay I will compare both directors use of themes, tones, and camera effects to convey the thrilling story of a confused and tortured protagonist. While they are different plotlines, both stories overlap in many ways. Perhaps Mamet may have even made an homage to HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s Strangers on a Train by mirroring various scenes and themes in The Spanish Prisoner. Strangers on a Train is the story of two strangers that meet on a train, but it is hardly that simple. One a tennis star, Guy Haines, and the other, a wealthy psychopath Bruno Anthony. Bruno proposes a scheme to Guy to kill someone the other person wants to dispose of, a Ã¢â¬Å"criss-crossÃ¢â¬ . Unknowingly, Guy agrees to kill BrunoÃ¢â¬â¢s enemy and vice versa. Bruno kills GuyÃ¢â¬â¢s wife that he had been trying to divorce, and expects Guy to kill his father. They get mixed up in a cat a dog chase of murder and confusion, which ended with BrunoÃ¢â¬â¢s death and Guy marrying the women he loved, Anne Morton. The Spanish Prisoner is titled from a con game that traps a mark into turning over thousands of dollars to scam artists. David Mamet character Joe Ross is a math genius that devised a Ã¢â¬Å"processÃ¢â¬ that will earn his company billions of dollars. The process is the maguffin (a typical trait of Hitchcock); we never find out what the process is, only that rival Japanese corporations will do anything to steal it. Joe Ross ends up happily ever after similarly to Guy Haines. Both stories reflect one another in multiple ways. One is that Bruno the sympathetic villain in HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s Strangers on a Train that we love and hate is very similar to that of Julian Ã¢â¬ËJimmyÃ¢â¬â¢ Dell who elaborately tried to steal the process. We grow relationships with Jimmy Dell and with Bruno Anthony; they are both the catalyst of all bad that comes to the protagonist, yet each director makes them appealing and loveable. Both plotlines are obviously different, but Joe Ross is a similar reflection of HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s creation of Guy Haines as well. Both men are mixed up in what they thought were brief encounters with ice or eccentric strangers. Yet both men get fooled along the way and get entangled in a web of lies, murder, and deceit. Mamet mirrors Hitchcock storyline in various ways throughout the films with character similarities again and again. On the plane ride back to the States, Susan asks Joe the filmÃ¢â¬â¢s signature question: Ã¢â¬Å"Who in the world is what they seem? Ã¢â¬ In this scene, instead of a train they are on an airplane, and instead of Bruno asking Guy a question, it is Susan to Joe. Inevitably they are the same. Susan endows doubt and a motive to do something out of character, much like BrunoÃ¢â¬â¢s question to Anthony, Ã¢â¬Å"My theory is that everybody is a potential murderer. DidnÃ¢â¬â¢t you ever want to kill somebody? Say one of those useless fellows Miriam was running around with? Ã¢â¬ Each character is stricken with a striking comment that unravels the rest of their fate. In the same scene in the airplane Joe responds to Susan by retreating to the planeÃ¢â¬â¢s bathroom to unwrap DellÃ¢â¬â¢s gift, which turns out to be a first edition of Budge on Tennis. The tennis theme is another similarity echoed in Strangers on a Train. Guy Haines is a pro tennis player and many of the scenes have imagery of tennis. Metaphorically it could represent the mental state of characters or plot, the back and forth of sense and logic. Later when Joe is trying to meet up with lawyers to discuss the process in Central Park, he goes onto a carousel. Mamet does no mistake by copying HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s carousel tool as a dizzying climactic point. The spinning of the carousel signifies the mental state of both protagonists at the time. Each is on the verge of a breakdown, not knowing who to trust or what to do next. Camera angles enhance the scene in HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s version because he uses high angle shots and differential focus on the faces of the patrons riding the carousel while the background spins quickly it creates a highly suspenseful and memorable scene. Hitchcock also used that little carnie man who crawled under the moving carousel, I was in awe of the camera angles throughout this scene, it made me hold my breath. The scene from The Spanish Prisoner where Joe was in the carousel was not as thrilling, the tone was different, he just walked around it slowly. The tones of the two scenes are like night and day. HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s is loud and scary, while MametÃ¢â¬â¢s is eerily quiet and somber. Thematically they both explain the mental state of the protagonist, but HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s tone is intense, fast paced, and surreal at times, while MametÃ¢â¬â¢s tone is cerebral and realistic. Not only are the characters, the themes, and elements comparatively similar, but also many of HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s trademarks are found in both movies. One is the falsely accused man. This is present in Guy Haines, as well as in Joe Ross. Each protagonist is being chased for a crime they didnÃ¢â¬â¢t commit. It is a classic trait of suspense thrillers and is defiantly a major part of each film. The second trait is the guilty woman. This is present in Susan in Spanish Prisoner, and in Miriam in Strangers on a Train. Both directors convey police as idiotic throughout the movie as well, which is another Hitchcock trait. The final element is the pathological deviant. This is present in Bruno Anthony and in Julian Ã¢â¬ËJimmyÃ¢â¬â¢ Dell. This is the figure that spun the web of lies and created a Ã¢â¬Å"trustworthyÃ¢â¬ bond while in reality being completely crazed for a purpose that is unattainable. While both movies are similar in their theme, tone, characters, and director traits, they also vary in ways that make them unique. Both the stories are well conveyed due to the directorÃ¢â¬â¢s clear point of view. One was referencing the other, both were gripping and suspenseful tales of an innocent man trying to fix a problem that they cant seem to solve. MametÃ¢â¬â¢s mirroring of Hitchcock was done well, but HitchcockÃ¢â¬â¢s surrealistic shots and character like the carnie make it more interesting and compelling of a movie to me.
Ã¢â¬Å"I know what you're thinking.Ã¢â¬ I stretched my arms above me, tucking my hands between my head and the pillow. Sunlight poured over me from the giant window but did little to help my troubled mood. I'd been sullen and quiet all morning. Ã¢â¬Å"Not likely.Ã¢â¬ Dorian reached over to a tray of assorted pastries and sweets that had been sitting by the bed when we awoke. That and the newly built-up fire were only a couple of signs that tidying servants had been up and around in here. Their presence shouldn't have bothered me; everyone had already believed Dorian and I were sleeping together. Yet, knowing others had moved around us while we slept still felt odd. He popped a marzipan-stuffed tartlet into my mouth. I made a surprised sound but ate it anyway. He had excellent cooks. Ã¢â¬Å"Well, then, let me guess anyway. I do so love trying to reason out your thoughts.Ã¢â¬ He grinned at me, every inch the lighthearted and frivolous man I usually knew. He bore almost no trace of the impassioned lover from last night, the one who'd repeatedly told me in explicit detail exactly what he could do to me if he wanted Ã¢â¬â and then proved that he could. I rolled to my side, putting my back to him. Ã¢â¬Å"Knock yourself out.