Friday, June 29, 2012

The experience economy

In this very competitive and uncertainty economy, the one thing that has come on top if experience. Although experience was always required for getting jobs but this time with so many people out of work and for longer periods of time, that companies have a big leeway in what they require in a person they are hiring and the particular experience a person possesses in order to do a certain job wins out. But what about the people who have been out of work for a long time and whose skills are now rusty. Also people who are new and have not had the chance to gain experiences. These people have a hard time finding jobs and are at a disadvantage against recently laid off or experienced person. I can understand that companies may not have the time or the patience or money to spend to train some person who may or may not stay with them for long term, but do we ignore all these people who will ultimately cost money not only to the other tax payers but the economy as a whole because they will then waste away their skills, go on welfare and then put more burden on an already burden welfare system. The lack of training by the companies is so much glaring that people are getting discouraged to apply for jobs or make so much effort to secure a job that it stresses them out and that in turn put burden on the health care system. So all this expectations about job applicants having experience snowballs into indirect costs that ultimately hurt the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. Everybody deserves a break and a person with stale skills or no experiences should be hired and trained for that job because that is what human resources are all about.

On the lighter side-Movies-Red Tails-Cuba Gooding Jr, Terrence Howard

This is a true story about how the first African American unit of the Army Air force came into being fighting both the enemy and bigotry in World War II. Excellent aerial sequences and good acting by all including some unknowns. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Brave (2012)

Another animated winner by Pixar® people regarding a Scottish princess who does not want to follow tradition and get married and in order to change her fate gets in trouble and learns a valuable lesson. Good movie with moral lessons, although some scenes maybe scary for very young kids. Although very nicely made, I wonder if it will make back it’s reportedly almost 200 million dollar price tag in making and marketing (it may but not by much I assume). Anyway recommended for kids and adults.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Sherlock Holmes: A game of Shadows-Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law

Robert Downey Jr. is back as Sherlock Holmes along with his assistant Dr. Watson (played by Jude Law) in this exciting sequel to the popular Sherlock Holmes movie a few years ago. This time he is battling his nemesis Dr. Moriarty who is trying to start world war by creating demand for his weapons. Exciting action sequences and acting makes this a winner. Highly Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)-Nicholas cage

Sequel to Ghost rider regarding a person trading his soul with the devil and in the process doing his dirty work. If you have seen the first one, you can make as many stories with it as you can. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-John Carter (2012)

The movie that was a big disaster and disappointment since the studio that made it had spent roughly quarter of a billion dollars to make and market it. This is about a civil war southern hero who gets magically transported to the planet Mars where he finds himself defending a kingdom against invaders. Actually not a bad movie to watch, although I guess it was the timing of it coming out that ruined it. Good to watch for a buck and nothing more. Expensive sets and costumes which should not have been used. Recommended with reservations.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Gone (2012)-Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried stars as a younger sister who comes one day home from work to find her sister missing. Thinking that the same person who had kidnapped her before is behind it she goes all out to find her sister and settle the score with the kidnapper after the Police refuse to hear her story. Suspenseful and good. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Seeking Justice (2011)-Nicholas cage

Another of the Nicholas cage vehicle in which he stars as a teacher whose wife is brutally assaulted and raped one night. An incoherent Nicholas cage meets a guy at the hospital who promises to dispel justice to the person in return for a favor from cage. He agrees to it and that is how his trouble stars. Although an interest premise but I believe it has been done before with the vigilante angle. Recommended with reservations.

Why can't the Europeans be like Germans?

Since this crisis started, one question I am constantly been bothered with is if German economy is highly competitive and growing strongly, how come the other countries don’t emulate what the Germans do. Why can't they work hard or follow the German Government policies in order to stimulate their economies and get them going and get them out of their decline. Why that Europe is in a crisis starting with Greece, Ireland, and Portugal and now Spain with Italy not far behind and Germany keeps on humming along like. Why can't the people adopt German way of doing things and see what happens since they have already tried their way and look what has happened to them. These questions should be asked by the citizens of these countries. If German is co-signing literally all the loans and is putting its credit worthiness on risk, the German people have the right to impose tough conditions on the recipient countries and if that means austerity then it should be since these countries have already enjoyed the party while it lasted and the hangover is not going to be easy. So the rest of Europe should start acting like the Germans or follow their instructions if they want its money and stop blaming other extraneous factors for their wows since Germany is growly despite all the European Crisis and the rest of Europe can too if it can only be like the Germans.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Act of Valor (2012)

