Saturday, August 31, 2013

Judgment in view of popular opposition

You know that a judge is in a very difficult position sometimes. They have to give sentencing which can unpopular in the general public. Recently there have been some cases where the public was expecting something contrary to what the judgment has passed. Before the case everybody professes in the justice system but once a judgment is passed which they are not expecting, they start to complain. And some judges have said that they cannot give their judgments contrary to what the laws say. But this does not mean that they do sometimes give judgments which are outrageous enough for the general public which may or may not fit the crime. So it is like damn you do and damn you don’t sometimes. And when it comes to capital crime and the emotions are high then if a judgment is given lighter than the crime that angry voices and critics are heard. It is really hard to be a judge especially when you have jurors deciding the fate and you are just there to pronounce the sentences according to the guidelines given sometimes by the government. I would not want to be in a position where I would have to give sentence to person even though I may know that he may be innocent. Because you are not there at the scene of the crime and the only way to know the case is the evidence being presented by the prosecutor and the defense attorney? And you have to pass judgment based on what the jurors have decided. No thank you very much I am fine without this burden.

Who defines who Middle Class is?-2

I know the economists have tried to define Middle class but as everybody know that economics being an inexact science, the economists have been off the mark lately. I would not define anybody earning less than 60k as middle class since as elaborated in my previous posts the take home income makes them at the borderline of being Middle Class and after 60k I would be doubtful that the Middle class category is applied since as said before, nowadays even people earning more than 200k feel like they are middle class (but very few people will agree with them on that). So the politicians relying on some age old criteria of defining Middle Class should start news some new criteria of what the Middle class means. I for one do not feel like I am in the Middle class, although my wife will not agree with this as we like in a middle class neighborhood of an upper middle class town. I think for once even for statistic purposes we should retire this word Middle Class because then we would be able to know how much you really need to make it in the U.S. (or other countries for that matter) and the politicians would for once have no excuse to support the Middle class cause since now they are unable to help the middle class so with no labeling they will have to be creative to get the votes. In other countries, people strive to be in the Middle Class but don’t know what it is since having a car, house and having comfortable lifestyle is becoming out of reach or if it is reachable takes considerable amount of life time to achieve it.

Who defines who Middle Class is?

Now let us see who the middle class are and who defines one. Middle class is defined by the economists and most of the people want to identify as such. They don’t want to come off as some rich family and get ridiculed and spurned by other families. They like to fit in and would anything to stay in this particular category even if they are making six figure salaries and more. But with the expenses and high cost of living everywhere even a person who is making low six figures feel like he is still in the middle class. Let me break this down, I live near New York city and work there and if you happen to live there you pay the city income tax, state income tax and then you have to pay the Federal income. On top of these whatever remains you pay additional tax on it. You pay sales tax on when you buy things and you pay the property tax if you own a house and also if you happen to park your car in a garage or even on the street you pay additional tax. When you drive a car you pay the gas tax on it and then the rest of your so called discretionary income goes to utilities and other assorted expenses. So even if you happen to be lucky enough to earn more than your 100k, you just get 60k after paying your city, state and federal tax and whatever remains you pay additional tax on things which reduces your income to the level of paycheck to paycheck.

The financially stressed out Middle Class-2

And it is not just the U.S. where the Middle class is under financial stress but there are some countries where the Middle Class has altogether vanished and you find very poor and very rich and no class in between. This financial stress not only affects financially but also the mental and physical health of the individual and families experiencing it. I have personally experienced some of the financial stress that the truly struggling middle class are in and the silent suffering they are in. Apart from the regular bills, the most important are the sudden expenses like the medical issues and mechanical issues relating to the car, there are in addition the unexpected house expenses that you have to do in order to maintain your house. If you are reading this post you must have reflected upon your own situation and may have identified identical situations that may have led you to have financial stress. Every person in power tries to say that they are there for the Middle Class but it is not true and with stagnant income and rising expenditures, the middle class is in a bind and they are kept getting asked to sacrifice more so that everybody can benefit. I am also supposedly part of this middle class which have been unemployed twice and have seen wages not rising as much as it should. My master’s degree does not mean anything when I have been subject to being pigeon hole in one field of specialty where I am at the mercy of a challenging economy. And we are being squeezed every day in this never end nightmare story of financial stress and ruin.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The financially stressed out Middle Class

As you have already know by now that not all Americans are rich even nowhere that term. But who is rich and who is not is another topic to be discussed somewhat latter but for now I want to emphasize the Middle Class who are living hand to mouth or you can say paycheck to paycheck and surviving on an increasingly perilous job situation. All the faces and laughter you see during the lunch hour (and not during the morning commute) is just a fa├žade that hides the fact that they are not doing as well as they persona seems to show it. All those nice suits and ties and fancy skirts and handbags do not do justice to their financial situation. They are being forced to do those things just to keep up appearance and show that they can be as well dressed even if they are going deeper into debt. The point I am making here is that the so called Middle Class is very much in financial distress and their income has been stagnating for quite a number of years and it seems that it is not improving while the expenses like kids’ college education, car prices, medical insurance and house maintenance is going up. The parents who are now retired or approaching the age of retirement are unable to help their grown up kids since they are already in financial stress due to depressed house prices and increasing unemployment among them. And we (the U.S) keeps on jumping into wars which we are financing it by burdening our Middle class with more taxes direct and indirect. And the politicians just pay a lip service to help out the Middle class since they are either not interested or it is beyond their control to help the Middle Class out.