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"All right. You're now realizing you did the unthinkable. You made love to me Ã¢â¬â one of the shining ones. You crossed over that invisible line, and now the horror and regret of that is eating you up.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"No, that's not what I'm thinking.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Oh.Ã¢â¬ I heard him shift again and then felt a cookie balanced delicately on my arm. I snagged it and munched on it, getting crumbs on the sheets while he reconsidered. Lemon sugar. Ã¢â¬Å"Very well. How about this: You're thinking about the kitsune. About Kiyo. You miss him and lament what happened. Being with me makes you feel guilty.Ã¢â¬ I hadn't been thinking about Kiyo, but mentioning him suddenly brought him to mind. I did miss Kiyo. I missed the easy way we interacted, his solid and steady presence. I missed the way he held me and made me feel safe. Ã¢â¬Å"No.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Hmm. Well, then. My perception appears to be off this morning. It has been known to happen once or twice before.Ã¢â¬ I stared out the window, unsettled emotions turning over and over in me. Finally, I said, Ã¢â¬Å"I'm bothered byÃ¢â¬ ¦how it was last night. How rough it was.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Truly? I really don't know you so well. I thought you enjoyed it.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I did.Ã¢â¬ He waited a beat. Ã¢â¬Å"Forgive me, then, but I don't quite grasp your concern.Ã¢â¬ I rolled back over toward him, and it all spilled out. Ã¢â¬Å"Don't you get it? All this time I've been trying to avoid hordes of gentry and monsters from raping me. And yetÃ¢â¬ ¦that's essentially what happened last night. I let youÃ¢â¬ ¦I let you be aggressive and possessive. And then I liked it. What's that say about me? What's wrong with me?Ã¢â¬ Dorian's face shifted to that rare and serious concern that sometimes seized it. He reached out and cupped my face with both of his hands. Ã¢â¬Å"Oh, gods, no. Is that what's upset you? Eugenie, Eugenie. That's not rape. Rape is brutal. Rape is done against your will, usually with someone you hate Ã¢â¬â or at least like a little less than me. What we did last nightÃ¢â¬ ¦that was a game. I believe it initially helped you get over a mental stumbling block, but after thatÃ¢â¬ ¦there was nothing violent or bad. It was aÃ¢â¬ ¦novel way of approaching sex. You consented. There's nothing wrong with you for liking it.Ã¢â¬ Maybe he was right, but it still made me feel strange. Ã¢â¬Å"I've just never done anything like that. I've had rough sex before but never anything soÃ¢â¬ ¦kinky.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Kinky. Fantastic word. It always takes us awhile to catch up with your world's slang.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It makes things weird between us. I mean, weirder than usual.Ã¢â¬ He ran his hand over my cheek and through my hair. Ã¢â¬Å"Then tell me how to make things right.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't know.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Perhaps this will cheer you up: We're ready to go to Aeson's now.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"What?Ã¢â¬ That didn't cheer me up so much as surprise me. Where had this come from? Ã¢â¬Å"We can go whenever you wish.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"You're giving in because I have morning-after regrets?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I'm Ã¢â¬Ëgiving in' because you crossed the point I wanted you to with your magic.Ã¢â¬ I scoffed and rolled away. Ã¢â¬Å"Bullshit. I can make water drops appear in the air. Somehow I doubt that's the life-or-death difference needed on this mission.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"The life-or-death factor here is that you can control a fine portion of your magic now. I needed that to happen before I felt comfortable on this venture. I couldn't risk your emotions flaring and creating a storm that might kill us. Now, you may very well still have some sort of magical breakdown, but I believe your current skills will go far to at least minimize the impact.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Then what you said before Ã¢â¬â about it being protection in case I was defenselessÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Yes. I'm afraid that was a ruse. I'd hoped the thought might spur you on to try harder.Ã¢â¬ Typical Dorian. His absurdity made me half-smile. Ã¢â¬Å"You're happier now?Ã¢â¬ he asked. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't know if happy is the right word, but I will be when the Jasmine thing is over.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Excellent. Come here.Ã¢â¬ He motioned me into his outstretched arm, and for a moment, I expected an advance. Like a Hey, baby, I'll make you happier type thing. I moved over tentatively, and he only put his arms around me. Just that simple. No jokes. No kinkiness. Just a simple embrace between two people, two people close enough to have rattled the headboard last night. I took comfort in it, relaxing into his warmth and security. He wasn't Kiyo, but he felt nice. At last he moved his face away so he could look at me. Ã¢â¬Å"Very well, then. Tell me how you would like this to unfold.Ã¢â¬ Staging another heist turned out to take a fair bit of planning and didn't actually unfold until later the next day. We assembled all three of my minions in one of Dorian's lounges. They waited patiently for orders, each watching me as their minds undoubtedly stirred with their assorted neuroses. As Volusian had once pointed out, they had little to lose. They couldn't die. When Dorian called in Shaya to join us, I couldn't help an exclamation of surprise. Ã¢â¬Å"Remember the distraction we discussed?Ã¢â¬ he asked me. I did. Before getting out of bed, we had come up with the tentative outline of a plan. Part of it had included a major distraction near Aeson's home, enough to draw the attention of his guard so we could enter undetected. My spirits had long since verified that the siege tunnel had been blocked off. Shaya, he explained, would be our distraction. She had the power to command small ranges of vegetation. In particular, she could summon and order around trees Ã¢â¬â something she'd apparently done before to great effect. Dorian's thought was that Shaya would have a small regiment of said trees attack the western side of Aeson's hold. On the eastern side, we knew there was a servants' entrance we could slip into. Normally, that would be too exposed but not if the castle's security was preoccupied elsewhere. I nodded, thinking it was a good plan. Shaya crossed her arms and looked thoroughly displeased. Ã¢â¬Å"You got a problem with it?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I don't think it's our place to interfere with Aeson's affairs, nor do I feel this is worth risking my king's life over.Ã¢â¬ I glanced between her and Dorian uneasily. Ã¢â¬Å"So you won't do it?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Of course I will. My king gives a command, and I obey. I am merely expressing my honest opinion first. I would be doing a disservice otherwise.Ã¢â¬ Dorian touched her cheek, smiling at her stern expression. Ã¢â¬Å"And that is why you are so valued.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"It's a bad idea,Ã¢â¬ said Finn suddenly. We all turned to him. Ã¢â¬Å"What do you mean?Ã¢â¬ I asked. Ã¢â¬Å"What's a few trees? It screams, Ã¢â¬ËHey, look at our obvious distraction.' It'll make them suspicious. You want to really get their attention, send him in.Ã¢â¬ He inclined his head toward Dorian. Ã¢â¬Å"A little bit of that rock mojo, and they'll think there's an all-out assault going on.