Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The End of Iraq War

Finally the unpopular Iraq war has come to a close. After nine years and almost 1 trillion dollars in tax payers’ money. We have left Iraq not out of our choice but because the Iraqis did not wanted to give immunity to U.S. soldiers if they did something wrong. But anyway it is good that we are out of it and now we can concentrate on one war (which right now we can barely afford). That is a nasty one since it will be more lengthy and it is more backward than Iraq ever was. But once again Iraq is much better than at the start of the war although the sign of sectarian flare-up can never be discounted. But it is now up to Iraqis to decide if they are going to fight among themselves or live a life of coexistence peacefully among different sects.

Although there has been lots of up and down in the Iraq War, nobody thought that the U.S. will leave Iraq with its entire troop out of the country. After this unnecessary war, we (the people) should make sure that we are not sucked into another war just because we don’t like their government because it is the people who have to decide what kind of government they want. Even so if the people are incapable of doing that, we should encourage moral and political support without committing our troops to the venture because we cannot sustain another war nor we do wish to have a regime change which will never be totally Pro-American. We should learn from our war history and let the people choose their own form of government without our overt interference in their affairs. This is the lesson we should learn from the Iraq War.

The Wall Street Protests

What started as a protest against Wall Street bankers and corporate greed and quickly became a national and international phenomenon has now almost fizzled out without achieving its goal. But wait what was its goal to start with? I was fortunately (or unfortunately whatever you want to call it) close proximity to that famous Zucotti park where they were protesting but never had the opportunity to pass by them. Anyway what was the reason that the protest was organized since most of the people who were protesting against corporate greed and Wall Street bailouts were in fact patronizing them one way or the other. Can you ever get rid of Wall Street and Corporations; I highly doubt it since they have becomes so much intertwined in our lives.

Even when we are saying that we are not going to support corporations and Wall Street, we are inadvertently doing it by buying their stuff from stores and putting money in banks which may be related to Wall Street. It was the wrong area to protest since it is the politicians and the lobbyists that they should be protesting since they make the laws and approve bailouts. Even the mom and pop stores buy their products from big corporations. The eating, drinking, sleeping, wearing and buying houses are loosely tied to the corporations and the banks. So in order to change and protests, Wall Street may not be the right place. If a protest is what they want then they should be influencing their Congress men and women to change laws and support the everyday person.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tron Legacy

Special effects laden sequel to the 1980s movie regarding the son of the creator of Tron who gets into the game and tries to destroy the created when he threatens to unleash his power onto the real world. Jeff Bridges reprises the role of the father whose son saves the day. Stunning visual effects and a great movie to watch. Highly Recommended especially if you watch it in theater.

On the lighter side-Movies-How to train your dragon

Another one of the blockbuster animated movies about a boy in the Viking era whose father is the chief of the tribe which puts him under intense pressure to kill a dragon but instead he befriends one and saves the day at the end. Pretty good animation and a highly enjoyable movie. Recommended for everybody

On the lighter side-Movies-Shrek forever after

Although this one made quite a boatload of money but I was not that happy with it since it is not that funny as compared to the rest of the series. Shrek (Mike Myers) stars as the disillussioned Ogre who longs for a time before he was the friendly Ogre and gets his wish and comes to regret it. With the voices of Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas. I will recommend it for the kids but not for the adults. Recommended with reservations.

On the lighter side-Movies-Clash of the Titans (2010)

Sam Worthington Stars as Perseus, Son of Zeus who has to defeat Hades and his monster in order to save city of Argos. Special effects laden 3D remake of the same name movie made in 1981. Plenty of special effects and adventure. A good escapist movie to watch with Ralph Finnes as Hades and Liam Neeson as Zeus. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Rite (2011)

A young doubtful clergyman goes to Italy to study exorcism and meets Anthony Hopkins who does the exorcism. Initially skeptical about it, the young priest goes on to do on Hopkins when he seems to be possessed. Although not a horror movie per se and not that good either but if you want to see Anthony Hopkins acting (which is as usual excellent), watch it, otherwise Not Recommended.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Money does not buy everything but it sure helps a lot