Action packed movie regarding real life non actors Navy SEALS team going after terrorists who have kidnapped a CIA agent and using suicide bombers to infiltrate the U.S. Some emotions but action packed through aided by the authenticity of having real life active duty SEALS in this production. Recommended

On the lighter side-Travel-Camden Aquarium, Camden, New Jersey

A few weeks ago, I took my family to see the Camden Aquarium approximately two hour’s drive from my house and only two miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The trip went smoothly just a slight rain for five minutes and then all sunshine. When we reached there, there was a long line of people waiting to buy tickets. After buying one, we went inside and starting planning where to go first. But as it was all random and there was rush of people, we just went with the flow. We watched a good variety of fish and aquatic animals and also touched star fish and saw penguins and other animals. Then there was a 4D animal show for 15 minutes. The most interesting part was walking through a tunnel where the sharks were swimming besides us. Then there was the hippopotamus in dirty water. We wanted to eat our lunch but due to a long line, we decided to skip it and instead had desert and had face painting. Since it was too early to go home and we were hungry, we decided to hop to Philadelphia and have a lunch/dinner combined and then came home safely. All in all it was a good trip, so if you happen to come to New Jersey (If you are in the U.S.) include Camden Aquarium in your itinerary as a place to see.

The bills keep coming

Ah the bills, I believe one of the most hated words in the English language is also the one that causes people much anxiety, anger, depression, you name the symptom and people will have it one way or the other. And it is not just that the Americans are prone to it, all over the world and every religion is stuck with it. So this hatred of bills is universal and equally despised. But if you are going to use something, then the bills will certainly be due in the future. Bills can be of all amounts and equally and surely all causes anger in the person getting it. And it is not the bills stop coming just because you are sick, unemployed, in an accident, gone away on vacation or in some way absent from your house, the bills would not stop even if you pray since it is the debt you owe to somebody else. So as part of the human race, I hate bills too but realize that if I have used something I will definitely be getting a bill for it (unless I pay in cash and avoid this scenario). Even after paying some bills, there is no respite since some other bills pop up sometime in a month and then you have scramble for whatever money you have in your budget to pay the bills. The biggest bill you can see is your mortgage on the house and then from there it is car loans, credit card debts, utilities and groceries. And the month goes so fast that before you are done with paying bills for your current month, out comes another month and the bill paying cycle begins anew. The bills are all season until you are no longer in this world.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The backlash against public service benefits excess

Recently there was a recall election for the Wisconsin governor since the unions did not like what he was doing to their collective bargaining and other union stuff. But guess what he not only survived the recall but now the unions are have lost much they were standing for like middle class jobs, protecting their wage turf and pension and health benefits. I work in a financial institution and believe me that I don’t earn near as much as they do and I have an MBA. Now I don’t understand that why the unions keep on insisting middle class wages and other huge benefits like they are living in the past century. They still don’t get it that the world has changed considerably since they heydays and now they are not the only player in town and wages have become highly competitive since the global economy has changed. Now mostly it is about technology and other high tech growths and competition is fierce also the outsourcing of jobs does not bode very well for the unions. The Unions have to sit down and think about what they are asking or trying to preserve is it really feasible or practicable in this economy. Demanding higher salaries when the work can be outsourced or can be done rather cheaply is just tantamount to being oblivious to what's happening around the world. The union have be get out of their pigeon hold mentality and think creative ways to preserve jobs and benefits, otherwise even this so called middle class jobs would be hard to come by in the near future.

