Monday, September 30, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-100 Bloody Acres (2012-Australia)

Bloody Australian black comedy about a pair of farmers who are using humans as fertilizers and how one of the brothers become infatuated with one of the accidental visitors to his area which complicates the operations. Recommended in a weird way but not for all tastes.

The valuation delusions-3

This valuation is most glaringly on exhibit when you are trying to sell the house. But you can find that more or less in everything we as human beings own, it is hard to part them unless you get what you have paid for in financial and sentimental terms. You can see it in flea markets, while you are selling cars and whenever you are dealing with other individuals, you get blinded by the attachment that you have with the product and then you get disappointed if the thing has more sentimental value that the buyer is paying for. It is not to say that I am not like that I have also invested money in my property but I am also realistic that I will not be able to get closer to what I paid for since the market and economic conditions have changed. I know it is heart wrenching when you don’t get what you think is the fair price but that is how the world works and if you are desperate to sell them, then you would not care if the price you are getting is the fair price. Sometimes you have to think with your mind rather than with your heart. And even if you think that you have snagged what you perceived to fair value for house, note that you will probably end up with less money since when you brought the house the value of money has gone down. So stay out of this valuation delusions and concentrate on your next purchase because of course you would give your own valuation when buying from somebody else and this cycle of which is the right valuation starts over again.

The valuation delusions-2

Thank you for your upgrades but I will still put my own valuation on the house based on my budget, mortgage preapproval and what the market is valuing based on the location of the house. I will create my own memories in that house and even though I may respect your memories attached to that house your memories are your memories and even if they are priceless to you it may not (definitely) be priceless to me or maybe even worthless. So although you have invested financially and emotionally in your house, it does not mean that I have to pay you whatever valuation you are putting for the house. This topic came to my mind as I have seen many sellers lamenting the fact that they put so much money into their house and then they are not getting the return that they hoped for. And just for the reminder, you as a seller will never get what you have paid for and did improvements because the seller will always want a higher possible price based on what they perceive as their priced procession and the buyer will pay the minimum possible price for what they perceive is the right value. I know that people become emotionally attached to their houses if they have fond memories but when it comes to selling you should detach your memories and give it a realistic valuation based on what the market is not what your emotions are. And this goes for everything else in your life.

The valuation delusions

If you are thinking what kind of topic I am going to discuss, you may be right or wrong or just guessing. It is how we or I assess what I have and what other people perceive the value to be when you are selling and they are buying and for too long and still going, people who are selling are really in a state of denial unless you have enough money to be still in the state of denial. I mean for example when it is time to sell your house, you factor in the amount of money you have spent on improvements, upgrades to your house, the memories that you have in that house, the location and all the births and deaths, celebrations, heart breaks and other human investments that you have done in that house and then you put a price on it. But is that really realistic when every individual is different and experiences different things in their lives. I mean, I as a buyer would care less if you have upgraded your kitchen to the most beautiful there is or have installed an in ground pool or just painted fresh the house or added some improvement which may give you satisfaction and pride but not to me. And I will care less if you have had big celebrations, heartbreaks or any other kind of emotional or sentimental feelings attached to the house. If I am buying I will put the most realistic value there is based on the market conditions, locations and the value of the house not the subject values that you include in your valuation.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It is not my job

You may have heard this expression many times in your daily work and it just makes me really upsetting sometimes (But not always). Like when you are asking about something and the person says that they don’t know because it is not their job or they don’t want to know about it. Well I become upset since people have forgotten the lust to learn or they are so much involved in their own lives that they will not want to learn something other than what they are doing. And the sad part is that this has been increasing so much despite the perilous situation people are in due to the economy that even some miniscule effect can put them out of their jobs. I mean would it really hurt you back, hand, mind or just about any part of your body is you can go out of your slight way to help somebody or do something which is not explicitly written in your job description. I can understand that you are not going to get paid for something that you are doing above and beyond your job responsibilities but will it make any difference if you help out somebody out of courtesy. The saying one good deed deserves another hold true in this case. But here people are becoming more materialistic but still not getting enough money even when they say it is not their job since if you happen to go above and beyond what you paid or supposed to do, you will not only earn goodwill but when the times comes for you to ask the favor, the greater act you did before will be remembered in kind.

