Thursday, August 30, 2012

Regime Change and the Chaos that follows

This has been a favorite theme of the U.S. government, that once you change the regime, everything will fall into place but it does not happen every time or everywhere. If you recall Iraq, we changed the regime, occupied it and then left but the new regime is not as democratic as it was hoped and also it took us nearly a trillion dollars to fix that country. Same thing has happened in Libya, they are still struggling to get a handle of what kind of government they want to form. Now it is the turn of Syria, the U.S. wants to get rid of Assad and bring in the opposition but how would we know they would be any less or more friendly than the present. Just because there is civil war does not mean they will necessarily be U.S. or west friendly. We have tried to change the regime in Cuba and failed, North Korea we are not even trying to do anything there since it is of less strategic importance to us (apart from the tens of thousands of troops stationed there). In Iran, regime change is also on the agenda but it is hard to know what will come next since the days of having a shah type regime there are long gone. The chaos that follows after the regime change is far less predictable. Unless an overwhelming majority of people are supporting a change in a regime, there will never be a successful regime change anywhere in the world no matter what the intelligence agencies say otherwise.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Looking for Peace

If you have seen somewhere long time ago the sign of peace was everywhere, people were yearning for peace and they still do but it is harder and harder to come by. Look at around you, peace is as elusive as ever where different ethnicities are at loggerheads with other ethnicities. In Pakistan, people have been looking for peace a long time, but will not be able to find it anytime soon. So is the case of Afghanistan, where the war is never stopped since the 1979 soviet invasion of it. In Iraq despite the democratic government, bombs keep on exploding how and then. In Syria, we have a full blown civil war and the U.S. and Israel and the world is trying to avert another war in the Middle East with Iran. Even in the cities of the western world, there are crimes going on with people afraid of their lives and property and yearn for a time when they will be able to walk freely anytime of day without free of being victimized (especially in the minority neighborhoods of big cities of U.S.). Peace signs are a good and wishful gesture but it is meaningless when even the democratic governments of the world ignore their citizens’ protests to not go to war. It is at the top that peace should be initiated; otherwise we would always be looking for peace in the wrong places.

Fines and Penalties

There are fines and there are penalties. Whenever I see corporations get hit by fines and penalties, they usually pay them up without acknowledging their mistakes. Maybe it is because they don’t want to go to litigation and waste a lot of time and money only to lose at the end or they don’t want to let out the secrets of the basis of their fines. But if you are not to be blamed then why do you have to pay for the fines in the first place It is just as well the public knows that you have done something wrong and you will want to pay the fine and get over with then to acknowledge the obvious. But now the same thing happens with individuals too, they would rather acknowledge the guilt and pay the fine rather than sit through court proceedings and not know what the outcome is. I have no idea how they decide how much to fine or penalize some company and how do they come up with the formula. But usually the bigger the offense, the bigger the fine. Usually the fines and penalties are there to act as a deterrence for other people not to follow in the same footpath, but there is too much money involved in doing some illegal dealings that corporations and people do it intentionally and then they thing that they will get away with it with a fine. But I believe that only fines and penalties should not be used but also some type of restriction on a corporation’s activity where they made all that money should be implemented so that it is a lesson for others not to do the same.

On the lighter side-Broadway show-The Lion King

This was the first Broadway show I viewed in my life (not necessarily about the money but it did matter) and it was a wonderful delight. Based on the Disney ® movie of the same name, it was surprise with clean theater and good crowd. The costumes were very elaborate and fantastically done, the music and songs was great and acting superb. There were a lot of kids in the theater which showed the appeal of the show. If you happen to be in New York, you should come see this show (although expensive but well worth the cost and experience). Enthusiastically Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-ParaNorman (2012-Animated)

Good animated movie about a weird boy who talks to ghosts in a small town and who is shunned by the folks there but ultimately saves the day when misunderstood monsters invade his town. Some very funny moments and good animation makes this a treat for the kids and adults. Although you can watch it in both 3D and 2D, I would recommend watching it in 2D (since I also did the same) and save the more than 3 Dollar premium and spent it on popcorn and drinks. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Battleship (2012)

Big budget, big action movie centering around a group of international navy ships who encounter alien ships on Hawaiian seas and the battle to defeat them. Big special effects and even bigger blow ups does not excuse this movie from being a disaster as the story unfolds very slowly. Recommended with reservations.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Great Drought of 2012