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"We can't. I need him as my backup,Ã¢â¬ I argued, Ã¢â¬Å"and protection for Jasmine. Shaya can do her thing and get out of there quickly. If I go in without him, then we're in exactly the same situation as before.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Except without the army waiting for you,Ã¢â¬ said Finn. Shaya shook her head, glossy black braids swinging. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't like the idea of my king left alone.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"He'll be in and out, no problem. And if he has to face off, he can take anything Aeson's people throw at him.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Unless it's Aeson himself,Ã¢â¬ mused Dorian. Ã¢â¬Å"Is he stronger than you?Ã¢â¬ I asked. Ã¢â¬Å"We're very evenly matched.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Huh. That surprises me. I mean, Kiyo walked away alive from a fight with him.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"King Aeson wasn't using his full power then,Ã¢â¬ said Nandi. Ã¢â¬Å"Most likely he feared burning down his home.Ã¢â¬ Seeing my startled look, she continued. Ã¢â¬Å"It would have created a terrible inferno from whence you would not have escaped. Your skin would have melted, only your bones left behind.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"So you're saying he wouldn't have to worry about that outdoors. He could unleash as much as he liked.Ã¢â¬ Something struck me, and I turned back to Dorian. Ã¢â¬Å"What about you? Are you limited indoors?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Hypothetically, no. Realistically? WellÃ¢â¬ ¦I still have to operate in a way that won't bury us alive.Ã¢â¬ He smiled, seeing my consternation. Ã¢â¬Å"Don't worry, my dear. I'll still be of use to you.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"More use outside,Ã¢â¬ said Finn. Ã¢â¬Å"We won't even need extra backup, not if nobody's inside to find us.Ã¢â¬ I sighed and rubbed my eyes. I'd walked into Aeson's with a lot less planning last time, and foolish or not, it had been a hell of a lot simpler than this. I turned to the room's darkest corner, which had been silent thus far. Ã¢â¬Å"Volusian?Ã¢â¬ He straightened up from where he'd slouched in the shadows. Ã¢â¬Å"I will be very surprised if we emerge from this without any sort of confrontation, regardless of who creates the initial distraction. If I must honestly answer what will keep you aliveÃ¢â¬ Ã¢â¬â he sighed, obviously unhappy about that outcome. I suspected Nandi's horrific description of my death by fire had kindled warm and fuzzy feelings in him Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"then yes, bringing the Oak King affords more protection for you and the girl, mistress.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Then it's settled.Ã¢â¬ Finn pouted and turned his back on us, pacing around sulkily. After that, it simply became a matter of waiting. We wanted to go under cover of darkness. Dorian and Shaya left to pursue household duties, and the spirits flitted off to do whatever it was they did. This left me with a lot of downtime. I paced the castle's grounds, ruminating over the same old things: Kiyo, the upcoming raid, and the prophecy. The appointed time came, and our strike team reassembled for a few last-minute details. Most of it was simply a repetition of what we already knew. The spirits drifted along, but the rest of us set out on horseback. Shaya rode with the physical grace that permeated her normal movements, but I was surprised to see how agilely Dorian rode as well. He seemed so languid and comfort-oriented in his day-to-day affairs that I never thought of him as having athletic abilities, his feats in bed notwithstanding. We crisscrossed the assorted kingdoms. It seemed to take longer than last time, and Volusian affirmed as much for me. Ã¢â¬Å"The land has shifted its layout,Ã¢â¬ he explained. Ã¢â¬Å"It does that,Ã¢â¬ said Dorian, seeing the panic on my face. Ã¢â¬Å"It's normal. We're on the right path.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Yeah, but will we make it there before sunrise?Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"Certainly.Ã¢â¬ He smiled too broadly, and I could tell he didn't know for sure. I looked up. Right now we had perfect blackness, lit only by stars. The moon was dark tonight. Persephone's moon. I could feel the tingle of the butterfly on my arm and felt reassured. Before, I'd needed Hecate to escape back to my own world. Here, that wasn't an issue. Staying alive and sending my enemies on to death was the issue now, so I didn't mind the boost to my connection with the Underworld. Ã¢â¬Å"How much farther?Ã¢â¬ I asked a little while later. I felt like a kid on a road trip but couldn't help the anxiety tickling my brain. I might have imagined it, but I swore the eastern sky now looked deep purple rather than black. Ã¢â¬Å"Not far,Ã¢â¬ said Shaya, voice calm. Sure enough, we pulled off and secured the horses, going the rest of the way on foot, traveling through trees and undergrowth. I couldn't see anything, but we soon reached some significant point. Shaya split off from us to do her thing. Dorian squeezed her arm before she left, and she made a solemn bow of acknowledgment. I watched her disappear before I turned and joined the others to continue straight ahead. Aeson's fortress finally loomed up before us as we reached the edge of the tree line. It could really be perceived only through its blockage of the stars. Otherwise, it appeared almost as black as the sky beyond. We stopped just before the terrain cleared, staying under cover. Studying the building further, I could make out small black figures moving back and forth in front of the wall. Guards. Presumably there were lookouts on the towers too. Ã¢â¬Å"Now we wait,Ã¢â¬ I muttered. I was tired of waiting. I wanted action. Almost opposite us, on the other side of the forest, Shaya should have been preparing to summon her tree warriors. She and Dorian swore it would be a noisy affair, so there'd been no need for a secret countdown or anything like that. The castle was too far away for me to make out any identifiable features, but the spirits indicated the spot containing the side door. Minutes dragged by, and I imagined all sorts of horrible fates for Shaya. Oh, God. What if they caught and killed her? She'd come here out of loyalty to Dorian, and no matter what else had happened, I'd come to respect her immensely. I didn't want her to die because of this. Dorian approached my right side and put an arm around me. Ã¢â¬Å"Don't worry. This will be finished before you know it. Ah Ã¢â¬â there we are.Ã¢â¬ In the distance, we heard it. Wood crackling and splitting. A low roar. Faint shouts of alarm carried over the air, and the guards in our view took off running toward the noise. We waited until they'd cleared the area. Ã¢â¬Å"Now is our time,Ã¢â¬ murmured Volusian. Ã¢â¬Å"Go.Ã¢â¬ We streaked across the open area, toward the doorway. I could hear the noise on the other side. The sound of something breaking. More shouts. Shaya's plan had been to send about a dozen massive trees to beat on the walls over there. What a wake-up call that had to have been. Ã¢â¬Å"W-wait! Hold it!Ã¢â¬ I suddenly cried. The spirits stopped instantly. Dorian took a moment longer to slow down and gave me an odd glance. Ã¢â¬Å"What's wrong?Ã¢â¬ I peered around. My senses tingled. I could feel water, lots of it. The way I felt in crowds or at Dorian's. Water in numerous condensed clusters. The water sources were people. Lots of them. We'd been set up. Again. Ã¢â¬Å"Fuck!