Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Are we putting too much burden on our kids?

This is the question the experts and some parents are asking but not all are saying that we are putting too much in fact some say that the kids are having an easy time so those parents more of the activities into their kids lives and at the end of the day, the child is too tired and goes straight to bed. This question arose because I see kids shows that show hyper competitive among little kids and also the spelling bee competition that I attended recently which was more of the same about parent being proud and tired kids trying to please their parents and spell words in a dream like manner. Then there is the beauty pageant that you see on television and parents going crazy and sometimes vicious in order to make sure their kids win even if the kids just want to rest or go home. Our culture has becomes so competitive not only in sports but in education given more tuition and study time to the kids to compete so that they may get not good but great grades and then secure their position in good colleges and get good jobs that we lost sight of the most important party the kids and what they really want. We are just pushing our own ambition down the throats of our kids so that what we did not achieve they should achieve that it becomes really crazy as the time goes by. Very few voices are being raised about the undue burden we are placing on our kids and this debate should now be raised more.

Huffing and Puffing and doing nothing for improvement

We the people not only the Americans but generally the human race complains a lot. We complain about everything even if we have it or not have it or lose it temporarily to some natural or manmade disaster. We have to complain about it otherwise we will not be called humans. Sometimes the complaining helps and sometimes it does but most of the time it does not and you just keep on huffing and puffing but do the same thing again and again. Are we that helpless that we cannot even change little and complaining comes as the easy way out? I believe that is the case for most of the people but there are some people who do complain and then takes steps to rectify or at least mitigate the problem. Take for example the unemployment situation, there are literary millions of people out there who have given up searching for jobs because they believe there are none out there but do they sincerely believe that they have done enough to look or just do something on their own instead of doing the same thing again and again like sending resumes which does not elicit an answer back. I also do complain and it is really the easiest part but there is another part of me which wants to mitigate my situation by doing something to improve my situation. Getting a job is the easy part but going your own way if you can't find one is truly the path to self satisfaction.

The curious lack of drug testing in sports

I have been following these drug related stories about how the sports people are using performance enhancing drugs to boost their performance and thus creating or breaking record with almost impunity. It is disturbing to see that there have been an almost criminal reluctance on the part of the sports authorities to strictly enforce the laws banning the use of drugs. I know that they are trying hard to enforce the law (moral or otherwise) but for a long time, it was not on the agenda of the self policing sports authorities to ignore this drug problem and supposedly respectable people have come under the drug probe in not only baseball but also recently cycling. I also understand that the players are under tremendous pressure to show their performance and thus encourage this use. But the use of it is like cheating the fans of the sports. I believe that drug testing should be enforced in every sport and if there is a drug use than the players should be banned if not for life then for at least a longer period of time like maybe ten years or more and shamed for it. We will have to overcome our favorable bias towards treating sports players as heroes and treat them for what they are simple human beings who are susceptible to the temptations of these drugs to create records and money for their teams. If we can send ordinary people to jail for little illegal drug use, we should surely make a few go to jail for a little while to show that illegal drug use for enhancing performance will not be tolerated at all.

Monday, January 28, 2013

No tax but still enjoying benefits

If people (particularly the Republicans) have their way, there would not have been any taxes in this country of ours. But if there are no taxes then how should be pay for all the benefits that we enjoy as a citizen. Even with as low tax as possible, can we keep on providing benefits, whose expenses are increasing every year. I believe that if you ask anybody that if they would like their social security, Medicare benefits should be reduced or curtailed and the answer you would find will be increasingly in the negative. The alternative is to reduce spending but how can reduce something when people are so used to it and it is not just the middle class but even upper class people enjoy these benefits and don’t want it to be reduced. It is getting tiring to hear some conservatives keep on preaching spending cuts and no tax increases and then give us no solution to how we are supposed to fund our luxurious benefits that we are increasing making it a birthright. Let us have a realistic discussion about it without fear of any not getting reelected or emotions coming in the way and bring out the facts so that instead of giving fuzzy and feel good language about reducing expenditures, less taxes, less welfare and cutting off aid to the needy and poor and start with how we are going to do it at the same time keeping our cherished benefits at heart and getting all worked up when talk about slashing them comes to the forefront.

