Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saving lives of others

Have you ever saved a life other than yours? This question came to my mind while witnessing the rush of people going towards helping Boston Bombing people even if they did know that there can be danger lurking there. What is this psyche that people rush to help other people and saves their lives without any motivation or incentive? This behavior is witnessed every day when somebody helps with a car accident, rush inside burning building to rescue some stranger and even now the ultimate one donating one's organ to save somebody's life. I believe that it is just the human nature that without any thought of risk to their lives they save other people. People want to feel good about them that they saved somebody and did a good deed. I don’t believe for one second that these people does it for being a hero as you may have heard so many stories about people being just people. Sometimes even little kids step in to save some lives and they don’t feel like a hero but the society treats them like one. Even if the person who has saved lives has just done what a normal person will do under the circumstances, but society wants to make sure that it is not an ordinary feat and they want to make him an example of how human beings should behave in a particular situation and also encourage other people to set aside their selfish behavior and do collective good for other citizens.

On the lighter side-Movies-Broken City (2013)-Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe

In New York City, an ex cop seeks revenge against the mayor for framing and then double crossing him. I liked the movie with great actor. Sometimes slow but never a dull moment. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Silver Linings Playbook (2012)-Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

A mental patient is released from an institution and moves in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Meanwhile he finds a girl who is equally screwed up and they find romance. Excellent comedy drama with wonderful performances by all. Highly Recommended

Monday, April 29, 2013

To each according to their circumstances

After trying to persuade some individuals to partner with me in my endeavor to start a business and encountering indifference and apathy on a surprising scale, I have decided to leave people to themselves and not to push around since everybody has their own circumstances to deal with and I am just in their way in whatever they are hoping to do and it got me thinking. Even with the most pure of heart that you may have, do you want to change the people or persuade them to do something even if it benefits them but they will have to sacrifice something in the process like time, money, hard work etc? why you want to be the beacon of hope for some people when those people don’t want any beacon in the first place. Even with your best intentions you are spurned then there is something wrong with you not the other way around. You don’t want to be the messiah or the savior of people who are doing just fine by themselves. Even if you want some help you would not be able to find it because you have not been tested or are regarded as the same like them. I mean first build something, become successful and then the same people who spurned you will come to you with a position of weakness, not strength. But until such time, leave other people to their own circumstances and you should move forward with what you want to achieve and then see what happens.

On the lighter side-Movies-The School in the woods (2010)

A group of people go to a supposedly abandoned school in Louisiana to monitor ghost activity and found what they looked for. Slow at start but the same as with all these kinds of movies that the filmmakers have been churning out year after year. Nothing new here. Not Recommended

Do you believe in aliens?-2

But apart from the apparent human anatomy, I don’t know if there the aliens are smarter or superior to us. And the other thing that I find fascinating is the fact that most of the aliens come to the U.S. (as seen in movies, books, TV shows etc). How come we don’t see aliens coming in other parts of the world? Are the abductions of humans by the aliens real or just the wild imagination of some people overburdened with stress or something else? And you may have heard about Area 51, a supposedly secret government site allegedly claimed by some to hold aliens and conducting experiments on them and not letting people know about them. How did this site become part of the conspiracy theory is another story but the alien story keep on popping up everywhere. Several movies have come out regarding aliens and every year there are movies that continue this trend. And it is not only movies, but TV shows and books keep on churning suggesting we have alien neighbors, invaded by aliens, then we have friendly and not so friendly aliens and the list keeps on growing. And then you have alien fan clubs which deal with this alien phenomena.. All of this is just a desperate attempt to have some connection with other people who may exist with superior technology that may cure all of our ills. Also you know that a fascination with unknown things has been part of hobbies for generation of fans and it will remain so until proof is provided otherwise.

Do you believe in aliens?

It is an established fact that everybody is entitled to his/her opinion. And the only way to change one's opinion is to convince somebody with solid facts (and even after that they would not believe you since they want to hold onto to their own narrow minded interpretation of events or facts). As my blog is called infinipinions, I write because I love to voice my opinion (not necessarily with facts) as I am not here to change anybody's opinion but to state my opinion and then hopefully get some comments from my readers. Now my question is that do you believe in Aliens? Just to let you know that I don’t believe in them (not necessarily the kind that is depicted in movies) but there may be some out there which can surprise us. Some people have believed in Aliens a long time now and there are several books detailing the abduction of them and going through the Alien's space ship and what not. I believe that I read one of the books on alien abductions and although found it fascinating but not convincing enough to believe in the sort the people were describing. And with countless movies out there about the abduction and the skimpy evidence of them being living among us I remain skeptical about them and they (if they are true) having much improved technology than ours. I mean that the way it is described by people who have encountered these so called Aliens looks eerily like the humans with modified parts like big eyes, long hands and legs etc.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Blank stare of people

Have you ever encounter a person or people who have a blank stare on their faces. I am not talking about the kind that you see in creepy people or in the movies but the people who are doing their job but don’t feel like doing it. The other day I was going to my office and there are two stairs to go and apparently one of the stairs was open but at the end was closed and some of the people (including me) was going to that way but were finding out at the end that access was closed and we had to come through the other access and this guard which was employed by the management of the building was just standing there even though he knew that the access on the other side was closed. He had a blank stare that he did not really care if he was there to help or just kill his eight hours or work. My point is that if you don’t like your job or don’t want to guide the people in your capacity as an employee then why do you have that charade of being working and just quit and find something which you like. And it is not just that person but I have seen many people who are just there to stand and not help out their customers, no wonder that the companies are cutting jobs when they don’t need these kind of attitudinal employees who are burden on their company's payroll. At least I admire one thing that they are not hypocrites and they show it exactly how they feel about their jobs and not pretend that they like it.

Curious about space-3

And what about the minerals, can we find oil, gas, gold, silver and all the other natural minerals that we have on earth. And by some fluke we happen to know it that other planets may have it, can we harness it and bring it back to earth. Can you utilize the energy that all these planets have so that we can have environmentally free energy for our use? Can some of the planets have energy which is not available on earth and we can utilize it here. Do we have the defenses if one of the planets hits us without any warning? Can we secure our future by going out to explore different planets and have our inhabitants there if the earth is destroyed or become inhabitable? Do other planets have natural medicines that can cure cancer and other fatal diseases on earth and can we bring some of them back if we happen to find them? Astronomers and scientists and I believe that millions of people living may have similar or even more curious questions about the space and it is just fascinating that with all the technologies advances we have not even started to explore what is really out there in space. We keep on finding new and new stars in far off places and even some which is relatively nearby (in terms of space time). Just getting curious about space opens up so many questions that remain unanswered and I know there will be a lot more which will never get answered.

Curious about space-2

I know that astronomy is taught in schools and colleges and there is burgeoning interest in space (as evidenced by science fiction movies) but we are still stuck in what we know and trying to make the resemblances of other beings to us. We all see aliens as having hands, legs, eyes, ears and tastes with slight variations and that is the limit of our imagination. We cannot or refuse to imagine that there can be some beings that can have entirely different anatomy than ours. Our lack of knowledge and limitation of our technology cannot even know how far and wide is the space and how many galaxies and stars we have (although a wide estimate states we have 100 billion of each but this can change anytime too as we explore and discover more stars). There are stars out there brighter than sun and colder than what we have on earth or even our own galaxy. We don’t know that there are any other planets which can sustain human life or this earth is the only one for us. How far can the human being travel on oxygen when he/she has to venture into space and will we ever have the capabilities to travel for years on the oxygen that we can carry with us? Does gravity affect the earth only or do other planets have the same pull? And what about the asteroids and meteors that we encounter each other without our knowledge or who get a close call that we pray does not hit us.