Ã¢â¬ They seemed to come out from everywhere, though I knew they all had to have been hiding in the castle's vicinity or else I would have felt them sooner. They came down from the roofs, out the door we'd been staking out, from around the corner. And somehow I knew the ones who ostensibly had run off would return. I heard Dorian yell, Ã¢â¬Å"They won't kill you Ã¢â¬â not if they don't have to!Ã¢â¬ Then, the side of the castle exploded in a downpour of huge black rocks, causing those above and still scaling to fall down to death or at least serious injury. Others standing nearby were buried by the fallout. My spirits had standing orders to attack anyone attacking us, and I saw them flare up for battle. As for me, I'd come packing two guns tonight, again courtesy of Lara. Both had steel cartridges, and my pockets held more clips still, plus a few silver ones. I kept what distance I could from the thick of the fray and fired, aiming for heads and faces if I could, but mostly happy if I could bring anyone down at all. Regular range practice paid off, and I hit almost everyone I fixed on. No one ever managed to get too close to me. The spirits I ignored. They couldn't die, and only another shaman or Dorian-caliber magic user could banish them. After his spectacular wall demolition, Dorian had resorted to a more conventional method: a copper sword he'd worn sheathed under his cloak. It glowed red in the darkness, and I realized he could enhance its power since copper came from inside the earth. He didn't fight with brute force, but he moved with speed and skill, surprising me as much as the horse-riding had. I wouldn't have minded another show of that earth power, but all magic took its toll. It would do no good for him to burn himself out yet. Suddenly, I saw one of the guards moving up on him, just out of Dorian's line of sight. I started to cry out a warning, and then a large, four-legged form ran forward, snarling as he threw his weight into the guard. Dorian gave a quick glance of surprise but quickly returned to fighting. I couldn't recover so quickly and could only stare as Kiyo, in what I had jokingly dubbed the Ã¢â¬Å"superfoxÃ¢â¬ form, clawed and ripped at his victim. The man did manage to slice Kiyo's side, making me wince, but the fox seemed unaffected. Shaking my head, knowing I could neither wonder how he'd shown up nor worry about his safety, I returned to my own battles. A few victims later, I had my aim on someone when I sensed another form sneaking up behind me. I turned but wasn't quite fast enough. He grabbed my arm and bent the gun away from him, forcing me to the ground. With my left hand, I managed to drag out the other gun. It was more or less smothered as his body tried to pin mine down, and I had no real target. It didn't matter. I just sort of aimed in an upward direction and fired. He screamed and recoiled enough for me to push off and fire again with more precision. Someone else took advantage of my distraction and grabbed me from behind. I'd stuffed the extra gun back in my pants and now struggled against him with the first gun when suddenly it grew hot in my hands. Burning hot. I yelped and dropped it, staring as it lay sizzling on the ground, glowing faintly orange. I didn't have to hear his voice in my ear to know who held me. Ã¢â¬Å"Eugenie Markham, lovely of you to pay me a visit.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬Å"I'm going to kill you,Ã¢â¬ I hissed. Ã¢â¬Å"Yes, yes, you told me that before, and yet, I see it's not really working out. You should have taken me up on my earlier offer.Ã¢â¬ He barked out a command to a nearby guard who ran up to us. Ã¢â¬Å"Disarm her before she kills anyone else.Ã¢â¬ With all the confusion, none of my other allies noticed what was happening. I opened my mouth and began chanting the ritual words to bring the spirits. They were currently too far out of range to simply hear me shout. Realizing what I attempted, Aeson threw me onto the ground, using his body weight to hold me while one hand covered my mouth. Ã¢â¬Å"Hurry!Ã¢â¬ The guard removed my athames and wand. For the extra gun, he wrapped his hand in the folds of his cloak to retrieve the weapon and then hastily tossed it away. Ã¢â¬Å"You're a damned nuisance Ã¢â¬â and a deadly one,Ã¢â¬ muttered Aeson. Ã¢â¬Å"Keeping you alive for nine months may be more trouble than it's Ã¢â¬â ow!Ã¢â¬ I didn't see what happened to him but heard a thunk above me. Ã¢â¬Å"You used your power to toss one rock at me?Ã¢â¬ he exclaimed, an almost comic note of incredulity in his voice. Ã¢â¬Å"On the contrary,Ã¢â¬ I heard Dorian say pleasantly. Ã¢â¬Å"I didn't use magic for that. I just threw it.Ã¢â¬ Aeson tossed me toward his guard, just as flames rose up from the ground. In the darkness, the bright light hurt my eyes, forcing me to glance away. Heat rolled off that scorching orange wall, instantly heating up my skin. The guard attempted to scramble back and hold me at the same time, doing a half-assed job at both, though he still managed Ã¢â¬â just barely Ã¢â¬â to keep me restrained. My gaze stayed on the fire's flickering colors until I suddenly felt the ground shake. Jerking my head up as much as my restraint allowed, I saw a cloud of darkness rise above the flames. It crashed down, like the palm of one's hand, and the fire abruptly went out, extinguished as pounds of dirt slammed it to the ground. Without missing a beat, Dorian gestured to the spot Aeson stood on. I felt shaking again and saw the earth ripple, like a wave of water moved under the surface. It knocked Aeson off-balance, and then a storm of rock shards Ã¢â¬â much as I'd seen with the nixies Ã¢â¬â swirled around, taking aim. Still on the ground, Aeson lifted his own hands. Waves of heat blasted away the rocks, scattering them in different directions. Some of them melted, dripping back to the earth in a molten shower. Ashes filled the air, and I could hear Aeson coughing as he stumbled to his feet. The ground trembled again, pushing him back to his knees. He supported himself with one hand and gave a shaking, raspy laugh. Ã¢â¬Å"It didn't have to come to this,Ã¢â¬ he said. Ã¢â¬Å"If you would have just shared her, she might already be with child.Ã¢â¬ A shower of rocks spattered Aeson as Dorian strode forward. They weren't razor sharp, but they looked like they hurt. The Alder King winced and shielded his face. Ã¢â¬Å"I don't share,Ã¢â¬ Dorian said flatly. The earth near Aeson coalesced into ropes of dirt, winding their way around his limbs. Score one for bondage fetishes. Ã¢â¬Å"Too bad. You might have lived had you felt differently.Ã¢â¬ Aeson suddenly burst up, breaking through the bonds of earth. As he did, fire blasted from all around him, outlining him and then shooting forward. My scream was smothered in my captor's hand as I saw Dorian fly backward. Aeson charged forward, his hands controlling and shaping the flames into a ring around Dorian's crouching form. The walls flared up high and thick, so hot they gleamed blue and white. I wouldn't have thought Dorian could survive that inferno, but Aeson kept talking to him as though he were still alive. Ã¢â¬Å"Too many theatrics, Dorian, and not enough strength left now to free yourself.