Friday, May 31, 2013

Is anything private anymore?

If you see it from the headlines, it seems that we don’t have any privacy and when we think that we have, and then we don’t anymore. Several breaches of security have occurred in various companies that the hackers have taken the personal information of millions of citizens and even the tightest security does not deter these hackers. Even when we think that our information is safe with the security locket that you see on the right hand corner on secured sites, it sometimes get hacked. This is evitable and predictable as more and more people are doing stuff on line and the websites need more information about you. But what about when we voluntarily give out information on the social media? Are we not then responsible to share our private lives out in the public? Some teens and adults purposely supply all the information in the social media and when that information gets out then they cry about privacy concerns. And we have also street views from Google® where we can see the house if we know the address and all the assorted things around it and also snoop on our neighbors. And it goes on and on that it seems like nothing in this world is private anymore even if we want to since our life have become so computerized and we have become so fame hungry that nothing seems personal and private to us anymore. So if we feel that most of our privacy has been taken away by technology than the rest of it we are prepared to give away on social media and other outlets without thinking about the consequences.

Unfair Comparison-2

Let us be realistic about what sample of data we are comparing as there is a loopsided comparison between apple and oranges. How can you compare a country of more than 300 million people with countries which are maybe hardly 20 million or less and then expect that the U.S. should have the same kind of infrastructure and living standards and all the assortment of indexes that define which is the best places to live? And happiness is a relative subject which can mean different things to different people. Despite being behind some countries on the index of livability, most of the people are happy enough to live and raise their families here. And for better or for worse, the U.S. is the first choice for most of the immigrants despite its troubles because it is here that people of different nationalities thrive and try to achieve something for their future generations. And the U.S. is the only country which takes more immigrants than other countries and try to assimilate them as much as possible and in the course of that if it is not successful that is not because it is not trying but the sheer number of new comers with different back grounds have different needs which takes time to adjust and reallocate resources so that they may be served better. And it all costs money, which is constantly increasing as some groups fall through the cracks. I wonder if this same situation exists in other so called "HAPPY" countries and how will they be able to cope with this influx and how well then their "HAPPINESS" level suffer.

Unfair Comparison

This is the one I am writing about the comparisons that all the surveys do with what is the best country, health care, happiness index, living conditions, student competitiveness and all the others that come in every now and then. Now without going into much detail, I have a problem with all these surveys. As I have said before, these comparisons are unfair to me because America is country comprising of fifty states and it is several times bigger than the countries surveyed. Furthermore the U.S. is a multicultural society with low taxes and a tradition of resisting government programs and interference. And the fact is that even if the U.S. is a superpower, it does not mean it can be number one in everything. Although it tries to be on top but the sheer population of the U.S. and the vastness of it makes it very difficult to have a lifestyle as comparable to the top level countries of the world surveyed. Our students struggle to stay in school not because we cannot help them but because there are so many and have so many myriad problems with variable background that I believe the same would happen if they were in Sweden, Norway, Singapore or New Zealand. Then the sheer number of immigrants with diversified background that the U.S. takes every year makes it even harder to integrate in the U.S. society with different needs and cultural and traditional ideals. I don’t know if the surveyors take this into account but the surveys are meaningless without having these sort of comparisons.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Freedom of the press and Government

This is one of the most fundamental rights enshrined in the first amendment to the U.S. constitution. That is why you see the press jealously guarding its freedom and any hint of government interference or snooping is very much frowned upon. And the case of the Justice Department seizing information from Associated Press has created a firestorm in the media and Washington D.C. But only in the U.S. (or some other western countries) this may happen. If you look at the developing countries, journalists get killed or intimidated by the government and the criminals to report only their side of the story and being a journalist is a really dangerous job. In some places, some journalists are paid to be informant of the government and some are asked to publish stories only favorably to a certain party. And don’t believe that all journalists follow ethical standards in dangerous countries as they do have to survive and save their lives and thus self censorship is practiced widely. Journalism is not an easy job and I salute the people who follow this career despite all the risks that it carries. I believe in the Freedom of the press and the government has no right to interfere in its working otherwise we would not really know what is going on clandestinely or otherwise in some shady areas. But here is my dilemma how do you reconcile freedom of the press with national security and how do you define what is national security when you are trying to do your job. Tough decision and that is why I am not in the business of Journalism. I have no idea how to balance this notion of national security and reporting on a story which can help inform public. That is where the role of journalists come into play and hence we need the freedom of the Press.

Unburdened by pressure

It means I am not beholden to any interest group or company who can dictate to me what I should write or pressurize me to write something which I may or may not agree with. As you have already seen from my blog, I solicit only donations and some ads from the Google ® ad sense ® so I am completely dependent on the generously of my readers for this blog. As such I am not in any way pressurized to write something in favor of or against some corporation or government entity. And that’s the way I want to keep it. But I need my readers' help to either donate it via my blog or if not then my blog links to as many people as possible so that my unique visitors can increase. I hate being dictated what to do and that is why I created my blog to voice my opinion of domestic and world matters. My blog may or may not be unique enough for some people but the truth is that I write unbiased opinion of things that I feel matters to my readers or which I feel the mainstream and internet media is not highlighting due to their right wing or left wing or any other wing agenda or catering to their audience since they will lose that audience (and hence the ad money) if they deviate from it. And I am without any money taken from anybody use my blog to highlight events which I present it as unbiased way as possible and because of this I am unburdened by such pressures.

On the lighter side-Movies-I saw the devil (2010-South Korea)

Excellent movie about a killer who kills the fiancé of an intelligence officer and gets more than what he has bargained for. Fascinating story about a mild manner detective who in order to exact revenge on the killer becomes a monster himself. Unwatchable at times and extreme gory and disturbing. But highly recommended Korean movie subtitled in English.

On the lighter side-Movies-Shogun Assassin (1980-Japanese)

The combo of the first and the second baby cart series where a Japanese Samurai leaves his shogun and wanders with his son in a baby cart fighting off ninjas, assassins and other killers with his trusted sword. Mayhem galore and blood flows like water. Supposedly banned in some countries due to excessive violence. But Recommended for sword play and sheer gore.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Recent headaches for the President

President Obama of the U.S. has been recently beset of some scandals which may or may not be of his doing. But I cannot understand why a President has to be involved in scandals during their second term. You can count on their fingers the tenure of the second term have been a somewhat less than success like that of Reagan, Clinton, Obama and Nixon. Maybe it is the complacent fact that they don’t have to get reelected and are bolder to take things which can become controversial during the second term. For the current President, the scale and the scope of the President came in droves. First it was already the Benghazi incident in Libya where the Ambassador and the four other people got killed and the Republicans are still trying to find out what actually happened and if it could have been prevented. Then the second one came in the shape of IRS where the tax enforcement agency targeted conservative group for their nonprofit status. And then that was not enough that the AP (Associated Press) scandal regarding the seizure of some documents from the Justice Department. Although the President was (is) not directly involved in it but being the President he has been graceful enough to stand his ground on all these scandals (like the other Presidents before him). Hopefully when the Republicans get tired of these scandals they will have time to find the solutions to real problems like how to fix the economy and how to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness globally.

The elections in Pakistan-2

Pakistan is a federation of four major and several minor nationalities each with its distinctive culture, language and other things completely separate. It can easily be several countries and you would easily note the difference. It is held together by a vision of one nation called Pakistan and also by the common religion Islam and some say by the Military. It is really desperately poor despite pockets of wealth that will put some rich countries to shame. The main issues are chronic unemployment, frequent power breakdowns, religious fanaticism and sectarianism, terrorism and an unhealthy fear of foreigners (especially India). Conspiracy theories abound and when the people are unable to find reasons behind a cause, they blame the easy scapegoat of Israel, India, U.S. and everything not related to Islam (and sometimes that too). And the people have been desperately trying to look to someone who will all stop all of the above (usually by a magic wand or overnight). So this nation of 180 million people is very important to the U.S. and other powers simply because they have nukes and other terrorists hiding in the mountains near Afghanistan who may or may not be planning terrorists attack against the West. But also for the sake of world security and the people who are increasingly being anti west, we need to save that country for disintegrating under the weight of its myriad problem. So hopefully these elections will usher in a new era from the former disastrous one.

The elections in Pakistan

For the first time in the turbulent history of Pakistan, an election recently heralded the transfer of power from one civilian government to another. Before this the military used to interrupt the transition and always use one pretext or another to topple the elected government but I guess the military is tired or the international climate is such that the days of military overthrow is gone (for a while at least). Whatever the case maybe, you can say that it is big deal in Pakistan to have another government hopefully the next full term of five years. Although the elections were won with majority by the old parties and the new one but this exercise in democracy is only as good as you are giving the votes. Otherwise the politicians are not use to come back after the election. But with increasing awareness maybe this time will be different and the politicians will pay heed to the real problems the public is facing. Now some of my readers will be asking who gives a damn about a country which harbors OBL and other known and unknown terrorists and is always begging for money from outside. You know you may be right but for the countries who want to see a stable Pakistan with nukes, it is essential that we should not let that country fall apart because it is better to deal with one combined threat with our few friends that remain in Pakistan to having a country scattered into pieces and then you have to deal with many menaces. I will elaborate on this further.