Curious about space

As I was watching a science fiction movie, I started to realize how well we know the space above us. We have just been to the moon and send some space ship to the outer parts of our galaxy but have not even scratched the surface of it. We don’t even know yet if we are alone or have company out there. Are we the only human beings or there are others out there with superior technology that we know of. We are so clueless and yet we fight among ourselves since we think that we don’t belong to the same race. And this budget crisis and the era of austerity in the U.S. will hamper the efforts of the space program and we will not be able to do that much research as with more money. As you all know that the U.S. spend the most on space research and it benefits all human kind (and also the U.S. in particular), but right now the U.S. don’t have the money really to explore space as it would probably want to and the other nations like the Russians and Chinese and the Indians don’t have that much know how and the money to go ahead and pick up the tab that the space exploration needs. When you see up in the sky, it sometimes is scary that it is so empty or is it really? Do you really know that the stars simply don’t vanish during day time but due to the intense light of the sun, we are unable to see them with our eyes?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Choose your battles

It just means that you have the opportunity to fight for your rights and be able to withstand pressure and when you don’t have enough to stand your ground and you then choose to be silence and let others have their way for the sake of peace or whatever. The best example is when to choose your battles is in a relationship when somebody stubbornly stands their ground when they know it that the other side is in the right. And choosing the wrong battle to stand up for what is not right can damage your argument when you are really in the right since the other partner can indicate that you were also wrong previously so what makes you think you will be right this time. So why damage your relationship when you can just be let the other party claim victory when they truly deserve it and suppress your ego and swallow your pride. Other most important battle is among the politicians who stubbornly stick to an issue even in the face of overwhelming opposition not only from the other side but from the public as well as they want to appeal to the hardcore audience even when it seems like their stand maybe based upon some kind of falsehood. There are certainly sometimes where you have to convince your constituency that you are right and sometimes you have to agree with them that you were mistaken or in other nicer language mislead upon that issue. So before you fight your battles, choose which one where you are certainly to win and have your say and where it is more beneficial to keep quiet and fight another battle.

Movies to watch-2

Movies are fun to watch and l love them very much but as I said before that I would be least inclined to go to a romantic, drama, comedy or kids family movie if I can really avoid it. I would rather be in the comfort of my home watching the aforementioned movies which I can pause and stop and do whatever chores I have to do and then come back again because now with big screen TVs you can watch these kinds of movies in theater like conditions but the only kind of movies I want to watch is action movies. They are the best to watch on the big screen as the sound effects and the screen makes it even greater. You cannot have the same kind of effect at home because the action loses its charm on the small screen even if you have the biggest TV screen out there. Movies should be watched for entertainment and relaxation and to escape from your mundane everyday lives and if you are going to get aggravated by watching a movie where you have to stress yourself to listen to what is going on then it is better to stay at home and watch whenever you want to watch it. Although I would not advice this to be done since Hollywood industry would lose a lot of money just on my advice and then creative movies will not be made since they can only make so many action movies per year. It is my opinion and everybody has to make their own decision whether to spend twenty to thirty dollars on an aggravated outing or just do something more enjoyable.

Movies to watch

You know that most people love to watch movies on the big screen and I am in that category too but not all the movies have the same effect on the big screen. Now I don’t want to recommend that you should stop going to the movies altogether. It is just my opinion that I would rather watch movies on the big screen where I can truly enjoy the special effects and actions that a movie has. And I don’t really want to go to movies where there is lots of talk and little action. Talkative movies include on the top of my list drama, comedy and kids family movies in no particular order. Dramas are so in general by nature and there is lots of talk and silence in the theaters, since everybody is trying to listen to what the actors are saying and I feel uncomfortable because really there is dead silence. Comedy movies are the worst to watch on the big screen because by the time people stop laughing at a joke, you may have missed the dialogue which may have been passed and to spend 10 dollars (not to include popcorn and soda) to see some people making jokes at each other does not have any effect whether you are seeing it on the big screen or the small ones. And the Kid family movies are the last nail on the patience of mine since some kids want to be kids and not adults in the theaters (I don’t blame them for that) but for some kids it is just a playground and they sometimes are not comfortable in their seats alone so kids family movie should be only for the time where you don’t have anything to do with the kids or the movie is so good that the kids are bugging you to see it instantly.

The lone wolf terrorist-3

It is imperative for any community to report suspicious activity of their community members to police because if you don’t then the whole community comes into suspicion. Nobody wants to be called a snitch but in times of extreme caution and the terror threat always there, the community cannot ignore what is happening in their midst and think that the problem will go away. The people go to police whenever they are in trouble or want to done something in a legal so why the hesitancy in collaborating with police in a positive way. Most of the minority communities have come from societies where the suspicious of police is very high and their contact with police is very minimal or negligible. But the more they avoid it, the more they will be targeted not only by the police but the mainstream media will be merciless in criticizing them for not doing enough to stop terrorism in its tracks. And as more days are passed and you start hearing about how they were, the madder you get and so the community people as it is bringing bad name to their religion and stop all this nonsense about waging Jihad in the name of religion as the character of these so called Jihadist are not even close to anywhere being a Muslim. Instead of being good members of the society, these losers are destroying whatever goodwill the Muslim community has developed over the years. I will write about it this more later on but for now, it will be race against time to find more of these so called lone wolf terrorists and keep the society safe from their lunacy and in this effort, everybody will have to do their duty as citizens and human beings.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The lone wolf terrorist-2

But the question is now how to stop these individuals who are just inspired by the terrorist organizations and go their own to create havoc with the lives of other people. You cannot install cameras everywhere or tap into every phone, internet and all the personal files of all the individuals without either jeopardizing the privacy and freedom of other citizens, neither it seems it will be neither practical nor constitutional. But most of it cannot be practical because of the huge privacy issue and the more you do it, the more people will find a way to avoid it. But now how can you stop a lone terrorist who does not have an affiliation with any organization and who get out and go crazy. You can't but there are some ways you can avoid this and one of the best ways is the community support where these people come from. You can use the best technology in the world but you cannot beat the cooperation of the community leaders in getting these vulnerable individual to integrate and assimilate with the rest of the population. The friends who are near and dear and the parents and relatives should also get involved and try to prevent this from happening. And in this case even if they have to invade somebody's privacy they should do it for the sake of that individual and the larger community. And the cooperation with the Police is essential. Although I understand that there is increasing hesitancy on the part of the minorities and community leaders to avoid police contact but it is better to have contact with them now than to have them come back with subpoenas and warrants and with hostile attitude.

The lone wolf terrorist

So after somewhat recovering from the wounds the surviving suspected terrorist has started talking about who was behind this atrocity. And the picture that is becoming clearer every day is that the suspect's elder brother became radicalized while he was in Russia. But another story states that he was radicalized here. No matter where he was radicalized, the point is that he was a lone wolf who was inspired by some radical material on the internet and contacts with some shady people. It was initially suspected that Al-Qaeda or the Taliban in Pakistan had to do something with it but before the connection was established, the Taliban said that they did not have anything to do with the bombing. With emotions running very high, no terrorist organization wants to have the military might of the U.S. on them suddenly. When days went by, I suspected to realize that it must be just these brothers who did it on their own and not some terrorists organization (for reasons elaborated above) because these organizations if they have done something spectacular would claim responsibility right away to boost morale of their people and gain new recruits from disgruntled people. And now it has been confirmed (although the investigation is ongoing) that it was only these brothers who went crazy and did this horrible act against their adopted country. What was the motive behind the bombings will be clearer in coming weeks or we may never know what motivated them to do it.