The increasing U.S. pressure on Pakistan-2

In the meanwhile the U.S. is increasing pressure by playing the India card with Pakistan and also increasing the drone attack ignoring whatever the parliament of Pakistan has said otherwise. Now most of the people in Pakistan are calling the U.S. an arrogant super power bullying a small nation. But it is easier to blame others than to see what is going on with you. Two of the four provinces in Pakistan are effectively insurgent hits and the laws of Pakistan are either not effective there or not enforced because of some strategic mumbo jumbo. You really have to clean your house first and then demand that sovereignty be respected. If you have people who have come from other countries just to train for terrorism then you have no right to ask other countries to stop interfering in theirs. Also since the flow of information is effectively blocked either by the Taliban or the Pakistan Army, there is no way to verify if indeed the terrorists/Taliban are killed in Drone attacks and how many civilians are killed. It is just independent guesswork that fuels the sentiments of Pakistani. Also since the civilian government is very weak or even nonexistent in those two provinces, all the decisions are being done by the Army or by the Taliban controlled areas. It is a completely messy situation out there and the U.S. is doing Pakistan a favor by cleaning the mess the Pakistanis have created themselves over the years. So a little soul searching is in order for Pakistan before demanding anything from the U.S.

The increasing U.S. pressure on Pakistan

As you may have been reading the news lately, a few months ago, due to an unintended attack on a border post in Pakistan, Pakistan lost 24 soldiers and hence closed the NATO supply route that provides supplies to the NATO troops in Pakistan. There was much hue and cry and Pakistan said that their Parliament would review their ties with the U.S. Ultimately the Parliament demanded that there should be apology, end to drone attacks and increase in the transit fees. The apology was going to be forth coming but it was stopped in its track when the Pakistani government informed that the U.S. that don’t yet apologize and wait for their parliament to review the ties and then you can do it. But Pakistan was not in such a hurry and they waited for months before the review came and then it was too late. Pakistan did overplayed its card badly and they thought that by blocking the routes they had the upper hand on the U.S. but now that the news came that the U.S. would have alternate arrangement with other countries (even if it is expensive) and all the review have went down the drain. In this case the election season in both countries have prevented any reapproachment that was going to done. No apology is forthcoming, drone attacks have in fact increased and the transit fees that the Pakistanis were demanding ($5,000.00) per truck as against $250.00 before have scuttled any chances for a quick solution in any time soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Keeping up with the drones

It was expected that after President Obama becomes President the use of drone will be used less frequently than in the previous administration, but I guess he has become a convert to the successful strategy of using drones and avoiding boots on the ground. There has been more drone attacks in the Pakistan lately than it has been in the Bush administration, and the drone attacks have now been expanded to include Yemen. Now whatever the legality or legitimacy of the drone attacks, it is now being increasingly used to effectively eliminate threats to U.S. security and it is still less controversial than sending in tens of thousands of troops and spend billions of dollars and getting into messier situation than before. Although innocent lives are still lost in the almost precision hits and unconfirmed reports about if the casualties are innocent victims or hard core terrorists, it is true that it is much better than sending in ground troops and killing untold number of innocent civilians and then to occupy the country for years on and wasting billions in the process and you don’t achieve much. Drones can be really an attack on a country's sovereignty on to the extent that the country in question is taking care to eliminate terrorists from their territory and have effective control over their territory but if they have no control, then the question of sovereignty is no longer valid since you don’t effectively control that piece of land and your laws are not enforced there. So let us keep the drone work alive.

The parks in our communities

The parks are an essential part of any town. It serves as a gathering of people getting fresh air, walking, children playing it and all sorts of healthy activities. Every town has one even if it is a small one. The people who have big backyards also tend to visit parks to enjoy meeting with other people and just enjoy the open air natural breeze and scenery. I along with my family visit the park sometimes (even though I have a big enough backyard) just to get out of the house and have a walk along the park sideways. Even if you are alone and have nothing else to do at home you can either walk or drive to you neighborhood park and just spend some time there. It is nice that here in America every time a community is developed, there are always plans to have a park and no community should be without one. Not all people have big backyard and the parks are an essential part of their spending time with their families and have some fresh air without spending much money. Sometimes I become lazy enough not to go to the park but when I do I thoroughly enjoy the variety of people there on their cars coming to enjoy with their kids and having a good time. So sometimes you should also try to go to a park to enjoy some quality time in the open away from all the hustle and bustle of busy life.