On the lighter side-Movies-Antropophagus (1980-Italian)

Italian horror movie which was banned in several countries (including United Kingdom) about a group of tourists stranded on a Greek island where they encounter a hideous and cannibal killer who eats any human being. Very graphic and violent but slow to build up to the gore. But not as violent as to be banned. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The beating woman (aka Lady Furious-2012-South Korean)

Funny action movie from Korea (subtitled) about a Lady cop following the trail of 3KG of Meth smuggled into Korea from China and the two inept ex cons who get involved with it. Watch it for the outrageous funny and action sequences. Recommended

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Terror in Britain

Another terror attack in Britain. Another screwed up Muslim justifying his actions by invoking in the name of religion. And the tension rises between the whites and the Muslims and the backlash begins. I am already sick and tired of these so called Muslims who take it upon themselves of being holy warriors without any idea of what that means and entails. And then the rush begins to denounce this person of faith by the Muslim leaders but these people cannot counter the arguments of radical clerics in their midst. Did it accomplish anything by this unprovoked attack? Was any less Muslims saved by this act? Did Islam got protected or Muslims now feel save from the British Army? You can keep on going and the answer every time will be a big NO. These so called Muslim are trying to change a Christian nation to their own ideas of a Muslim Nation when they are unable to fix their own native lands. Then there is the failure of the Muslim leaders to denounce this radical ideas and show the real picture of Islam when somebody tries to distort it. But since there are political considerations and fear and reprisals from the extremist, these leaders keep quiet and keep on going like nothing has happened. It is the failure of these Muslim leaders to find reasons behind their violent ways and retribution against extremists’ ideas that is causing all this problems. Unless the Muslims wholeheartedly stand up to the extremists’ ideal everywhere, they will always feel threatened by extremists and Non Muslims alike.

Riots in Sweden

Someday I want to visit this beautiful country which I always wanted to but for now the depressing and shocking news is that there are riots going on in Stockholm and its suburbs and it has shattered some kind of tranquility in that parts of the world. The news coming out is that police somehow shot a 69 year old person in the immigrant suburbs and the unemployed youth with nothing to lose starting rioting. It seems that it was just an excuse to vent their frustration about jobs and benefits and the inequality that exists between the immigrants and the natives. Although Sweden has one of most generous policies regarding immigration but I guess they have failed to integrate their newcomers into the mainstream society (that is what I am reading in the newspapers). I know most of the immigrants are refugees from violence in their countries but security is not the only issue that affects these people. You cannot just say that security is there and then you don’t find many opportunities for employment and you are still viewed negatively by the larger society. It is not only in Sweden but other European countries who have failed to integrate their immigrants’ population and welcome them in their societies. This is the one fundamental thing that I fail to understand if for some reason the host countries fail to integrate their immigrant population and just believe that giving them security will absolve them of their responsibilities than they should say it upfront when allowing immigrants or curtail their immigration population. Better to be honest upfront than the shatter the dreams of immigrants.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Grand Heist (2012-South Korea)

Fun comedy action movie about a group of unlikely thieves who try to steal tons of ice from a warehouse stored by corrupt officials. The ice is treated more valuable than gold and strictly regulated and hence the need to steal it and distribute it in a fair manner. Engaging movie. Subtitled in English and Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Thieves (2012-South Korea)

Ocean's eleven Korean style with much violence and double dealing. A group of thieves in order to stay low in Korea after a heist decides to rob a casino in Macau with unexpected results and violence. Recommended but be forewarned that the subtitles in English are out of sync with the dialogue.

On the lighter side-Movies-Dead Mine (2012)

Horror movie about a group of explorers who with their own hidden agenda enters a mine with deadly consequences. Again this one with zombies inside the mine and other supernatural events, the movie goes to its natural end. I don’t know why this zombie, undead genre is being run to the ground. Are we having a writer's block in terms of any original horror story? Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Dark Skies (2013)-Kerri Russel

Science fiction horror movie about a terrorized suburban family trying to save their son from alien beings. Better made than its numerous peers but still derivative. Recommended with caution.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Who and what is a role model?

Now I have real issue with this designation. Every time I watch some person saying some good stuff or doing some good thing, he instantly becomes a role model. Why are some professional sports players or some celebrity a role model just because they have done something good? Does your parents or your elder siblings don’t count as role model. And what is with this role model thing that we are constantly looking for one like we have ran out it. A role model according to me should be a role model that has and is constantly doing things which are deemed good and beneficial to not only them but to the society at large. You help the victims of violence or help or feed the homeless and help your community not only for one time or short time but for a very long and continuous time that makes other people tell their kids to follow in your footsteps. A role model can you elder brother or sister or your religious leader that you can look up to and guidance in times of needs but this role model should be chosen carefully lest you feel disappointed if the role model that you are following turns out to be worse. Other thing to make sure is that no matter what is your role model, they may have their flaws and unless you ignore their flaws and concentrate on the positive aspects on their lives, you will continue to search for your role model. So choose your role model carefully and then make sure you are inspired by them as much as they are inspired by you.

Whatever it takes to maintain our body-2

I don’t know what is behind this obsession with the staying young and beautiful. Maybe it is the societal pressure or the need to be more eligible to date or the image that is portrayed by all the fashion magazines and the Hollywood stars and beauty pageants. All this issues drives this maintenance of our body industry and it is not only confined to the U.S. but due to ever presence and expanding global media, even people in countries where it is hard to find food, these beauty and health products sell well and you are unable to talk some women out of it. And the same goes for the men folk to as they pump up and exercise and get health products which make them looker younger and attractive to the general public. Sometimes this kind of behavior leads to unhealthy habits as men and women spend disproportionate amount of money on themselves and also on their kids to compete with other families. I am not saying here that these kinds of things should stop as it will never as more and more women think that applying heavy makeup and going on unrealistic diets will never fade but to take it to a level that will affect your mental and financial health is a price women should not pay. A level of self confidence and self esteem is in place and the same is true for men as they are also competing for the attention and approval of the general public. Many of the people that you see in the magazines have been photo shopped to look similar and the celebrities who look smart and beautiful have a full crew of beautiful and fitness people to take care of them. So a combination of little makeup, healthy body and self confidence and self esteem and good character will go a long way to saving you money and build good relationships in the community.

Whatever it takes to maintain our body

You know that you are spending too much on yourself when the cosmetics and self preservation (or whatever you want the industry where you are trying to maintain your healthy self). There use to a time when very few items were out on the shelf for the men to groom and take care of themselves. But not anymore as more and more products are being brought to the market catering to these men who try to remain fit and use the latest fashion to either attract the opposite or same sex or to feel good about them. If there are cosmetic stuffs for women to make them look beautiful and younger, then there are equally good products for men to beef up their muscles and also have all kinds of men grooming stuff to go along. As you already know that women will always have more products than men and this is evident by all the shows depicting all kinds of products to make them attractive and healthy and young looking. You can go on from the anti-aging cream to acne products to slim products, younger looking skin and even some that make your skin lighter (a controversial one in developing countries obsessed with making themselves white). Then there are so many exercise regiments to lose weight and all the jewelry and different fashions to accompany it. Then you have vitamins and other supplementary medicinal products to go against the tide of being aging gracefully. And they the cosmetic and the assorted industries keep on churning out the so called must have products to entice women to buy them as it may have the miracle cure to keep you beautiful and healthy forever.

On the lighter side-Movies-407 Dark Flight (2012-Thailand)

Good horror movie about a female flight attendant encountering super natural happenings on a flight. Subtitled in English. Recommended

Escaping death?

This expression you may have heard almost daily on the internet, on television, on radio and other media. What does it mean you escaped death? Can you really escape death or is it all in your head that you did not wanted to die and you lived. Are you that powerful that once death is staring at you, you can say that it is not my time and I will live for whatever reason? If you can say that I almost drowned twice, once in a pool and once in a lake but was saved both times by a friend and I believed that I did not cheat death but my time was not up. I did not cheat death since I believe nobody can as it is just your own perception that you can escape death. You may not die at one place by a particular disease or instrument but that does not mean that you will live forever and you may be lucky to survive forever. If you have ever seen a horror movie or in particular the Final Destination movies series where the death is following the characters and they celebrate that they have escaped death a number of times but ultimately they are meet death. As they say in the U.S. that death and taxes are certain. But when you die you don’t pay any tax or you can say that if you move to another country you may or may not be paying taxes but you will certainly be meeting death. It is just a matter of time and when you time is up, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will certainly meet the angel of death.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Stripped (2012)

Found footage movie about a group of men celebrating the birthday of one of their friends and end up getting their organs taken out for money without their consent. Horrible movie, not worth your time. Too slow to build to nowhere. Avoid it at all costs. Not Recommended at all.