On the lighter side-Movies-A haunted House (2013)-Marlon Wayans

Extremely funny and super raunchy parody of Paranormal activity about a couple who encounter ghosts in their house and try to get rid of them in their own unique and foul mouth way. Highly Recommended but not for kids.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Impossible (2012)-Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor

Superb movie about a family vacationing in Thailand who get caught up in the great Tsunami a few years ago. Excellent special effects and acting. Emotional at time. Highly Recommended

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Bombing and the role of small businesses in times of crisis

First of all condolences for all the people who were victims of this terrible incident of terrorism Now that the threat of Boston bombing and the culprits is over (somewhat), let’s see how did the shutdown of the Boston area affected the business. Most of the business according to the request (order?) of the authorities was closed for the time; the hunt for the bomber was going on. But there were some businesses that were open during all this tragedy as they could not afford to lose their business even for one day and therein lies the question. Small businesses have less of a reserve in cash to stay close for any period of time and it is imperative now for them to make sure that if something likes this happen, they can still stay open online. And the new trend now is to ask your workers to work in offices and not from home but what about this situation where you are unable to get out of the house. Is telecommuting not the only solution. In these kinds of situation, when you can least afford to lose business, the best strategy for small businesses to serve their customers since they still have to eat and do their daily work while staying at home and be aggressive on the internet and stay connected at all times. This is the time to show the difference and have personal attention and this is what counts most when you help people in their time of need. In this technology age, even businesses which are geographically concentrated in one area need not stop business in times of calamity but stand out from other businesses by being active and serve your customers or maybe gain some by having a website with the same level of customer service and also other information which the new customers may not know about you or with the current customers you can sympathize with their situation (without being overly concerned about your business ) and tell some personal stories to ease your customers' anxiety in times of crises.

Still working with the change

Whenever you shop on line and in stores, you always notice that the price always ends up with .99 or .95. It is so common that you cannot help it to ignore it even once. As long as I remember it has been going on forever. And it is not confined to the United States, but almost all countries are afflicted with these disease. I guess they may have read the same book that says that it is all in the head of the consumers since they assume that they are paying not for example hundred but 99.99 or 99.95. And it does have the effect on people saying that they got it for less than hundred and it is also advertised as such. Maybe in some countries they do pay back the remaining change but in most countries either people don’t bother to ask for it or a sales tax is added to the amount and it is no more less than hundred but above that. It has been a successful strategy that is why every store and company follows it through like a religious edict. Very few companies round up the price of the products and when I buy some stuff I always round it off because I know that I have to pay the sales tax (in the U.S.). And there is little on the part of any company or consumers to get rid of this deceptive advertising as some of the companies have done to little success. And if it has proven to be success and the sales does increase substantially then why not use it.

On the lighter side-Movies-Pawn (2013)-Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker

Three criminals hit a restaurant acting as a front for a mob boss and hold hostages and then things go downhill from there for the criminals and cops. Recommended for curiosity sake.

On the lighter side-Movies-Gangster Squad (2013)-Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling

Good cop drama about a group of cops who go beyond their normal duty to take down a mob boss. All out good acting. Recommended

Monday, April 22, 2013

Where did all the aid go?-4

If you are sincere and honest with your people, you can do wonders with aid. But since there is no accountability once the aid reaches a particular country, there are more chances for corruption. This has what has happened to the aid going towards Pakistan. Even with billions of dollars poured into the country, it is still the most Anti-American in the world. Because people of that country has not seen the aid flowing to elevate their living standards and all the see is that rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poorer, no wonder ordinary people will resent U.S. aid. To me it is useless to give aid to Pakistan because the poverty level has gone up with more people being poor with all this aid. I believe that once you stop giving aid, there will be a need for self reliant and the people would have no reason to kick the U.S. around for all of their own deficiencies. If our aid is not getting utilized and creating more enemies than friends, what is the use of sending more money when the conditions of the people does not change and only the rulers get richer. Or you give aid and make sure that there is accountability of where it is going to be spending so that you can see the benefits. But since it would not be possible because governments will refuse to have the aid channel directly to their people (since they will miss out on all the dollars for their own needs). It is time now to stop the aid (unless you know where it is going) since once the aid is stopped, there will be increasing self reliance on the part of the recipient countries and they will be much better than they are now.

Where did all the aid go?-3

You can just see the comparison about how the state of Israel is developing faster than its rival (or friend) in all fields. I have not been to either countries but by the judge of the news coming out of Egypt, the condition there does not look good as it is in turmoil with the infighting between the government and the opposition. Who in the right mind would invest in a country in turmoil even if they have more potential consumers? With all the aid the Egyptian had for the last thirty years or so, it would have become an economic powerhouse but it does not look anywhere near that even with all the aid coming from the U.S. and the Arab countries. Why is it that the same aid has transformed Israel into a rich country and Egypt still mired in poverty? Human beings live in both countries and money flows in both countries so why is Egypt in such dire straits while Israel keeps on moving ahead even when it seems to surrounded by enemies bent on destroying it. Is corruption and greed maybe the answer and why that is everybody involved succumbing to the same greed and nobody refuses to be honest and not corrupt. And it is not about Egypt only but another country a big recipient of U.S. aid is Pakistan. It has been receiving also billions of dollars but the level of poverty has gone down considerably. Whatever the level of hostility and anti-Americanism that the Pakistanis breed in them, they cannot absolve themselves of the fact that their rulers are corrupt and greedy and the people who play along with them are the same too.

Where did all the aid go?-2

To give you an example of two countries where the aid has been sent for more than thirty years and the difference it has made to the citizens involved. You don’t have to look so far as to have a comparison between Egypt and Israel. Both Egypt and Israel have been the second largest and the largest receipt of the aid and look at that difference in the quality of life of citizens of both countries. Granted that Egypt is much larger and more populous than Israel but Egypt also gets large amount of money from the workers it sends to the Gulf Arab countries. Israel have really transformed itself into one of the rich countries of the Middle East despite not have the natural resources of oil rich Arab countries. Israel's startup culture is next to none and despite being under constant threat of terrorism; it has continued to flourish faster than any Arab or Muslim country. I am not here to bash any country or to praise some country. But my point is to see that if you are sincere and honest about your citizens, there is nothing you cannot achieve and utilize the aid properly, you can make yourself a giant among the industrialized nations. See Israel's has a population of over eight million and with the GDP of nearly 250 Billion which comes out to hefty USD 30,000 per capita. You can compare that with some other Muslim countries that are not even close to anywhere that kind of per capita income.

Where did all the aid go?