The terror attacks in Kenya and Pakistan-3

The poor Pakistanis who don’t have anywhere to go keep on suffering the brunt of these bombs every now and then but the politicians and the security forces don’t give a damn about, if you look at past history of this unfortunate country. With so much potential before, now is just surviving on the narrative of nuclear weapons and suicide bombs. The government and the security forces have both miserably failed to protect the people, how can the people trust them to protect them if somebody attacks from outside. But you already know the answer since the U.S. came and took out Osama Bin Laden and nobody was insight to protect the borders (or was it all in the knowhow nobody knows). And the politicians still want to talk peace with these so called "true Warriors" of Islam who will not leave any opportunity unturned as their various announcements and press releases say from time to time. That these Taliban has explicitly said that they are at war Pakistan and its army and any target is a fair one and If you can't get a clear narration like that you are like see no evil and hear no evil. And I don’t see any end to it since the seed that was sown many decades ago has come to bear fruit and the so called asset of Pakistan in fight the so called "infidels" have turned on them and they will not stop until they achieve what they want, while the government and the security forces make half hearted efforts to keep themselves alive. Although there has been protest going on in Pakistan regarding this bombing but nothing will come out of it until the next big news and thus lives goes on.

The terror attacks in Kenya and Pakistan-2

The attack in Kenya was a surprise for that country's government and they were not expecting it and do not have the experience to dealing with terrorists. But for Pakistan I cannot say for sure that is the case. Since the religious minorities (even Muslim minorities) are being attacked regularly, there could not have been any excuse for the lapse of security arrangements at the Church. Pakistan prides itself on being a nuclear state but is unable to provide security to its minority citizens and also sometimes majority too. The only thing done for these attack victims is some condolences, condemnation and some compensation, prevention and deterrence is never on the mind of leaders and the excuses keep on getting lame, like we did not know it and we cannot put the cops everywhere. Just say that you cannot protect the minorities and then they can make their own arrangements (which they already know). I wrote a long time ago that a state which is unable to provide security to its citizens does not need to exist and is only there merely to see that it exists in name only and that is what is happening in Pakistan. Slowly and steadily the state's authority is being chipped away by the same people whom it support (and allegedly still support) in pursuit of gaining an upper hand in Afghanistan and Kashmir (which they are still denying till they turn blue). I was hesitant to write about it but how long can you keep quiet when even some analysts in Pakistan have started to question what is going on.

The terror attacks in Kenya and Pakistan

As you have already know by now or if you happen to close your eyes and don’t want to hear anything gory or sad, there were two terror attacks this week in two different parts of the world, in two different countries located on two different continents. The first one was in Nairobi, Kenya where some terrorists attacked an upscale mall and fought pitched battle with the military and after three days of fighting the government announced in Kenya that the Mall is now in their hands with more than 70 people dead and several attackers killed or captured. It was definitely a surprise attack by the affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Somalia called As-Shabab. And the other one was in Pakistan (as usual) on a church in which more than 80 people who came to the church to worship were killed. Very sad indeed and highly condemnable and deplorable. Two different attacks, two different motives but the same reason to attack innocent victims who have nothing to do with the motives. The first one is that in Kenya, the group claiming responsibility is saying that they are avenging the Muslims who are killed in the occupation of Somalia by the multinational forces stationed there to restore peace, and the one in Pakistan is saying that they are protesting the drone attacks on their members who are getting killed. In each case the Christian who are not even remotely related to the conflict were killed without mercy like the narration that the terrorists say that Muslims are getting killed like that but are they and does two wrongs make it one right?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The price of convenience

This I am talking about in terms of internet shopping and payment but can be used anywhere. When the internet was in its initial stages, users were lured it with freebies all the time but now the new trend is to charge a fee called convenience so that you don’t have to mail them the check and pay via internet instantly with a few clicks of the mouse. This is just another way of the price you are paying to sit on your behind and let computers work from you. And these kinds of fees are being increasingly used. You can give them any name you want but the truth is, it does not cost them 3, four or five dollars to just send the money to its destination, since computers and payment systems are fast and cheap. But with almost everything now being done via the internet, and the companies have to get more revenue somehow, they have come out with this fees. For normal like utilities and other online transactions the fees is not that much but when you want to pay for some concert ticket or other big ticket shows, you pay through the roof just because you are not standing in line waiting for hours to get your ticket. And instead of offering to people discount who pay you right away without waiting for the due date or before the event due date, you penalize them with this ridiculous and utterly necessary fees. And if you really want to charge them, then a normal one or two dollar will be tolerable not the high end fees that they are charging. Even the convenience fees in terms of using other bank’s ATM are going up slowly and steadily since you are paying for the convenience of not looking for your bank to save some money. I may agree to some fees but this is getting out of control.