Ah that classic saying that Money can't buy everything and it is true to a point. You can't buy love or affection with money and countless other examples like honesty, health. But it sure helps if you have enough money to enjoy. It is true that you can't buy love but you sure can take your date out to a nice dinner and have a nice wedding. You can't buy health but you can surely have the best medical facilities to take care of health. Money can't buy you a good mind but it sure help you hire a good tutor for your kid to excel in SAT and in numerous other entry exams. You cannot bribe an officer when you get ticketed as it is against the law, but you can hire a good attorney to represent you and get you a good hearing instead of relying on court appointed ones.

Money can pay your bills and afford you a nice life style and it can help you have a comfortable living. It also helps that you are not constantly stressed out about have less money. And again since this economy has affected everybody guess what people are stressing out about , of course it is the so called scourge of "Money" that people without jobs or having more debt are complaining about and wishing if they had enough money to ride through this turbulent and stressful financial times in their lives. So all I can say in the end is that having Money sure helps a lot in one's life.

Stretching oneself too thin

We individuals tend to do this all the time when it comes to finances but now in this economy everybody has stretched out themselves to the limit. And it is not just the individuals but corporations, states and countries have become overly indebted and thus beholden to forces outside their control. Debt can be good if you are going to use to pay for stuff which you would have to wait a long time before buying but to roll over the debt and keep on putting off by buying more stuff means you are setting yourself up for disaster. This has happened to most people lately and countries have stretched themselves too much without ever having the means to repay their debt completely.

Now the question is how to repay your debt. You can do it in two ways. One is to cut your spending but how much and where to cut is the question. If you cut too much people and your own life style will suffer and if you don’t cut then you have to increase your income in order for the increased income to pay for the debt. But as the economy is right now, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find another job or work overtime. the other way for the individual would be start a small side business to supplement his/her income. But here again you have to know what you are going to offer to your potential customers and for how much, where are you going to get the goods and how much margin you should be earning (a whole different story). But my point is stretching yourself too much can stress you out physically, mentally, emotionally and if you are a country politically. We should try to avoid this scenario at all costs if possible.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bullying of all kinds

Nowadays an increasing number of articles and news are coming out regarding bullying. They are mostly in the context of school or college kids bullying some vulnerable kid into committing suicide or scaring them for life by making them retrieve into a solitary world. But if you see around, a kind of silent bullying keeps going on daily. Husbands or wives bullying each other to do things which they don’t want to. Big and economically and militarily powerful countries bullying (putting pressure) on small countries to guard their interest. States bullying their citizens with higher taxes and the like. But although a lot is being said about how bullying destroys kids lives or even drive them to suicide. There is a tacit approval of other kinds of bullying.

Since we believe that grownups and small nations can and have more capacity to withstand or tolerate bullying, but this does show up in the newspapers that it can also kills unknown number of people through various means, but it is not reported or if it does it is not in the context of bullying but of mutual agreement of the two parties. But how do we know it is a mutual agreement and the sufferer may be suffering in silence. We need to tackle every kind of bullying and highlight it instead of concentrating on one while the silent majority suffers without anybody to turn to.

The face of owners on corporations

Okay everybody knows that the corporations are started by individuals who then become the founder, Chief Executive officer and sometimes the chairman of the board if they are a public company and if a private company then they can skip the chairman of the board part. But some owners become so much tightly associated and recognized as the face of the corporation that anything goes wrong with the health of slight hint of misstep by that owner results in disaster for the company as a whole. If they are public company, their shares can drop or rise by the slightest hint of any activity by the owner since they are the brain behind the corporation. Although it is nice those individuals can have so much power over their corporations but this can end in disaster if their no succession plan in place or the markets perceive that the corporation can become handicapped without the owner.