This is I am referring to about the foreign aid that we dole out every year to several countries for various reasons. Sometimes we give because we have to help that country get on its feet and sometimes we give because the intended country is strategically important for the U.S. and sometimes we want to get something out of that country. Mostly we give because we want to retain some kind of influence on those country policies. But it has been rare lately that the aid we give to other countries have been utilized for the benefits of their citizens. But not all aid has been utilized efficiently and the condition of the countries where that aid has ended is in no better shape than it was before when there was no aid. Why that is with all our somewhat good intentions, most of the countries receiving aid have their citizens still in poverty. Mostly according to my opinion, the governments of the receipt countries have not be particularly honest about where the money is going and we have not been insisting on micro managing their economies. And most of the countries insist that the aid should be given to the governments directly and they will see to it that how it is to be utilized and therein lies the corruption aspect of aid. As everybody knows that money corrupts and if it is free money (?) then the countries can utilize it to benefits their own near and dear or bribe people into following their policies.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Are staff cuts always the answer?-3

Despite having forecasting projects in their hands, still the top management of the corporations badly predicts how the consumers of their products are going to react to economic circumstances and in anticipation of the huge sales, hire people whom they have to let go afterwards. The effect of one employee lay off creates a ripple effect not only on him but to his entire family and the financial problems that family entails are not shown. I still believe that only the absolute necessity staff should be hired and laying off should not be an option since you can train that staff or relocate that staff to some other department or other locations of the company (and if the staff refuses to relocate then it is not the fault of the company). But the moral of the employees goes down too and that the corporations ignore. The loyal consumers also suffer since either they have dealt with the corporation for a long time and have developed a kind of rapport with them or they just like the interaction with the local sales staff. The store also suffers because during the time of rush, there is not adequate staff to deal with the customers and lots of resentment and frustration starts to built up in these cases. Although sometimes it is absolutely necessary to cut staff since the company is not generating enough business or it loses some major client but the corporations should try to avoid layoffs and try to manage difficult economic times with retraining, relocation and developing new business aggressively.

Are staff cuts always the answer?-2

Either the corporations don’t care about the employees or they don’t know what happens to them in the future, since after firing, nobody wants to keep in touch with each other. But corporation's voice is heard through its top management and it is they who are responsible for the big bunch of layoffs. To be fair to them, they are also under tremendous pressure to increase profitability, raise the stock price and reduce expenses. But it is easy for someone to fire other person than if it is your own skin. There is also the case of so much specialization that when you fire people it is hard to replace them since you have to train somebody to do their job. Now the corporate world sees the humans as just dollar signs and they are more willing to swing the axe when the market goes sour and it is not the fault of the employees that if it does. But is it really the fault of the employees that the sales of a company go down. The employees are there to implement the policies of the corporation as directed by the top management. The management is responsible for developing the management and they should be able to forecast how much they will be able to generate revenues. I believe that hiring should be based on absolute necessity and not on if and when the sale rises and the employees should be trained on multiple skills and on the specialization ones.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Are staff cuts always the answer?

When the economy goes south or when the company is in trouble or wants to restructure or reduce expense, the first thing they do is to lay off people. Since this is the biggest expense of any business, it is natural to get the knife out at that first. But is it right to cut staff when you don’t need them any longer, and how do you know when you don’t need them any longer. The latest argument against staff cutting came from two mega stores who have fired enough people that they are now suffering due to a lack of it. Why is that? as I explained it before, that is the first thing that the companies look for in cutting expenses but they are not smart enough to figure out that it reduces the moral of the rest of the employees and then the companies say that their employees are not loyal. But first of all why do you have to hire so many people that you then have to discard them (that is right not lay off or firing but the actual word is discarding) when you don’t need them. How do you know that in the future you would not need those employees on whom you have spent millions, just to let them go and then apart from bad publicity and resentment, they may work for your rivals and then have the knowhow of your internal organization that they can use against you?

How you want to be remembered once you are gone.

This is the question everybody should ask themselves now and then. What are you leaving behind in this world? How do you want to be remembered? Despite all the advanced of technology, it is a known fact that death is real and everybody will leave this earth for eternity No matter what your religious beliefs are, you will one day be no more in this world and then apart from your family members and your relatives, how do you want other people to remember you. Some people are so notorious that people are loathe to remember them not even in any nicer way and there are some where even the enemies grudgingly accept the fact that the deceased person went out of his way to accommodate and please everybody. These are the people who leave a good memory and people try to be like them in one way or the other. But in order to make sure that the deceased person is remembered by wide audience, their off spring and relatives can do more by creating charities in his/her name, give out scholarships, donate some money to establish some permanent fixture or name plate in a hospital, school, park etc. And as everybody knows you cannot take anything with you when you leave this world except your good nature and character and how to dealt with other human beings and other creatures. So think about this thing when you are doing anything as this is the only thing that you will take away with you and be counted the most pious among the inhabitants of the hereafter.

What to do with North Korea?

North Korea has been in the news lately. Too much of it since it started threatening the U.S. and its allies to have strike us with nukes. Although right now vigorous diplomacy is being applied (along with use of some precautionary military posture), but the threat of the outbreak of the war cannot be ruled out. If it does happen we will continue to be in a state of perpetual war. One of the reason this can be dangerous is the fact that since we don’t have enough intelligence (my previous post has already discussed this) about the intentions of North Koreans, we are just playing blind. Now some of the people are suggesting ways to deal with N.Korea. Some are still urging diplomacy but some are now clamoring for the U.S. to bomb them before it is too late. But would bombing (if possible) solve this problem? and would China and other world powers let this happen because the North Koreans would not sit idle and there would be retaliatory strikes not maybe against the U.S. directly by the South Koreans and maybe Japan and China will feel the pain. So instead of things getting heated up beyond the point of no return, saner voice should prevail and we must find a way out of this nuclear nightmare we are in right now. I cannot suggest anything that will deescalate the situation than to suggest that intense diplomatic efforts (coupled with some concessions) should be pursued and North Korea should be told that it is not in their interest to escalate the situation further than it is right now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

There is no shortage of crazy people

If you see or read the news every day, you will come across some people who act in a crazy way which is out of the normal human nature. It may be killing somebody, driving while intoxicated, kidnapping, fraud, disrupting some venue and list goes on and on. You never know when the person beside you can snap nor have a bad day and they lash out at other people without any reason or cause You don’t know how to react to this crazy person as you are not warned about their behavior or taken by surprise. You could be that crazy person also since you as a human being has a breaking point. And you cannot protect yourself from these crazy people as there is no form of protection when you are caught off guard. Craziness doesn’t mean that every act has to be violent, but it can also be something where you don’t expect a person (who you may or may not know) to act in an irrational way. And I sure that everybody out there may have experienced some kind of craziness on behalf of other people. And there is no serious defense against such kind of behavior as the only precaution you can take is to be alert at all times of your surroundings and be ready to react at a moment’s notice when somebody acts out of the ordinary. Needless to say that sometimes people do not take this kind of advice and essentially are sitting ducks for the same kind of crazy people who thrive on the element of surprise. And you will find these kinds of people in every part of the world, in every culture, society and religion. So please be careful out there, you never know who has been infected with the drug crazy.

Terror in Boston

Right now it is too early to say who did it but since a huge amount of law enforcement is involved in it, it is just a matter of time before we know who exploded the bombs at the Boston Marathon which until now have killed 3 people and injured dozen. This has been the biggest terrorist attack (which it should be called a terror attack) since September 11 of 2011 on the U.S. soil. I was working when somebody told me about it and then I went straight to the internet to get the whole story (sort of). It was unbelievable because it has been a long time since those terrorists’ attacks and we have been pretty good in protecting ourselves and also because it was of all places Boston, where it was supposedly never could have happen. As it is the case that usually happens, I saw lots of chaos that followed the two explosions. As of now, nobody has claimed responsibility and the usual suspects have already disowned or have denied having to do anything with it (maybe it was a strategic step by those people since they don’t want to get bombed out of existence). And more days passes without any claim of responsibility by any organization, it will start to seem that it is some lone wolf person who did it on its own. Whatever the case maybe sooner or later we will find the person(s) responsible for it. In the meanwhile, we should be vigilant about our surroundings and also pray for those who perished in this terrible terrorist act.