My experience with jury duty-3

For the jurors entertainment, room A had HGTV®, in room B, there was ESPN ® sports channel and the third one room C had CNN® on. I started to watch in room A as jurors name started calling and by 11.45 a.m, there came an announcement that it is time for lunch break, so I headed towards the cafeteria to eat something. I took the safest route and ate Tuna salad with chips and then even before the deadline of 1.30 I was back in the room again. Since I had nothing to do but to wait, I also dozed off and played on the phone accessing internet. Well by 3.15 there was another announcement that the names being called have to gather around the reception area and my luck that my name was there for next day jury duty but at 9.30 a.m and not 8.15 a.m. I headed towards the parking lot and called my office to give them this news. I forgot to mention that I had to wear the badge of the Juror and also my parking ticket had to validate since the parking was free for the jurors. And every time we had to go out of the court house and come back we had to validate our juror badge so that we may have our attendance. The next day was easier as I was in room C with CNN®. After getting my attendance verified, I took my coffee and the name calling started coming. As there were first day jurors, I was lucky enough not be called in the first wave of calling and by 12.15 p.m the jurors who were not called were dismissed from jury duty for the next three years. I gave my badge back to the court people and called my office if they want me to come. Since my attendance was confirmed for two days, the office excused me also and I took the rest of the day off. But before going I got a card from the court to be given to my human resources area so that they can send it back to the court house confirming my attendance. Maybe next time I would be selected and then I can write about how the process of selection goes on.

My experience with jury duty-2

Since it is a civic duty and required by law, your office will excuse you for the duration of your jury duty and you also get paid by your office while you are away. When I reached the courthouse and parked my car and then went inside and after security clearance went up the reception desk where I was screened and asked to sit in the assembly hall where the TV was on HGTV® home and garden TV. After sitting for a while and seeing the different potential jurors coming in. We had to watch a video about the importance of being on jury duty. Then one of the employees of the court came and explained to us the procedure of the Jury duty selected or not. The court will pay us USD 5.00 each day for the first three days and then USD 40.00 thereafter. We were not to discuss the case (if selected) with other jurors. Everybody has to in the court until 4.00 P.M where selected or not. There was coffee outside and cafeteria too. The lunch break was between 12.00 to 1.30 P.M unless you are selected which means that the judge can give you whatever time to come back after the recess. After the introduction, people started to move about the building but were near the earshot of the announcement as they started to call in bunch of people to be taken to several court houses. In the first batch I was not in so I went to get my coffee. There was also some vending machine and a computer room with free Wi-Fi but no computers as you had to bring in your own. There were three assembly rooms in which the jurors were supposed to sit. A and B were dedicated towards the first day jurors and C was the second and later day jurors.

My experience with jury duty

After counting myself lucky for not having a single jury duty, my luck ran out and recently I was summoned for a potential jury duty pool. First of all for those people who do not know what jury duty means or have not had the opportunity to watch some courtroom shows of the U.S, here is the somewhat complete rundown of the process of jury duty. There are civilian and criminal cases and most of the time, the cases start with a pool of citizens asked to perform the jury duty. It is when you are asked to show up at the county court where you live and ask some questions by the defense and prosecuting attorney to ascertain if you are eligible for jury duty. The people who are selected perform jury duty and are called Jurors. You just sit in the court house and listen to what the competing lawyers have to say about the suspect and then decide if they are guilty or not. Usually the jurors are just ordinary folks who may not have heard about the case and are required to sit to listen to lawyers jargon and judge's instructions on how to give a verdict. So although finally I was not chosen as a juror, I had the experience to be on standby for almost two days. So here is the process through I had to go. I got the summon in the mail and was not that quiet excited about it but had to follow the rules lest I may be held in contempt of court and suffer major punishment. So I waited for my time and the day before the jury day, I had to either call the court or go online to find out if I have been called and no surprise I had to show up the next morning at 8.15 at county court.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The internet sales tax passed by the U.S. Senate

So the U.S. Senate finally passed the internet sales tax to force the websites whose sales exceed $1 Million per year to start collecting sales from people in the U.S. wherever they are located. The bill was backed by major brick and mortar retailers and also by the biggest online retailer in the world Amazon ®. But some other online retailers are still resisting that it would be cumbersome for some retailers to keep track of the entire sales jurisdiction in the U.S. although the bill requires the states to give software to businesses to calculate sales taxes. And now the bill goes towards the house where it may face some resistance because it is Republican controlled. Is it a good idea or bad? only time will tell. But it was bound to happen one day even if there was resistance from some places as states are cash strapped and want to get their hands on billions of sales tax that online purchasers do not pay. But now the question is that if the field is leveled in terms of sales tax by all the retailers, how to make sure that the customers keep on coming to the internet. The only way that was happening was the lure of not paying taxes as the shipping option was increasingly been applied across various websites. Now if this new charging of sales tax becomes law, the way to distinguish will be to portray on your website no sales tax (if you revenue is less than $1 Million) or the other way is to absorb the sales tax in the price and pay it yourself or if desperate enough, lower your margins to compete. There may be other ways to entice customers but right now the bill is still not a law so maybe other ways will be found to have an edge over brick and mortar stores.

The organic food industry

The market for the organic food has exploded lately since many people have become conscious about the harmful effects that the chemicals pose to human health and the liberal use of them on all kinds of food. There is a whole supermarket chain dedicated to organic foods and everybody is jumping into it to make money. And due to whatever reason, these organic products tend to be more expensive than non organic products. Now why is this so? I don’t really understand this more pricey items since if you are using all natural products without any chemicals (as claimed) it should be more cheaper because in case of non organic food, you need to add chemicals in addition to water and other ingredients so they should be more expensive. But the reverse it true as organic items without chemicals tends to be more expensive. Although I have tasted organic food and found to be slightly different than other non organic ones but the difference is minuscule (as I have observed, maybe I am wrong since my taste bud is adjusted to non organic food). I have not yet gotten used to this whole organic food craze (maybe because it is more expensive or maybe I am still skeptical) but whatever the reason, this movement is set to grow. I for one is perfectly fine with non organic food since unless I see with my own eyes they are indeed without chemicals I would not spend more money for the same product.

On the lighter side-Movies-Stand up Guys (2012)-Al Pacino, Christopher Walken

Aging hit men reunite for a final night before one of the hit man finish his job by whacking the other. More talkative than action and you can see how they are trying to revive their career. Interesting to see them together but boring. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Last stand (2013)-Arnold Schwarzenegger

And he is back in this action fun filled packed movie about a aging small town border Arizona cop who tries to stop a fugitive Mexican drug lord from crossing the border to Mexico. Plenty of action and fire fights. Recommended for action fans.

On the lighter side-Movies-Side Effects (2013)-Jude Law

A woman takes drugs to cope with the husband releasing from jail and ends up blaming the drugs for his killing. Good mystery telling how side effects from a drug can be manipulated to commit crime. Recommended

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sometimes ignorance is good

On the flip side, sometimes ignorance is all you need to shut yourself from the realities of life. You don’t want hear about something bad happening in your area or around the country because that can make you upset, sad, fearful and all the other emotions you may feel which are associated with a tragic or painful event. For example you don’t want to hear that a robbery has happened in your area because you can become fearful of your neighborhood. Sometimes you don’t want to hear about some bad guy lurking in your town for fear of safety of your children and sometimes you don’t want to hear some news about murder, robbery as it may not only adversely affect your mental health but your living habits may change due to some bad news. In these cases ignorance is indeed good. Also sometimes when somebody is too sick, the doctors don’t want to tell the whole truth to the patient, instead giving informing to their loved ones so that the bad sort of news is hidden in order for the patient to concentrate on what is important to him/her. It is like highlight the positive and hide the negative (for a while at least). It is not that you are hiding the truth, but more of it is about what you don’t know won't hurt you (at least in the short run). I don’t mean to say that ignorance is always goods but in some circumstances and for some people, it is better to keep quiet than to speak some fact which may affect them in ways not intended.

Knowledge is power

This is a fact that everybody knows. Somebody knows it better than other people and that is how they control information and command premium prices for their services. In certain countries this flow of information and knowledge is tightly controlled lest the general population knows about it and then gain that knowledge to challenge and demand rights from their governments. For example every field in life has its own terms and meanings and this knowledge is used by the professions of those fields to command premium pay and have an upper hand over ordinary people not having the knowledge or just too busy enough to learn the terms. For example, doctors have their terms and so does the bankers, accountants, lawyers, electrician, plumbers, carpenters, computer specialists and the list goes on. These people command good pay due to their specific knowledge in their fields. In some underdeveloped countries, rich people stifle the knowledge that poor people can have and thus control the access to schools so that they can have the upper hand. But with internet now available almost everywhere and people being more aware of their rights and also acquiring knowledge to better their lives, it is no longer the domain of rich people to control the poor people. But with knowledge gaining prominence day by day in every sphere of life, countries are increasing the spread of knowledge to their citizens to have an edge over other countries and thus acquire more wealth. So for an individual the more knowledge you acquire, the more edge you will have over people with less knowledge.