Are any drugs safe?

I don’t know of any drug that is made for a specific sickness and nothing else. This thinking came to my mind when I was watching a movie but also when I go to the pharmacy store and I see any medicine and it says side effects of every kind and also don’t take it if you have something related disease. Even for a minor medicine about headache, there are several side effects that the manufacturers list that may give an ordinary person a pause before using it. And from this we can say that no drug is safe from side effects because it is first of all made by human beings who are flawed creatures and second of all the human body is so complex that if you try to treat one symptom, you inadvertently messes up the healthy genes and so one disease is treated but the side effects of it can be anywhere in your body. I don’t mean to scare everybody so that they should stop taking any drug because of the side effects. Because if you do that your symptom will not go away just because you are afraid that you will get hit by that side effects. Maybe the manufacturers want to make sure that they don't get hit with a lawsuit because they did not warn it on their labels. But usually the drugs are considered safe until something happens. But as long as you know the side effects, you don’t have any other choice but to take these flawed medicines into your system in order to cure your present disease or sickness

Burial vs. cremation

I know nobody wants to talk about being dead or dying one day but that is one of the truest realities of life that you will have to face and then if you are not here, you need to make sure in advance what you want others to do with your body. Sometimes it is a non issue since in some religions cremation (meaning burning the dead body) is forbidden or never comes up and even if the religion specifically forbids it, your loved ones still assumes that you will want to get buried. I am saying this because in the United States it has become an issue of money, where to get the funds to do the burial. Although for me it seems disgusting (just like the issue of having a kid because they cost too much). If your loved ones have taken care of you all your life, why is that when they die, you start to fret about money issues when it times to come for their final resting place? But people forget about these things and try to have as much less financial effect on them as possible and so the rise of this cremation which obviously will cost less maybe thousands of dollars less. As far as my opinion goes, I hundred percent favor the burial for the obvious reason that I want my loved ones to pray for my soul and visit my grave from time to time since it will be my final resting place and ultimately it is not your body that you decide what to do with it. Body is just a vessel that is carrying your soul and once it leaves the vessel, your soul goes away but we don’t have to burn the body just so that we save some money. I know burial is the expensive but can't you do this final ritual for your loved ones regardless of expenses. And since nobody knows for certain they will go to heaven or hell, why to create hell on earth for one's body. With cremation you just have ashes and even those are sometimes blown or thrown way in the sea or up in the air. Do you have the right to do that all by yourself and if the will says that they should be cremated then you cannot do anything about it but if you have a choice go with the burial option, you would not regret it.

On the lighter side-Movies-Angels & Demons (2009)-Tom Hanks

Sequel to the highly successful movie The Da Vinci Code, a Harvard Symbologist is invited by the Vatican to solve the mystery of its four front runner cardinals being chosen to succeed the next pope and also trying to find a weapon enough to blow away the Vatican city and parts of room. Very exciting and good movie. Was unable to stop watching until I finished. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Maniac (2012)-Elijah Wood

If you have seen the old Maniac movie, you would want to check out this updated gorefest about a lonely guy who befriends an artist while at the same time killing people and fighting his inner demons. The first one was much better but you should check out Elijah wood’s acting too. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Iron Man 3 (2013)-Robert Downey Jr, Gweynth Paltrow

More super hero rehash as Iron Man starts to rebuild after his layer is completely destroyed by a terrorists. Bigger special effects and for great movie watch it in theaters. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-V/H/S 2 (2013)

Bloody movie about the same old found footage crap about some people finding a stash of VHS movies which hold gory footage of various stories. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

Different and unique movie about how the Russian soldiers stumble upon a lab at the end of world war II where the Nazis are experimenting with creating new soldiers from different parts of the dead bodies and stitching them with weapons. Slow at times but still recommended

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

World of Finance: Internet Job Portals-2

I know that by now every country with an internet connection has internet job portals where you can view the jobs and click on it and send your resume but trust me that the old fashion way of finding a job and going on an interview still is the major part of finding a job. The internet just gives you a false sense of hope and maybe you can see the jobs but only 20 percent of what is available and that too is so highly specialized that unless you fall exactly into the criteria you don’t have any chance of even getting a call or a thank you note from the company saying that they will get back to you after they review your resume. It is easy to sit on your behind and send hundreds of resumes in less than 10 minutes but finding a job that you like or sometimes any job right now is not an easy task. Whereas these internet job websites have made us easier to look jobs but at the same time it has made us lazy and complacent because to find a job you have to cover so many basis and follow so many leads that internet alone would not do the job (believe me when I say this because I have been unemployed twice and I know how hard it is to look for a job just by utilizing the internet alone). So you can utilize the internet and post your resume on it but don’t count on it to be your sole method of finding a job.

