Saturday, January 30, 2010

The French Disconnection:-3

Now some of you will take issue with me regarding defending Burqa. It is not defending the clothing; it is defending the principles on which the French Republic is based. Some will say that churches and western women clothing is not allowed in Islamic countries and we should try to do the same. But here is the critical point to ponder: Islamic countries have never tried to say that they believe in human rights or human freedom, they try to ban western influences and churches defending their action as necessary for their public. But the French or for that matter any western country has never publicly stated that we will ban this just because it is not based on human rights. Clothing should never have been an issue and should not be. Look at the United States where we were attacked on 9/11. After that time, there were isolated attacks on Muslims but at no time there was any attempt to legislate a ban on clothing just because the wives, mothers, sisters or daughters of the 9/11 hijackers were the burqa in their home countries.

Wearing clothes is a personal matter and is part of the western tradition of human rights and individual freedom (if this is what these western countries wants us believe).

If they start to ban this kind of clothing and enshrine it in their laws, what next for the French, any suggestions. Have the French solved all their economic problems and have they all the time in the world to pursue a law with useless value to a lot of French people ( I hope). At least in America we don’t have the time to think about these draconian laws even with 535 members of Congress and countless other local and state politicians.To the French I say lets get down to some real world problems if they will find the time.

The French Disconnection:-2

So now let’s see what this Frenchness is. If I speak French, born in France and contribute to its economy (by paying taxes) play by its rules and generally be a good person, does it not count of me being French or do I have to dress a certain way, follow the majority views (even if they are wrong) will that qualify me as a French Citizen. I am really confused. I don’t know out of what logic they have decided to ban this Burqa.

If you need faces for identification purposes, I am all for it, you need to know that the person in the ID is the same standing in front of you. But to ban it just because someone feels the divine task of riding these females of the slavery of their men, then I am against it. Why is France feeling threatened by such a miniscule minority amongst their midst.

The French is a nuclear power and a veto member of the United Nations Security council.Why does it feel that some women wearing a burqa threaten the Frenchness of the state? If they are really offended by it then instead of banning it officially, they should have ignored it and let the public deal with it in their own manner. Once the public shuns it then there will be no Burqa. Forcing somebody to wear something looking and acting like French is utterly ridiculous.

I believe the main reason is that they are really afraid about the growing rise of Islam and they are at a loss how to deal with it. They cannot expel all the Muslims so this is how they are dealing with it. They have utterly failed to integrate their Muslims minorities into the mainstream French life and now they want to rectify it by passing this ridiculous law.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The French Disconnection:

The French has done it again. First they banned the head scarves that women wear in all elementary and secondary schools and not this. They have partially ban the burqa (the long all encompassing dress where you don’t see any part of the body). They it is not French tradition to have it. What is a French tradition, they profess to be secular government but they celebrate all Christian holidays. They will also refuse to give permanent resident or citizenship to the burqa women.

You know they believe that it restricts women’s movement. Well do they want women to go without clothes then? If it is their choice then let them wear whatever they want. It is a wrong assumption that all these burqas are being worn under the pressure of their men. Some women do want to wear it, but they are a very tiny minority. Muslims in France and in Europe generally are marginalized anyway and this ban would not help their cause. Although it can be generally assumed that these women can be a threat to the so called French Identity but even if the Burqas are banned because it is part of fundamentalist and extremist Islamic ideologies, how can we be sure that banning it would make an extremist person moderate.

There is no face of terror, burqa or no burqa, we have seen that the terrorists are pretty savvy in adopting to changing threats to their extremist agenda. Will this ban make the burqa clad woman more French or they (or their men folk) view it as a threat to their religion, only time will tell.

State of the Union Address-2

So last night we had the first State of the Union address by the new President. Thankfully he realized that we should be talking more about the economy than the War on Terror and other stuff. He kept on emphasizing again about the passage of the health care reform bill, but also here he realized that the reality of its passage is murkier than before. His main emphasis was mainly on how to get back to the creation of jobs.

Even when he has discussed how to create jobs, some big companies have announced huge cuts, although some have added small amounts of job but they have been miniscule as compared to the job cuts (for example Sam’s club and Verizon-more than 10,000 people being laid off). Main Street is still hurting but they are also afraid about the huge deficit that is being created in order to jump start the economy.

This huge deficit will have to be paid for and adding more job stimulus or other kinds of stimulus (when the first stimulus’s effect has not been fully reflected) will be a hard sell for the President.

To be blunt, we don’t have the money to have more stimulus, we can work on the existing tax codes and maybe create new policies which can have direct bearing on the employment situation. Nobody wants to take on more loans and have more debt. The American Public is trying to reduce their debt not increase it and anyway, even if the President wishes, it will not happen without bipartisan support, which is very much in doubt especially in the Senate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union Address

So today again is the State of the Union address. It is the first for the new President and it has been a hell of a year for everybody. First he used all his effort to get that health care bill, which is still pending. Then there was the sky terrorist, then the housing meltdown continued and other countless acts that I can’t seem to recall. Maybe I have a short memory but the most important event was the record breaking unemployment.