The Egyptian massacre and Iranian unrest of yesteryears

Okay we now know that there was a massacre in Egypt by their military to clear the protest by Muslim Brotherhood and the world kept quiet somewhat and even some Arab countries supported the crackdown (massacre?!) and also in Egypt there were people who fully came out behind the military assault against their own people and this crackdown reminds me of the time Iran had a similar episode a few years ago when the opposition came out and said that the election was rigged and they demanded a new election. And there was also crackdown and the west was more vocal in that situation. But here the difference starts because even if the Iranian had cracked down hard on the protesters they were under sanctions from the west and so they had no reason to listen to the outside world regarding whatever they were doing. But the Egypt regime is being sustained by the U.S. and it had influence over the events happening and still it did not do anything to prevent the crackdown and also its allies in the Arab world backed this crackdown too. So the logic comes here that if you are friend of the west and rely on their aid, you can crack down on your people and the west will look the other way but if you are not a friend (like Iran), you will even scream if there is a killing of a few people. So by comparison, I see the hypocrisy of the west when it comes to allies and enemies. There should be equal condemnation in both cases and more so in the case of a country where you are giving billions of dollars in aid. But I guess that is what you call politics.

The bankruptcy of Detroit, Michigan

Recently the city of Detroit, Michigan, the city once home to three mighty U.S. car manufacturers declared bankruptcy because it was unable to pay its bills and obligations to its employees and with bankruptcy as things goes, the pension and other obligations are in jeopardy. Does this mean that the former employees are at fault or the city mismanaged itself so much that they had to declare bankruptcy? Since I am not privy to this information I cannot say for sure but is this start of or model to be followed by other cash strapped cities, counties and states that are under heavy debt burden but are using financial gimmicks to show that they are financially stable. Only time will tell but for now this bankruptcy is being fought in federal courts to determine if the terms of the promises made to the former city employees can be modified. But whatever happens in Detroit, it is for sure a cause of anxiety for other city and state employees because the amount of promises that has been made to them by the politicians is nowhere near the amount that is available in the treasury of these governments and ultimately it will either be the state or the federal government bail them out or they will have to deal with reduced benefits in the future which will reduce the incentives of young people to join the government and also there will be reduced developmental projects and programs for the citizens in the local communities.

The nations’ Militaries

I have been following the developing world militaries and their history for a long time and although not an expert have read extensively on them and don’t figure out how a nation’s military can stage a coup and suppress their own people but are unable to defeat foreign armies. Why is it that the military becomes a lion for its own people but becomes a chicken in the face of foreign onslaught? Why do they need so much hardware when they cannot or will not use it against foreign aggression rather than use it against their own people? And other thing is that even when the military has not engaged in foreign wars, their leaders still reward the soldiers with medals and distinguish honors when all they have been doing is sitting on their butts. And they know who I am talking about since if they look a little closely they will see their own image in the mirror. I am not an expert on military affairs but believe that a military’s job is to secure a country’s borders and deal with internal threats if called for but not to govern and rule over their own people since they cannot both govern and rule at the same time. The more they are involved in ruling their own people, the more corrupt they become and they get involved in things which weaken their ability to fight foreign aggression. So the conclusion to all this is that they should stay out of government and politics and concentrate on securing the borders.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On the lighter side-Travel-SaharaSams, West Berlin, New Jersey-2

On the way back we got some stuff from a pharmacy store and decided to find out where to eat our dinner. Our favorite place where ever we go is the Red Lobster ® but the address which was printed on the motel paper was all screwed up and we ended up at a local diner which we were glad we did since it remained opened till 1.00 in the morning. I urge everybody who go on a trip to try out the local diners since they have definitely better food and open later than the brand name restaurants. And staff is more personal and courteous. Anyway the food was enough that we had to pack it in and eat the next day during breakfast. Since we did not have anything else to do, we went again to SaharaSams to enjoy our day there and at night we finally found out where Red Lobster ® and after eating there went back to our motel. The next day was the same as before but since we did not stay that much at the vacation spot and crashed the bed early since we had to check out early in the morning. The way back was easy as there was very little traffic and we reached our house before the scheduled time. All in all a good vacation for less money and limited budget. For a change if you are under limited budget and still want to go on vacation, check out your local vacation spots where you can enjoy as much if not more than the far away exotic locations.

On the lighter side-Travel-SaharaSams, West Berlin, New Jersey

Recently my annual two weeks of vacation came up and after much agony (on the part of my wife), we decided to have a mini vacation of three days right where I live in New Jersey. It was almost one and half hour’s drive from my house. The drive was okay but we hit some patches of rush where there was construction going on (I don’t know when it will end since there is always construction going on in New Jersey) but we reached our destination and checked in a motel. Since we had reached our motel ahead of schedule and did not want to waste the day, we decided to head to our vacation spot called Sahara Sams (Disclosure: I have not been compensated nor endorse any products or establishments mentioned in this post. It is just what I have observed and witnessed). Anyway, we reached the place and it was a indoor/outdoor water park. The outdoor park had one swimming pool and one big wave pool where the waves were generated mechanically every ten minutes or so. It was fun in the sun with many people (with a limited budget) enjoying sun and water at the same time. The indoor park had lazy river (I love it a lot) and some other water sports where kids and adults both were enjoying it. Since the park closed on 7 P.M. each day, we stayed there only until 6.30 P.M the first day since there is only so much you can stay in the water and enjoy the sun.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Great Gatsby (2013)-Leonardo dicaprio, Tobey Mcguire

A rip roaring twenties saga before the stock market crash based in Long Island, New York about a mysterious rich guy and a neighbor who befriends him. Recommended for extravagant and beautiful photography and acting.