And now we turn to Spain

After months of denying that Spain can get along fine without aid, the Spanish government had to swallow its pride and asked for a European funded bailout of more than 100 billion Euros. As if Greece was not enough for the European union to tackle and now the Spaniards needed help from the supremely wealthy and industrious Germans to bail them out. So this money will be added to the Spanish debt and then the vicious cycle will start again. This euro experiment is looking more and more like a huge mistake since all this debt will have to pay in the form of higher taxes and lower benefits for decades to come and the citizens of each bail out country will suffer immensely. The European union in order to save their collective currency are trying their best to lend money right and left to any country in the Union without going to the core of the problem, that is why the economies are slowing down and why and how it can rescue the decline in the economies. It is that the labor market is too rigid and the economies are too much uncompetitive against the emerging markets. Other is the reluctance of the citizens to embrace cuts in their benefits and lower living standards. I know it is hard but things are not going to look up by maintaining the status quo and that is what is happening right now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-The Adventures of Tintin-The Secret of the Unicorn-Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig

Superbly made computer animated adventure tale about a young journalist who buys a toy ship with a map of hidden treasure in it and gets caught up with all sorts of intrigue and adventure. Steven Spielberg directed animated movie is highly enjoyable and fun to watch. Highly recommended.

Having surgery to improve your looks

I have been reading and hearing stories about how people are going under the knife in order to improve their looks (and chances) to get a job interview in our youth obsessed job market and I really don’t understand it. If the people have enough money (mostly in the thousands) to have cosmetic surgery in order to compete in the job market, that just shows that how desperate people are to look young and get that job. It is pretty disgusting that with all your credentials and degrees and experiences you cannot get a job and then you alter your appearance to get a job. That is just a sign of desperation and a sign of low self esteem that you have to look young in order to get a job. If you have the money to spend on surgery, you surely have to money to go out on your own and be your own boss. I am thankfully not in this situation and I am not sure I will go through this extreme makeover. Right now there are so many opportunities out there to strike on your own with minimal investment and hearing people not getting a job after searching for two years is completely unacceptable when you can use your skills to start on your own. I know that it is not easy to do that but sending out your resumes and not getting any response is more depressing and frustrating than doing something. .

On the lighter side-Movies-Safe House (2012)-Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds

Fast paced actioner filmed in South Africa regarding a renegade CIA agent (played brilliantly as usual by Washington) who gets caught and sent to a safe house (manned by Reynolds) where they are ambushed and escapes together to find out who is out to kill them. Exciting action sequences. Good acting by all. Recommended

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)-Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa hudgens, Michael Caine

Jules Verne has been popular lately and this is another film based on his books. The main story is a boy gets a distress signal from an uncharted island and goes there with his step father and find mysterious goingons there. Gorgeous scenery and not bad acting (especially by Michael Caine), otherwise if you have seen one mysterious island there is not much variation on others. Recommended with reservations.

On the lighter side-Movies-Man on a ledge-Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks

Exciting tense movie about an ex con who decides to jump from the ledge of a Midtown Manhattan Hotel and captivating the audience of New York City and diverting their and the police attention from a big time diamond heist. All round good movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Devil Inside

Documentary style horror movie regarding a woman traveling to Italy to find out about why her mother killed three people while doing exorcism. As usual lots of cursing and church goings on in this wastage of time. Don’t bother to look into it. Not Recommended

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is G8 relevant anymore?

Recently the usual G8 meeting was held. You know the G8, the group of the most industrialized countries plus Russia ( I don’t know why they have to invite Russia since it is not that industrialized). My point here is that this G8 is becoming irrelevant day by day since it does not involve the fastest economy (No.2 in the world) China, nor the fast rising India and Brazil. Although G8 can be called industrialized but the name now should include also the most heavily indebted countries of the world who are increasing beholden to fast rising economies. Even if they want to set the agenda, the markets are not taking them at face value, since the political will along with financial constraints are lacking. Many of these G8 countries could become irrelevant and their influence diminished as other now developing countries achieve faster rate of growth with more population growth and more savings. The G8 countries populations are declining and their senior population is increasing putting more burdens on the working population and the government. The social welfare schemes are coming under increasing stress due to resource constraints. This has put the industrialized countries in severe debt and they cannot keep on piling debt without drastically scaling back their welfare structure or increase immigration to lower their cost of production. But I don’t see this happening and as such in the coming years the meetings of G8 will become a big Yawn like the Warsaw pact of the cold war era.