Even as the main street is hurting, Wall Street is doling out more money as bonus (even if it is deferred). The President was flying high with all the majorities in both the houses of Congress when the unexpected Republican win in Massachusetts had him coming into a realistic landing.

So the main topic today which I consider to be the most important and which I hope he will emphasize more is the how to tackle unemployment. Although he will highlights the accomplishments of this administration during the past year but he should be talking more about how to tackle unemployment.

I also know that he will talk about health care on which his credibility is riding high and also the war on terror (whose goals and accomplishments are debatable) and he will also talk about punishing Wall Street for its excessiveness. All this is fine and dandy, but what I want to hear is how the jobs will be created. There will be lots of clapping and rhetoric but ultimately it will come down to how the President persuades the Congress to follow through with the programs that he will discuss given the growing public wariness about the U.S. debt.

The Great Japanese Recall.

So Toyota Motor Company had a massive recall yesterday regarding eight of their models. It was a problem with the accelerator pedals being sticky. Dangerous situation here. They also stopped productions at six plants regarding these models. They are hugely popular models. Although they did the right thing here but their reputation may suffer since it was the second recall in less than six months.

Personally I like Toyota cars (I owe one now too). They are reliable and good quality wise, which is also the reason they were very popular in third world countries. It was sad to see so many recalls by one of the most efficient car makers in the world. I can understand one or two recalls of some models but having eight models recalled means that they realize that they have huge problem in their hands.

How did this ever come about to this? Toyota is still the one of the most efficient car makers in the world. The thing is that in order to make more cars something along the way they lost in touch with quality. It will be a deeply embarrassing situation for the top brass in the Japanese headquarters, since its all about the reputation there.

I sincerely hope that this recall is the end of their problems and it must be solved quickly and they should take a step back and look at what they have done wrong recently that led to this fiasco. I would rather prefer quality than quantity if I were a car manufacturer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Deficit Monster:-2

The third consequences of all this money printing and deficit financial will be inflation.Although the Fed has been very good at countering the effects of inflation by increasing the interest rates aggressively whenever it is need, in this day and age when the Fed is under increasing Political pressure to sustain the economy, they would be hard pressed to increase the rates aggressively without triggering a massive downfall in the economic activity.

The Fed can only do so much and it must be up to the Congress to manage how to tame this deficit. Discretionary spending and unwanted projects to keep alive the jobs in their districts when the money is not available cannot be sustained over long periods of time.

If we want to make sure that our country is under sound footing and the debt sustainable, we will need to make some painful steps that may not be politically popular but will nevertheless be taken so that we our future generations are not swamped in a sea of debt not of their own making.

The Deficit Monster:

So now we hear that the Deficit will be more than a trillion Dollars. Huge amount by any measure. Although we should have been expecting this since will all this stimulus money and bailout money created out of thin air by the Treasury had to be accounted for somewhere and somehow. How is this going to affect the average citizenry? First of all this deficit (and all the debt) will have accumulated enough interest that we will be issuing more money just to be able to afford to pay the interest. And if there is more money to issue there will certainly be more debt and then more interest. It is a vicious cycle indeed.

Second if we don’t have the money, we will have to issue Government securities. And in order to attract the largest pool of investors, we will have to give them higher interest rates. This will generally increase the interest rates all across the board. In the long term if we are not able to handle our debt, we will have to suffer lower ratings which will mean more interest rates on the securities in order to pay for the daily running of the government.

And all these deficits are the only one that is reported. We have promised people so much that we don’t have the eventual money to pay for it. It is not reported in the official data how much money we owe in terms of various required funding like Medicare and Medicaid and social security and pension to government employees.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Housing Dynamics

Another month, another housing report and another way off the mark figures by the independent economists and the government. The figures are saying that the existing house sales fell by the worst percentages in 40 years. What does this say about the housing market and all the stimulus being or have been poured into it. It says that do not read too much into it. As I have said in my previous posts, the economists look at the long term trend, not only a month or so surprises.

There can be a lot of factors in play here that can distort these numbers, like the end of the housing stimulus (Remember the USD 8,000.00 tax credit), the winter season (when housing slows down), the renewal of the new housing stimulus, the loss of more jobs etc.

The biggest one of these is the Job losses and the lack of confidence that it brings to people. If people don’t have jobs they will think twice before jumping into buying a house and the assorted and unexpected expenses that it can spawn.
Right now people are struggling to get their life together with all the debt and other obligations and they are least bothered by the down payments and other paperwork you need in order to secure the keys of your dream (affordable) house.

Or you can say that it takes an average of 60 days to have your mortgage approved and all the papers signed, so you may yet see more fluctuations in the housing markets in the coming markets.