On the lighter side-Movies-Pain & Gain (2013) - Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson

A group of body builders get caught up in a get rich quick scheme involving kidnapping and extortion. Based on supposedly true story. Recommended for action fans. Nothing new here.

Can specialization lead to unemployment?

This thing had been bothering me for a while and when I spoke with one of my friends who works in the silicon valley, he totally agreed with me that sometimes (and I can say more than that) specialization can and does lead you to unemployment. From my personal experience, it has happened to me since I have been unemployed two times and every time I wanted to change what I was doing before, I was rebuffed and told that since I have specialization in a particular field, I would only get a job or offers for a job in that field only and if I want to start something else then good luck to me. And also if you see in the employment ads, the companies do not even grace you with an interview if you don’t have a specialized skill set. So this so called specialization can lead you to unemployment if you happened to get laid off in the first place. Specialization has become a double edged weapon because with it you can land a high coveted job and also can land on the unemployment line if you cannot find one. And this is how the employment world has come to view the employees as. You cannot function in a job without being specialized in some field and you feel handicapped if you don’t have that specialization. That is why you will consistently see high levels of unemployment because there can only be so many jobs in one specialized field and if the supply of specialization in one field exceeds the demand then good luck getting a job.

Citizen's needs and Government budgets

In the western and advanced societies, there is a growing need for citizens services which are to be seemingly met by the government through its budgets and hence through taxes, but sometimes the governments have promised way beyond their capacity to deliver to the citizens which have come to rely on these services as essentials. I mean that once you have promised your citizens something in terms of social services and have been providing it for years on end, the citizens would really not care where the money is coming from if you start to talk about problems in your budgets. The citizens don’t care whether you tax rich people or cut some other expenses or raise taxes on things which are remotely connected to them, they want their services to be delivered on time and as usual and they don’t want to hear any excuses about expenses and loses and budgetary constraints. Time and time again, the politicians keep on promising their citizens what is not theirs and hope that by some miracle things will be in place so that their budgets are not busted and all their citizens’ needs can be taken care of till the next election. But it was long time ago and the politicians have promised way too much without budgeting how they are going to pay for it and citizens are getting angrier and frustrated that they in their times of need, the governments have started to fail without realizing that without paying more taxes and cutting expenses (including services), there is always going to be some shortfall in the services being provided to them. Will the needs of the citizens and the government budgets ever match? The answer is no.

Technologically advanced and dumb society

The other day I was discussing about how our society has become technologically advanced but in the process it has made us a lazy and dumb one too. And I am also involved in it too. For example my late father used to add numbers faster than what i can input in the calculator and get the answer. And he used to calculate it in his head when I have to use the calculator. Our reading and writing habits have become a joke as we are constantly trying to create shortcuts to convey our message across. Reading books have become a chore instead of being fun. Technology has made our lives easier but also has affected our health since we are becoming less mobile and do less exercise. We have stopped using our brains since we know that everything is right at our fingers tips in the form of tablets and mobile phones. Our society has become advanced but at the same time we have become slaves to the technology. Our younger generation with the reading and math scores that we have has fallen behind under fast rising economies. We have become advanced due to some smart people who had the vision to develop technologies but our society as a whole is trying to find short cuts to wealth with lottery tickets going through the roof without working hard. I mean we should go back to the basics of what made us so much technologically advanced and smart. Smartness is what we need to remain competitive

Do we need speed limits on highways?

Sometimes I drive on highways in the northeast and despite being empty roads; the speed limit does not make sense to me. As you go further away from the Northeast, you will find speed limits increasing. Maybe it is because of the sparse population or maybe something else but do we really need the speed limits when there are very few cars on the road and you are adhering to the same old speed limit. I know that it has been scientifically set that there should a speed limit but it cannot be proven with fact since in Germany, the autobahns has no general speed limit. Granted it has also accidents but if we can have a recommended speed limit rather than by law, people will generally adhere to it. I believe that during rush hours and congested and local roads, there should be speed limits but if there are expressways and highways and freeways, there should only recommended speed limits. But you know that even if you post some kind of speed limits on highways, there will always be people who will drive sometimes below the posted speed limit. So to post a speed limit on highways does not make sense to me since the people who will drive faster than the speed limit will do that anyway and the people who will drive below or near it will do it anyway with or without the speed limit. It is time to scrap this statutory speed limit on highways and post with a recommended one, although I know that the states will lose revenues due to no speed limit fines but they can still make it up in some other way and as for loss of lives, they will have to do more scientific study to find out if the posted speed limits in other countries have lower death rates than ours or not.

So is this the Arab Spring?

I am still in shock with this whole Arab Spring thing. I mean it was suppose to usher into some democratically elected governments in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria apart from the monarchies in the Persian Gulf. But what happened to it when it crossed into Egypt? Libya ended up with more violence and then it went on the Egypt where the Mubarak government was overthrown and then it went to Syria where we are still reliving the violent Arab Spring which has changed into fall, winter and then Spring again. But as for Egypt, the world thought that after the elections everything would be fine and people will be happy to elect the government of their choice but it never happened that way. After one year of the bungled Islamist rule, the government was overthrown by the Military and now we have this violent clash in a society that was supposed to be homogenous in terms of religion sects and ethnicity. But this Arab Spring never reached the rich Gulf States and their poor cousins states where people live on the fringes of society waiting for some messiah to give them hope but this Arab Spring was just an excitement with the western media who thought that it would change the landscape of a region which has been in a deep slump for hundreds of years and this was the time the revolution would be real but they were wrong about it. Being a democratic elected government does not mean that the people are represented but it is just to show the western world that a government has been elected by the people but it is not for the people or of the people. The real power still rest with the military and other forces who still want to rule the people with the iron fist and this Arab spring was just a fad that has come to a conclusion with violence and again hopelessness