Trillion Dollar Coin? Really People?

Recently with all the talk about the debt ceiling some people petitioned to the Government to issue a trillion dollar coin so that the debt ceiling can be raised without going through all the pain of approval from Congress. It was immediately shot down by the government with good reason. It is impracticable since it will just add to debt and would not solve the problem of debt that we have accumulated over the years. I don’t know who came up with the idea but it was a funny one for a short time since the coin if it ever is issued will not be separate from the government balance sheet but will be included in the liabilities side of it. And how will it be circulated in the market. Is it going to be just kept for the government or some change will be given if it ever is exchanged? The only way to tackle the debt and deficit is to reduce spending along with tax increases. There is no other way out of it, we can issue several hundred coins worth each a trillion but it will not reduce out debt and it will be just as easy way to forget about the debt. This proposal is new but absurd to the extreme. Instead of giving good economic sense ideas about the debt ceilings and the deficit, you have these people coming out with more debt increasing solutions. No wonder the government shot it down before it claim more adherents to it.

On the lighter side-Movies-Painted Skin (2008-HK)-Donnie Yen

Martial arts action from Hong Kong about a female demon who falls in love with a human and the mayhem that it creates. Beautifully photographed, this is action/ romance movie. Recommended

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Raiding your retirement funds for survival

A news came in recently that financial stressed out people are raiding their retirement funds in increasing numbers which is alarming the financial experts since they believe that when the paycheck is coming, they are still raiding their retirements funds, what would happen when it stops coming when these same people reach retirement. So what is wrong with that? I have been in the same boat and I have suffered penalties and now with a job I am building again. These financial experts have nothing else to do but to criticize what seems to be reasonable and logical or desperate people will do in this kind of situation. If nobody is giving you a loan due to your financial condition and you cannot turn to your friends and family and you don’t have funds for a rainy day, do these financial experts have a fund set up for these people so they can tap into that funds. It is very easy to judge other people when you are doing just fine. I have been in these shoes and I know how hard it is get funds to run your day to day lives if you are unemployed. At least these people are using their own funds, not going on welfare or begging for money on the streets. And why so much emphasis on retirement, I don’t get it, people are willing to work till in their seventies so the retirement is out of the question for most of the people. Let people make their own choices regarding their own finances and don't judge them unless you are in their shoes and then you can start to raise alarm about retirement funds which are not yours.

The French expedition in Mali, Africa

So after exiting from Afghanistan saying that they don’t see any exit strategy or no use of them there or whatever unofficial reasons are, now the French are in their former colony Mali battling Islamic Militants, the same kind that America has been fighting for a decade since 9/11. So what is wrong in this picture? It is the fact that Mali is closer to Europe and the French are afraid that if they had not acted there, they along with other European countries would have become a target. This is the same logic that America has applied in Afghanistan (I am not mentioning Iraq because it never was part of the original terror network). We went to Afghanistan because the originality of the 9/11 came from that place and now that the Jihadists (or whatever you want to call them) are in Mali and it has never attacked France, how come this logic is being applied by the French to invade another country. Excuse me if I am a little harsh on the French, but this war (intervention) that they are saying that will last a few weeks needs to be seen to be believed. America also went to battle in Iraq and Afghanistan and it took ten years for Iraq and more than that and continuing for Afghanistan. I hope that the French succeed in their endeavor because initially the American public was also behind their wars but grew tired and so will the French no matter what the support is right now for the intervention and will they have the financial means to sustain a long war like America is doing. Remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Snabba Cash (Easy Money-Swedish-2010)

Swedish crime drama about a poor man who in order to party with his rich friends becomes a runner for a drug dealer. It is curiosity that draws me to foreign movies and this is one of those movies. With subtitles. Recommended for foreign language movie fans.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tai Chi Zero (2012- Hong Kong)

Chinese steam punk Martial arts movie about the early years of the founder of Tai chi with martial arts inserted with comic book style. It is about a guy who follows his mother’s advice and goes to a village to learn Tai chi only to find out that they don’t teach to outsiders. First of three parts. Recommended for martial arts fans with subtitles.