On the lighter side-Movies-Beautiful Creatures (2013)-Jeremy Irons

Boy meets strange girl. Girl has super powers. Girl is shunned by the townspeople. Boy falls in love with girl and then it goes bust. Need I say more? A misfire. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Parker (2013)-Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez

A thief gets double crossed by his partners and gets shot. After he survives, he tries to get revenge by stealing from his former partners’ latest heist. Typical Jason Statham actioner. I enjoyed it somewhat but not to the point of recommending it. Only for Statham fans, all others stay away. Not Recommended

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stop putting a dollar sign on mother's job

I may have missed the last survey but this time, it caught my eye on the article that was estimating the value of a mother putting work around the house and it was about 50K dollars which was down somewhat from a year ago and hence this article. I don’t really understand that a simple thing called mother's job can be characterized as having some monetary value. For that matter, you will see various articles about how much it costs to raise a child, how much does funeral costs, how much is senior citizen facility costs and on and on. Now I ask can you put a dollar value on what your mother do every day like the article said other day. Is it not enough that without her, you would not be in this world to calculate her job's value? And how come one considers her work a job? I mean whatever she does work around the house, it is really not her duty to do it but she does it out of love for her family and there is no value to it and you can say it is priceless. Without her doing the work, most of the people will go hungry, laundry would not be done, house hold chores which some people don’t see will not be done and the house will be a messy place to arrive at too. If you really want to put value on her work, go out and hire someone to do the same job with the same kind of love that she will put in and you will arrive at a figure not to your liking. Her job is 24 hours a day all year long, and it includes all the love that she puts in and you cannot replace that with some hired help. So stop put a dollar sign to her work and also to countless other ones where the emotional price can never be calculated.

Why we love and hate success at the same time?

We love people who are successful and we also hate them at the same time and secretly desire their fall from success or think that we should be the one who should have been successful. I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel like why was I not the one who is successful but I don’t feel jealous for successful people, I just think that if I would have been lucky enough to think about an idea or not wasted my years on some job where the chances of moving ahead are next to none, then I would have been successful but all is still not lost as I am working on things which might make me successful one day. But as you know success comes to people who work hard (with some luck thrown in) and that is the main ingredient. If you have read some comments after some news regarding somebody famous, people really want to hate these successful people but not all of them are being targeted with scorn or hate. It may also be the fault of the rich people who act arrogantly. But overall the love/hate relationship is really out there. For example, there are people who want the rich to pay their fair share and the politicians who also court the rich people want to target them too with taxes because that is how they get the votes from not so rich folks. I can understand that if you cheat your way to success then the hate mail or comments you receive can be justified but if you have played fair and square and abide by all the laws then why the hate. We should celebrate their success and try to be like them as that is what America is all about.

On the lighter side-Movies-Dark Circles (2013)

A couple with a new born baby movies into a house isolated from other houses and the strain of not sleeping for days due to their baby's constant crying strains their marriage and they hallucinate about seeing a women in their house. Although it was better than some horror movies but not enough for me. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Bullet vanishes (2012-Chinese)

Very interesting Chinese movie with overtones of Sherlock Holmes in which two detectives try to find out why bullet vanishes every time there is a murder. Subtitled but very well done. Recommended

Friday, May 17, 2013

Do developed countries have more freedom than others?-4

The people in Islamic and less developed countries talk about the western or developed world's materialistic inclination and other moral bankruptcy but fail to see in themselves that they are also following the same path, although they chose to ignore it. If the western world has all the evil then how come the Muslims are free to practice their religion by building mosques and preach freely as compared to most if not all the Islamic countries where the dominant sect of that religion dictates what should be allowed and not allowed even if it conflicts with the real message of their religion. Much discrimination is not only directed against non Muslim minorities but also small Muslim sects that do not adhere to the majority sect views. They are not allowed to freely worship or practice their own version of the sect for fear it will create new ideas on the majority views and there will be violence. And I am afraid this type of discrimination will increase in the future as the governments of the Islamic and other countries will try to hold on to their power by invoking foreign hands for their failures in the economic and human resources sphere and blaming others is a very convenient way to deflect attention of their increasingly restless population who are also to blame for their decay. So the more their population are desperate for basic necessities and try to voice their opinion the more repressive the governments will become and hence the increasing distance between the freedom that people will be enjoying in the developed countries and the less developed and Islamic countries.

Do developed countries have more freedom than others?-3

I am not here to bash non freedom or Islamic countries but to have some comparison. Discrimination is everywhere and if you believe that it is not the western world then you are wrong. It is not institutionalized but it is certainly covertly individualized. It is not practiced by the government but the people in the private sector or their private lives do practice some form of discrimination even if they go overboard in denying it. That is the hard truth and the people who intend to migrate here should know this beforehand since they will be better prepared to handle these kinds of situations. And you are sure to encounter lots of it without even getting any acknowledgment that you are being discriminated against and it has nothing to do with religion or culture but a certain upbringing. But in less developed and Islamic countries, you should not be expecting this discrimination but you get shocked when there is both individual and governmental discrimination on a massive scale and again it has nothing to do with religion but with the cultural and societal behavior that encourages this. The freedom of speech that the Americans (and some other countries) take for granted can get into whole lot of trouble in less developed and Islamic countries since they have to control what their public is saying and watching. But here is my question, instead of providing for their citizens why these countries try to stifle discontent which maybe just their way of getting things done or fighting for justice.

Do developed countries have more freedom than others?-2

Same goes for some movies which are effectively banned in some western countries but not in the United States. So you can see that not all the western countries have the same concept of the freedom and they may in their own infinite wisdom banned certain things that they deem will affect the morality of the population (although in this day of internet, it is nearly impossible short of shutting down the whole internet system to put a ban on some items as they are readily available in other countries). But overall in respect of human rights they have a much better track record than the so called Islamic and non Islamic countries as the laws there are applied as broadly as to being treading on glass every time you say something lest you offend some individual, organization or the government. Case in point is the ban on websites that are anti-government or deemed offensive to religion. But selectively banning some websites and not banning the ones that fan sectarianism in Islamic countries is kind of hypocrisy. Then human rights are the least of these people concerns and so is the treatment of minorities in certain countries as it seems like it is an a strange concept. I really don’t understand what these governments afraid are off. They have been already off the cliff due to their economic decline and mismanagement so to divert their citizens’ attention; they create new threats where none exist. And the strange part is that it has nothing to do with Holy Scripture or divine instructions.

Do developed countries have more freedom than others?

This question keeps bugging me as I see people being prosecuted for flimsy and not so flimsy offences in so called Islamic countries and other non advanced countries. I have lived in western (and non western advanced countries) and I can say that the topic I am referring to is generally true. I am saying this from experience that if you follow all the laws, there will be more freedom than if you are in non western countries. Although I should acknowledge that wherever there are humans, you are bound to find some people disapproving how somebody prays or values their own native culture and there will always be discrimination since you are not the so called "native" population, but if you apply the laws, there is nothing that you cannot surmount. It was always not the same here and it has evolved into a free society over hundreds of years to change the attitude of the native population towards their non native immigrants and citizens, but it has happened and continuously happening. But you have to be really careful in countries where the notion of freedom is different than in the western countries (just to be fair freedom in western countries also differs and you can find varying degrees of freedom if you travel throughout the western and advanced countries). For example, you can be jailed in some western countries if you deny the existence of Holocaust and you cannot sell any Nazi related memorabilia in some western countries also.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The fantasies we want to have

Okay before the readers mind drift to a place I don’t want to go yet, it is not the fantasies that I will be talking about but rather the ones which are not achievable or we wish it was achievable. These are the ones which are in our grasp yet so far because of a particular lady called luck. Like we wish we could win a big lottery that will solve a lot of our problems like pay our debt, take care of the kids and grandkids, give to charities, have a dream house and dream vacations have the best car money can buy etc. And these fantasies include also the fact we are a handsome guy or a princess waiting for that dream girl or our prince coming in our lives. Then in our corporate world, we want a big salary and big bonuses with corner office and secretaries to cater to our demand. We also want to fantasize about being the in the best college or having a dream job like a doctor, lawyer, CEO or work in the best company. Our fantasies does not limit us to these things only but we want a great wife and great kids who are loyal and obedient and listen to what you say. And then the ultimate one we all want to go to heaven at the end of our lives. And we all want this at once and the missing ingredient in all this is that we don’t want to work hard to achieve any of this. We want it instantly and right now and not have to work for it. Well wake up folks, welcome to the real, cruel world that is unforgiving and unrelenting in its pursuit of crushing your fantasies and dreams and the only want to achieve is to work your behind off to get to where you want to in your fantasy life. Time for a reality check since that is why we call it fantasies.

Things to ponder on-2

I know most of the people care less about what happens to earth or what is out there and other irrelevant and nonessential questions pertaining to our lives but it is these questions that keep our mind sharp and inquisitive. As scientists have already deducted that in order to keep our mind working through the seventies and beyond, we need to keep it active and one of the ways is to keep on thinking about things that you may not have found the answers to. Despite our vastly superior knowledge, we have still don’t know about what is in our oceans or what happens to our bodies once our soul depart this world. Are we really that intelligent that despite being on this earth for supposedly millions (or even thousands) of years, we are still trying to find answers to our most common problems. So as we go on about our daily lives, we need to keep on think about things which we want answers too or even to reflect on our own lives if we have done something good and what to do in order to avoid bad things that are done during the day. Being just and fair in our dealings we should constantly evaluate things that we should ponder on in order to improve our lives and the community we live in and also look for answer for a better world where everybody has a role to important no matter how trivial that is.