Frustration and hopelessness on the rise in the Muslim World

As you already know there is a lot of frustration and hopelessness in the Muslim world and it is rising exponentially. For people outside it seems like the anger and frustration is directed towards the U.S. and other western countries but it is more about their own leaders and the corruption and the incompetency that has created this kind of hopelessness. People in that part of the world all want the same thing as other people in other areas like jobs, education, health facilities, living in peace with neighbors, quality of life and progress. But for a long time since anybody could remember these kinds of values have been elusive in the Muslim world and it is the leaders who have lost progressive vision reckless disregard for the well being for its citizens that the anger and frustration has risen against them. But the irony is that these same leaders are their own people and they cannot blame outside forces for imposing it on them no matter what they say. The problem mainly is that even if they seem that they have elected honest people, there is so much temptation for power that it is hard to resist not to fill your own pockets and not take care of your people and people have become so desperate that they are unwilling to wait for things to improve so they agitate and accuse their leaders of being pro-western and any other name so that they can hide their own failings because all the citizens are involved in this mood of frustration and hopelessness and whole books can be written on this topic but to be brief it is the whole colossal failure of the Muslim world including leaders and common people not to work hard and look internally to their failings that is giving rise to this frustration. Unless honesty, hard work, truthfulness and caring and faithfulness to your own people is not imbedded in Muslim societies, they will keep on seeing this doom and gloom for decades to come.

Anti Americanism is on the rise in the Middle East

As you have been reading news, you may know that the Middle East is in turmoil and anti Americanism is on the rise there. No matter what side or sides the U.S. takes it is always on the losing side. This time it is the Egyptian unrest where the U.S. is involved in a high stakes game of getting involved and taking the side of the military and then has to give importance to the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people. I don’t know why the U.S. wants to ruin its little goodwill that it has to take sides and not just see where the wind blows. The U.S. should be taking the side of the democracy but it is clearly not doing so and also getting itself boxed in with fewer options. There was a time when the first President Obama was inaugurated and there was hope in the Middle East that this time it would be different because of the reckless policies of the previous last eight years but we have squandered that opportunity. Even our so called close allies are supporting the Military crackdown in Egypt so where does the U.S. stand since it has clearly very little leverage in the Egypt and in the Middle East right now. The trust issue with the U.S. is all gone and they grudgingly admit to the U.S. having any role in the future of the Middle East and it is not just the Middle East but many Muslim countries that the U.S. is fast losing any credibility whatsoever. Do all the think tanks in Washington D.C. and other cities of the U.S. have any solution to this Anti Americanism and by its extension Anti western anger.

The weak States-2

The weak states are the ones that keep the U.S. and other western countries leadership up all night since these states are either not capable of extending their authority or are so much mired up in their problems that they see that even if they are failing, they know that they will not be fallen apart because they will be rescued by more powerful countries. Although India has the problem of Marxist insurgency but they are too weak to pose an existential threat to the integrity of India (or maybe not right now anyway) but Pakistan is a whole another story. Despite having a large and organized army and functioning institutions (although corrupted), they are either confused or do not care about the going on in their country or are too stretched thin to do anything about extending their laws to all of their country. It is either of the above combinations that the Country despite all the resilience of its people and resources that they have is falling apart literally because nobody wants to take responsibility and it is this dangerous attitude that the state has become one of the weakest so called nuclear countries in the world. It is really sad that a promising country has fallen so much deep into such despair that they are unable to hold their writ over large parts of their country. This article does not reflect in any way on the poor people of Pakistan who are struggling to makes end meet but it does reflect on the rich and corrupt people and the security agencies that are just there to show their anti western attitude while at the same time get aid and party in the western world. Maybe there is a belief that the country can never fall apart because again the western world will never want to do that but why rely on them when you hate them so much. I am as confused as you are and this sad story does not end here but it is an ongoing saga that you will keep on witnessing and I will keep on telling it to you on an ongoing basis.

The weak states

Weak states are those whose authority does not extend to the whole of the country. And by this definition you can include not only the African countries where there is a constant state of civil war but also those countries where the states are functioning only rudimentary although on the surface of it they claim to have authority over all their territory. In this case you can include not only Iraq, Syria and Yemen but also Pakistan and to a much lesser extent India and to an even lesser extent Thailand and some parts of Philippines. Although I know that many people will disagree with me about the latter countries but if you closely examine them you are likely to see some kind of insurgency and even some lose of authority like the law enforcement agencies reluctance to enter into some area where they feel they are going to be ambushed. If you see in light of these analysis, then Thailand and Philippines are facing some kind of insurgency where the government is weak enough not to go into certain areas but the major problems lies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen where the states authority does to extend to certain areas and also India and Pakistan where there are certainly no go areas where even the military is reluctant to assert its authority without major resistance from the population there. Some states mentioned above can be brushed aside since they may or may not have major implications for world population but India and to a major extent Pakistan is highly dangerous since they possess nuclear weapons and the rebels or terrorists certainly want to get a hold on them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-No one lives (2013)-Luke Evans

A very different kind of horror movie. A group of demented killers kidnap a supposedly rich couple so that they can get their hands on their money. Little do the killers know that the husband is the best killer of all. Familiar story turns on its head with creative ways to kill. Fantastic story line and a new twist to horror genere. If you want to see a new kind of horror, don’t miss this one. Highly and definitely without a doubt recommended.