As of now the relentless drought that is plaguing most of the United States has lost some of its intensity, thanks due to some heavy downpour in some agricultural areas, but it would be too late as most of the crops have been destroyed by the drought. The great Mississippi river is also at record low levels. Can you imagine, this time last year it was in high flood stage. Now as it happens during these times, the continuing debate about climate change and global warming comes into play. There is no sure bet that it is global warming but what if it is, has the human beings doing anything about it or just resigned to the fact that it will keep on continuing. In this situation, the two camps on the extreme sides think that global warming is to blame for this drought and on the other hand opponents say that it is not the case. I have stopped paying attention to these arguments as an individual persons I try to recycle and avoid unnecessary damage to the environment but on the other hand, I don’t like hybrid cars and other gimmicks of the technology that says it is environmentally friendly. The only thing environmentally friendly is to bicycle or walk otherwise you are just deceiving yourself. Even the environmentalist would fly rather than bicycle to far flung areas of the world. Anyway that is the topic for another time, right now the drought hopefully will come to an end and this will fade back into memory.

A nation of laws or Lawsuits

We as a nation are proud of being a nation of laws but on the other side, these laws makes us more litigious than any other country on earth. Everybody is ready to sue somebody and as one of my law professors told our class that he was also being sued by other lawyers .One time he told us that if you want to sue somebody sue a couple of other related persons so that if you can't get anything from the principal party, you will at least have a chance of getting something from other parties named in the litigation. That is why you see that the U.S. has the highest number of lawyers in the world with more than 200 law schools churning out thousands of lawyers and raking in millions. Although having a law degree adds to the prestige but on the other side, the lawyers have one of the highest numbers of bad reputation out of all professions. Despite all our loathing about lawyers and their profession, we can’t live without them as the laws are so complicated that you need professional help to deal with it. and since everybody is ready to sue everybody else on the simplest of excuses, our love/hate relationship with the law profession continues unabated. It is only here in America that every step of the way you engage lawyers so that you can protect yourself from the other party and spent thousands of dollars which can be well spent on other priorities. Although I can understand that there are situations where you are justifiably right to file a lawsuit but there are also many instances where it is just a waste of time to even think about going through all the courts and legal battles and then lose ultimately or win something which does not justify its cost of pursuing in the first place.

Does a job make one lazy?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there who work their bottom off to make a living and work much more hours seven days a week. But here my point is that once you settle down in a job it is hard to move around from your protected sphere. You are provided with almost everything to do your job even to the point of providing you will customers so that you may provide a service to them but most of the jobs don’t allow you to be creative or give something new to your job. Those sparkle that you need to make you job exciting and looking forward to coming to the office in the morning. There are a set of rules that you have to follow in every job and you can bend some rules in order to make your life easier but deviate too much from the core rules and you are done with. Although a job will provide you the means to support your family and pay your bills on time but it would not give you the sparkle to enthusiastically create or innovate something. I have seen comments by people who say that they love their jobs only to see the other side’s that they have become comfortable in their sphere and change is a terrifying prospect to them. I don’t know maybe I am wrong in that but I have seen people who are working on a job and that are where they have ended their careers (or jobs). Like I say to each his (or her) own. You should think what is best for you but I believe that a job does make one lazy and numbs your mind and shields it from pursuing truly innovative stuff.

On the lighter side-Movies-god bless America (2011)

Definitely not for all tastes, this movie is about a mistakenly diagnosed terminally ill man who goes on killing spree to kill people who in his own words deserve to die. Along the way he befriends a teenager who shares his ideas. Very violent and vulgar to say the least, this movie will not appeal to most people and at some times be controversial due to the subject matter. Recommended with reservations.

On the lighter side-Movies-REC 3: Genesis (2012-Spanish)

Third in the sequel to the Spanish Horror series about the outbreak of a zombie epidemic, this time it is at a wedding reception where the guest goes bloody thirsty crazy and mayhem ensues. Not bad for a blood filled zombie movie if you can catch up to the fast paced subtitles coming at rapid fire and also watching the movie at the same time. Only Recommended for horror fans, all others stay away.