Things to ponder on

Okay maybe some people don’t have the time to think about some things happening in their lives or don’t really care as long as they are providing food and shelter to their families. But for those having enough time on their hands (like me because I write this blog), have you ever thought about what are we doing in this world. What is our purpose here, why we do certain things and not others, what is there out in space, do we even know our own earth. Do we know what is going on in other parts of the world that may or may not impact us directly or indirectly? Why we develop certain diseases and not others and why innocent people die and the evil ones live so long? Although this post will be deemed too heavily philosophical to some or even most people and maybe turned off by my wondering but do we think along these lines or not? These and other countless questions arise in my mind on a daily basis which I don’t have the answer too and maybe would not be able to find answers too since there is not a single source that you go to find some questions which have remained unanswered and we are still searching for it, like if there are other planets that hold the same kind of atmosphere and climate we have so that we can maybe settle down there in the future. Or how are we going to protect ourselves if multiple meteorites and asteroids hit us at once?

Why were there fewer protests during the Iraq War?

I was watching a movie and the thing that struck me was why there were so many protests to Vietnam War and comparatively less for the Iraq War. And I somewhat got the answer to it. It was mostly about the draft that was the main culprit somewhat that we had huge demonstrations in various cities of the country. Although it was stated that the biggest anti-war demonstration was held for the Iraq war but it did not essentially panned out as there was no draft and very few people had stake in Iraq war. By stake me that unless you volunteer yourself to go to Iraq, there was no compulsion whatsoever to go to Iraq as compared to Vietnam where the draft was initiated and any day your name would come up and you had to go even if did not wanted to. Also more people died in Vietnam War than the Iraq war and this was more of the reason that many American stayed aloof as it was not affecting the daily lives of the majority of the citizens. In the Vietnam War, everybody was affected and there was resentment when some influential people got out of the draft due to their connections. So according to this theory due to the volunteer nature of the military, Iraq War generated fewer protests than Vietnam War and hence the American public was not forced to endure financial as well as physical sacrifices. That is what I have found out about the reasons about less protest during the Iraq War.

Making an impact

Did you ever think about making an impact in your daily life or your entire life which will not only benefit yourself and your family but the community at large? I bet most of you have but don’t know how or are too busy to think about and go about rest of your routine life. I am not recommending here that you go out and do something to make your presence known but from time to time you should do something other than for yourself which will have an impact beyond your and your family life so that you have contributed something to the society in which you live. Am I asking too much of individuals who live and enjoy the company of other citizens that they do something for the larger community? It does not have to be some grandiose thing that then you would not be able to manage due to financial and physical constraints. But even volunteering in your kid’s school or just donating some money to your favorite charity or some fund raising to help some cause will usually do the trip and make you feel proud inside. Not only it will create goodwill among people but people will remember you next time when they need some volunteering or help in some fund raising and that is how making an impact can be everlasting even when you are not in this world because people will remember for your work and your help in things that matter to them.

The ups and downs of insurance-2

If you want to buy an insurance at a younger age with being totally healthy, you can get a good rate for yourself and your family but later on when you are getting old, the same insurance costs you a lot. Also even if you are in perfect health in your old age, you will still have to pay more for insuring your life. Maybe living a high crime area or city can also increase your insurance rate that may depend on the insurance company also. The insurance on your house is another insurance you can see in your lifetime as it depends on the when it was built, whether it is single family or multifamily and whether it is owner occupied or rented out. Then the latest trend is to get insurance on your appliances as the retailers push this one up very much when you are buying some stuff. So the insurance rate does not remain static through your life and across different products but depends on various factors as discussed above. It is up to individuals to decide which insurance they need and how much they need to cover that particular product in order to feel secure about it. But even if you have sufficient coverage, when something you need the insurance company to cover it takes a long time and fight to get what you want your insurance company to pay for damage to your personal or property. So although it is required that you need to have certain type of insurance but sometimes you don’t get what you insured your thing for in times of need.

The ups and downs of insurance

As you already know the rate of insurance on yourself goes up and down with age (at least it happens in the U.S.). If you are young, your car insurance will be higher because of your age as you may be deemed reckless in driving. On the other hand, the older you get, your insurance goes down (if you have not yet established yourself as a cautious driver) because older people tend to extremely cautious in their driving patterns. But in the case of older drivers, they can also be a dangerous one as their ability to do certain things while driving and also their health factors can be hazardous to not only to themselves but to other drivers as well. Also the kind of cars one drives also comes into factor what your insurance rate would be as well as where you are living (believe me this factor is important as when I moved from one city to another in another suburban county, my rate dropped dramatically). Although your credit score can also come into effect but there are many other factors that the insurance companies take apart from the previously mentioned in order to come up with a good rate. And it is not uniform throughout the insurance industry, as different insurance companies will give you different rates and then you have to select one based on their insurance level you need for your car. This is one case of your insurance and one of the other ones is the life insurance you may want to have for yourself and your family.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Economic crisis and racism

If you have noticed it but whenever there is economic crisis in a country, nationalist tendencies become more common place and people find refuge under some nationalist party or agenda and blame all the immigrants for the ills that is happening to their country. When things are going great, there is no open racism going on and everybody is happy to make some money and also ignore or involve immigrants in their merry times, but as soon as things go sour, all these merry men become like a nationalist and start denouncing immigrants and try to restrict or even expelling them blaming for all the loss jobs and economic malaise. Why this is so, it is because, it is time to compete and work hard to get those scarce jobs and the best thing to do is to blame the immigrants who take those scarce jobs and leave the natives high and dry. I guess it is human nature that when things are going good and everybody is benefitting from the fruits of the economy, there is no time for playing the racism card as there is plenty for everybody and then some but once things become scarce, then the head of racism rears and you see the true nature of people who can change into vicious monsters fighting for the spoils of the economy and the only way to do is to blame the outsiders not their own incompetence and lack of competitive. And right now it is happening more frequently in Europe than in other places because of the economic decline in Europe. So Economic crisis and racism are inherently linked and you can read about it in the news and see the connection.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

Reboot of the horror movie with bloody special effects and a completely different story from the previous ones with surprise ending. A girl who gets an inheritance letter from her grandmother out of the blue to inherit a mansion somewhere in Texas and finds the roots of her family and a deadly legacy to deal with. I liked it and I would recommend it to horror fans. All others stay away.

On the lighter side-Movies-Ilsa-She wolf of the SS (1975)

Nudity and torture galore in this most infamous of the German Nazi Torture porn which spawned it all. The warden of a camp is experimenting on women prisoners to prove to the Third Reich that women can endure more pain and so be allowed to fight at the front. Plenty of torture and nudity abound. Not recommended for anyone.

On the lighter side-Movies-Maniac (1980)-Joe Spinell

Horror movie about a loner who misses his mom and who kills girls and remove their hair in order to put it on his mannequin collection. Bloody, disgusting and reprehensible. Not for all tastes and recommended only for horror fans, all others stay away.

Not believing in the face of facts-2

How about this for a shocker, people believe that Jews stayed away on 9/11 because they had advanced warning about it (although Jews and Muslims died too at that day) and another one that the 9/11 attacks were the work of the U.S. government so that they can launch an attack on Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a whole conspiracy theory behind this thing and people don’t believe even if you show the proof otherwise. Furthermore, people also say that the moon landing never happened and it was just fabricated by the U.S. government for whatever reason. Then the biggest one of them is that the Aliens had landed in the U.S. and they are being kept in a secret Government area called Area 51 where they are conducting experiments on the alien and they don’t want the world to know about it. I guess there will always be some kind of these conspiracy theories going on because some people don’t want to believe or challenge their well established believes even when presented the facts. And with that many people really thrive on these kinds of things because either their livelihood depends on it or they distrust their governments not to provide them the truth about certain events. This is specially in case of your loved ones who have suffered some kind of tragedy to refuse to believe the facts associated with it and can't believe that it has happened to them when such and such person was so good and then you immediately start to reminiscent of the time when they were innocent and could do no wrong and now this tragedy struck and you are in denial. If you really don’t want to be believe in these cases, then they only way is to do your research and dig a little deeper and reach your own conclusion truthfully and honestly.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not believing in the face of facts

Sometime you have been put into a situation that even if it is the fact and it is presented to you as such you still don’t believe it. It is human nature to refuse to believe the facts what you have been taught all your life and then confronted by something which does not fit into your accepted beliefs. I am the same too and I would be really shocked if I have to change my certain long term beliefs regarding something which turns out to be different then what I have been made to believe. This question came to my mind when I read that the Boston Bombing suspects mother does not believe that there was any bombing done and all the blood was fake and her sons have been implicated in this terrorism, even after the remaining bombing suspect gave the details of the bombing that he and his brother did. As somebody said on the internet regarding this that he understands mother's love but come on, how much evidence you need it in order to believe it when the suspect is implicating himself in the action. And it is not just this one situation but I can count numerous times that the believe system of the people refuse to acknowledge the truth even if they see themselves. One of the examples is that some people deny the existence of the holocaust in which millions of Jews died in concentration camps. Another one is the Elvis Presley, the popular rock singer of yesteryears is alive and will died.