On the lighter side-Movies-Scary MoVie (2013)-Ashley Tisdale

Don’t even try to see this awful mess of a comedy movie with parody from other horror/comedy movies. Awful attempt at humor and stupid story line seen many times before. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Epic (2013-Animated)

Animated movie about a war between the green movement and the people who want to destroy a forest. Set in a world of tiny people who are funny but cares about the environment. Looks like funded by the Green environment movement. Recommended for kids and adults

On the lighter side-Movies-The company you keep (2012)-Robert Redford, Shia Labeouf

When a weather underground activist is found alive by a journalist, he goes on the run from the officials trying to track him down for the last thirty years. If you don’t know the history of this movement which was broadly the overthrow of the U.S. government at the time of the Vietnam War, look it up on the internet and then watch this movie. Ok to watch if you know the history. Otherwise stay away. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Olympus has fallen (2013)-Gerard Butler

When the White House is captured by terrorists, it is upto a disgraced Secret Service agent to come to the rescue. Preposterous and unbelievable with plenty of violence and action. But highly enjoyable to watch. Recommended

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Hatchet III (2013)

The demented Killer from Louisiana Bayou is back with more brutal killings and gore than you can handle, this time hopefully being finished off for sure and no more of this gorefest to watch. Very gory and brutal. Not Recommended

The security breaches

Recently there were three high profile security breaches in three countries, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. And in each of these countries, hundreds of prisoners including dangerous Al-Qaeda terrorists and Taliban leaders and foot soldiers were freed. At least in one case, it has been boasted by the Taliban in Pakistan that they had inside help without which they would not have carried out the attack. I can understand that Iraq and Libya are in a chaotic situation and trying to build armies after the wars but what's going on Pakistan is a shame that have no bounds. It is claimed to have a professional army besides several paramilitary forces and other means to handle these kinds of incidents and still happens. The shameful part is that the Taliban came from far away crossing many checkpoints unhindered and unchallenged and the when the prison break was happening, a huge military fort is not far from there and everybody was sleeping at the wheels and then the Pakis direct the anger at the U.S. when it comes around to get their most wanted man without "invitation". All these security breaches just show that the terrorists are highly organized and intensely focused on destroying all the fabrics of the so called Islamic countries with impunity and there is nothing that these so called weak states (a topic coming up in a while) can do to reverse the trend unless they put their own differences and confusions behind them and do there jobs. Although in the case of Iraq and Libya, it is going to take some time but for Pakistan (with nukes involved) does not have the time or luxury to wait for somebody to clean up the mess it is in. The sooner the better.

The looming threat of unemployment

You know that all around the world there is always a threat of being unemployed in some point of your life. And I have been unemployed two times (not counting the other two times, I had bouts of unemployment but who is counting at this point), and despite being gainfully employed, there is always a constant threat that you would be without a job because of economy or the company not doing well or any other reasons which is out of your control. And to be blunt, in my previous job, I have been threatened several times that I will be fired and I just kept quiet because of the painful search for another job and also about how to pay your bills while you are without a job. My point is that no matter how well you do in your job, you never know when your job is eliminated. Although the threat of unemployment is bad, it is the psychological effect that hits your health and develops into low esteem and other stress related issues. And these kinds of effects are hidden when people see happy people lining up for lunch hour during the job. The laughter and fun time that you see is really a mask from the reality of what can happen when you lose a job and most of the people are really living paycheck to paycheck that they are scared to even think about what would have if they lose their present job. And it just disgusts me to think that the employees are so helpless that they are practically begging for a job and even without remuneration just to get a foothold in a company that may lead to a full time job and out of their parents home and on their own. Develop a plan B and C and D for GOD sake and be ready to work at it because you never know when you need it.

The Syrian conflict and the U.S.-2

The weapons the U.S. is trying to send may end up with extremists group who are already having an upper hand in that conflict as compared to moderate groups and will the alawites just leave the country or will they have their own protective enclave where they will live to fight on one day. And who is to say that if and when the extremists group wins the control of Syria, they will just stop there and will not fight in another country even if they are the same co-religionists. As one of the officials said recently, this conflict can last for years because even if the current Syrian government collapses they are not going to go without a fight or retreat to their ethnic strong holds and attack from there. And for once somebody has recognized that Syria is not another Libya because of different ethnicities and the powerful military it has (not to mention international backers). Already the conflict (or civil war whatever you might want to call it) has become very vicious and bloody but we still need to restrain ourselves not to get involved militarily in that war. And if the rebels over run Syria then their next target might be Israel since it is just next door and the uneasy peace the current Syrian Regime has with Israel may not last longer. So before everybody goes on crying about saving lives in Syria, they should better be prepared for what replaces it and they may not like it radical Islam comes in the way of the new government.

The Syrian conflict and the U.S.