On the lighter side-Movies-Lucky Bastard (2013)

Found footage movie (too many now a days) about a pornographic website which stages a contest among its subscribers to have sex with its top star with deadly results. Surprisingly good movie with good acting than most found footage movies of today. Very graphic in depiction of nudity and sex and NC- 17 rated. Recommended but definitely not for all tastes and not at all for kids.

On the lighter side-Movies-Attack the Block (2011)

British comedy/Sci fi movie about a group of teenagers who protect their neighborhood from vicious aliens invading the earth. Funny at times and fast paced. Never a dull moment. Recommended

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Respect for all religions

Although this may be the ultimate touchy subject for some people, but you have to confront it day in and day out. How to respect other religions when it conflicts with yours. Or people start questioning your faith based on the actions of few individuals who may or may not what they are doing is hurting others. I believe that it no religion is bad and we should be respecting all religions. First of all we should avoid talking about religion if you don’t know anything about other religions and even if you do, just try to avoid the conversation because people tend to be touchy about it. Even if you know something about the other person's religion and want to compare or have a discussion about it, don’t since everybody will try to defend their faith as best as they could and start showing feelings of superiority and then in the end you either lose a friendship or just start to doubt your or that person's sanity. I have friends in almost every religion but never have I ever discussed whose religion is the superior one and who will go to heaven or hell. It is not up to us to decide the characters and religious authenticity of the other person. There should be mutual respect of all religions. Because we, as human beings are all fallible and nobody has given us a right to judge other person's religion. Let religion be a private matter between you and the creator and confined to an individual and try to get along with other people irrespective of their religious affiliation.

Tax return time

So yesterday April 15 was the tax return time in the U.S. and if you have not already filed your returns, you can get a six month extension from that date. I am sure other countries may have similar deadlines for tax return (and some may not even have one). I already filed my taxes before the deadline as I do every year electronically without the hassle of signing lots of paper work and mailing it out. It has become very easier to file your taxes now online. Although everybody hates to do their taxes and if you have to pay the government at that time, it becomes more of burdensome chore, but as I am just talking about the U.S. I encourage everybody to file their taxes and pay their fair share of what is due to them. This I am saying not because I love to do taxes, but because no modern government can function without taxes. You can say that taxes are a necessary evil that we cannot do without. And if you know how to do tax, then you can have some extra income on the side during the tax season (which starts from January first till April 15 of each year). But even if you are not able to do your taxes, they are here to stay and despite efforts by some extreme fringe groups to do away with it, it is not going to happen. But back to the return, if people can do their taxes in an orderly fashion, there is no reason to hate them or rush them at the last minute. You have to file them anyway, so why wait till the last moment and become panicky.

Too many recalls of cars

Long time ago I wrote an article about the massive Toyota® recall and what can happen to its reputation. Well now the reputation of Toyota ® has come back again but the recall remains. And as they say Misery loves company, now every other car manufacturing company has been recalling their vehicles here and there. I recently got a recall for my Lexus ® car for a wiper thing and it is not only the Toyota ® brand, but even the other foreign brands like BMW® Nissan® and the American brands have been recalling their cars for the slopping work they have done to push as many cars as possible out of their factories when they are not ready for road. I can understand that with complex electronics being applied to cars, these recalls will be increasingly a factor in the future but it would have been neglect on the part of the manufacturers not to notice these defects even small ones. Believe me I don’t mind the recalls because in many developing countries around the world, the recall is just replaced by going to the mechanic and fixing the defect because you are never told that defect is due to the factory screwing up or it is your fault. You just assume that it is just part of wear and tear. Here in the developed countries, they are nice enough (or suing scared enough) to do the repair at the manufacturer's expense and acknowledge that it was their fault. But it would be really nice that instead of spending millions of dollars in recall, they make sure that the cars are in excellent working condition before sending it out to the market.

On the lighter side-Movies-Django Unchained (2012)-Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz

Academy award winner movie about a bounty hunter and a free slave who takes on a plantation owner who has kidnapped the free slave's wife. Very bloody and brutal but also funny at times. Not to be missed at all costs. Highly Recommended

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

Horror movie about five British girls going on a hiking and encountering three dangerous men and fighting for your lives. Degrading to women and brutal with multiple rape scenes, sometimes unwatchable. This one will not be for anybody's taste. Not Recommended

Monday, April 15, 2013

The turnaround that is not working (yet?)-2

I am saying yet in parentheses because it still might happen but the way it was executed, it seems to me that it will not happen. Learning a lesson for USD 1 Billion (the amount supposedly lost by the company), I now believe that it will be a long time before they will even try this strategy again. Meanwhile on the other front, Macys ® another big chain retailer is suing a supplier stating that Macys ® have exclusive relationship with it and it cannot supply to JCP. Now the problem is that JCP has supposedly about USD 100 million in inventory of that supplier and if it loses the case then it will have to destroy them (All this information is public and you can read it in any newspaper). So the turnaround that was supposed to be savior of JCP has become a nightmare for them. JCP was trying to bring a new and young crowd to the store and in the process have alienated its loyal customers. It seems like all the effort that they have done in the past year or so (with the exception of a few) will be unraveling in the coming months. JCP have to stop reinventing the retail business since they have no more leeway to experiment with the money they have on hand right now. They have to bring back all the sales and discount and start courting their core customers and also try their stores a go to place like other retailers do, otherwise they will always be the also ran in the retail business.

The turnaround that is not working (yet?)

So after losing money for more than a year, one of the biggest retail chains in the U.S. finally fired its CEO (who has been very successful before arriving to his new post). I am talking about JCPenney®, that big retail chain that has been lately getting hammered at the stock market and shunned by the consumers. The strategy that was being applied was to have everyday low prices instead of discounts and coupons. The core customers were not happy with the change as it was not adequately explained to them about the benefits or just plainly ignored by the company and that is how the retail chain lost so much money. I use to like JCP as my father had a store credit card with them like twenty years ago but it has now been several years that I have bought anything from them (DISCLOSURE: I don’t own or cover JCP stocks, bonds or whatever is out there so my opinion here is unbiased). As I was reading in one of the article, it was shown that how hard it is to change the habits of people which have been in place for several decades. Not everybody wants low prices every day since JCP is a store where you are not under any compulsion to buy every day or even every week. If there is a sale then you go once in a while and not every sale you rush into buy stuff. As a human nature (which clearly JCP did not understand or choose to ignore), we sense an urgency if we know that something is not going to last long. And this urgency you can see all year long at retail stores and especially Black Friday when people go literally crazy to get the best deals.