I believe that the owners/founder should try their best to promote their corporation's brand and try to dispel the notion (if there is any) that the corporation's future is tied to that of the original owner. If the owner/founder wants to make sure that the corporation survives anything that happens to the founder then it is really imperative that he/she work behind the scenes including outsourcing different responsibilities to people other than him/her but keep a close eye on the activities of his corporation in order to make sure it does not deviate much from the vision he/she has when he/she originally founded the corporation. This way if he/she dies or transfer the ownership to other people the market can rest assured that it will survive without the original founder influence.

The blunders that companies make

You know everybody makes blunders and suffer for it as a consequence. Most of the people make amends to their blunders and get on with their lives as it affects them more or less on a personal level but when a company makes blunders than it has not only to contend with its customers but also suffer internally with the morale of the employees going down. This happened with a video rental company when they abruptly raised the prices of their rental to double of what people were paying before drawing outrage and anger at people who have previously perceived the company as the most consumers friendly. In disgust, the membership of the company went down and now they are trying to mend fences slowly. It just shows how a well managed company can bungle its way (which they have already acknowledged) and become unpopular at the same time.

It is not the first time and it won't be the last time many well managed and superbly run companies will make blunders and initiate or change policies in which they run business that will alienate some of the core customers. The companies have to do some internal training and do some experiments before even initiating new policies, because the changes that the companies may make financial sense to them but if they do not let their customers or clients know them and have test experiments before going live with them then they will continue to have problems which can hit their bottom-line badly.

Rewarding your employees

You know it is that time of the year when most of the employers start the evaluation process. A recent article said that some of the company has done away with the annual evaluation. But every employee whether evaluated or not think that they deserve to get something (despite the economy). How do you reward your most creative and productive employees while trying to keep the normal one happy. You can either promote the most productive ones and give some raises to the normal ones (such as the cost of living adjustment) but you can also ask them through a survey what they crave most this year as a gift and then depending on the price of the gift either pay full or pay a portion of it.

A promoted employee is already happy with a new job and a raise. But if you are unable to afford to give a promotion or a raise due to whatever reasons, you can give them a computer or some gadget, a gift card or a reservation in a small hotel just to let them know that you appreciate their services and have not forgotten them even though the times are tough. And it is not only that you can reward your employees at the end of the year but you can do that throughout the year which can put much cheer and happiness's on the faces of your employees. Rewarding your employees need not be expensive or elaborative but should be good enough to have an appreciation of their contribution to the growth of your company.

Can small businesses create loss leaders?

You may or may not have heard about loss leaders. This is when a big store discounts some stuff below their purchasing cost in order to entice customers to come and buy more regularly priced or expensive products on which the store make money. All the big box retailers do that since their volume and purchasing power allow them to make money on regularly priced stuff and take a loss on the slow moving stuff and thus make profit in the process. The question is can the small businesses like the mom and pop stores create loss leaders in order for people to buy their regularly priced item. On the face of it, it seems that is not possible since the very small businesses are already struggling to get by and they don’t have big purchasing power or marketing budget to advertise their wares.

But if you are creative enough, one can have numerous items bought brand new at low prices discount then discount and try to get word of mouth or advertise cheaply or for free on the web. Another way is to have a drawing (without breaking your budget of course) to create a buzz about your store and then see the people coming in. I would right now not go for the group coupon thingy although it creates buzz but if you are unable to handle to rush you can be burnt (not to mention lose big). The internet has created many business models (and destroyed some too) but overall if you are able to have some small stuff as a giveaway or as a discount, you can create a lot of buzz even with one customer (as I said before word of mouth can be a huge marketing tool if played right) and also don’t forget the social media where you can hit pay dirt if you are smart and creative enough.

The psychology behind coupons

Have you ever thought about what's goes on the business owner mind when they decide to offer coupon effectively to reduce the price? It is just playing mind games with the consumer since it makes the consumer feel good about themselves that they got a good deal and saved some money. Believe me I have the same feeling but I have been playing this game very long (and I guess you have too) to figure out when it is time to play the coupon game and when it does not. Sometimes you can get the same product or services without getting in the hassle of cutting the coupons or waiting for the time when the coupon is offered. As the popularity of the coupons reach feverish levels, a number of websites have cropped up to make some money out of this craze.