On the lighter side-Movies-American Reunion (2012)-Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott

Raunchy and vulgar sequel to the American Pie Movies now centering on the high school reunion of the crew from the previous movies. Funny at times but more of the same. Recommended only if you want to see bawdy humor. Not for all tastes

On the lighter side-Movies- End of Watch (2012) - Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena

This movie is about two cops in Los Angeles who become the target of a South American drug cartel when they bust a shipment of guns and drugs in one of the neighborhoods. Good story but gritty keeps you engaging all the time. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Expendables 2 (2012)-Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham

Follow up to the action blockbuster about a group of mercenaries for hire, this time tracking down a Plutonium smuggling ring in the former Soviet Union. More action and fun dialogue than the original. For a change better than the original with more action stars added in. Recommended for all.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Expendables (2010)-Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham

Action movie about a group of mercenaries trying to overthrow a corrupt regime in a fictional island country with lots of action from aging heroes. Exciting and worth a look. Recommended for actions fans.

On the lighter side-Movies-Death Race 3: Inferno (2013)

Straight to DVD sequel to the previous Death Race movies about a convict forced to compete in a car race where only if you win can you live. Brutal and bloody but nevertheless exciting for action fans, this time in South Africa. Recommended for action fans only.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Again the debt ceiling fight

The U.S. government is to default on its obligations as the debt ceiling limit will be reached on February 15, 2013 (as reported today on some newspaper). Will it default on the debt and let the economy go back to recession, wreck the money markets and the world economy and damage the credit worthiness of the U.S. is the question we should be asking the Congress who hold the purse in this case. Although the Republicans are holding up this budget fight as they say that they will fight to have spending cuts in place before agreeing to raise the debt limit but everybody in the Congress and White house have a stake in this and it should not become a political fight or point scoring. The debt obligations will have to be paid one way or the other but the credibility will be damaged if the debt limit is not raised. Now the question arises, why this ceiling in the first place have. Is it like a political blackmailing that we have to have this fight every time we reached this limit? Why not eliminate it so that we focus our battles on other matters. But I guess it is in the interest of the Congress whatever party is in charge to force the executive to listen to their demands even if it damages and hurts the economy. It is like a household says that we are not going to raise our debt and will not pay any obligation if I don’t have the money, then why borrow in the first place. The fact is that the U.S. government spends more than it generates revenues and always will (unless we miraculously wipe out our debt overnight). This fight should not take place as we are all Americans and not only Republicans and Democrats and it is time now to eliminate this absurd debt limit ceiling permanently.

Another Japanese Stimulus on the way

Now that there is a new government in Japan, all they had to do is to have another huge stimulus package in place and see the things start rolling. Will it help only time will tell but based on the several previous stimuli that various governments have enacted with little to show for it, you can bet that this one will also end up the same? I don’t see any special provision that it would be successful in any immense way except that it will add to the huge debt that Japan has now equaling more than twice their GDP and growing very fast. As I said it before that the most important issue facing Japan is the demographic decline and unless the immigration is opened up there would be less people to support an aging population. I can understand the hesitation of Japan to open up immigration because of their small country and ambivalence to foreigners but is there another way to fight this thing. You can argue that the population can be increased by giving incentives to people to have more babies but you cannot force them to have it if they feel that it will be a huge burden to take care of them. This cultural trend towards fewer babies is evident in every major industrialized country but Japan is particularly vulnerable to it since their population is declining and aging faster than any industrialized country in the world. To spend the stimulus on public works projects will indeed create some economic activity and jobs but how long it will last and how much it will have a long lasting effect on the economy remains to be seen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fascination with the end of the world-2