The Jobs Dilemma

Since the Democrats lost a seat in the Senate in Massachusetts, they have been scrambling to explain it as a one time event, like voter frustration with the current situation and the state of the economy. The President seems to be taking it in strides but he has not yet acknowledged the fact that the Job situation has contributed to a large effect to the defeat.

The President keeps on insisting on the health care bill but the Job Market is the most important one issue that he has been struggling to get his hands on. He is a very smart guy so he should be able to figure out that if people don’t have jobs, how they will be able to afford the health care that the Democrats are so keen to pass through. If the seat of the late Senator Kennedy is not safe in one of the most liberal states of the nation, then which seat is safe? Somebody said it long time ago, it’s the economy. If I don’t have a job I would not go out of the way to get health insurance. With what money I will get my health insurance from. No job, no money, no Health insurance, no votes for Democrats. It is just the warning. I hope that the Democrats don’t squander this opportunity (being in a majority of both houses and in the White House). If they believe that they are the party of the populists then they should start hearing from the main street people and not blindly follow whatever bill they may be given to vote.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Women as Breadwinners

In this economy where all the conventional wisdom regarding the job losses and the effect of outsourcing has been studied wide, there is another thing which has changed the dynamics of the job market. It is that more and more women are becoming breadwinners and the only one to support their families, when their husbands and boyfriends lose their jobs.

Although women still make less than men but they are becoming an increasing part of the workforce. Some of the men enjoy this role of being a stay at home dad and connect with their kids and some of the women resent the fact that all the burden of the household budget is on them but it is an earth shattering shift and it can and will have a profound effect on the American society as a whole and men in particular.

This is happening since men who did not have college education and whose jobs were in the construction and manufacturing have been losing jobs faster than women who were traditionally in the retail and the office environment.

Women have also being in the college more and are outstripping men in all the fields of educational institution and thus have far more chances to advance and hold on to their jobs then men do. It can have some psychological effect on men (not all of them) that the traditional role of men of being a breadwinner is being eroded and the domestic situation in some cases can be drastic but instead of dealing it with some self pity and regret, men can still take charge by educating them more (by being going to college or some technical skill) and contributing to their household. In this way they will feel more participant in the household budgets and also will appreciate their women more.

Learning Languages

There was news that since long the languages classes are getting shorter or being eliminated. Most of the languages like the Italian, French, and German are being eliminated in favor of Spanish and the newest sensation Chinese (the mandarin dialect). It has been due to the fact the Chinese are subsidizing the Chinese language in the United States and it is also the realistic desire of some parents that China will be huge economic power (which it is already is) in the future and they want their offspring to have a head start to learn this important emerging language.

Well it is no doubt that in the future the Chinese language will be spoken and understood widely but the western audience, learning the Chinese language is not as easy as learning like the Italian, Spanish, French or German since the writing and the spoken Chinese can be very difficult to learn. It is also one of the hardest languages out there. But nevertheless daring people are looking to learn this language and also since the Children from the infancy can easily absorb one or more languages early on than adult, it is important that they should be taught one more language beside the mother tongue.

Although as you get older, it is harder to learn other language since you have more distraction to do other things but there is no age limit to learn another language. Although you will never has the same accent as the native speaker if you start learning in your adulthood but you will still be able to get by if you learn it.

Furthermore people of other languages appreciate if you can make an effort to learn their language and it can create harmony and learn other fascinating cultures. Besides nowadays with the internet and other devices at your disposal it is the most appropriate time and easier to learn another language right at your home with audio and visual devices at your computer and internet websites where you can learn or just be able to get by in several popular and not so popular languages.

What’s up with late night?

I have been watching and reading about the fiasco that was late night TV. It has been all over the news and entertainment media and I do not get it. Is it really that important enough news that who rules the late night TV. Have we solved all our problems or have we unearthed all new problems that we have to deal with this multimillionaire fight that is going on between two rich people.

I really watch late night TV talk show hosts. Maybe millions of people watch it and maybe it is sometimes funny but it is really great breaking news that we cannot live without.

My point is that we don’t need this late night fight turn into some late breaking news now and then. I am suspecting that this news has been in the forefront since it is part of the media. And the media will of course report something this important if it is one of their own or maybe here is a thought it is a slow news day and all the other artists have been behaving and the news media have to fill up their websites and time on TV with this trivial news. Anyway can we now move on since it has now been decided who rules who with how much?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Wholesale Club experience:-2

Since these clubs give you huge quantities of stuff at one time, you need not go in there every week or every other week like your groceries.

In order to save money and provide more value to its customers, these clubs do away with any shopping bags. You will have to put your stuff one by one with your hand rather than in plastic or paper bags.

If you like a particular type of brand or can’t live without a name brand then you can be in luck or out of it depending upon which brand you prefer. Usually these clubs keep the most popular brands at hand and not much as compared to your grocery stores. But unlike your grocery store, they do store stuff which is also available at departmental stores, so that you can do your shopping at one place. You really have to get whatever unique stuff they are offering because they can be here today and gone tomorrow.