Television shows have been created which revolve around ordinary families saving ninety or more percent on their grocery shopping. Although you can say that saving money by way of coupon can be addictive but you have to be dedicated coupon clipper along with organization and enough time to snarl those deals. But even if you are saving money, it is just another way for businesses to market their business and they can expense this as a marketing cost. The main psychology behind using coupons is to save money and get the product for less than its normal price but what is the normal price is the question. The businesses don’t exist to lose money so even when we think we are saving money, the businesses are still raking in the dough.

Bad luck, bad circumstances or bad policies

Ever since the recession started in 2008, the new President has been beset with problem. Although most of the people still blame the previous President's policies for the current mess, but President Obama has to not the only one to be blamed. Although he can provide leadership but we had a good six to seven years of fun riding on huge piles of debt since 9/11 and the biting would have been very nasty. But even the so called economists have been surprised by the current depth of the recession. There is no one consensus for whose is to blame for the ongoing unemployment and slow recovery. It is either bad luck, bad circumstances or just bad policies, no two opinions have been the same.

I believe that it is the combination of all of the above, he had a bad luck and bad circumstances that he inherited a devastated economy fighting two wars and then the financial crisis exploded here in the U.S. and then in Europe (which is still ongoing), but bad policies are also contributing like over regulation, uncertainty about taxes, not providing enough leadership so that he can keep unity or at least working relationship with Congress. He should stop the impression that the Democrats are only here to tax and spend and listen to different policies and not what is near and dear to him even if it wrecks havoc with the economy. But it is easier said than done since I am not the President and I don’t know how much pressure he is in so I can only give my opinion. But he has the power to change things and if presented to the American public convincingly, he can get his way.

The pressure tactics

It can be of various kinds and it can vary from individuals to nations. For example right now Iran is the increasing target of international sanctions to put pressure on the regime to abandon its nuclear program. The United States uses various tools to exert pressure on nations and on individuals to comply with either the international law and national laws. It uses a combination of financial, military and political means to exert pressure so that it can achieve its goals. It is not only the international powers that can put pressure, even countries which do not have the military means to fight international powers. Iran for example regularly accuses arrested Americans of spying for the CIA. Pakistan puts pressure on the U.S. and NATO through blockage of routes to Afghanistan to achieve its own goals. China uses its massive currency and heavy weight to influence international matters related to Taiwan.

North Korea arrests American and accuses them of espionage and thus put pressure on the U.S. government to ease pressure on it. Parents put pressure on the kids to achieve good grades in school and teachers put pressure on students with difficult exams and if possible through detention to make the unruly students behave in a certain way. Every way you see pressure is there, you may not feel it but you are constantly under pressure every day of the week even while relaxing you are also under pressure since there is not enough time for you to relax and leave the worries of the world behind for a while. So folks the pressure tactics are can be human or it can be from nature. Either way you are pressured.

Telling them how it is-2

It just seems like the European are trying to buy time so that maybe in the near future their economy can grow out of recession and they can pay their debts back. But is that possible with some of the European nations population falling and the life time increasing putting increasing strains on their welfare system. How long these things can last as the debt keeps on piling up without any decrease in sight. All I see is sea of debt and it is not just the Europeans but the U.S. is also awash in debt and the tough love approach is also lacking here too. As anybody knows who have debt, unless the principal amount is paid off, the interest keeps on accumulating and sometimes it is even more than the principal. This is what is happening with sovereign debt.

I have never seen any principal reduction, all I ever hear is it been roll over with new issuance as the old debt gets paid by the new one. It is also with human contact, after all we try to maintain peace and tranquility by telling lies or sweet talk our way out of situations but ultimately one day we have to be given tough love either by your well wishers or by your circumstances. It is nice to hear bad news slowly but sometimes it is better to get in one go and get it over with rather than have intermittent shock treatment. This should be now the main concern of politicians that how to tell it to their constituents like it is without getting swept away in the next elections. It should be done now rather than down the road when things can get much worse.