It is not the first time and will not be the last time that some people have predicted the end of the world. But in this day and age where technology is changing very fast and the social media is very active, the spread of word about the end of the world circulates faster than anything. Some people get suckered into it and go completely out of their minds, quitting their jobs, giving away their savings and try to recruit other people to their vision of another world and some smart people cash on it and make enough money that they go all the way laughing to the bank. I don’t understand how people can get so much involved in this thing because nobody knows with absolute certainty that the world will come to an end at a certain time. And what if the world comes to an end at a certain time, how are you so sure that you will be the one saved. Some people try to predict the world when they are certainly be alive like not in a distant future and some predict like millions of years beyond their normal human life so that if they are wrong in their prediction at least they would not be around to be embarrassed or humiliated in public. Usually people get suckered because they are not satisfied with their worldly life or can't cope with the worldly pressure and a place where they would not have any worries appeal to them immensely that they are just hypnotized by the end of the world idea. But you can rest assured that you will get another end of the world prediction in the near future and then some people will get suckered and some will become rich feeding on the suckers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Taken 2 (2012) – Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace

Liam Neeson is back as the retired CIA agent who on a vacation to Turkey with his estranged family gets caught up with another kidnapping this time involving both his wife and daughter. Routine actioner with the story changing scenes from Paris to Turkey and setting up for another sequel in the not so distant future. Recommended for action fans, everybody else stay away.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Possession (2012) - Kyra Sedgwick

Effective horror movie about a little kid who buys a box at a yard sale and gets possessed by an evil spirit residing in it. I liked this one despite having watched countless like it since this was more entertaining. Recommended

Monday, January 14, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Black Swan (2010)-Natalie Portman, Mila kunis

The trials and tribulations of a New York City Ballerina told in somewhat graphic detail. Although the story and acting is good but it evolves slowly. Still if you can have patience (like I did) it is an entertaining movie. Best Actress Academy Award for Natalie Portman. Recommended

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fascination with the end of the world

Recently there were two prophecies concerning the end of the world. One was done by a pastor who first predicted the world will end on May 21 ,2011 save for Two Hundred Million people who will be beamed up and saved and then he changed his stance to October 21, 2011 and when that did not happen, he confessed that his predictions and calculations were wrong. Then in December of 2012 there was another prediction that the world will come to an end because of some Mayan calendar coming to an end. So people were huddling up who believed in this. There were two groups in this camp, one said that the world will come to an end and nobody will be saved and the other camp said that if you are well prepared, you will survive the world end. Now with both the above predictions, the world did not end and the people who were literary suckered into these predictions either lost a whole lot or entire savings or made a killing and were laughing all the way to the bank. I read that some people literary quite their jobs, gave away their savings and did outrageous things that no rational person should have done in order to reach heaven. The people who did this were not completely out of their minds but even so called smart people got fooled by this prediction and now since nothing has happened they are looking like fools losing their life cases in some circumstances, getting unemployed and what not.

On the lighter side-Movies- Madison County (2011)

All I can say about this movie is that stay away from it. The story goes like a bunch of kids (again who else?) are going to Madison County to supposedly interview an author of a novel of grisly unsolved murders and find out there is no author and they are in for a lot of trouble. The Plot is as usual you have seen several times before so don’t even bother to check it out. Not recommended at all to anybody including horror fans.