Ã¢â¬ I looked around desperately. There weren't many guards left. In the distance, I saw Kiyo nail some guy pretty handily Ã¢â¬â the man's pain-filled scream affirmed as much Ã¢â¬â but he was too far to help, just like the spirits. I realized then my guard's hold had slackened; he was apparently transfixed by his master's showdown. Others, just as captivated, stopped and stared. Taking advantage of the guard's lack of attention, I shoved my elbow back into his stomach and attempted to spring free. I didn't really expect to achieve that goal, but it did uncover my mouth. I spoke the summoning words, and Nandi and Volusian appeared. Ã¢â¬Å"Get Aes Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬ I began, just before the hand slammed on my mouth again. Another guard joined mine to help with the confinement. The spirits shifted from humanoid form to something else, still vaguely anthropomorphic but more like a cloud of energy. They swooped toward Aeson, one shining and blue, the other black and silver. He deflected them with flames while still holding the walls on Dorian. An instant later, I saw a wand in one of his hands. No. He couldn't Ã¢â¬â He spoke banishing words, and I felt the surge of power in the air as he tore open a hole to the Underworld. The form that was Nandi trembled and then exploded, disappearing in sparkles. She'd found her peace at last Ã¢â¬â and without another two years of service to me. Ã¢â¬Å"Call the other one off,Ã¢â¬ snapped Aeson, Ã¢â¬Å"unless you want to lose him too.Ã¢â¬ The hand on my mouth lifted. I hesitated. I had nothing to lose if Volusian won or lost. In fact, Aeson's request likely indicated he couldn't banish the spirit to the land of death. Gentry rarely had that kind of power anyway, so Aeson probably couldn't do what I had been unable to do. But if he fought Volusian, it was possible he could have enough strength to break my control and enslave him as a minion. That was not an option. Better for the spirit to be destroyed than turned against me. Ã¢â¬Å"Hold, Volusian.Ã¢â¬ He retreated immediately, coalescing back into his normal shape. Aeson returned to Dorian. The Alder King held up his hand and brought his fingers together in a fist. The burning walls contracted, resembling more of a cocoon than a cylinder now. Through the crackling of flames, I heard Dorian scream. Helplessness choked my heart. Just like with the mud elemental. Just like with the nixies. I had no weapons and no freedom. This was exactly the kind of situation Dorian kept speaking of. The time magic would be handy. I couldn't use it, however. My abilities included only miniscule water manipulation and out-of-control storms and their consequences. Yet, suddenly, I didn't care about the consequences. I wanted to summon a major storm, a storm to devastate this whole area. Maybe it'd kill my friends and me, but things didn't really look good for us anyway. Focusing my mind on that, I tried to recall the angry tempests I'd created before. OnlyÃ¢â¬ ¦it didn't work. Maybe it was because I'd never consciously done such a thing before. Or maybe it was because I could no longer see storms as a whole. They were pressure and charged particles and Ã¢â¬â most importantly Ã¢â¬â water. Dorian had taught me to compartmentalize the elements, and that's all I could do now. I thought about storms, but all my mind did was reach out and touch all the water sources nearby. Damn it. Finding water did no good, not unless I could move a whole lake and douse the fire. I doubted I could command that much water, even if I had a source like that nearby. But I didn't need one that big. I only needed to summon a smaller water source, one my powers could manage. I refocused. My magic reached out, grasping and connecting with the water molecules I wanted. They recognized me, and I called them forward. They resisted a little. There were more of them here than had been in the pitcher. Obey me! I shouted to them. Come to me! I am your mistress. Only a few seconds passed while I struggled for control of the water. Meanwhile, Aeson was still holding his arms up, collapsing the walls slowly in what was probably a sadistic effort to prolong Dorian's pain. Still, I needed the delay as I pushed and pulled the water more fiercely. A funny look crossed Aeson's face just then, and he glanced around, as though trying to find something. Yet, he didn't know what that was. Come to me! I could feel the water breaking free, unable to resist my command. A look of horror twisted Aeson's face. His hands dropped and clutched his head, almost as if he would claw it off. Behind him the flames around Dorian abruptly faded and disappeared, almost as if a lake had dropped onto them after all. But as I'd noted, I hadn't needed a lake. I'd only needed a smaller source. I'd needed Aeson. The water in him was a size I could manage, the source I'd called out to and commanded. After all, the human Ã¢â¬â or gentry Ã¢â¬â body is 65 percent water. And a moment later, all of it came to me. The other 35 percent didn't.
Friday, August 16, 2019
In the world of fantasy, the child chooses the roles he wants to play. In the world of fantasy, the child finally finds his essence and feels that he is valued by others. In Dan ChaonÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Å"Big MeÃ¢â¬ , showing and telling serves the instrument of the childÃ¢â¬â¢s imagination, and the means of escaping his real-world loneliness. Dan Chaon creates an unbelievable image of the child who tries to define his role and meaning in the world, through the prism of thirty-two-year-old Andy OÃ¢â¬â¢Day who tells the story of his childhood. Ã¢â¬Å"I never felt like danger. I was convinced of my own powers of stealth and invisibility. [Ã¢â¬ ¦] He couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t see me unless I chose to be seenÃ¢â¬ (Chaon, 2002). In ChaonÃ¢â¬â¢s story showing and telling, observation and imagination provide a young boy with unlimited power Ã¢â¬â the power that he cannot use in real world, and the power he needs to compensate for the constantly increasing sense of loneliness. He is going through a difficult period when his parents are drinking and quarreling; his brother attempts a suicide; under the increasing social pressure, the child can no longer remain realistic, and to some extent his showing and telling becomes the key to moral, mental, and spiritual salvation. To be a Detective for Andy means to save the imagined two million city of crime, and to have an opportunity to penetrate into other houses for investigation: Ã¢â¬Å"I had been going to his house frequently by that time. I had a notebook, into which I had pasted the Santa photo, and a sample of his handwriting, and a bit of hair from his comb. [Ã¢â¬ ¦] There were letters: Ã¢â¬Å"I am tired, unbelievably tired, of going around in circles with you. [Ã¢â¬ ¦] I had copied this down in my detectiveÃ¢â¬â¢s notebookÃ¢â¬ (Chaon, 2002). Andy imagines himself a Detective; he investigates the way other people live; he writes everything down into his small notebook Ã¢â¬â this is how his showing and telling works. The need to control other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s lives does not leave him as he reaches the thirty second year of his life. His showing and telling turns into the second life, which he secretly leads as a reminiscence of his early years when he could sense the smell of the unlimited power of a Detective in a two million city. References Chaon, D. (2002). Big me. In D. Chaon, Among the Missing, Ballantine Books.