Telling them how it is

It is not just the economic crisis engulfing Europe or the world in general but the notion of skirting or circumventing the truth in order to deal with it at a future time some time back fires. For example the truth behind the European crisis has not be told forthrightly to the different nation states (since I am hesitant to use the word Europeans because not all Europeans are in the same boat of fiscal indiscipline). The European crisis have become so severe that they have gone a begging to China and even the huge emerging economies to buy their bond so that they have some time to relax in the sun. But as somebody from the emerging markets told them that the Nation states of Europe have to largely deal with the fiscal mess themselves with little help from the fast developing countries.

And to be fair it is wrong of the European to ask the emerging countries to help them since the developing countries are either still developing or have no chance to recover their investment once they invest in the overly indebted nations of Europe. Tough love is being introduced in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy and also in France too but it is either too little or it is just buying time till the next elections or a miracle waiting to happen. The truth is still being veiled in camouflage and promises which seems less likely to be fulfilled.

Sharing household chores

When you are a family (any kind of a family) there is an implicit agreement that you are supposed to do your chores. Even little kids are taught that they have to do their chores like making their beds, putting dirty clothes in their place, organize their toys etc. As an adult you are supposed to share household chores with significant other. Any kind of chores which reduces the burden on your significant other is a welcome sign and contributes to a happy household. It is not just me that is saying but studies have concluded that indeed that is the case and I have done that and got appreciation. Maybe not all of the men or women do equal amount of chores around the house but an overwhelming majority do that.

For example, my duty is to take out the garbage and doing laundry (which to say the truth I enjoy it), but besides that I do numerous other little chores which may not be significant enough but as I said before every little help counts. Children should be taught from an early age to take care of their stuff so that they can assume responsibility and help you lower your stress level. Apart from this, if you are going on a vacation and everybody helps out it speeds up the time you can pack your bags and you can enjoy more of the time vacationing rather than putting burden on a single person. Anyway the next time you are trying to avoid sharing household chores, just think about if everybody avoids it then the whole household will be in chaos.

The Supposed allegations against corporations-2

Even the small businesses whom some people support against big corporations buy their stuff made by corporations. Corporations are a fact of life and it is hard to wean ourselves from them when we wear clothes made by corporations, eat stuff made by corporations sleep on beds made by them and even live in houses where most of the materials are made by them. There is always a choice that if people don’t want to work for one they can do that but how are they going to survive since even small home business need to tap into the huge economies of scale that the corporations use to provide us affordable stuff.

Although sometimes it is frustrating that corporations does not give a damn about the jobless or are heartless when it comes to community service and we keep on rallying corporate greed but in fact it is actually the people who are running the corporations who are the real face of them and they are behind the greed or you can say the profit which are mandated to increase and give it back to their shareholders. Even the people who rally against corporate greed have their pensions and other retirement accounts put into a mutual fund which is of course the stocks of corporations. So unless we can find another way to live our lives, we will have to deal with the so called "devil" that we know.

The Supposed allegations against corporations

Since the corporations started, there has always been accusations hurled against it that they are greedy and heartless and they just care about the money aspect and the community in which they serve is just a vessel for them to earn more profits while contributing little to society. But why are these allegations true that the despite all the hatred people still want to work for one and we buy stuff from them even while hating them in the process. A corporation is made up of people who work for shareholders of the company. Usually if the company is publicly traded, all the shareholders want is the company is well managed enough to earn them enough money so that they can profit from the increase in the shares. Even if they are not publicly traded, one of the main reason for it to survive is to make money.

If it is losing money, then there is no point of its existence. But corporations are made up of people and it is the people who run them according to the wishes of their shareholders mostly and their owners if it is privately held, but they do exist to earn profit. Now the question is despite the hatred why do we keep on applying to these corporations even if we hate them to their guts. The truth is we don’t hate them enough to severe our ties with them completely. We live, eat and breathe corporations daily even if we don’t know we are doing so regularly.