There is no more pressing problem right now than the Syrian conflict that is going on in the Middle East. Although you can say that the Egyptian crisis is also not looking good but at least the violence and death toll is manageable and the country is not falling apart since overwhelming majority is of the Sunni branch of Islam but you never know that this crisis can become out of control in the future and jeopardize U.S. interests in the region. Anyway we will see what happens to that, now we come back to the Syrian Conflict. Some reports suggests that more than hundred thousand people have died in the conflict and there are growing calls in the U.S. and other advanced countries to arm the rebels so that they have a better chance to defeat the Syrian Army but can they do it really and is the conflict going to confined only the Syria or will spill over to other countries? As you know that Syria is actually a country with three ethnicities, the Sunnis, Alawites (to whom the Syrian government belongs) and the Kurds. Although the Kurds have been sidestepped in this conflict but in the case of the breakup of the country, they may have their own. Also there are some Christian and Shiites minorities. The overall fight is between the Syrian Government and the Sunni population who are being armed by the rich Sunni Arab states. But as the U.S. ponders if they want to enter the conflict, can we really see what we are getting into?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Playing by the rules

I always hear people say that they are playing by the rules and still not getting to the point they want to be or they just got screwed up. By playing by the rules, I mean they went to school and college and got married and have kids and saved for retirement and paid their bills on time and still by some fluke of bad luck, they did not got what was rightfully theirs. And they are right in a sense that even going with all the rules of society, you still end up being in the dumps. For example the recent bankruptcy of the city of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. is a case in point (A post about it will be on this blog soon). People have been promised that when they retire they will get their pension but this bankruptcy filing has disrupted all their plans about their future retirement benefits since in bankruptcy all the promises are re-written based on the new reality. Also when your house prices go down, you feel cheated that your invested did the materialize as imagined because you played by the rules and it is not fair. I know that also life is not fair but you know I have been playing by the rules too and I got screwed too several times, but you learn through your mistakes and you still play by the rules but only the rules of working hard and devising new schemes to stay ahead of the game you are playing in. Don’t despair that you are not getting your fair share of the system as the new reality of global competition dawns in the rules of the games are constantly being changed and the trick is to learn these new rules so that they are advantageous to you and your family. Playing only by the rules will not cut it anymore; you have to play smarter with the rules.

The animals and our lives revolving around them-2

Then there is the pet food industry and you see whole sections in every grocery store dedicated to the pet foods. And then there are specialty stores dedicated exclusively for pets, there are hotels and even a restaurant dedicated to the pets. In my town, there is a pet day care and grooming business where they have your pets and take care of them while you are at work. And pets are a huge plus for elderly couples and singles who don’t have anybody to talk to or keep them company so I see old people with pets more than with their kids and grandkids. The most surprising part is that there is a organization dedicated to the protection of the rights of animals and they have the power to arrest people if they see them abusing animals. You can see many movies with at least one pet owning actor and how they cuddle and take care of them and talk to them just for company. Even there are pet cemeteries all across the United States and zoos have a roaring business with animal lovers. And news about pets become huge in an instant like some whale rescue or dog stuck somewhere and people go out of their way to root for these creatures. I mean if you have some creativity in your mind and you love pets, you can make tons of money doing pet supply or pet store owner online or offline. Although it is a huge undertaking if you try that but the rewards are much greater since people will flock to your store if you have a unique way to approach your pet business. Even a person who is not as fond of pets gets melted when he/she sees some cute animal playing funny or innocent tricks. So these animals are a huge part of lives and we continue to share our lives with them.

The animals and our lives revolving around them

Have a animal in the house is a big business in the U.S. I have rarely seen a house without some kind of animal for kids and adults. And as such you may have seen animal hospitals everywhere. In fact while driving around some towns on the way to my house I see that there is at least one animal hospital in each time small or big (big ones may have more than one). Even when a town is small and they can have an incentive to merge with the next town hospitals, they don’t. But I guess the animal industry is so big that each town must have at least one hospital to cater to its animal population. I have never been to one of these kinds of hospital and I guess there would not a silence as compared to human ones. But this I believe and have heard that people spend thousands dollars on their pet's health issue and take it as seriously as any family member. In fact it is not unheard to hear people say that they have these numbers of family members and that includes their pets. And so as their serious with their human family members, they are dead serious about the health of their pets. And you know that if you a pet, how much effort and time you have to spent in order to make sure that they are well taken care of . I have often seen people walking their dogs in rain, snow or sunshine. And since animals are living organisms, they will fell ill, get injured or don’t feel well sometimes.

Still with the race issue

Recently a case of very much importance came along in which a white/Hispanic male shot dead a black kid who was wearing a hoodie and he looked dangerous to him. Although the suspect got off (for whatever reason) there has been a lot of hue and cry about his acquittal and also stating that because the kid was black and the suspect was white it was a racist shooting. Now before everybody starts screaming at me for being utterly insensitive and being a racist, let me tell you from the start that I am neither and I don’t believe that the kid should have been hurt in the first place just because he was wearing a particular type of clothing. I don’t know under what circumstances the unfortunate incident took place and neither does the jury despite all the evidence presented because they were not there at that time of the shooting. Maybe I have not suffered as much as other people regarding the racism era since I am an immigrant (as are everybody else) but you should know that racism is alive and well all over the world and I may have suffered under it (not to the extent some other people have in this country). But why is that if you don’t like a verdict one start to cry racism. Aren't we not just past it or are we. By the looks of it, we are still suffering from racism in one form of the other especially when it comes to law enforcement. It has become an us vs. the mentality and a whole community has come to regard the Justice system and law enforcement as being racist. But now the Muslims are being treated with suspect, should be cry foul and race the specter the racism with regard to how the young Muslim men and women are being treated now. This issue will remain unsettled unless everybody is treated with dignity irrespective of race, creed or national origin you cannot force these unless it is instilled in kids from the beginning of the lives. It really hurts that we in the 21st century are still dealing with race relations which should have been settled long time ago.