If you are a small business owner, you can have special hours early in the morning where you can do your shopping with other business owners and buy stuff wholesale.

Overall I find the experience quiet exciting and good and it is worth your money to be a member of it, if you have a big family so that you can save a lot of money by buying in bulk

The Wholesale Club experience:

I am a member of a wholesale club so today I decided to go to it to do some shopping. I don’t know about you but I really enjoy shopping at the Wholesale club rather than at a grocery store. I don’t know the feeling, maybe it is the amount of stuff that you are getting one time, or the less crowd or just finding new things not available at other stores or assumed to be expensive, I love the experience and joy of shopping there. Although these clubs (there are three in the U.S) charge you annual membership for the privilege of shopping at their stores, on the whole there prices are cheaper and quantity more than what you can get at your local grocery store.

With on the whole I mean that generally they charge you less and give you more stuff but not always. You just have to be extra vigilant in doing your shopping at these stores because as somebody said and I experienced it too, you tend to buy more at these wholesale club then you are supposed too. Unless you stick to your budget and the items you really want, you can come out of these stores with stuff you may not have wanted in the first place. And another thing is that your shopping at these clubs does not mean you do not have to go to your local grocery store. Sometimes you don’t want huge quantities of stuff and at that juncture that is where your grocery store comes in.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Running out of options

New York governor has just suggested a budget full of fees and cuts which can be harbinger of things to come. Unless the economy moves ahead and New York is less reliant on Wall Street bonus, I don’t know how they will be able to raise revenues.

They can only charge so much on the so called sin taxes and maybe bring gambling to the state, but will it be enough to plug their deficit hole. There has to a drastic cut in spending whether some constituents like it or not. They cannot print their own money to get them out of this deficit, and further they have to balance their budget.

Blind raises given to government workers in good times and continued pensions and other facilities without the foresight to see for the future is not going to work anymore.

Increasing taxes and fees in a state, already one of the most expensive in the country will make business flee the state in droves.

If raising taxes coupled with spending cuts are instituted then people may be more acceptable of it and more hopeful about the future, otherwise in this day and age, where mobility has become a fashion in terms of job search, it would not be long when business and people will flee to states with lower taxes no matter what the attractive of the NY state is.

Charging for what?

NYT has announced that starting next year they will charge for the content on the website. It will be free for a number of articles and then for the full access they will charge a certain amount of subscription. The people who already subscribe to the print edition will have free access to the website. As you may have seen my post before, what is the newspaper charging for. They have already done it before without much success. News is news anywhere. It is the perspective from an individual point that makes it readable. I read several news website each day and the news is always the same, it is the way it is presented and the analysis that makes it unique. Unless you can create a unique news (maybe a fake one), people will simply go to another site for the news and maybe check out the TV news segment.

Well the people will say that the WSJ and FT also charges. But they really make it a unique experience and even there I read enough articles for free that I don’t need to subscribe to their newspaper or the website. I believe this experiment of charging will fail or will have limited success. The times have changed and people have been so used to reading the news for free on the web that it would be hard for the newspapers to sustain this model. Maybe there can be a combination of both subscription and advertisement supported website, but there also it will be a long shot.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unexpected upset in Massachusetts

So a little known Republican candidate has been elected to the seat held by a Democratic senator for the last almost 40 years. It was the most upset win since Massachusetts is a heavily Democrat state just like New York and they have decided to elect a very conservative Republican. What does it say about the President? I mean the analysts are reading too much into it. It is not that the voters have suddenly turned Republican or they had the Democrats. It is just that they wanted to send a message to Washington that nobody is safe if you keep on ignoring people anger.

Although the Democrats seem to have lost the filibuster supermajority that they had counted on to reform the Health care. Not all is lost. If they sense the people anger, they should start reading what people are thinking because it will soon be the Midterm election season. Even if the people don’t like the Republican, they will elect them just so they can show their anger at the incumbent party if things don’t change fast enough in Washington. Like the Healthcare, and the Wall Street bailouts and the high unemployment. You can all blame the last administration for it but after a while it become tiresome and people start to feel like you don’t know how to get a grip on the situation. Some time later it will be your economy and your mess (even if you have not created it).

So my advice to the wise (the democrats) is to get their house in order and don’t shove the agenda of the President without a healthy debate with both pros and cons analyzed and with bipartisan backing even if it takes a little bit longer.

All these recalls.

Today there was a recall of cribs after a baby died. And a car company had to recall some calls for defective parts. I can understand that since the cribs are made abroad, they may have lax requirements of manufacturing, but still there is no excuse and the distributer or the importer should have tested the products before distributing or marketing it to the retailers. But I cannot understand how a car manufacturer making cars in the United States where there are strict requirements for product manufacturing and stricter liability of compliance have to recall their cars because of some defective parts.