On the lighter side-Movies-Hypothermia (2010)-Michael Rooker

Cold and TV movie of the week type about a family who are fishing in Maine and along with two other fishermen are attacked by a prehistoric creature. Not great and not even a time killer. Avoid it. Not Recommended

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

British thriller movie about a group of people who roam the country side in a post apocalyptic world and try to defend themselves against cannibalistic tribe of people. Atmospheric and moody, bloody at times but good. Recommended

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The China talk

China has been in the news now for all the time. The U.S. wants its help in defusing the threat from North Koreans. But at the same time, the U.S. threatens the Chinese with taxes on its goods, blocks the sale of weapons and technology and wants to engage in so called currency manipulation. This article is not about who is wrong or right but about how china has become such an important player in the market that people have to anticipate its every move and act on their own in response to it. Right now the main issue is with the North Korean; China does not want push too much on them lest the regime collapse and they then have to take care of all the refugees. Surely the tension will be defused but the Chinese will be left with the mess not the U.S. There was also an article about how the manufacturers in the West keep on pushing the China price (that is how can someone able to compete with the price of goods manufactured in China). Although the rise of China is a major concern for the U.S. and other big powers, but I don’t believe that they should worry too much about it since China wants to be a player on the world stage, not the disrupter that some people fear. Talk about China is all over the place and we should be engaging China as there is no other way, the world can get along just fine.

It’s all in the head

Have you ever for a moment thought about the actions you take are linked entirely to what your brain says. The doctors already know this and the common people also believe that too but still acts like they don’t know. All your actions that make you work as a normal function is linked to the orders of the brain. If your brain is not working properly, you can become handicapped. Even what I am typing now is related to what I am thinking. We think that most of our actions we do it unconsciously but our brain dictates what we do and how we should go about doing it. Even what we perceive that the other people are thinking about us is also linked with our brain. As the doctors say that when somebody is brain dead, he/she is actually dead and there is no way he/she can be brought back to life? Besides the heart which can withstand any pain or suffering, the brain is the main motherboard if you can of the human body. And since you cannot function without your heart, the same is true of brain. I have studied Psychology and it really tells you that the brain is the granddaddy of the human body and the chemicals in the brain acts to make us function. Even if you believe yourself as being powerful and superior you can just believe that you are just full of it and other people will think of you as being part of a delusional reality that it is all your imagination and imagination is all in your head. So any step you take consciously or unconsciously, you should better believe that the brain is making you do it.

Absence of intelligence-3

The biggest case about relying absolutely on technology was the search for Osama Bin Laden (OBL). For ten years long, we have been searching for him with all the technology in the world (and also some human intelligence) and low and behold we got him through human intelligence. I don’t know how to give a more perfect example and superiority of human intelligence than this killing of OBL. No amount of technology was able to find OBL right in the middle of Pakistan and we were smart enough to use human intelligence to pinpoint his exact location. And now we are bemoaning the fact that we don’t know what is going on in North Korea and how they are acting since we don’t have enough information due to a shortage of human intelligence. See with all the technology we have, we still need humans to find out the ins and outs of what is really going on and then we can go all out with our technology. I don’t believe there can be hundred percent reliance on technology to fight our enemies. Although our intelligence agencies do hire people with language and other skills but we are still sorely short of people who are actually in those countries who can blend with the local population. Instead of just waiting for something to happen, we should ramp up our hiring of locals in these countries so that we are not caught sleeping when something happens and then we say that it came as a surprise. Human intelligence is the most important aspect that we should be emphasizing the most.

Absence of intelligence-2

Different leaders may have different ideas of how the intelligence should be done in this day and age and some of them have come to see the technology as the savior of their community and be and end all of all intelligence. That is why they have convinced people that money on technology is a good investment and we should rely more on it than on the traditional forms of human intelligence. And believe me that it has markedly improved out intelligence capability but there are some things that you cannot do with human intelligence. As the technology has evolved, so has the capability of dangerous nations to outwit us with their own methods of evading detection. And since these nations (and individual non state entities) don’t have our kind of advanced technology, they have been able to outsmart us with traditional forms of intelligence which has been surprisingly effective in terms of evading detection and creating deception. And this has been adequately proven in some of the glaring failures in intelligence history. You don’t really have to go far to see that due to inadequate credible evidence on the ground, we have lost people in Somalia and gone to war in Iraq and have very poor understanding of the ground realities in Iran and especially North Korea now. Even in Afghanistan, our intelligence failures have been glaring that despite ten years in that area, we are nowhere near the win area that we were supposed to be. These things cannot be done by technology no matter how much we spent money on it (and we have spent considerably).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Absence of intelligence

As everybody knows by now that the North Koreans are readying themselves for a bloody fight with the U.S. and South Koreans and God knows who else. And we have been bemoaning that we don’t have enough intelligence on the ground to fight. So after spending hundreds of billions of dollars on satellite and other technology to spy on other countries, we are still handicapped because we don’t have people on the ground to tell us what will be the next move of North Korea or if and when they want to launch an attack or if it is all part of psychological propaganda (since they have nothing better to do). This is the same complaint we had when we were investigation the Iraqi WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and this is still the issue with the Iran nuclear program. A long time ago, it was being said that with the advent of technology and satellite imagery, there will be less need of human intelligence and all the secret details of dangerous countries would be visible to the U.S. so that we can plan accordingly. But as we have seen from our multiple failure in having intelligence in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Syria, Iran, Yemen and in Africa to name a few, we are sorely missing human intelligence that is more closely and intimately integrated to the local population. Why this is so may have been for a number of reasons and going into each of them in detail is beyond the scope of this post (as the intelligence community continues to trade blame game of what are the reasons).

The ring thing-2

I just suspect that it is a cultural thing that you have to show to people that you are married since in Asia; it is very less likely that people (both male and female) will wear their rings for a long time. But as I said to each his/her own. But do the people who wear this commitment like a status have to sample commitment towards their religion (if you believe in one). And when does it ever stop people from cheating on their partners/spouses even when they are wearing rings on their fingers? I am not here to judge anybody based upon what they are wearing or not but this ring thing is really something to ponder about. You can also see how this ring thing has influenced popular culture with songs and movies showing how important it is to have a ring worn at all times like it is part of one’s skin (and it really does become that as people don’t take it off ever). But as I said it before, this attachment to the ring just symbolizes the way our culture works. If you do not wear a ring, you are considered a single person, looking for relationship or just not putting it on so that you can cheat. But can somebody ever think about going beyond this reasoning and maybe see that having no ring can just mean that you can still be married, not looking for relationship and not planning to cheat as you already know what are your intentions and as the world does not give a hoot about whether you are wearing a ring or not, the world also does not care if you will do all of the above in order to deceive yourself or other people. It is just a state of mind and self satisfaction.

The ring thing

I never got this ring obsession which we have here in the U.S. Apparently having a wedding (or engagement) ring on your finger is like a status symbol or is it. Am I the only person who cannot understand this thing? I can understand that if you are recently married or engaged, it is nice to have a ring on your hand to announce it to the world that you are now committed to one person (although I don’t see if the world cares about that ) and you can keep it on for a while like a year or so but come on man, to keep it on for years and years and at all times is somewhat stretching the limit. I don’t know if somebody is showing that they are in commitment, or they just want to flaunt or they are in too much love or you may want to halt to advances of other single people who may mistake you as a potential date material but to be fair it is all in your head (one of my future topics). In the start, I had an argument with my wife regarding wearing the ring and she said that I don’t want to show people that I am married. I guess she was born in the U.S. where wearing a ring is such a big deal but I never saw my father and mother wearing a ring and they were more committed to each other than I have seen anybody else and the same goes with my sisters and cousins and other relatives who I have not seen long time with any ring on their fingers and they have been together for a long time (even with all the upheavals that accompany all marriages).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It’s hard being a single parent-3

And then there is this stigma that your child can face being that they have one parent. The questioning by their friends (even if they are getting less) can be really harmful to the child and the blame they may put on the parent about their situation when they get angry about something. I really admire the single parents that they are dedicated to the well being of their child even sacrificing their own needs so that their child does not feel isolated or neglected. They try to be both the father and the mother and they double it up in the roles of both parents when their child needs one. Although a single parent does not have to answer to his other half (and sometimes that can be a good thing), but in reality sometimes you just need that extra head or a company to make things work. I have seen some single parents who feel exhausted coming to their work or going about their work and also on the weekends their work is not all fun and games and they are constantly worrying about their finances and well being of their child and how to care of them the best way they possibly can. Because if they were not single parents, then at least they can share their worrying and caring with their partners, but since they cannot do that they are exhausted most of the time. I wish them well and praise them for how well they are executing their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.