Is hacking into computers that glamorous?

Although hacking into computers have been going on as long as the computers have been around, but lately it has become an epidemic and the hackers proudly announce it to the world that they can hack into any system and disrupt it. Although sometimes their intensions are purely to test the system, but sometimes they are hacking criminally to hijack and steal the identity of innocent victim. Whatever is the case, I don’t find it quiet amusing that the hackers think that it is very glamorous and prestigious to hack into any computer and disrupt it. Maybe it is fun for them but for the millions or even thousands of victim who have entrusted their identity and sometimes funds to institutions getting sometime stolen by strangers is very disturbing and upsetting.

Instead of wasting their time on this frivolous activities where the end game is the destruction of somebody innocent's lifesavings or identity, why don’t the hackers put their talent to use and contribute to the society by starting businesses and startups and help the economy and hire people . I for one would be creating many companies if I had the expertise in computers and help the less fortunate by donating to different charities and helping out the community in general. But that is me and despite all the effort, there will always be some people out there who would always find immense satisfaction in disrupting the life of innocent people.

On the lighter side-Movies-Paranormal Activity 2

The Prequel to the first one regarding haunted goings on in a house hold and how the family copes with it. I for one was not that scared of the movie and sometimes it was excruciatingly slow and boring to boot. I really don’t understand how it makes so much money. Although there is very little gore but the suspense element was also lacking. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies- Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood stars directs and co produced this movie about a bitter Korean War Vet who is recently widowed and angry at the world. He also does not like Asian people who are his neighbors but once he gets to know them, he becomes their friend and helps them dying. The name of the movie is in regards to the Gran Torino 1972 car that his neighbor tries to steal and ultimately inherits from Eastwood. Very good movie and highly enjoyable. Recommended.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Checking things before buying-2

But as people become increasingly comfortable with shopping online and an increase in free shipping, people have started to buy a majority of stuff online which they were previously shopping in brick and mortar stores. But one thing still remains regarding buying things; it is all about the human interaction and face to face communication that is lacking in online sales. Although you can talk to a person and even see their faces but to have a face to face conversation in person is lacking and that still haunts the internet place. The prices maybe good but I still see a lot of people in malls and stores buying things which could have been easily brought online like for example. You can easily buy toys online but in store the smiling and laughing faces of the kids playing (or test driving) different toys is lacking on the internet.

Personally I am attracted by the low prices and the convenience that the internet provides, but if I want something in a hurry or just browse some stuff in a store, I would not hesitate to make that journey and feel and touch the stuff and even buy it if I can't wait for the delivery guy to drop by my house. It is just the connection that a human being have with the physical location of a store that is attractive to me and also the feel that I am surrounded by a variety of things that I may have not intended to buy but just buy it out of impulse is quiet attractive to me. Household items are also something I would rather go to a home improvement store and buy by myself rather than wait for it to be delivered at a time when I may not be at home. So different people may a list of things they would rather check in person before buying.

Checking things before buying

Although the internet has created a very different market for products since you can only see the picture and order the item online blindly ( I have done it too) but for some things I would rather check in person then to trust in some picture blindly . And I am sure there are some people out there who would do the same .That is why you are seeing that despite the fact that people are in increasing numbers ordering things online, Black Friday every year is a huge success (even for a few days) and people still want to get their hands on to a particular product right away. I can provide you with a list of things that I would rather test drive (or you can say see in person) before I buy or order online.

The first thing is a car, although cars are now being sold online but still you have to test drive the car. You can check the prices, comparison shop. find history of the used car, see different models, go to different websites but ultimately you would have to go a dealer, haggle price with him (or her) test drive the car and only then you can decide if you really want that car. Same thing is with shoes, although I know my size but I still want to try it before buying it (although various shoe websites are out there where people order shoes online without hesitation or reluctance and without trying).