Every year there a certain number of cars being recalled for some defective parts. I mean if these manufacturers could really test their goods before selling it to the public it would be nice and their reputation will go up. But even after a long bruising with reputation and bankrupting themselves ( I mean the car manufacturers) they have not learnt their lesson and keep on churning defective products year in and year out. No wonder their share of the market is going down. Unless these manufacturers adhere to the strictest standards of quality and manufacturing there is no hope for them because the reputation and the perception of the people is very hard to change and it takes a long time to do it.

I mean can you imagine if the big airline manufacturers had to recall their products every now and then to fix the parts, what kind of manufacturing capacity will we have remaining then.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The long and slow decline of the traditional phone lines

There was once a time when the traditional phone lines were king. But not anymore, more and more people are ditching the traditional land lines for the convenience of a cellular phone. Even there has now been a significant decline in the pay phone booth that used to dot the landscape of the American land. In the start there was regular cell phone service but now there is a huge number of sophisticated cell phones which do more than just dial the number. They are now been used as a mobile office, where you can surf the internet, check your email or play games.

More and more people are using cell phones and the number is increasing day by day especially in the developing nations where the traditional monopolistic and nationalistic phone companies are no match for the multi national cellular companies.

The best part of the cell phone is the convenience of being able to connect to any body at any time of day from anywhere. You don’t need to be at home to receive your calls as you can instantly get connected and by time you reach home have already finished your calls. Although you still see people in pictures having land lines getting home and receiving their messages but there has also been increasing number of cell phones the actors are using and this you will see more and more in new movies.

These cell phones are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are thus being used as a mobile office so that you are always connected and always in business. Is this bad or good only time will tell as people will get more tiresome after being connected constantly.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Today we mark the holiday of the great slain Civil rights leader Martin Luther King. He went against all odds at that time to achieve greater equality and was slain for what he believed in. He was and is a truly great leader and from his untimely death, great strides have been achieved for equality between the races. Although we are not there yet of realizing his dream but the great achievement of the past year was the first African-American President of the United States which many people believed would not have been possible.

Since his death the African American people have achieved many progress including Supreme Court justices, Joint chiefs chairman, head of fortune 500 Corporations, Senators and Representatives, Attorney Generals to many local politicians and top actors. But on the other hand, poverty is still there and more African American people get jail time and discriminated against. It has not been a total victory but we are still a long way to achieve equality. But surely and steadily we will reach the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The theater experience.-2

Now I am all for watching movies in theater. But you know if you are watching a kids movie or a comedy then it can be fun or not depending upon how you see it. Since any funny scene with dialogue will make most of the people in the theater laugh but by the time the laughter dies the next scene is already gone. Then there is the constant whispering going on in the theater if you are happens to sit close by with some folks who want to comment on some scene. I know that the majority of the folks keep quiet but even some person eating popcorn or talking or just going out to the toilet can be a lot of distraction. Then if you have a small child then the whole situation becomes non conducive to watching a movie.

I believe (and it is only my opinion) that the best movie to watch in a theater is an action or science fiction movie. The special effects and the explosives scenes can only be enjoyed on a big movie screen. There is no two opinions about it.

So my advice to you folks out there, watch a romantic movie if you are with your significant other and also any kind of action movie but stay out of comedy and kids movie since the distraction will completely ruin your movie experience.

The theater experience.

Have you ever watched a movie in the theater? I have not seen that much but what I have seen is fun. You can have you whole popcorn (the most outrageously expensive type) and the biggest soda cup there is. Although we have this recession going on but people find this entertainment the cheapest of all, since they don’t have the money to go on a vacation, it is like a mini vacation to them. Just pure two hours (depending on movie time) of escapism into fantasy.

But even this cheapest form of entertainment is not that cheap when you factor in all the popcorn and soda involved and the transportation cost going to the theater and parking (if you have a car). It can easily involve over 50 Dollars if two people are going. It goes up more if you are watching 3D or an IMAX movie which costs extra. And if you have kids, then you easily go above 100 Dollars. But people are still going to see the movies since it is the only form of entertainment for most folks now in this bad economy.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- He’s just not that into you

Jennifer Connolly, Jennifer Anniston, Ben Affleck, Justin Long, Scarlet Johannsen and Drew Barrymore star in this drama showing how women have to navigate their relationships based on the wimps of men. It was an okay movie but from the perspective from women. Women have to wait in their traditional roles to wait for the guy to ask the girl if she would marry him. A long movie (over two hours) but in the end somewhat predictable and not a whole lot more. Not that much recommended. You just see and decide.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Movies- The Kingdom

Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner stars in this fast paced violent action movie. They are two FBI agents who are pressed into service to investigate a terrorist act involving the Americans in Saudi Arabia. They are assisted by an honest Saudi cop. This movie is fun to watch if you have the stomach of blood. It seems that when it comes to terrorist activities you can’t trust anybody even if they are wearing the same uniform as the good guys.