It’s hard being a single parent-2

And even if they pay their child support, it is not enough to live by it (except if you are very rich enough to get humongous child support from rich fathers). And if the single mothers are widowed then it becomes harder for them since they have to find jobs that pay for them and their kids. Furthermore even single fathers have to cope with the pressures of being a single parent (although not as tough as the women but I am not sure about that either). And since the single parents are already focused on their financial well being and their kids, it hardly gives them enough time to start dating again or have a social life of their own. Although this is important for the single parent so that they are not socially isolated but it becomes harder since they have to take care of their kids first and usually think about themselves later. Even going to work can be a hassle as the single parent has to arrange for some babysitting since most of the kids are back from school by 3.30 and most of the parents after five. And some of the parents have to work on the weekends too to meet expenses and then finding reliable and affordable child care or babysitting service becomes more of a hassle since not everybody has relatives who can take care of their kids. The households’ chores cannot be divided since there is only one of them to take care of everything in the house, same goes for helping with homework and school activities.

It’s hard being a single parent

This is one of those things that you would not want to experience in your life time. Nobody that I have met, read on the internet (and I do crazily read contents on the internet believe me) or seen on the television wants to a single parent to a child or children. And you may have seen on television the harsh lives of people who have met this unfortunate event in their lives maybe through divorce, death of some other circumstances. We should as a society should not judge these parents based on our preconceived notions about parenthood since we are not in their shoes. And this phenomenon is not confined only to the United States but increasing day by day in other parts of the world especially the advanced ones. Single parent is truly no fun judged by only watching and reading some of the people who are living through it. There has been consistent articles regarding the effect on the kids who have one parent in the house. But right now I want to focus on a single parent who has to not only rely on being the sole provider to their kid but has to juggle both being a father and a mother to the kid. You cannot be harsh all the time and you cannot be soft all the time in terms of raising your kids. And the financial aspect is usually the most important factor in all of this. If you are single mother, than you life becomes more miserable (no matter what they say otherwise) because not all the divorced fathers pay their child support.

The teaching of entrepreneurship-2

Although with the explosion of internet and all sorts of people going it alone since this recession, there has been huge interest in entrepreneurship classes and even some colleges offers majors in them in addition to the traditional finance, accounting, marketing and other majors. But still the overwhelming majority of the schools still teach the individual how to make themselves useful for the job market and not the boss market. But again who am I to judge since I only give my opinion. But you know the world has changed a lot since a few years ago, the loyalty between a company and its employees have evaporated mostly and everybody is looking for his/her interest. So it would be necessary for all schools to incorporate in their curriculum the teaching of entrepreneurship so that people have at least a basic idea of how to run a small business. Now some people say that being an entrepreneur, you don’t need to go to school and it is learnt on the job or some people are born with a knack for being an entrepreneur. All this discussion aside and whether you agree with the above mentioned argument or not, if you don’t believe anything, it is true that all jobs do require on the job training no matter what and becoming an entrepreneur gives you the widest choice about all the fields essential to running a business and also give you valuable experience even if it does not work out for you initially. At least with this experience, you may have gained skills which will be useful if you decide to find a job.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The teaching of entrepreneurship

I have been in the teaching business for some time in my life and I taught finance and accounting to undergraduates and graduate students and the thing that struck me was everybody wanted to work for somebody else instead of striking out on their own. They were more excited about their future employers and not at all worried about if they will ever get their dreams jobs. And this leads me to a question that has bothered me ever since. Why a person is more than happy to somebody else but is so scared of even entertaining the idea of starting their own business. Sometimes it is the fault of the parents also who encourage their offspring to follow a certain career path that they followed so that it should a so called "safe" future. But as you can see there is no well worth mentioning career that is not facing the upheaval that this new economy has brought on. Especially the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA) implies that a person should be master in administrating a business not a master of a narrowly defined skill or stuck in a pigeon hole of a career where you don’t even utilize your above mentioned degree. As I have studied in my MBA classes, although they teach all you need to know about how to run a business but basically they are training you to work for some financial institution or corporation and not preparing them to run their own business.

Just do it!

Have you ever heard of this expression? I have before but lately the people who have become successful enough via their entrepreneurial skill have been increasingly using this phrase to describe how they just went ahead and plunge into the world of entrepreneurial ship or any other thing for that matter. And I have increasingly realized over the course of years (mostly recently) that in order to do something you should not rely on other people since you will find more opposition to your idea or venture than in support. In fact you will be finding that some of your closest people are in fact your biggest hindrance in achieving your dream. You can rely on them but only minutely since most of the people will give you millions of reason not to do something or start a business just because they have not done it or they believe you cannot do it. But increasingly I am hearing now that the successful people are saying that Just do it. Go ahead and plunge into making your dream a reality and even if you become a failure, at least you will learn something from it to better handle your next venture. Instead of listening to your friends and family that you cannot do it or it is very risk, just start doing it because unless you don’t do it on your own or try it at least on your own, you would never know if you had it in you to succeed. Maybe then you can prove your success to your sincere opposition that you had it in you to be more successful than if you have not tried and if you fail then it is just a tumble along the way to success.

On the lighter side-Movies-13 Eerie (2013)

Another Zombie movie (Zombies are all the rage right now), this time about a group of Forensics aspirants of Federal Bureau of investigation who are being trained in an abandoned camp site which is supposedly contaminated with toxic drugs and run afoul of bodies coming back to life. Good special effects and acting. Recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Infected (2013)

A slow and ultimately unsatisfying horror movie about a group of hunters who fight for their survival amidst the outbreak of zombie plague. Despite the inclusion of veteran actors (Michael Madsen, William Forsythe), not enough gore or suspense. Not Recommended at all.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Do institutions make money from illegal activities?

Of course they do and I refuse to believe that if they deny that they were not in the knowhow and were conducting their business out of ignorance of the relevant laws. I am talking about the time when a company pays its fines but deny any wrong doing ( I have already posted this in my previous posts). Do you for a minute believe that when some institutions set aside money for these charges they don’t know in advance that they have done something wrong and sometime in the future they will have to pay a fine so they set aside these ridiculous charges and still have money to pay for the operating costs and earn a profit? I have been following these fines and penalties for a very long time (measured in years) and this I have come to a conclusion that I don’t for once believe that with all the best technology and personnel they have to comply with government regulations and still they end up with violating some rules (which sometimes are really common sense laws) and still claim innocence. So my question is now why they do that, does claiming their innocence and denying any wrong doing absolve them from any wrongful activities. And if they are still paying penalties to avoid going to a costly trial means acknowledging tacitly that indeed they were in the wrong but do not want to admit it for public relations. I will believe that it is the later one that they are indeed guilty but do not want to admit it in writing but by paying fines they go on with their business and treat it as a business expense. And also there is so much money to be paid by the wrongful activities that even if they pay fines it is nothing as compared to what they earn in fees. So the institutions indeed make money by their wrongful and illegal activities but with huge amount of money at stake, they just don’t care about the penalties that they will have to pay in future.