Hanging On: The Description of Eliezer's Relationship with God in Night World War II breaks out in Europe during the conclusion of the 1930s. Adolph Hitler plunges Germany into darkness while quickly moving to take over bordering countries with his army of Nazis. Eliezer, a boy no more than 15 years old, lives in Hungary, which is dangerously close to Germany. Along with many other Jews, Eliezer is deported from his home and into a world of unimaginable terror. Night is a memoir of those experiences and, more importantly, a stark reminder that these events should never be allowed to repeat themselves.The Holocaust presents one of the most disturbing theological dilemmas of the twentieth century. As a survivor of the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel has to reevaluate God in his world. He does so through his writings, in which he questions God and tells us of the answers, or lack of answers, that he receives. In Night, author Elie Wiesel writes about his devotion as a child, religious observance s, and anger towards God to reveal how he is still a believer in the Jewish faith despite all that happen to him. Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Treblinka are just a few of the names which evoke nightmares of the Holocaust.The suffering and death at these and other concentration camps were greater than any before endured. Before the Holocaust he had been one of the most devout Jewish children. The Holocaust created a void in the souls of many of those who survived. Elie Wiesel was one of those people. Before the Holocaust he had been one of the most devout Jewish children. Up until the end he waited for God to intervene in Biblical fashion. When that intervention was not forthcoming, he began to doubt in God and in His mercy. He began to accuse God of cruelty against his people.After the torture was over, he had to reevaluate the role of God in his life. He could be forgiving of God and allow Him another chance, as many he had seen had done. Or he could take on the role of God to himsel f and try to define his own destiny. To deal with this, Wiesel has to question God and himself. He does so through his writing. Elie Wiesel tells his heart-wrenching story of his imprisonment in Nazi Germany. He overcame the odds with his strength and will to live. Elie was told by his father to never lose his faith of his religion it would help him through everything, and keep him strong.One should never lose faith or whatever guiding force that may keep them going. This faith was the only force that helped Elie to survive, and without this faith Elie would have surely succumbed to dying. The question now is how far does ElieÃ¢â¬â¢s belief in God and in his own faith helps him to go on. He receives many answers, though none are satisfactory. Wiesel thought of God before and during the Holocaust as both the protector and punisher of the Jewish people. Whatever had happened before, he had faith that it was for their good, or one of God's greater plans.Either way, he would accept Go d's will without questioning. When rumors of the Nazis' crimes first reached some of the outlying Jewish towns, like Wiesel's Sighet, no one believed them. The town felt that God was with them and would protect them from anything as horrible as what these rumors suggested. They felt safe and secure in their faith. Ã¢â¬Å"And we, the Jews of Sighet, were waiting for better days, which would not be long in coming nowÃ¢â¬ (17). Others who did not feel guilty believed that God at least had a good reason for punishing the Jews. They thought it must be a test. God is testing us. He wants to find out whether we can dominate our base instincts and kill the Satan within us. We have no right to despair. And if he punishes us relentlessly, it's a sign that he loves us all the moreÃ¢â¬ (53). Faith delayed the revolution that might have erupted in the camps. The younger people felt it would be better to die fighting than to go like lambs to the slaughter. They had knives and a strong will. B ut their elders reminded them, Ã¢â¬Å"You must never lose faith, even when the sword hangs over your head. That's the teaching of our sagesÃ¢â¬ ¦ Ã¢â¬ (40).As long as the elders were willing to accept God's will, the younger people were willing to respect their faith. They still had faith that God had a greater purpose in mind, and though they opposed the idea of suffering, they would suffer with pride that they are part of God's plan. And so Wiesel and his town were indoctrinated without incident into the camps, believing that if their faith endured, they would be saved. Soon the delusions faded and Wiesel began to doubt God. It was not easy for Wiesel to doubt in God, or he would not have held on to his faith with such tenacity.But sooner or later, the seeming meaninglessness of the suffering his people endured had to burst into the consciousness of his seemingly indomitable Jewish faith. In the face of the crematory pit, Elie Wiesel noted, Ã¢â¬Å"For the first time I felt revo lt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The Eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for? Ã¢â¬ (42). He awoke to the idea that he was Ã¢â¬Å"alone-terribly alone in a world without GodÃ¢â¬ ¦ Ã¢â¬ (75). Lack of faith turned quickly to despair. If God wouldn't save His children, who would? No one believed the rumors of peace and safety.In the hospital at Auschwitz, Wiesel met a man consumed with this kind of despair. He said, Ã¢â¬Å"I've got more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people. Ã¢â¬ (87). All around Wiesel, the number of faithful were dropping. As hard as they tried to hold on, Wiesel's people were finding it hard to believe in God and what He was allowing to happen. Others, like Wiesel, were given the burden of carrying the questions with them, never to be answered. At the hanging of the angel-faced pipel, Wiesel had an answer, when someone asked, Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬ËWhere is God now? And I heard a voice within me answer him: Ã¢â¬ËWhere is He? Here He is-He is hanging here on this gallowsÃ¢â¬ ¦ Ã¢â¬Ë Ã¢â¬ (72). God died for the child Wiesel then. The destruction of his faith in the God of his childhood was complete. No longer did his name bring cries of praise from Wiesel. God seemed unworthy in the face of His worshipers to accept their worship. Wiesel cannot deny God His due. If anything he can question it and feel angry about it. He can even try to change it, by reevaluating God's role in the world. That is what many of those he encountered did once they got over the initial anger.Any answer cannot come from man, but from God himself. This is what Moshe the Beadle had tried to tell Wiesel when he was a young boy in Sighet, before the terrors of the Holocaust destroyed his life. Moshe said, Ã¢â¬Å"Man raises himself toward God by the questions he asks HimÃ¢â¬ ¦ That is the true dialogue. Man question s God and God answers. But we don't understand His answers. We can't understand them. Because they come from the depths of the soul, and they stay there until death. You will find the true answers, Eliezer, only within yourself! Ã¢â¬ (15). There can be no end to the questioning, even if there are no answers.In reading the works of Elie Wiesel, I had to ask God some of the same questions that he did. The storm of emotion followed the paths of anger and despair, and finally ended with the acceptance that Elie Wiesel finds. God is not easy to figure out, and he never will be. With all our knowledge, we cannot guess at his reasons for doing anything. I will never stop wondering what happened, and, more importantly, why, but I will sleep quietly, as long as when I wake I watch to see that there is not another Holocaust, and I pray to God that whatever the reasons for the first one, there never will be a second.The Holocaust presented a call to people everywhere to reevaluate the role o f God in their lives. The pain and suffering that we know took place is in dark contrast to what we would have thought possible in the presence of our God, and anyone who comes in contact with these horrors will be forever shaken in his present faith. Some have reacted with anger toward God, others with denial. Still others reacted with mistrust of all that God had meant before. But by asking questions, some have grown to learn that God never did things the way people expect Him to, and that fact becomes the cornerstone of the new start to their theology.God does not answer questions unless they suit His purposes. This is what we have learned from Auschwitz and from the writings of Elie Wiesel. We must continue to ask questions, continue to challenge God, until, one day, He Himself will give us the answers. And until then we should never feel so secure in faith as to think that Auschwitz could never happen again. We must make certain, through our actions, that it will never happen a gain and to never lose the faith that has been devoted to God.