In start the FBI team is not allowed to do its work. Just observe and go back but after a while they gain the trust of the Saudi Authorities and that is when the action really starts.

Good action sequences along with distorted religious views of the deviated makes it a harrowing movie watching. I will recommend it if there are no kids around.

Security Breaches at Airports

There was another security breach at JFK airport in New York City. A man just walked through the security gate and all chaos breaks loose. People who were already checked were sent back again and the people on the flights ready to leave had to disembark and go the same procedure again. Some people missed their flights and some flights were canceled. Another day there was another breach of security at Newark Airport in New Jersey. There was another at the west coast and on other flights too.

Frankly speaking I am really sick and tired of all these breaches. Either somebody is not doing their job properly or the people who are doing these breaches seem to be testing the patience of authorities and other folks. I believe that if you start giving these people who are breaking into secured areas or not following the rules some kind of punishment like not allowing flying for a while or some fine and maybe in extreme circumstances some jail time, all this will come to an end very fast.

Seriously these people are really wasting the time of other people and making them angrier than ever and soon there will be a pretty big backlash against this kind of behavior.

Earthquake in Haiti-2

Although things are not getting to normal but U.S. forces have opened the airport and seaport and aid is trickling. The main thing is that how to distribute this aid to people without any proper infrastructure. I can also understand people’s frustration with lack of food and other basic necessities. It is really hard to survive without food or running water or a house for four days. The world is courageously responding to this disaster with the U.S. taking the lead. Sending in almost 10,000 troops to secure the country and distribute will be one of the biggest disaster relief efforts since Somalia.

There are also reports that our Military will stay there for a period of extended time till things become sort of normal. I don’t know how long the extended time frame is, but I am very opposed to our Military staying there much longer with so many of our forces engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know that the Haitian people need our help but to overextend ourselves there will be sort of disastrous since it can breed resentment. So it is better to quickly complete our humanitarian mission and get out from there as soon as possible.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google vs. China

Google has finally threatened to leave the lucrative Chinese market due to hacking and also increasing censoring. Google has been self censoring for the last few years but after it’s Gmail of some prominent human rights activists were hacked (apparently by the Chinese based hackers) Google had it enough. In this fight between two giants let’s see who blinks first.

Although the U.S. Government has said that it sides with Google in this matter and Google is also getting lots of goodwill, but the Chinese are shrewd and some kind of compromise will come to quiet this high stakes (and higher ego) game.

Google may win some sympathy and lots of support but will it translate to more money that is the real question. No body wants to loose the biggest internet market in the world and even if Google leaves, its rivals are already trying to start carving the market it is supposedly threatening to leave.

In the coming weeks we will see how this game is played out. Stay tuned.


We may have heard it before but now there is news that the President is proposing a special tax on the biggest banks to pay for the billions of dollars in bailout money that the U.S. It is suppose to raise enough money to recoup the taxpayer’s money. The most liberals want to go even further and tax their bonus like the U.K. did. All this at a time when Wall Street is the Public Enemy No.1. But all this taxes and other things will really make Wall Street banks pay attention to the main street. I highly doubt it.

For example my account has now been hit by maintenance fees which previously were not. Does anyone believe that the banks would absorb this tax alone by itself? No way, the bank will try to raise various fees or invent new ones or make everybody pay for the services which were provided free before on a fee per request basis.

Bank have to become profitable and they would do whatever they can in this era of increasing regulations to squeeze any fees they can find and all this legislations and rules and regulations will come to naught.

To ask the banks to behave will have to come from an insider whom the banks feel have their interest at heart without abandoning the main street (which is inevitable). This entire populist backlash against banks will not make them saints.

In other news the banks are now in a position to give their biggest bonus in a few weeks time. Let’s see how it plays out. I will talk about it when they announce it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

A devastating earthquake on a 7.0 Richter scale hit Haiti yesterday. It was the most devastating earthquake Haiti has seen in more than 200 years. Haiti as you may not know is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. It was sad to see so much devastation. People were not prepared for it as you can all imagine.

Infrastructure is really poor there and it has been hard for people outside the country to call their loved ones in Haiti since the devastation is so much. Even the United Nations headquarters in Haiti was destroyed. United States doing the right thing has sent in the Marines to help with the relief efforts. It will be a really long time before life will be back to normal. People of Haiti were poor from the start but now it will be an uphill battle for them to survive this devastation. In this hour of their devastation, we should all be helping them out in any which way we can.

CIA casualties in Afghanistan.

Few days ago the CIA got hit by a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Seven people died which made it the worst casualties since the Beirut bombing in the early eighties. It is sad but it is part of their job. You will find double crossers and triple crosses and double and triple agents. In the Afghanistan case, the guy who committed the suicide bombing was a double agent employed both by the CIA and the Taliban but his loyalties were eventually with the Taliban.