On the lighter side-Movies-Hit & Run (2012) – Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell

Funny adventure movie about a guy in the witness protection program who agrees to drive his girlfriend to another city for a job interview and is followed by his U.S. marshal and his former gang members out for revenge. Entertaining movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Dredd 3D (2012) – Karl Urban

Updated Sylvester Stallone movie with new gadgets and 3D technology about a futuristic society where a cop is the Jury, Judge and the Executioner. Dredd is the cop who is assigned a trainee who gets trapped in a massive 200 story building controlled by gangs and has to fight their way out of it. Eerily reminiscent of the Indonesian Movie, The Raid Redemption with Martial arts replaced with bullets. Very violent but check out for curiosity sake. Recommended with reservations.

On the lighter side-Movies-House at the end of the Street (2012)-Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue

Jennifer Lawrence (of the Hunger Games Fame) stars in this mystery vehicle about a mother daughter rent a house in an isolated area near another house where murders had occurred. Nothing much to report, only to say that if you can avoid it, you can find better alternative to this disappointment. Not Recommended

Monday, January 7, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Primal (2010- Australian)

Surprising effective horror movie from Australia about six kids (who else?) who go out outback to research some archeological sites and fall prey to some mysterious ravenous creature to kills and eat people. Very gruesome and bloody but very good. Recommended for horror fans.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Year 2012 in Review

In my opinion the biggest story of the year 2012 was the super storm Hurricane sandy that devastated parts of NorthEast and woke people in that area up from slumber to think that their place is immune to hurricanes. People are still recovering from the devastation more than two months after hit them. Then in no particular order, there was the London Olympics with massive security done and the French elections, the socialists came back to power after defeating the ultra conservative there. Then came the U.S. elections, although it was thought the President Obama would not win because of the supposedly widespread discontent with this policies, he cruised to victory dashing the hopes of the Republican party for four more years. The funniest one of the events was the Mayan prediction of the end of the world on December 21, 2012. People literary gave away their savings, quit their jobs and huddled in underground bunkers to wait for end of the world. But since most of the people knew that it was just a big yawn, they ignored it and as usual nothing came out of it. Then the biggest tragedy that struck America after Hurricane sandy was the killing of 26 people including 20 elementary kids ages 6-7 without any fault by a deranged person who did not show any remorse while killing them. It was the most devastating act of killing by any individual in America in a very long time. This act alone set the tone for a sad ending to the Year 2012. Hopefully this year it will be much happier than last year.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Fourth Anniversary of My Father’s Death

Yet another year has passed and here I am again mourning the fourth death anniversary of my beloved father. During the past year I have on occasions seen him in my dreams but only once I saw him leaving me forever, on all the other occasions I have always seen him young and never sick. But anyway, people say that time heal everything (my post in the future) and I do believe it really does but does it really heal if your parents or your kids or your siblings pass away, I am not so sure. I mean I miss my father’s voice, his face, his advice (although I did not usually agreed with that) and just his presence was so much reassuring to me and above all I feel blessed to have him near me. Now that four years I have passed, I still feel like he is near me and looking at me. It is really tough to lose one's parent especially if you are super close to your father or mother. I don’t have words to say how much I miss him and sometimes when remembering him brings tears to my eyes. When I look at people enjoy close bonding with their fathers, I just feel so sad that I don’t have that kind of opportunity to have his presence felt. Although he lived his life to the fullest, but I still feel that I need him now more than ever because it is so hard to be without a father even if you live to be hundred years old.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Hurt Locker (2008) – Jeremy Renner

Story about an elite bomb disposal squad in Iraq at the time of the war. Very gritty and realistic account of the war situation. Filmed near Iraqi border in Jordan. Highly Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Bay Rong (Clash-Vietnamese-2009)

First time watching a Vietnamese movie about a female mob enforcer who is forced to undertake task of her boss in order to secure her daughter's release. Pretty good movie with martial arts violence. Recommended for curiosity sake

On the lighter side-Movies-Bridesmaids (2011) – Kristin Wiig

Very funny movie about the fight between the maid of honor and another bridesmaid on the occasion of their best friend’s wedding and the lengths both go to outdo each other. Great movie but not for kids. Highly Recommended