On the lighter side-Movies-Enter nowhere (2011)

Weird mystery movie about a group of people who unknowingly and mysteriously end up in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere and have to figure out how they are related and how they ended up there. Good movie with only problem being it is never explained how and by whom they were put in the cabin in the first place. Recommended

Sibling Competition

As everybody knows who have siblings, there is always subtle and non subtle competition among them all the time. In fact between all the love and caring that the siblings have for each other, there is always this element of competition that encroaches on their relationship every now and then. Although, brothers and sisters have always been rivals but when it is between two or more sisters, then the intensity of rivalry overwhelms any that a brother and sister can have. And sometimes this competition lasts a lifetime and their whole families including kids and husband get sucked into this crazy competition. Although the love each other but there is an element of jealously that is underneath their skin that is not so subtle. Every kid vies for attention from their parents and then they play around and try to become favorite of their parents creating more completion and resentment. I for one was lucky enough not to have sibling rivalry (although being the only son helped a lot) but with my sisters there was no competition and I never saw any kind of jealously or competition among my sisters and not even to this day when they are married and have their own families have there been any kind of jealously that I have seen. But some families do have intense sibling competition as witnessed in some of the movies but not to that extent as to hurt somebody. But it is just that the siblings want to be the best in the eyes of their parents and others and as humans sometimes they are bound to be intensely competitive as are all human beings but at the end they love each other very much.

On the lighter side-Movies-The last king of Scotland (2006)-Forest Whitaker, James Mcavoy

Fictional story about a Scottish Doctor who end up being the personal physician to the Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin and sees first hand the brutality of his regime. Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

History belongs to risk takers

Without risk takers we would not be here where we are now enjoying technology that would have been unthinkable not too long ago. I mean who could have imagined seeing photos of their grand kids, friends, and relatives in far off lands if it was not for the internet and the websites that are hosted there. We would not be enjoying television, radio, phones, refrigerators, cars, washing machines, air conditioners, trains, planes and the list goes on and on. If it was not for the brave and visionary people who took the steps to take risks and invented these things and much more, then human kind would never have been in this technological stage. And in taking risks, they made their name in history after considerable skepticism among people and societies in which they were born and lived in. I mean if all of us people do their daily work and go home and not think about improving the lives of their fellow beings where we would be if not for some few people who step outside their normal lives and took extra ordinary steps not before but also present and in the future too to make sure they are remembered in history by some name. Risk taking is as fundamental to human survival as water is and we should all be taking unknown risks not the known ones which we take everyday knowing the outcome but the ones where we don’t know the outcome.

No risk, no fun

The title is right because you see millions of people involved in risky behavior every day sometime without knowing it. You take so many things for granted that if something goes against your routine, you become panicky. You take risk going to work without knowing that if you ever will reach your work (an extreme example), you take risk with your purchases comfortable in knowing that you will pay when the bill is due and the seller is selling to you with the risk knowledge that you may or may not pay it later on. But they do indulge in risky behavior. Same goes for corporate entities who indulge in activities with uncertain outcome but with chances to reap in millions and billions if they succeed. All of us indulge in risk because it is like fun but also dangerous which makes it more exciting and pumps us our nervous system. You can see that how much the people take risk with other people's money by trading against obvious risks with outlandish size benefits of high riches and when the deal goes sour, they again take more risk because that is what is taught in business schools that high risk and high return. If you see that the great recession that we are somewhat recovering from was a great cesspool of oversize egos and unbelievable risks taken by individuals who it seems like we’re having too much fun with taking risk and reaping cash at an alarming rate and you will keep on seeing in the future that this risk appetite is not going to go away because there can be no fun if you don’t take a risk in life.

Why high taxes is a bad idea-2

Does the French government know that it does exist in on an isolated island that its high taxes will not force some of its rich people and companies flee despite being patriotic. One thing is for sure that money knows no patriotism (and countries have learned it the hard way). I know long time ago, the taxes on individuals used to be too high but those times were simple and everybody had high taxes but in this new age, where every country is competing for those elusive dollars and foreign investment, wouldn’t you be surprised that some of the rich will depart for less high taxes safe havens. No wonder there are so many tax havens where the rich park their money so as not to be taxed out of their money. Taxes are not a forbidden fruit. Everybody has to pay their fare share, but who decides what the fair share is? Is the government coming under the populist pressure, decide arbitrarily that some very high tax rate is the fare one and just implement it? I believe that any tax rate above fifty percent or even 45 percent is outrageous since it is not only the direct taxes that the rich have to pay but also indirect taxes which can push the effective tax rate above 45 percent sometimes and if we were living in a world where you cannot park your money in a safe place and the taxes were high everywhere, then it would have made some sense since you did not have any place to go but in the present world that is not the case anymore and high taxes can make rich people run to the next country offering them safe haven for their money.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-The Skin I live In (Spanish-2011)-Antonio Banderas

The only thing I can say about this movie is it is weird. It is about a doctor, whose daughter is raped and then commits suicide. The doctor in turn kidnaps the rapist and over a course of time, changes him into a woman. It is seen to be believed. Recommended but not for all tastes.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Baytown outlaws (2012)-Billy Bob Thornton, Eva Longoria

Fun action/comedy movie about three redneck brothers who are hired to snatch a kidnapped boy from his father and ends up running with their lives. Good action and storyline. Recommended

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why high taxes is a bad idea

Lately there has a lot of talk about raising the tax rates on the rich. Although nobody wants to pay higher taxes (or any taxes at all for that matter), the people (apart from the rich people who don’t want to pay more taxes) all agree that the rich should pay more taxes .What constitutes richness has already been discussed by in an earlier post. But here I am not talking specifically about the United States, but France. In a euphoria about how the rich are not paying their fare share of taxes, the French government initiated a law that people who earn more than a million or so Euros a year shall have to pay 75 percent of their income in taxes. Although after a high profile person immigrated outside of France that the highest court of France struck it down as excessive. Now the same people who bought you the 75 percent individual tax, wants to tax the companies who pay for the individuals making more or so million Euros with the same 75 percent tax. I mean when is enough is enough. Okay I don’t like to pay taxes but I still do but what kind of incentive I will have to make money if 75 percent of my hard earned income from businesses for example that I owe will the government take away. I will only work in a place where I will get paid until a certain amount so as to avoid paying the absurdly high tax rate of 75 percent. I would not work harder if I have business and will earn below the threshold.

On the lighter side-Movies-Vile (2011)

Horror movie about a group of people who are kidnapped and have viles strapped on them which can only be released when they inflict pain on themselves or other people. Very Brutal and sometimes not watchable, but for horror fans it will be delight with decent acting and special effects. Recommended for horror fans only.

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

British horror/Ghost story about a skeptical author who uncover fake stories about ghosts and who is asked to come to a boarding school where the children are afraid about a dead child coming back as a ghost. Atmospheric but not that scary. Not much different than countless ghost stories you have seen before. Not Recommended