When you are in the line of intelligence work, you have to bear these kinds of risk. The sad part is that nobody knows your name and it is not mentioned in the newspapers and everything is hushed up. It is very hard to know who is who on which side in the wild world of espionage and especially when you are in the war zone where loyalties continues to shift but you still have to rely on local folks to give them the raw hands on intelligence that you need to keep track of the bad guys. Sometimes the intelligence succeeds and sometimes they end up losing the lives. Well these courageous spies know that is how the life is going to be and they choose to be in their field of choice. But anyway It is sad but it will not stop the intelligence gathering.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Laid to Rest

This is a horror movie regarding a girl who wakes up in a casket in a funeral home and tries all night long to evade a Killer. I thought it would be a kill time movie but it was really a dumb movie and the acting was horrendous to say the least. The only that I can say was it was a very graphic and gory. But overall it was a super dumb movie not even worth your time even if you have all the time in the world.

I had to watch it in several installments, but now I regret watching it altogether. So for all you horror fans out there, avoid it at all costs. Rated DB (for Disgustingly boring).

Baseball and Steroids:

So Finally Mark McGuire came out and told the truth that he had used steroids to boost his career. It is really a shame that it had to have that way. I can understand that there is pressure on the baseball players to perform but instead of playing on their own strength, they had to use Steroids. What next or I should say who will be next in line to admit it.

All these records of home runs have started to look very suspicious to me and millions of baseball fans.

Since the Steroids crisis hit the baseball, every time something extraordinary happens, people say that it is not their talent but it is Steroids. I would also like to say that the baseball as a sport has been slow to admit that it had a problem. Only after much pressure that punishments and penalties were imposed but it is still very inadequate. I would really like to see harsh punishments like a year worth of suspensions for the first offense and two years for the second offense and life time ban on three or more suspensions. Plus I would like to say that when the players are caught with these Steroids, all the previous records during which they used the steroids should be wiped out and they should be forced to start again. Other than this it will be the baseball fans pressure that will make these players behave and nothing else.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unemployment Steady or is it?

The new unemployment was a surprise to many economists since it showed that employers shed 85,000 jobs instead of the expected slight increase. The unemployment figure remained the same 10 percent. I don’t get it. If the employers shed almost 100k jobs how can the unemployment figure remain the same. It maybe the fact that some of the unemployed lost their benefits and were not counted. Or some were so discouraged to look for a job that they dropped out of the scene and are no longer counted as unemployed or employed.

Anyway you look at it, the pictures are not good. Although the manufacturing sector and the economy as a whole is growing but it is not being reflected in the employment figures. Which means that the employers are either cautious about hiring or they are squeezing their existing employees for more work without increasing their payroll.

This is not good which means that it will be a long time before employment numbers come down (official or otherwise) and the full economy will start benefiting from it.

Snowed In and Out:

It has been snowing constantly across the United States and Europe. Records are being broken in terms of snow amounts and temperature. Florida which is not used to this kind of weather has been recording low temperatures throughout the state. Midwest is experiencing record snowfalls and the budget of some states for snow removal has already been depleted and the end of snow season is nowhere in sight.

In Europe it is the same picture, I think they were not fully prepared for this kind of weather. It really hit them hard, especially United Kingdom, they almost had 16 inches of snow and they closed down entire cities. They have already acknowledged that they are not use to this kind of heavy snow. Everything was shut down beyond London. Germany was another story, they were also hit hard and several hundred flights were canceled.
If somebody say to them the earth is warming, they will get really mad that if the earth is really warming they will shiver if the earth starts to cool. Makes you think what happens to the global warming phenomenon. Sweden and Norway where they are use to this kind of weather; they were also hit with surprise low temperatures.

Well it is still winter right now and we will see how much more snow will be have to take.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The New Flying Rules:

As per my previous post (before the new law), the thing happened finally. Strict checking of passengers including carry on luggage and pat downs for 14 countries. Now those countries whose citizens have been singled out for increased scrutiny are crying foul regarding their special treatment. I believe it is a start to racial profiling. Although I am against racial profiling (which I will elaborate later on), but it is a sad fact that most of the high profile terror activities are being conducted by the so called followers of Islam. So we need to check these individuals before they strike us.

But it is also true that this kind of racial profiling (which should not be called racial profiling) will not help in the wrong. It seems that the terrorist are always changing tactics to our responses and they will definitely try to recruit people who are can pass along easily as westerners or other nations. This has already been shown in the case of converted Muslims. Since there are more than 40 Islamic countries, and only 12 listed as “countries of interest” out of 14, it can be said that it is not racial profiling and a kind of selective profiling based on the fact that the countries on it has citizens who are susceptible to militancy. For now it is a good start, but we will need to devise new strategies to make sure that all the intelligence agencies work together and the expanded list of no-fly should be followed strictly.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold Feet Politicians.