What is newsworthy?-2

Sometimes the news media have used the pictures and stories captured by amateur journalists in their stories because they have realized that they cannot possibly station every journalist everywhere to cover the breaking news. So in a way you can say that there is competition in the news reporting business and what is newsworthy to the news media may or may not be newsworthy to the common people. And people who live in a community wants to know what is happening in their community and it may not be covered by the major news media and in case the local amateur journalists and bloggers come in handy and they report on their local community and it becomes newsworthy for a select group of people. And it is rare that remuneration is involved in reporting local events by blogger so you get an honest perspective of what is going on. And one more thing, every news is newsworthy depending upon whom you are asking. It may seem trivial to one person and they can move on to news but for the some other person it may be the NEWS of the day and very important in terms of a person's life. So now with the internet, no news can be deemed not newsworthy and everybody can claim to be an amateur journalist of photographer.

What is newsworthy?

Not so long ago, the news was only monopolized by what the newspapers and television and print media used to give out. We had to wait all day for a news event which may have broken out during the day to read about it in the newspapers the next day or if we have television we need to be an environment where the television was available to access the news. But now it is completely changed since the internet gives you instant access of all the breaking news that is happening. This internet has changed the aspect of what is news worthy and you cannot say that any one news organization has a complete monopoly on the news that they want to dispense. And now you don’t even have to be professional journal in order to report the news since the blogs and other websites have started to break stories earlier than other traditional news media. Is this a good thing or not. I believe it is since we don’t have to get the corporate perspective on some news which is deemed newsworthy by some management of a news organization. Now common people armed with cell phones take pictures and then post it on the internet for the whole world to see before even the journalists can report them. Other thing is that the blogs that people have has really made any event newsworthy since people can write about local events which may or may not be covered by the local media.

The cases of missing children

This week's dramatic events regarding the rescue of three women supposedly missing for the last ten years and other cases on missing children whose photos adorn the milk carton sometimes and on the flyers got me thinking about the cases of thousand of missing children who may all not be missing at all but right under our noses, kidnapped and lost and not the runaways that we always assume. And it is not only in the U.S. but through out the world, children go missing against their will. Sometimes kidnapped, sometimes taken away by their estranged parents and sometimes just go missing forever, used as human trafficking on a global scale and used as sex objects for sick, depraved people. There are many organizations working for these missing children but it is still not enough as the numbers are overwhelming in these cases. I know that the organizations who work for these missing children are doing a commendable job in locating the kids but we should all make an effort to make sure no kid goes missing by keeping an eye on our kids and their activities and other problems in school and outside and beware of strangers. I know that the cases of missing children will always be there but by making a collective effort, we can reduce this type of incidence because no child who is born in this world deserved to be without their loved ones. A little help to the law enforcement officials in these cases could go a long way in reducing this menace.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Scratching my head over ads-2

When some company blames the controversial ads on the ad agencies and try to wash their hands off it, it makes me think that either they knew about the ad and trying to blame somebody else for their incompetency (usually the case) or they are scrambling to say that they are innocent and some lowly guy in the company approved the ads without the general managements' approval. Whatever is the case, the controversial ads just show how incompetent some companies can be in terms of their marketing abilities with all the talent on hand, they still fumble in the advertisement of their products department. And it is not these two ads I can count but I am sure there are many where the controversies of the ads made the companies retreat or retract the whole ad and then they have to scramble in their PR department to correct the message they were conveying. I believe that most of the ads are viewed before they are publicly released but there are some which the corporate bosses don’t see and they sign it off and then when something goes wrong then the blame game and finger pointing starts. So if I were a company boss, I would ask to create an ad of my product and then test it with the widest range and diversity of people to gauge the feeling of running it and then get the approval. Although most of the ads are noncontroversial and innocent but the slippage of even one through the cracks is enough to cause huge losses financially and otherwise for a company whose products the ads are promoting.

Scratching my head over ads

Recently there was an advertisement made which was deemed as the most racist in the history of advertisement (until the next most racist one comes along) and it should a line of folks along with a goat in a witness stand so that the suspect could be identified and something goes like this happened that the goat was assumed to be black guy. If you want to see the ad, go search the internet and decide for yourself if it is funny or offensive to you. But here my point is why make these ads in the first place where somebody makes it controversial and then all the company's money is wasted in paying for the ad and then scratching it altogether. Don’t the companies have some kind of pre release viewing of the ad to show to a select group of people to see if it is acceptable to them or they are not offended by it? I am curious to know who approve these kinds of ads that cause much loss to the company and grieve for a lot of customers and non customers alike. And these ads are not only controversial here but sometimes the ads are controversial in the countries where they aired. Case in point is the one where an international beverage company aired an ad about some bonded women put in the back of a trunk and it became controversial due to being sexist and advocating some kind of violence against women (or similar to it).

Beware of the company you keep

Since I have been following the Boston Bombing from day one, an interesting situation has arisen regarding the roommates of the bombers who on purpose or inadvertently destroyed some evidence in this case and it got me thinking that now more than ever you need to extra careful whom you are befriending and with whom you should be sharing company. Being a friend is something but if you friend is really what you don’t think he/she is then you have to be extra careful about it or just stay away from them. Although it is now much more easier to track your friend's activities and what they are doing because of all the social media and the willingness of the participants to share everything in their lives, there are some who are reluctant to share everything especially if have befriended them lately. But here is the catch, once your friend leaves the country or is not posting that much about himself/herself on the internet and you are unable to verify his whereabouts or whatever reason you are completely in the dark about his/her activities, a red flag should be raised in your mind about what is going on. It is not a random concern but a genuine one since if you are a friend, you should know that nothing bad has happened to your friend or he has not fallen into wrong company. Nowadays it is never too much to be alert about which you are keeping company with since you never know if your so called "Friend" may be in collaboration with some shady characters and then you would be the one bearing the brunt and suspicions of law enforcement officials.

What it means to assimilate?-4

Although I believe that it is the responsibility of the countries to make sure that the immigrants are fully assimilated into their societies, but this burden is heaviest on the immigrants since they are the ones who have come to these countries for better economic opportunities. I am saying this economic opportunities because they are the ones who had no compulsion to come and now they are here so they should at least reconcile to this fact. The other category of immigrants are the ones who have been discriminated or faced violence and persecution due to various reasons and have more stake in their host countries and they are more easily assimilated in the native population. And then there is the United States which is already an immigrant nation and people have been easily assimilated in this country. Although there has been debate after the Boston Bombing that the Muslim population is not that much assimilated but that is mostly wrong. I am saying mostly wrong because there will always be some people who would blame the conflict between the immigrant lifestyle and the host country lifestyle for the violence and this is a never ending debate. Suffice is to say now that since the immigrants have been having a hard time assimilating to the new environment, the host countries should make a renewed effort to integrate them into the mainstream and if need be try to concentrate on the most vulnerable sections of this population and monitor them since you never know which can go over the tipping point.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What it means to assimilate?-3

The plight of the Muslim population in France is the same as the French wants to impose their secular ways on a population without assimilating them and then getting worried about all the violence that occurs if something happens in the country. Being secular does not mean that one should abandon their religion in order to assimilate. That I believe will never happen since there will always be backlash in this forced assimilation. If speaking and eating French is the case, then it is always happening but to say that is enough without even tackling the huge unemployment and discrimination that the immigrants face is just plain denial. Britain is also a case in point but there they have tried to assimilate the immigrants and their next British born generation but the racism that endures in that country and the conflict between the native white population and their former colonial subjects tends to boil over now and then. But every time some bad happens in Britain, the finger start pointing towards the assimilation creature and then it all starts with that the immigrant population is not assimilating enough and then another set of laws start to take shape in order to bring in immigrants who knows the ways of their adopted country. I believe that most of this assimilation is more to do with racism and the uncomfortable feeling of the local population that somehow their way of life is threatened by this so called "Muslim Population" who supposedly refuse to integrate fully with the society or they are different than others.

What it means to assimilate?-2

Unless you give citizenship to your immigrants after a certain time and for those who are born there immediately, how are you expecting people to assimilate? If Germany thinks that it is a catholic Christian country why then allow Muslims to their country in the first place and if they are there for a long time, it is not democratic to send them back to their native countries and what about the kids who are born in Germany to Turkish parents, Germany is still having a hard time to assimilate them. You can either reduce immigration drastically (like Japan does) or don’t bring them in and once they are there for a long time, you cannot just ignore them and then say that they are not assimilating. You as a host country just have to make the effort to reach out to these immigrants and the immigrants should also do their part in trying to assimilate in the life of their host country. France is in a worse shape than Germany. It is usually good in granting citizenship but that is about it and then forgets that it has an immigrant population. They want to emphasize the Frenchness but then don’t assimilate their immigration population that much. Even if you don’t believe me, you can read the news when the riots erupted in France some time ago. I have been to France but have not been to the poor sections of it ( I went there in the early 1980s) but by the reports I have read, there is simply a disconnect between the immigration population and the larger society.