From the heart

This just means that if you want to do something it should come from your heart. You cannot force anybody to do something if their heart is not into it. For example you can pour millions in your child's education but if their heart is not into it, it will all go to waste since it is the child who has to study and learn and sit in the exams. Also on occasion you cannot force people to bring you gifts or presents if their hearts are not into it. Although it is a courtesy to bring them but what if they don’t want to. You cannot exclude them just because they chose not to bring anything. Also the amount of gifts is not under your control. You cannot just say that the gifts or presents should not be less than such and such value because it is up to the individual's financial capacity, closeness to you and how much their heart desires to give you the appropriate gift. Same things go with every decision you make in your life whether it involves your religion, political affiliation, giving to charity, dating scene etc. On the flip side you can say that there is no compulsion in life, if you are not doing something which your heart desires then you are being forced to do things against your will and wishes and the end result for you may not be so good and it will affect your mental state of mind. So whatever you do in life make sure you are doing it from your heart and mind and not under any duress or compulsion.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-The place beyond the pines (2012)-Ryan Gosling, Bradley cooper

A stunt driver who wants to provide for this family turns to a life of crime but runs foul of a cop. A very serious movie with lessons to be learnt but not as enjoyable. Strangely Ryan Gosling movies have become the silent ones like he speaks too little (like Drive and Only GOD forgives-to be reviewed later). Ok movie but for me too slow and not much action. Recommended with reservations.

Race against time

This post is about how you have to make sure you are at a certain place at a certain time and it just gives you more stress than necessary. For example I just live less than 20 miles away from New York City and I drive but I leave early in the morning since I don’t know what I will encounter during my commute. If there is no traffic I reach Jersey City (where I park my car and take the train) just 20 minutes but when there is traffic, it can go beyond an hour or so. It may be a combination of factors like some accident (the worst one) to some construction work on the roads (no less worse) and when these things are not happening, you just pray that the trains are on time because sometimes they have some mechanical issue, or signal problems or some sick passenger that delays your commute. Worse still is when it rains then the traffic slows automatically and if there is snow then you can forget about your time schedule as it affects all forms of transportation. So instead of sleeping longer, I have to get up earlier in order to beat the traffic and get the train and reach the office on time. And it is not just me but billions of people around the world who in order to reach their work place have to race against time to reach where they want to reach. And not only in the office but any appointment, birthdays or parties and other activities, you really have to rush to reach that place at a certain time and that increases your stress level for no reason.

Notoriety sometimes pays off

Although being notorious is not good for anybody but some people have used some kind of notoriety to propel their careers and even become rich in the process. Anybody who has become notorious has harnessed that notoriety into something financially lucrative. Not too long ago, this behavior would have been condemned but not with the proliferation of internet and media outlet more and more people are acting very badly maybe on purpose or they just don’t care and they can become instant celebrities doing this. For some people this kind of behavior can be an embarrassment to them and their family but for some they cash on it and follow the saying that bad publicity is better than no publicity. From politicians to would be celebrities and common people who achieve notoriety this can propel them into national and international stage. For politicians, notoriety can be killer since they are unable to get voters' attention and their perception of them being honest and trust worthy. But for others who don’t care about the public office, their notoriety can be instant big bucks or fast cash for a short period of time. Especially there have been celebrities whose sex tapes have been released and they have built on those scandals to reap in big bucks for themselves and have created an empire out of it. So instead of being ashamed, these people have cashed on their notoriety in a big way. And with the internet being big now, common people are creating videos where they act badly purposely or otherwise in order to gain fame and fortune. But be careful if you doing it on purpose and advertising to the world since it can later haunt you and your families.

On the lighter side-Movies-Oblivion (2013)-Tom Cruise

Science Fiction futuristic movie about a devastated earth and a earthling repairing drones for the extraction of resources from the earth. When he rescues a female human on earth on one of his routine mission, he comes to know about the truth of what happened to earth. Intriguing idea but ultimately collapses under the same old alien theory. But good to watch. Recommended

The Nanny State

First to get something straight from the start. I am not a conservative that would be rallying against welfare and other anti poverty programs. I am just stating some fact which may or may not point towards some welfare programs. So here it goes, most of the developed world has become a big Nanny state to me. It is just not me but you can see how a capitalist country can never be one since you have to feed so many different people with different income levels that you become a welfare state in the process. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food stamps, Section 8, low income housing schemes, student aid, housing aid, low interest rates and the list can go on and on. And it is not just the United States but most of developed world pride on themselves in providing all kinds of facilities to their citizens. And if that is not enough than the government tells you what to eat or not to eat and restrict certain kinds of things like we individuals are still in infancy and can't make a judgment call by ourselves regarding our own well being. Recently there was this push to limit the amount of soda one can purchase in New York and then we see the amount of calories we take on restaurant menus. And then there are different layers of regulation to protect us from ourselves. I mean has a capitalist society become a welfare society. Some programs for the poor are good but does it not perpetuate poverty without any means of poor people coming out of their welfare situation. It is really a huge debate which should be discussed in depth not only here but around the world.

Ignorance or on purpose

Sometimes people do some things or say something out of ignorance and there are other times they do it on purpose. But sometimes it becomes hard to tell when it is ignorance or when it is on purpose but at other times, it is easy to guess if they are trying to escape responsibility by claiming ignorance of something but other times they purposely withhold something which should not be held otherwise. For example when some cop stops you for doing something illegal, you can show your innocent face and say that you did not know or are ignorant of what you have done but you rarely say that you did it on purpose because you have something urgent to do or just did not give a damn about the law or you thought you can get away with it. But as I said before if you have a bad reputation then even if you claim to be ignorant about something, people will believe that you have done something on purpose. But acknowledging about a deed depends upon what you have done and depending on that you can either plead ignorance of the issue or say that you did it on purpose for such and such reason. But this thing about whether to claim ignorance or on purpose does not always last and you may have to come out clean some time. But this thing you witness it all the time and even practice it too and it is not only confine to adults but also to kids which they weigh whether it will give them punishment or they can get away with something. So all in all you must weigh the pros and cons before you decide what to do in a particular situation.