In the last few days, a few of the incumbent politicians have announced that they would not be running for office in the next elections. In them are few democrats. What is really going on here is that they are getting cold feet as voters backlash have started to come to bite. The high unemployment rate and the ongoing war coupled with record deficit, out of control stimulus spending, Wall Street bailouts and the one sided Health Care Bill have soured the mood of the voters against the Politicians particularly the Democrats.

But the Republicans should not be having a party right now, since for the last eight years they did screw up a lot in terms of the War on Terrorism and the increasing deficit. They are not entirely blame free. The Republicans will have to reinvent themselves and show their moderations for various agendas. They should not cater on to their conservative base but they should broaden it to include moderates who tend to be the majority of the population whether they believe it or not.

If the Democrats lose their majority or retain a slim majority in the next mid terms elections, then the President will be in scrambling to achieve his ambitious agenda for the next two years. So it is time that all the Politicians behave like they do care about the voters and not about what they should be opposing for opposition sake.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Slumdog Millionaire

An excellent no name India-based movie regarding a contest in which people get to be a millionaire by answering questions. The lead actor questions all the answers which he acquires during his life events which unfold in flashbacks. It shows how the poor fair in India and how they survive the harsh climate of survival. It is very realistic and gritty and is laden with graphic language. It alternates between Hindi (the language of India) and English.

Overall if you want a nice and excellent Oscar Winning Movie, you would not be disappointed. I will recommend it.

On the lighter Side:-Movies- Taken

Taken is a thriller movie starring Liam Neeson as the estranged father of a 17 year old girl, who reluctantly agrees to let her daughter go to Paris with her friend but her daughter gets kidnapped by human traffickers. As Liam is an ex CIA agent, he uses his extensive skills and knowledge to get the human traffickers and rescue his daughter. It has enough action to keep you busy but it is entirely predictable from the start.

As you know in these movies, the film has a happy ending but not before lots of body counts and actions is done. If you are in the mood for action, this movie is ok since it is a 90 minute or so movie, otherwise you should watch other action movie or do so productive stuff. Not for the kids though.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A year in review:

Last year was quite a year. I had the tragedy of losing my dear father, and my wife lost her dear grandfather. In the world stage, the world economy went deeper into debt and housing market in the U.S. did not improve a bit. The unemployment rate went through the roof and stood at the highest in 26 years. We have our first African American President inaugurated. Health care legislation passed with one sided partisan support.

Terrorism got a new homeland in the face of Yemen. A surge of troops in Afghanistan was announced. Hollywood had a record revenue year. New York City had the lowest murder rate on record.

On the other side, states are still struggling during the past year despite good retail business but due to the high unemployment rate they are in dire straits and would remain so for a year or two. The landscape of the employment has changed drastically. Even the highly educated were not immune to the devastating recession that we had to go through.

Overall the mood of the consumers went way south with the economy and jobs following it. It is now hoped that we will be able to gain some jobs this year and the economy improves.

A very Happy New Year (I hope)

So the New Year is here with all its optimism and hopes and expectations. Most of the people have made New Year resolutions of what they hope to accomplish this year. I have nothing against resolutions but the point is that the future is so unpredictable like us human beings that whatever resolutions we make, most of the time we are unable to keep it after a while. In the start there is too much excitement and motivation about the resolutions but as times go by and one is confronted with hectic schedules and unexpected circumstances, the resolutions go down the drain.

The best thing to do about the resolutions is that if you want to make it, you should make it a flexible one reflecting the changing circumstances in your lives and the competing attention grabbers in your life. This way even if you are unable to keep your resolutions you will have made adjustments to it reflecting your changing circumstances.

Apart from this I wish everybody a happy and safe new year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A very special Post

Usually I don’t post on Sundays since I know that people are busy generally with their families or just out doing chores. But since this day falls on a date which I will hold special for the rest of my life and the worst day of my life so far. It still maybe a Happy New Year to most of the people but for me it is the day my dear Father passed away I know that for some of you people are not that close to their parents in general and father in Particular. But for me I so much close to my father and he was the most close to me of all this children (maybe it was because I was his only son out of four kids). He has guided me through life every step of the way and I used to seek his advice and he used to give me his advice all the time.

We were as close to each other as a baby is to his or her mother. It is his first death anniversary and I miss him so much. I still see him in my dreams and also keep his photos in my room. I still refuse to believe that he has left this world. It was so much heartbreaking for me and I don’t know what I will do for the rest of my life living without seeing his face, hearing his voice and just holding his hand.

My wife sometimes say that he is gone from this world to a better place but unless you are in my shoes you would not know how it feels to lose a parents who is as near to you as your own heart.

Right now I am so depressed and I am so heartbroken and his absence is what makes me feel so much lost in another world. I damn miss him so much that as I am writing I am also crying my heart out. It is so hard for me to go on everyday and I try to absorb myself in different activities just to forget about his thoughts but it is so hard for me not to keep on remembering him day in and day out. GOD I miss him so damn much.

This post is dedicated to you my dear Daddy. May you rest in peace. Daddy I love you always. Your Son. January 03, 2009