What it means to assimilate?

Here is a question that people always ask and the politicians love to use it, be it here in the U.S. or overseas in Europe and other countries where there are lots of immigrants. What it means to assimilate is a legitimate question but what does it mean to assimilate truly into a society. Every time some terror activity happens in those countries, there is a serious debate about the alienation of the immigrant population and how there is a need to assimilate them into the mainstream society. Does assimilation means that I should be following whatever the native people are doing or I should have the same morals and standards and aspirations like them without compromising my actual identity. We should remember one thing that except for a few countries, every country had its native population which has been there before the immigrants. I have some examples to see that how the countries that cry out for assimilation has done different efforts to assimilate their population (there may be more but I will focus on a few briefly). Germany, one of the wealthiest countries in the world where it takes more time to become a citizen than ever. Germany has a big Turkish population which after so many decades still feels alienated from the mainstream. It maybe the fault of the Turks but they have not been welcomed either by the Germans too. Is it time to assimilate them into the population even if they have different religion?

Are new laws needed to deal with terrorism?

Now that I have defined terrorism (in somewhat layman terms if it is possible), I come to the question if we need additional laws to deal with it. Although the Boston bombing suspect is a U.S. citizen and has been treated as such but he is charged under domestic laws which I believe ( I may be wrong about the laws) should not be the case. He has activity engaged in a activity which is detrimental to the U.S. security so he should have been dealt with laws which are more strict and less rights like under military laws. Now a majority of people would not disagree with me but this is the new kind of war for which the domestic (read old civilian laws) are not ready. We ought to make new laws with this new kind of war that is being imposed on us which we are not used to. Although the new laws would have to be made by law makers, but we really need to revisit some of the laws that are applied to common criminals like reading of their rights, availability of the lawyers because in these cases vital information needs to be extracted to prevent further violence by their accomplices (if they have any we would not know until we find out without getting handicapped in the legalities of the arrest). We should not pretend that if they are U.S. citizens and have done horrible things on the U.S. soil then they should be treated with dignity. New War, New Laws period.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How do you define Terrorism?

What is really terrorism? This question must be simple to answer as it says that anytime somebody uses violence to gain something by hurting other people. But here is the catch, by this definition we can include many forms of activities which can fall under terrorism. Some people say that the drones above the heads of people targeting terrorists are also terrorizing the innocent population (you can read my take on drones in my previous posts). The gangs that target innocent people in their neighbors can also be called terrorists, and so are the criminals who mug, commit crime and harming people. Hacking into computers and taking money can be called financial terrorism in the sense that you are taking something which does not belong to yours or forcing yourself in places where you are not allowed. We can say that terrorism involves anything that cause undue fear in someone of somebody or coerce you into doing something which are not prepared to do in normal circumstances. And what about the collection agencies, when they call you and harass you (or terrorize you two different words with almost the same result) to pay your bills when you don’t have the money. What do we call them then? Although I know that most of the people would disagree with me but you have to think this thing through before blindly following some definition which can be very broadly applied. Right now the most common definition is anybody who puts fears in people who have nothing to do with it and uses violence to achieve their goals. But if you see the above situations, you will come to realize that there are many situations where you feel terrorized.

The fast changing world around us

A few decades ago (maybe like six or seven) things were a little slow everywhere in the world. My father always use to reminiscent of the time he had a carefree life with less responsibility (and of course less crime). But since then things have been changing very fast lately around us. People have lost patience and want things to be done instantly (I am also guilty of that but for other reasons). Things are changing so fast that some old folks cannot accept this fast changing world and resent everything that is happening to their income, country, pension plans, social security payments, health care and housing markets and trying to cling to the ways that they have been raised with. Their resentment can be seen in the elections where they try to elect people who share their views (nothing wrong with that) but they still believe that the U.S. is still running the world. Although I have nothing against senior citizens but to see the world changing around them so fast makes them very bitter and angry about the whole world around them. They long for the time when world revolved around the U.S. and U.S.S.R and there were not this many players. The U.S. was producing many things and the immigration was not multi color (like it is now). But this resentment would not change the fact that the world has moved on and is moving faster than they can ever think about and it is leaving them behind. Although it is really sad but it is not only the senior folks but also the ones who don’t want to change and I can understand that most of the people don’t want change in their lives but it is the way the world works and if don’t adapt fast, you could be left behind in everything and you can become bitter and resentment not for the fault of other people but of your own.

On the lighter side-Movies-Jack Reacher (2012)-Tom Cruise

A sniper kills several people from a building and is promptly arrested. He claims innocence and asks for a certain man named Jack Reacher. And this Reacher starts investigating in this average mystery movie which could have been made as a TV movie. Not recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Mama (2013)-Jessica Chastain

Effective Horror movie about the rescue of two kids from a cabin deep in a forest and terror that is endured by their aunt regarding an entity who wants to take her nieces. Recommended

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do you feel helplessness sometimes?

I am sure everybody does sometimes. I will not believe that there is anybody out there who at one time or another did not feel helplessness in case of some event or occasion. For one I have always felt helplessness when I am stuck in traffic, there is a sea of cars in front and back of me and I cannot make anybody move forward because they are also helpless in this situation. The same goes to when you are sitting at an airport terminal waiting for departure and the flight is delayed and same is the case when you are receiving a relative and friend especially from abroad and things are not under your control. You cannot control the airplane arrival or departure and you are just stuck cursing or praying that it arrives safely and early. I don’t know if there has been any time in history where people have felt some kind of helplessness in the face of some situation which they feel was out of their control. I have already told you one above but there can be numerous like an earthquake of if you are stuck in a train in tunnel and cannot get out of it to reach your destination as the doors and windows are locked (it happened to me a few days ago). How about you standing in line at a government office and suddenly the computer system goes down, what are you going to do with that? This and countless examples I can give where you feel very helpless and this situation continues till you leave this earth.

Does violence in movies affect us?-2

And so the debate goes on and maybe there are some crimes where people blame some movie for the motivation of that crime, but as human beings we should know better that an individual would do anything to justify his/her crimes and blaming on the movies is one of the easier ones. I understand that the immature minds who watch these movies may not be able to comprehend or distinguish between fact and reality and so does an adult mind bent on harming somebody would find some idea to act upon the story or character of the movie but it is really few and far between. Most of the time thankfully it is the other way around that the movies are based on the actual events taken place. And here the politicians keep on blaming the movies on the violence happening in society and trying to pressurize the movie industry to tone down the violence. In the U.K and some other countries, they have banned some very violent movies based on the content but now they are readily available on DVD and on the internet. It is really hard to ban something right now because you can always access it on the internet and does it make sense to outlaw some movies and not others which may be also violent but are acceptable in some societies? Take for example, Japan which makes one of the most violent movies with lower crime rate than other industrialized countries, so to blame violence on movies is not entirely correct. We should try to educate people to differentiate between fact and fiction, although I am sure there would always be people who would blame the violence in societies on the movies.

Does violence in movies affect us?

There has always been a raging debate going on about the effect violence in the movies have on the people who view it. There are those that say that it affects the immature minds deeply but also for the regular folks especially the violence depicted in movies relating to women. But as usual the people who make these kinds of movies defend it on the pretext that they just show what is happening in society at large. The rating system developed here in the U.S. and other countries gives a pretty good picture of what we should expect while watching a movie. But if you have noticed that the rating system has evolved over the years. For example the movies which were rated very violent decades ago are now considered tame with the today's' values and standards and so we see more movies being rated below the restrictive ones simply because we have started to tolerate violence in movies. But does this violence affect us to the extent that we try to recreate what is on screen in real life. Although you can say that sometimes it does but not always. I have seen some of the most violent movies ever created but that does not mean I will try to recreate anything in real life. I just watch movies as entertainment (although I acknowledge that some of these violent movies stretches the meaning of entertainment) and movie. Maybe I am something of an anomaly or if most of the people do the same, I don’t know. But judging by the violence in society I believe that most of the people also watch movies and then move on.

On the lighter side-Movies-The warriors (1979)

Superb action movie about a gang framed by another for killing a top New York City gang boss and how they struggle to travel to their turf avoiding all the city gangs. I loved this movie when I saw it. Highly recommended

Monday, May 6, 2013

The new hotspots of the world-2

And for those of you who think that the U.S. should disengage from the world completely, it is not going to happen since we have boxed ourselves into too many national security and interests areas that even if we disengage from one, we will remain untangled into the other. Take for example North Korea, just when we thought that we can bring some of the troops from the Korean peninsula, we have this uncertain North Korean regime who can threaten our allies and same goes with Taiwan where we have committed ourselves in defending them in case of outside (read: Chinese ) aggression. And you could never engage from the Middle East because of Oil and Israel and other complexities even if we choose to ignore it somewhat in the short run. Although I can start elaborating the hotspots a little bit but it would take many, many posts and the situation is so fluid and evolving (especially in the case of Syria) that it would be hard to catch up with it. Even if we have the money and the manpower to station our troops in these hotspots, our will and stamina has been zapped too much by the Iraq and Afghanistan War (still in it). We have become too wary to be engaged in another war (although some people are pushing it on humanitarian grounds, I don’t know why? Anyway whether we like it or not the world has become a dangerous place and we would not be able to completely ignore it.