The matter of religion in Elections

Now that the Election season is in full swing, once again we are faced with the candidates religion affiliation. Everybody is not of mainstream religion is being targeted and each candidate (or at least their supporters) are casting the other candidates religions credentials as dubious. I don’t really understand that since when the religion have comes to symbolize a candidate's electability to the highest office. If the oath is to uphold the constitution, why is a candidate's religion sect or affiliation targeted. The constitution clearly states that in the First amendment that there is Freedom of religion. It does not say that there is Freedom of religion only if you Christian, all others will not be eligible to the highest office. Other thing is that even Christian candidates have stumbled badly in their years of office and evoking God for their decisions does not absolve them of their free will decisions.

My point is that trading accusations about one religion being a cult or not enough Christian would not solve this country's problem one way or the other. Religion is a personal matter and in this country it should not be brought into public or consider a hindrance to the highest office because history if full of people who have been very religions but yet ultimately were flawed human beings who made terrible decision and ultimately other people suffered because of it. So the eligibility of the candidates should be based on their sound policies to guide this country. This country is a democracy and it should not be turned into Theocracy.

National interests redefined-2

When we say national interests we immediately make it as a national security issue without thinking how we are going to pay for it and is the government really the one to define it as such. Since the government is made up of representatives of the people and they use public funds by way of taxation to spend it according to people's wishes. But we have seen that national security interests are not defined in much detail and if somebody tries to ask for much detail it is just said that it is in the best interest of the nation's security and it will be put in jeopardy if all the details are leaked to the public.

But now that this new economy has started to make us think about how to carry on our day to day business and this economy is not going to fundamentally change in the near or any future (by the way we are taking on debt), we should be starting to ask hard and tough questions about our absolutely necessary national interests abroad are and how we are going to pay for it. We will not be able to afford to defend unlimited national interests and it should be really crucial and even our long term interests may be damaged in order to qualify as a National interest.

On the lighter side-Movies-Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

A 2010 updated remake of the 1987 Movie Wall Street Starring Michael Douglas as the disgraced Gordon Gekko who comes out of jail after serving several years in prison and tries to connect to his estranged daughter ( who is dating Shia LaBaouf-a Wall Street Trader). Oliver Stone's movie is a good one to watch revolving around the 2008 financial crisis and how the world becomes upside down for Wall Street people but as the movie shows nothing is learned at the end and life goes on. Good Movie to watch although not as great as the original one. With Frank Langella and Josh Brolin. Recommended

National interests redefined

As we have been witnessing and experiencing the free fall of our economy, there is few discussions about what are national interests are? We keep on hearing from Politicians that this or that is our national interests especially in the realm of international affairs. Before we could have afforded to carve out a broad area under which we could have defined our national interests but with the economy in a sorry state and everybody worried about the Federal debt, this issue needs to be tackling head on especially internationally. First of all we need to stop acting like we have all the money in the world to protect every corner of the world. We should stop acting like the World's policeman simply because we don’t have the money to be on call if something happens in all the parts of the world.

What are our national interests anyway? Every time something happens anywhere in the world, we invoke these words and then everybody is behind it without knowing the facts or questioning how are national interests are affected by that area. We have security interests in the Middle East, In Europe, in Latin America, in the Far East, in Africa and now our troops are going to be stationed in Australia. Even in a remote place called Antarctica, we have carved our share of national interests and on water and in space we have our national interests. Do we really have the money to protect all these areas. The answer is obviously and absolutely NO.

Our broken, Stalled Government

We are back to square one. I mean the threat of a government shutdown is again looming due to the divergent interests of the two major political parties and in this situation the ordinary system gets squeezed. Although we call our government representative of the people but the way the politicians have been behaving lately is nothing short of pathetic. Nothing gets done unless one party or the other party gets something for their own interests. Take for instance the holdup for the extension of the payroll cut deduction and extension of the unemployment benefits, it is being held up due to the price tag and also due to one party wanting to get something in return. Although right now the parties have woken up to the monster of Federal debt but when they were voting for the pet projects nobody thought about how we are going to pay for it.