On the lighter side-Movies-Margin Call (2011)

Thirty hours in the life of an investment company which is over their heads in debt and how it was discovered and contained unsuccessfully. Eerily reminiscent of the days leading up to the global 2008 crisis and the failure of two investment banks. Very good indeed with great acting by Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore and Jeremy Irons. The thing that shocked me that how much money they make and then they complain that people don’t appreciate their work. Eye Opening and highly recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Spy Kids All the time in the world (2011)-Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba stars in this fourth version of the kids spy series this time after a villain who is speeding up time. Lots of Gadgetry and special effects, fun for kids but not for adults. Recommended for kids but not for adults

On the lighter side-Movies-The Wicker Tree (2011)

A reimagining of the The Wicker Man movie regarding an evangelical Christian couple who goes to Scotland to preach about the gospel and find themselves getting more than they bargained for. Not that much suspense and not great of a movie since if you have watched the original one or the remake one, you will understand the story. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Fright Night (2011)-Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell Stars as a vampire in this updated version of the movie where a teen suspects his neighbor (Farrell) as a vampire and tries to save his family from him. Not much to recommend here as it is just a remake and the first one was not much good either. Not Recommended

Sunday, June 3, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-The Woman in Black (2012)-Daniel Radcliffe

Effective horror movie starring Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe as a young widowed lawyer who is asked to go to a dead client's house to sort our some legal papers and stumbles upon spooky going on in the mansion of that client. Atmospheric and good chills give this one a good look. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Transformers: Dark of the Moon-Shia labeouf

Those transforming machines are back in action in this big budget smash them up sequel to the blockbuster series. This time they have to race against their nemesis Decepticons to get hold of an object that can bring their planet to Earth. Final battle drags on quite a bit but otherwise a fantastic movie to be seen exclusively on the silver screen. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Let the Bullets Fly (2010)-Chow Yun Fat

A different kind of Chinese movie centering around a bandit who disguises himself as the governor of a small town and clashes wits and brains with the town gangster (played as usually brilliantly by Chow Yun Fat). Not much action but good story line and trickery abound. Good movie. If you watch the fast pace of the subtitles, this is definitely a movie for you. The biggest Blockbuster in the history of the Chinese cinema. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Hangover Part II-Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper returns as the group leader in this raucous sequel to the blockbuster hit now moving to Thailand and having the same hangover and then trying to retrace their steps to find out what happened. A few laughs in between, not that great. Recommended with reservations. Definitely not for kids

On the lighter side-Movies-The Lincoln Lawyer-Mathew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei

McConaughey stars as a shady lawyer who takes on a case of a wealthy and conniving young clients and discovers conscience in the process and starts to do the right thing for once in his life. With Marisa Tomei as his ex-wife/Prosecuting attorney. Good movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Three Musketeers (2011)

Those French trio are at it again in this latest updated of the Dumas story. Lots of action and intrigue, never a dull moment with big budget production obvious throughout. Good Afternoon time killer. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Midnight in Paris-Owen Wilson, Rachel Mcadams

Owen Wilson stars as a restless writer who on one night gets magically transported to 1920s and meet literary giants which changes his outlook on life and himself. Chatty Woody Allen movie but well done and worth a look. Great acting by all. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Watermen

Horror Movie about a bunch of college kids (who else?) who took a boat excursion and end up being the killed by the watermen (river workers who transport passengers ) on an isolated island. The usual horror crap this time on the high seas. Pretty graphic and definitely not for kids. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Chronicle (2012)

Science fiction action movie in the form of videotaping staring three friends who find a strange object near their town which gives them extra ordinary powers which gets out of control for them. Pretty neat little movie and Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Hostel Part III

Third in the series of torture porn this time in Las Vegas, where three friends are kidnapped for the live killing show. Some gruesome scenes but if you know the story (and there is no need to repeat it here again), the idea is to scare people out of their money. Not worth your time and money. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Grey (2012)-Liam Neeson

Survivalist, man vs. animal nature movie starring Liam Neeson as a wolf hunter in Alaska whose plane crashes in the wilderness along with other workers working on a oil company in Alaska. In addition to the severe cold, they have to fight the wolves who are after the survivors. Good scares and beautiful scenery makes this worth a look and watch. Recommended