The Reputation factor

You already know that how important it is to keep your reputation otherwise there is nothing left to keep. Everybody from a common person to celebrities and even criminals are often said to keep their reputation intact even when it borders on murder. But what is reputation, it is like anybody who has recognized characteristics like honesty, truthfulness, integrity or in the other cases, cheaters, liars, crooks, criminals, murderers, frauds, scammers, and traitors. You can also add that a person can be risk takers or risk averse, good or bad neighbor to everybody and anything which a person has become associated with. But here is the catch ones you lose your reputation you lose everything and then it is hard to build up that particular reputation which has been destroyed by one act of yours which may have run contrary to your reputation. So although reputation is generally associated with human beings, but even corporations have developed over a number of years reputation of sort that is associated with them. They sometimes proudly display their reputation when advertising their products and you can rest assured that the people who are going to buy their product tend to list first the reputation of that company, like reputation for low prices, good customer service, free shipping both ways, exceptional return policy, great navigational websites and the list goes on. So if you are a human being or a corporation, you should better have some kind of reputation with which the people can associate you with and remember you and recommend you to other people and that is how the word of mouth spreads. A great reputation will endure you for ages to come.

On the lighter side-Movies-Fresh Meat (2012)

Horror comedy from New Zealand about a group of criminals who while fleeing police end up taking hostages in a house of Maori people but before they know it, they find out that the hostages are cannibals. Weird entry on a low budget but done well. Recommended for curiosity sake.

The proposed foreign troops exit from Afghanistan

Everybody is now excited about the proposed foreign troops (read: mostly American) exit from Afghanistan at the end of year 2014. These countries are namely Pakistan, Iran , India, China, the Russian Federation, Iran and other lesser important countries. And for reasons particular to each country, they will be happy to see the American and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan. And there are some countries who are joyous about the so called U.S. defeat in Afghanistan and now they think that they can do whatever they want to do in that area. But if there is joy, then there is concern that once the foreign troops are out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will consolidate their power and march onward towards Pakistan to establish their brand of Islam in that county which is already struggling under various problems mostly of their own fault (even if they blame foreign powers for it). But to be sure, the U.S. troops are not completely withdrawing and anyway the countries surrounding them are not powerful enough or monetarily sound enough to prop up the Kabul regime as the U.S. did before. And who knows that the U.S. knowing exactly who was to blame for the U.S. not winning in Afghanistan may lash out at the countries who tried to give support clandestinely to the Taliban. And the factions opposed to the Taliban before the war would not want to return to Afghanistan where the Taliban again are the rulers. So they will either fight or try to create their own personal space inside that country like the Kurds have done in Iraq. But the most unprepared country to deal with the withdrawal is Pakistan and it is eyeing that a friendly government will emerge in the shape of majority Pashtun population but what if it does not and another civil war ensues what is the contingency then for Pakistan. Things to ponder upon what if scenarios.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Royal baby and the celebrities

Recently the Royal family of Britain was blessed with a future King and the occasion was very festive and exciting and after a day or so the world got to see the future King of Great Britain. And there was more curiosity and more betting done on the name of this future king than anything else and I started to making comparisons of the kind of celebrities we have who gives the picture of their newborn babies to the highest bidder in the tabloid industry. Although the tabloids pay top dollars and media frenzy is created that who will be the first one to get a hold on the rights to publish the baby photos but it is still selling out your baby for money. It is very rare that a celebrity will show their baby without any remuneration since you see their pictures on only one magazine and not many. Although I can understand that the Royal family is supported by the tax payers of that country so they kind of have to show the baby free of any monetary compensation but what if for a moment they try to have a bidding war among the media that who gets to get the first rights to publish the pictures, would they not be called many indescribable names for a start and then they will have show the baby anyway. Why can't the celebrities let go of their monetary compulsion and just show the baby if that’s what the public wants ( I could care less if they don’t). But that is a big IF and they will not since their audience is very narrow and I guess (I maybe wrong) a big factor is also greed and if they can mint money off their offspring early then better for them since celebrities are all about the fame and money (mostly money).

The airport scene

I believe that almost everybody has been to the airport, either in the capacity of going somewhere by plane or receiving some one arriving and you may well know that the airport it seems have a life of its own a small city within a big city. And as most of the people, I have been both on the leaving and the receiving side of the airport business. This time around I had to drop my mom at the airport since she was flying back home and even when the city is sleeping or near asleep, the airport buzzes along like there is no day or night concept at the airport. People were coming and going, some standing at the check in lines for verification of their boarding passes and weighing their luggage and some were just there to bid farewell to their loved ones. Some were hungry enough to head to the food stalls to eat or drink. The people with the kids were there with their entire chaotic schedule trying to deal with the luggage and make sure the kids are in their eye sight. Security was as usual tight. Some were staring at the arrival and departure screen of the planes arriving and departing from the airport. Flight crews were coming in for their scheduled flights and people who wanted to reach their gates were lining up at the security check point to get screened themselves. The huge parking lot outside was almost full and I am always surprised why there are always lots of cars even when the airport activity is dull, maybe it is because some have long time parking permits, I don’t know but it is always fun to visit the airport and see a different side of the city.

On the lighter side-Movies-G.I.Joe Retaliation (2013)-Dwayne Johnson

G.I. Joe is back, this time battling both enemies within and internal as they try to rescue the President who has been kidnapped and held hostage by the enemy. Lots of action and overall thrilling and exciting. Recommended