The new hotspots of the world

For the U.S. anything outside our country is a hotspot since we don’t know what would happen anywhere in the world. As the sole superpower with multiple national interests and security issues to deal with, the world is always in crisis with hotspots emerging with much frequency. And sometimes we have to deal with multiple hotspots and if we don’t have, we create one (remember Iraq!). The biggest one is always the Middle East which is always in turmoil since I have been reading news. The latest flare-up is in the ancient country of Syria and it has not abated till now. And it is one small piece of the whole pie that includes Egypt, Pakistan, China, North Korea and the perennial Israel and the rest of the Arab World (the Muslim world is too much into itself to worry about the Palestinian conflict right, they are just in for the slogans and keeping their population's wishes in check) So my question is are we willing to spend our resources on fixing every new hotspot that erupts or do a back door diplomacy and encourage regional solutions to regional problems? As I suggested long time ago, if we need to really remain engaged with the outside world and meet our so called obligations, we need to bring troops home from at least Europe (which can take care of itself) or at least find a way for countries to pay for it. And if we do that then we can be mercenaries for hire, not a nice idea but at least we will reduce out defense budget to the barest minimum without compromising our security.

Blaming the internet for everything-2

I get most of my news from the internet as it has become widely available but also it has become a tool to educate people who are unable to commute to school due to various reasons. And this has increased the education level of many people around the world and also the interaction among different cultures and the understand of religions have been immense and since more and more people are having access to the internet, the world is becoming smaller and also somewhat frightening scarier too as if the internet is being used to spread information and news and it has also spread misinformation and terroristic activities to levels not seen before the internet. The blame does not go to the internet but the individual using it. How do you stop the bad people from using it and spreading their message of hatred and destruction? Unless you completely shut it down (and even after that), you would not be able to completely eliminate the bad people. With the internet you would also be able to track people down who have posted the messages and reduce the level of violence. Like with other things, we need to weigh in the costs and benefits of having the internet and right now the benefits outweigh the costs by a huge margin. And hopefully its benefits will increase manifold as compared to the evil that it has now. So stop blaming the internet for all your ills and benefit from it to the fullest possible extent.

Blaming the internet for everything

Why that is when something bad happens we all tend to blame the internet like it is a curse or disease that cannot be controlled. Are we that helpless that we cannot control ourselves and fall victim to the evil internet. As with most of the things, internet can be used for good or evil purposes. It all depends upon how and who uses it and for what purpose. I love the internet and I believe that if it is utilized correctly (meaning for good purpose) it can do wonders to the improvement of the lives of human beings. But as you know every individual is different and so they will want to utilize it according to their needs and there will be some who would use it for bad purposes. And I have become sick and tired of hearing people say that internet is bad and blame everything on it as if there is no such as individual responsibility. Internet has made the world small and brings loved ones dispersed in various countries closer together and gets updates on their lives instantly. Many jobs have been created by it (although I acknowledge that many have been destroyed but it is the fault of the people involved that they were slow to embrace this technology and got wiped out). News is being dispersed instantly instead of waiting for the next day newspaper to announce it. And the businesses which were geographically restricted in one place can sell their goods across the country and the globe.

Friday, May 3, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Coffin Baby (2013)

Very gory and bloody movie about a killer who kidnaps a girl and keeps her hostage while bring more people and slaughtering them in front of her. Pretty sick special effects but no redeeming value other than to see more gore. Not recommended

What would you do in a particular situation?

I found myself writing this after witnessing the Boston Bombing where people in complete knowledge that their lives were in danger, raced to help those already hurt by this tragedy and it got me going what would you do in a certain situation. I wrote about his a few days ago and still I want to find out how you would react in particular situation. Take for example a bombing, even if you think that you been hurt. Would you help the one who is more hurt than you or just wait to get yourself help? Would you risk your limb to save some animal or waste your time to fetch something for some old folk even if you are in a rush? Would you help a blind person or a person with other disability to cross a road or intersection if you can? Would you have an eye contact with somebody who is in need of help or just ignore them and go about your business and how it will burden or haunt your conscience later on? It really takes a selfish person to do deeds which separate them from others. It depends on your nature, your upbringing and how you want to be perceived by others and society. And how about his for the ultimate sacrifice that would you die for some stranger or your family member if it comes to that. I know it is very insensitive (and I apologize for that in advance) but have you ever thought about. I hope that nothing similar ever happens to you but this is an unpredictable world and anything is possible.

Another Bangladesh tragedy-2

But if the government of Bangladesh wants the world business to keep on outsourcing their work to their country then they also have responsibility to make sure that the conditions are safe enough for workers to work without fear of getting killed. I can understand the desperation that this tragedy will generate as news are coming out that the manufacturers there are pleading with the brands not to leave their country for other destination but to stick with them and help improve conditions. But the pressure is on the companies also to do something about it and it would be hard to ignore all the pressure stemming from this tragedy. Either the brands stick there, spend money and improve the conditions and get hit on their bottom line and abandon them or then more people will become miserable for lack of jobs. I believe that there should an international organization which should verify conditions in outsourcing countries to make sure that they follow the minimal safety standards to operate and then have a certification labeled on them so that the brands should have a guidance of where to outsource their products. And this monitoring should be an ongoing process and the payment for its operations should be done by the brands as well as the government of Bangladesh and any outsourced vendor who wants to make sure his/her products meet international standards. This is the minimal the world can do to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. For further prevention, more steps should be taken in consultations with everyone involved.

Another Bangladesh tragedy

Just yesterday I was talking about the May Day being observed throughout the world as labor day and another tragedy which is still unfolding has struck Bangladesh again in the form of a building collapse where more than 400 people (and counting ) have died and many more injured. It was a textile factory producing clothes for western brands. Although it is tragic but it is also the corruption and the utter disregard for laws that hinder the improvement of codes that these buildings are located. In a rush to get as many orders as possible from western brands and then they get these kinds of tragedies. It is also the government which rules over a country which is one of the poorest in the world. They are desperate to create jobs and right now the textile has the overwhelming portion of that country's GDP and it is the second biggest exporter of textile goods in the world after China (according to some estimates). If this tragedy was to ever happen in the industrialized world, there would have been such a hue and cry that it would changed how manufacturing should be done there. But as the tragedy goes on, and the brands take heat from the customers to do something about it, I don’t believe it would not be the last time we would hear about the sad news about people dying in horrible conditions. Because although it is big news right now, I am afraid it would fade away to the next disaster.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Sorority Party Massacre (2013)

Horrendous horror movie about a killer stalking some beauties in an isolated island. Some nudity to divert your attention from the fact that it is just a TV movie of the week crap. Not recommended at all.

The pipeline from Canada

As you know the keystone pipeline has been controversial since it came to limelight. It is to bring oil from Canada across to the U.S. but due to some environmental issues it has been stalling for a long time. And it seems like it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Recently one of the officials of the Canadian government said that pipeline or no pipeline the flow of oil will happen. It may not be initially to the U.S. but Canada awash in shale oil is trying to sell oil to China and other energy hungry countries. This controversy is now accelerated by the fact that the U.S. does not need that much oil right now since it has its own oil boom in the form of shale oil. So even if environmental impact will not be felt in the U.S. if the pipeline does not happen by the impact will have in somebody else’s backyard. Now just to remind everybody that I am not a democrat or a republican or an independent and I have not seen the environmental report based on it. I am just analyzing on the face of it that maybe we may not need the oil now but in the future we will need it and with more oil, the price of it can become lower and the whole concept of energy independent in terms of middle eastern oil will be realized somewhat. So either we should fear for the environment or the fear of having less oil from the unstable Middle East and having continuous dependent is the choice we have to consider.

The price of drugs we use-2

And with the current budget crisis climate and all the talk about cutting expenses everywhere, we will be paying more for our Medicare and fund the Medicaid. Right now I have insurance so I am insulated somewhat from the prices of drugs but what happens when (and if) I retire and have no insurance and have to rely on Medicare for my health needs. How much more I will have to pay in insurance in order for me to remain somewhat healthy. People are having a hard time now when they are work to pay for the insurance premiums and it will become almost impossible for them to afford drugs even after the new health care system. I mean how come the drugs which are produced in the United States are more expensive than they are overseas? Even the price of drugs is not uniform since you would never see the retail price on any drugs. The Pharmacies are allowed to put their own price on it and conceal the real price from the customers. Different pharmacies have different prices so we the consumers never know if we are paying more for some drugs in some stores than in others. And this distortion in pricing is how the American public gets deceived and since there is less competition and more urgent need for drugs, these drugs stores and pharmacies take advantage of us and we get duped. How long are we going to pay outrageous prices for drugs which cost much less overseas?