On the lighter side-Movies-Piranha DD (2012)

Follow-up to the nude and gore fest filled movie , this has tons of nudity and ample gore but little story to make up for all the time you will have to sit up to waste your life away on this sorry excuse for a movie. Not Recommended at all

On the lighter side-Movies-Get the Gringo (2012) – Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson stars as a criminal who gets caught by the Mexican police and sent to a city like prison in Mexico where he befriends a boy who helps him navigate life behind Mexico prison. Very good movie with Gibson as usual as his best. Highly enjoyable and Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Water for Elephants (2011)- Robert Pattison, Reese Witherspoon, Christopher Waltz

Robert Pattison in between the Twilight saga movies is keeping himself busy and establishing himself as a viable actor in this period piece about a drop out veterinarian who joins a circus and falls in love with the wife of the temperamental owner. Enjoyable movie with much to recommend. Recommended

Would you buy a car on the internet?

Recently the biggest auction site in the world started a novel experiment to sell cars on the internet with the twist that every time somebody bid on it the price will go down 500 dollars till the auction ends. It is an interesting concept, but still I will be hesitant to buy a car on the internet (like I know many people will be too). It is the second biggest investment for most of the people after housing and like housing with an on spot checking and inspection, people tend to test drive the car and have a feel of it before buying it. Not only that, it is not an individual decision in case of family buying a car (for a single person it is an individual case), plus you have to an appropriate down payment to buy the car in most cases. Then there is the case of preferences of what car make and model to buy, what interest rate you can get (depending on your credit score), how much you can afford, what color and what type to buy. The biggest decision will be to test drive the car to see if you are comfortable in it. Also it is much easier to haggle the price face to face then to buy on the internet. It is just makes me uncomfortable to invest a huge amount of money in something which I have only seen pictures on the internet. I know there are people who do buy cars on the internet and seems to be happy with it but for me I still want to go to the dealer and see the car in person.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-The Raid Redemption (2012-Indonesian)

Very well done excellent martial arts thriller from a surprise source Indonesia. It is about a SWAT team sent to raid the building of a mastermind criminal who is lodged on the top floor and all his henchmen are in every floor ready to kill any intruder. Exceptionally brutal violence and superb Indonesian Martial arts mayhem to the max. High Recommended a must see for action fans looking for something out of the ordinary.

On the lighter side-Movies-Assassin’s Bullet-Christian Slater, Donald Sutherland

European made thriller starring Christian Slater as a retired CIA agent who is asked by Ambassador Donald Sutherland to investigate killing of most wanted terrorists by some unknown vigilante. Some action and belly dancer and nothing must to recommend. Not Recommended

Friday, August 10, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011-Animated)-Jack Black, Angelina Jolie

The continuing adventure of the Loveable Kung Fu Panda voiced by Jack Black is funny and highly entertaining but maybe too intense for little kids. This time he goes after a nemesis whose goal is to destroy kung fu and replaced it by guns. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Rango (2011 Animated)-Johnny Depp

A chameleon that is lost in a desert comes to a water thirsty town and saves it in the process. An animated High Noon western movie which is actually pretty good with hard choices lesson inserted in-between. Good animated movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Take Shelter (2011)- Michael Shannon

What to call this movie, it maybe a Psychological drama with a touch of thrill but whatever you call it, it is slow moving. It is about a guy who is experiencing apocalyptic and disturbing dreams regarding storms and it affects his whole family including his mute daughter. Okay drama but still not Recommended.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

On the lighter side-Movies-Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) -Steve Carrel, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Good movie about a guy whose wife suddenly ask her for divorce and who then falls for playboy intent of making him a hit with the ladies. Good acting by all and good story line. Recommended but not for kids

On the lighter side-Movies-Rio (Animated)-2011-Jesse Eisenberg, Ann Hathaway

A Great Animated movie about a domesticated macaw who travels to Rio in Brazil to mate with a potential female only to be bird napped and then try to escape from them . Beautiful colors, great songs and great animation. A great fun for the whole family. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Salmon fishing in the Yemen (2012)-Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor

Nice Movie about a Yemeni Sheikh who invites the British to introduce salmon fishing in his country. Good movie and nice performances by everybody. Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) -Jim Carrey, Angela Lansbury

Funny movie about a businessman who inherits six penguins which changes his relationship with his estranged kids and wife. Cute Penguins fun and a good movie for Jim Carrey. Recommended