The economy has not improved as hoped by the government and even throwing in more stimulus (which is another name for payroll cuts and unemployment extension benefits), it is not going to improve much before the election. If you don’t believe then you should take a look at Europe and see for yourselves. But in this time of crisis instead of joining ranks to help people, all the politicians are doing is holding up the government hostage to their interests and creating uncertainty in the markets. Even if we have a government of one party it will still be a broken stalled government because this is what the democracy we have chosen ourselves and unless truth and sanity prevails we will be subjected to this kind of partisan bickering.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Droning the terrorists

The United States have come to increasingly rely on unmanned aircraft to eliminate and spy on the terrorists in different countries of the world. Not only was this but a recent news that we are also using here in the U.S. for aiding border agents in their endeavor to secure the border. For the domestic security there may be concern about privacy invasion but no such hesitation exists when using outside the country. In fact after using to increasingly effectiveness in the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where the drones have eliminated many terrorists, the drones have been expanded to Africa where the new breed of terrorists is being targeted. Although initially I was opposed to the use of the drones as it violates the sovereignty of a country but now I have to come to appreciate its effective in the war against terror.

Sovereignty is established when you have the writ of the government anywhere in the country but if you don’t have it or just looks the other way or for whatever reason, you have no sovereignty if you can enforce your laws of the land on a particular area and here the drones are like in international airspace. They are effective because it minimizes the loss of life of the country which is operating and it eliminates the terrorists. But here a point is to be made is that if you are at war, there will always be civilian casualties so to pretend that the drones can only kill the terrorists would be absurd assumption. Right now this is the latest in the technology of the war and we should use it if it means fewer casualties (no matter on what side).

Is the American dream fading?-2

All over you see there is gloom and doom and there is no single magic bullet that someone can apply that can fix things in a year or so. These things were building up but people were too much absolved with themselves to see what was going to come. And now it is going to take an equal amount of years maybe five to ten years (if everything goes smoothly as the forecasts are saying) to fix these things. But the world is changing very rapidly and we as a nation are having a hard time adjusting to the new realty. If you look at Europe, although far away from us is still scarier to us since they are also mired in enormous amounts of debt. And I don’t believe that the debt is going to get repaid.

The coming scenario of higher defaults and foreclosures would be depressing sight to see but one silver lining is that after this cleanup, people and institutions can learn to live sanely and not go crazy with all kinds of exotic ways to present loans to people who will never pay or not understand (in the moment of temporarily loss of sanity). But as the history of the world tells us that human beings never learn from history and we as a nation are very ill equipped to face the new and fast changing realities of the new world where the competition would wipe out the less educated and less fortunate. It is a scary scenario to envision but unless people are scared into action, nothing would change.

Is the American dream fading?

Once upon a time, the American dream was alive and kicking. People owned homes, their incomes were increasing and the opportunity for higher education was plenty. But lately since the great recession of the early 21st Century, these dreams are either fading or are completely out of reach for millions of Americans. People are losing their jobs and thus their homes to an increasing bad housing market, the incomes are either stagnant or just not increasing due to the global and local competition and the higher education is being subject to more fees and less financial aid or if it is available then the students are going to deeper and deeper debt to see their degrees are not want the actual market wants to hire or need.

Pessimism is all around and no political party has the right ingredient to rally the nation to new heights again. In fact they are mired in partisan bickering and spending too much money on defense when we need the money right here and not promote regime changes and protect supposedly utopian interests abroad. The global market has become increasingly competitive and the companies need not be based in a particular country to reap the rewards of profit. Profits follows where are there are low taxes, stable economy and opportunities to grow without much regulation. But all this seems is getting lost on the politicians. Also it is the fault of us people too that they have been too complacent and dependent on the so called experts to guide them through this financial mess.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On the lighter side-Movies-The Town (2010)

Ben Affleck stars as a leader of a gang of bank robbers who fall for one of his victims and start to have second thoughts about continuing his life of crime. Plenty of superb action and acting by all makes this a great treat to watch and it will hold your interest to the end. Recommended.