Thursday, August 15, 2019
The importance of accounting standards A PricewaterhouseCoopers Case Study Introduction PricewaterhouseCoopers was created in July 1998 by the merger of two firms Ã¢â¬â Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand Ã¢â¬â each with historical roots going back some 150 years and originating in London. PricewaterhouseCoopers, the worldÃ¢â¬â¢s largest professional services organization, helps its clients build value, manage risk and improve their performance. Drawing on the talents of more than 140,000 people in 152 countries, it provides a full range of business advisory services to leading global, national and local companies and to public institutions. These services include audit, accounting and tax advice; management, information technology and human resource consulting; financial advisory services including mergers & acquisitions, business recovery, project finance and litigation support; business process outsourcing services; and legal services through a global network of affiliated law firms. Five things you didnÃ¢â¬â¢t know about PricewaterhouseCoopers 1. To meet their growth targets they need to hire 1,000 people a week across the world. 2. They will be the largest professional services firm in critically important emerging markets: Russia and the Former Soviet Union, India, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Latin America. 3. The high technology practice will yield revenues in excess of $1 billion with over 2,500 technology clients. 4. Work with Financial Services clients will represent more than 20% of PricewaterhouseCoopersÃ¢â¬â¢ international revenues. 5. They are already investing $200 million a year in new technology. A global enterprise The new, combined organization is the result of the continuing growth in the international economy. Companies are seeking to re-define themselves to thrive in the market-place where mergers and acquisitions are increasingly important and many companies now operate without geographical boundaries. A large-scale global enterprise such as PricewaterhouseCoopers needs a solid infrastructure to meet its clientsÃ¢â¬â¢ expectations. One element is a powerfulÃ database developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers that shares Ã¢â¬Ëbest practiceÃ¢â¬â¢ information with all its offices around the world. PricewaterhouseCoopers is also harnessing all available technology to ensure any of their advisers can work with their clients anywhere in the world, allowing them to be fully effective in serving the clientsÃ¢â¬â¢ needs immediately. They offer businesses around the world both a wider range of services and a more integrated service than has ever been possible. This service also provides a soluti on to business problems of a scale and complexity that are greater than ever before. An integrated team approach They provide a fully integrated team to tackle a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s diverse problems. At PricewaterhouseCoopers, there are six service lines or departments which cover different areas of specialization. They are: Assurance & Business Advisory Services Management Consulting Services Tax & Legal Services Financial Advisory Services Global Human Resource Solutions Business Process Outsourcing. PricewaterhouseCoopers may work on one of these areas and find that the client requires help and solutions to issues in other areas. They are able to provide an integrated team of experts to give advice and offer a range of possible solutions. The first and largest of these service lines, the Assurance & Business Advisory Service is now considered in more depth. ABAS Ã¢â¬â Assurance & Business Advisory Services At PricewaterhouseCoopers the global practice they call Ã¢â¬ËABASÃ¢â¬â¢ provides a broad range of services which fulfill three core business needs: 1. Assurance Ã¢â¬â They conduct audits and provide assurance to clients on the financial performance and operations of their businesses. 2. Global Risk Management Solutions Ã¢â¬â They help clients to manage their business risks and thereby improve financial performance. 3. Transaction Services Ã¢â¬â They offer advice to clients about their significant transactions such as mergers & acquisitions activity. Some of the most exciting organizations from theÃ world of banking, commerce and government come to them for advice. The client list is dominated by household names, with particular strengths in communications, financial services, retail, energy and manufacturing sectors. Assurance Assurance is the largest part of the UK practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers and generates income from a combination of audit and business advisory assignments. In addition to an audit, many clients require business advisory services. For example, they may provide advice on joint ventures or mergers, helping companies to Ã¢â¬ËfloatÃ¢â¬â¢ their company on the Stock Exchange or assess whether the technology or systems in place provide an accurate means of reporting the financial data. Auditing In order that shareholders and other interested parties can make informed judgments as to the financial health of a company, it is a legal requirement that all companies have their financial facts and figures checked. This is known as an audit and must be performed by an independent registered firm of auditors. The auditors use guidance from the Accounting Standards Board to state whether in their opinion the financial information presented by the company is a Ã¢â¬Ëtrue and fairÃ¢â¬â¢ representation of that companyÃ¢â¬â¢s financial health. The primary reporting responsibility of the auditors is, however, to the shareholders, not to the companyÃ¢â¬â¢s directors. It is interesting to note the difference between Ã¢â¬Ëtrue and fairÃ¢â¬â¢ and 100% accurate. It is not the role of the auditors to check every individual transaction performed by a company and therefore the auditors cannot state that the figures are 100% correct, merely that, in their opinion, they are Ã¢â¬Ëtrue and fairÃ¢â¬â¢. Legislation and regulation of companies The accounts of a company are designed to show both the performance and its current financial position. All company accounts in this country need to be produced in accordance with: 1. The Companies Act, 1985 for UK, for Pakistan Companies ordinance 1984 and 2. Accounting Standards: Statement of Standard Accounting Practice (SSAPs) Financial Reporting Standards (FRSs). In essence these standards set out: What information should be included in a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s accounts How this information should be presented. The Companies Act / Ordinance, decrees that companies must produce accounts for publication. The Accounting Standards Committee devised SSAPs. In 1991 the Committee was replaced by the Accounting Standards Board, which develops FRSs. The Board is gradually replacing SSAPs with FRSs, which are issued when the Board identifies a need. These two sets of standards encourage greater clarity so that the reader can fully understand the information represented. Accounting standards FRSs are expected as business becomes more complex. How these different standards are applied varies with the type of business conducted by a company. As for any company the shareholdersÃ¢â¬â¢ interests must be protected. The following examples of SSAPs and FRSs demonstrate the consideration that must be given in drawing up financial accounts in order that interested individuals, such as financial analysts, can clearly judge a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s performance and position. Key standards will be considered in this and the following section. SSAP 12 Accounting for depreciation Companies invest in assets (such as machinery) in order to produce goods or services to sell. These are known as fixed assets. In the case of the gas or oil industry, an oil rig is a fixed asset Ã¢â¬â the company must own an oil rig to supply oil or gas. All companies have some form of fixed assets although the dependence on these assets varies with the type of business. Another example could be machinery for manufacturing a car, or a building in which employees work. In this example, Global Oil has built an oil rig for Ã £50m. In its balance sheet, cash will be reduced by Ã £50m and fixed assets will increase by Ã £50m. In 20 years time (the Ã¢â¬Ëeconomic lifeÃ¢â¬â¢), the company knows that the oil rig will need to be replaced. By the 20th year, the value of the oil rig in the companyÃ¢â¬â¢s balance sheet will be zero. Thus, the value of the oil rig will reduce each year by a set amount (Ã £2.5m in this example). This is known as depreciation and the annual depreciation figure is shown in the profit and loss account. SSAP 12 states that the economic life of aÃ fixed asset should be reviewed regularly and should be stated in the notes to the accounts, together with how the rate of depreciation was determined. FRS 11 Impairment of fixed assets and goodwill FRS 11 is a new standard and deals with any loss in value to a fixed asset, for example through damage or downturn in the economy. This is known as impairment. For example, if a pipeline from Global OilÃ¢â¬â¢s oil rig is damaged, the supply of oil or gas is reduced or stopped until repairs are made. Thus the ability of the oil rig to produce oil or gas is less than expected and the fixed assetÃ¢â¬â¢s value is reduced. Global Oil must therefore make a general reduction in the value of the asset and charge the loss to the profit and loss account. FRS 11 states that all companies must reassess the value of their fixed assets on a regular basis to establish whether the figure in the balance sheet is a Ã¢â¬Ëfair valueÃ¢â¬â¢. FRS 1 Cash flow statements There are three main statements in a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s annual report and accounts Ã¢â¬â the profit and loss account, the balance sheet and the cash flow statement. For example, while Global Oil may be highly profitable, without any cash it will be unable to pay its employees or suppliers. Clearly, when Global Oil sells oil to its customers, it needs to ensure it receives prompt payment. Cash is the lifeblood of a business and it is therefore important for a company to issue a cash flow statement. FRS 1 sets out the format and contents of a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s cash flow statement. Accounting standards continuedÃ¢â¬ ¦ FRS 3 Reporting financial performance This is a highly complicated standard. Essentially FRS 3 serves to make sure the information presented in a set of accounts is clear. Companies must issue a report stating the financial performance for review by its shareholders. Consistency and ease of understanding these reports allows the reader to compare the data for similar companies. This would allow a potential investor to compare competing oil or gas companies before deciding which companyÃ¢â¬â¢s shares to buy. In this example of Global Oil, there are three subsidiaries: International Gas, International Oil and International Petrochemicals. Each of these different companies or subsidiaries must also produce their own set of accounts as should the parent company, Global Oil. FRS 3 states how a company must set out the financial reports and accounts, the type of information that should be provided and where it should be categorized in the company statement of accounts. FRS 3 Exceptional items FRS 3 consists of several other sections including a note on Ã¢â¬Ëexceptional itemsÃ¢â¬â¢. These are one-off situations and may result in either a profit or loss to the company. These are included in a separate section in the profit and loss account. The reasons for incurring an exceptional item are various. Examples include the general costs involved in splitting up or de-merging a utility company, such as telecommunications or gas, into their separate components. In this case study, Global Oil decided to move its head office to Edinburgh. As this move is not expected to happen regularly in the normal course of business, the cost is regarded as an exceptional cost. Although this cost is included in the profit and loss account, it is clearly marked as exceptional so that shareholders realize that a marginal reduction in profit is not a result of a reduction in revenues. FRS 3 also states that exceptional charges must be shown separately in the profit and loss account and detailed in the notes to financial statements. SSAP 25 Segmental reporting Segmental information gives a breakdown of the different industrial sectors in which a company is involved and allows the reader of the accounts a much better understanding of where the money is made within the different parts of the company. This information may also be provided on a geographical basis if this is relevant. This standard is mostly applicable to the biggest public limited companies or if the company has a banking or insurance division. So for Global Oil, the financial information should detail the amount of business generated in oil refining, gas and petrochemicals. It should also provide information on the different geographic areas in which it operates. SSAP 25 states that the annual report and accounts for a company needs to provide a geographical and industrial breakdown of the following information: Turnover Operating profit and loss Net assets. SSAP 9 Stocks and long-term contracts Stock is an asset on the balance sheet and is essentially the product that a company will sell. In the case of Global Oil, its stock is oil and gas. SSAP 9 deals with how to value this stock on the balance sheet. Typically the value on the balance sheet would be the cost to produce and refine the oil into a marketable state. However, if the price of oil drops to a value below these production costs, then Global Oil cannot sell the oil at a profit. In these circumstances, the value of the oil stocks on the balance sheet must be reduced to the sale price minus all transaction costs. This is known as the net realizable value. SSAP 9 states that a company must value its stock at whichever is the lower value Ã¢â¬â the cost to produce versus the net realizable value. Conclusion The example of Global Oil demonstrates the financial reporting standards that must be considered when preparing a companyÃ¢â¬â¢s accounts. More standards are expected as the complexities of business transactions grow and accounting practice adapts to keep up with these changes. Such changes already observed in business are the use of derivatives and financial Ã¢â¬ËinstrumentsÃ¢â¬â¢. At PricewaterhouseCoopers, the ABAS teams are experts in their field of knowledge and exercise their judgment in interpreting how these standards apply to different companies. The implementation of the standards can vary according to the type of industry and even between companies in the same industrial sector. In order to ensure the best possible interpretation, the ABAS teams need to have a good understanding of the clientÃ¢â¬â¢s business and industry sector.