World of Finance: Internet Job Portals

I have mixed results on this medium of looking for a job. I mean I have got my present job and the past ones through accidentally being on some internet job sites but the overall impression I have is that it is just one of the tools to get your job and not a major one at that since as some research suggests that more than 70 percent of the jobs are never advertised and are filled internally. And the biggest disadvantage is that you become complacent since it is just a click up. You upload your resume and once you are registered on a website, you can see what jobs you like or have experience in or even if you don’t have experience in and you start sending it rapidly and the answer comes back from the website that it has been sent but sometimes you never get any response from the company. And with these job portals, the human resources departments have become smarter too as they insert key words in the system to make sure that they get the person with the right experience. And if the key words do not match, the resumes are deleted or do not even show up when these departments search the internet. Believe me when I say that I have tried the above and it does not work. Since it is as easy to send your resumes via internet, it is as easy for the human resources department computers to delete you so even though you may have a false sense of sending your resumes to thousands of companies, don’t expect them to call you back sometimes never.

On the lighter side-Movies-Disconnect (2012) - Jason Bateman

I loved this movie since it is about how the internet can be dangerous place to be and you don’t have to put so much trust on it. It is about how three interconnecting stories about cyber bullying, exploitation and identity theft is felt on all the people involved. Highly Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The East (2013)

Good movie about how a private intelligence agent infiltrates an anarchist movement who are exposing the corporations for the unethical and illegal environmental practices. Recommended

Monday, September 23, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-The black waters of Echo’s Pond (2009)-Robert Patrick

Bloody horror movie about a group of teenagers who descend on a island retreat for some vacation and discover a game which brings out the ugly truth in them about their friends. Not that great but still watchable. Not recommended if you want to kill time.

On the business path: Family support

Now comes the fun/hard part, convincing your family that you have the discipline, financial means and the dedication to pull this all off without putting too much burden on them. You know that you will want to start business with the full support of your family otherwise there will always be tension especially in case of finances and also when you say that you don’t have to time for your family. Plus if you get family support, you will find out that they will go out of their way to make sure that you succeed because your success means their happiness, financially and mentally. If you are living with your parents, their help can mean a difference between success and failure since their support can help you financially and give you valuable advice about your business and accommodate you with your endeavor wholeheartedly. So be sure to get them onboard. And if you have your wife and kids then it is equally crucial that you get her support because she can help with more ways than one. Once you have the support of your significant other, he/she can help by taking care of the kids and other household stuff while you work on your venture. And she/he can give you input when you are in a jam and since you have a life partner you can count on her emotionally and financially when you feel like you are not going anywhere. You don’t want tensions in your household just because you don’t have the support from your partner and your kids because for this venture to succeed everybody should be on the same page and support each other, otherwise your venture is bound to fail sooner or later.

On the Business path: Full time vs. Part time-5

From my perspective, I kinda like being a part time owner since I know that if something goes wrong I don’t have to look for another job since I have already one and also I will know that my venture is growing or failing and I can adjust accordingly. I have the financial means to support my family and also start on the side but the crucial part is that you need to have the support of your family (another post). And also you need to allocate time for the venture (any time not doing anything like taking care of household chores, family matters etc) and whatever money you can save, you can put it in your business. But don’t think that you will be doing other stuff while not thinking about your business since once you have started you would want to constantly think about what you want to do with it. So my recommendation is to start a business on the side while you have a regular day job which funds your daily expenses, while you built up the business to a level where you will ultimately want to replace your day job with being a full time owner. And even for students who see all these young tech millionaires and billionaires, my advice is that you should finish your studies till at least the four years of college and if you have an idea for something during your college years than you should keep on working by the side because to me education is important. Although nowadays college has become the means to secure a job but there is no harm to educate yourself and besides nobody can steal your education from you. So go part time and when you get enough revenue from the business that you can comfortably cover your monthly expenses and then save some than go full time.

On the Business path: Full time vs. Part time-4

That is why you see young people on the internet starting their businesses because they are new and have no responsibilities like taking care of their mortgages, car loans, families and so they can take more risk if they want to and they do. But that does not mean that a person with responsibilities cannot own or run a business, it is just that he/she has to see what kind and what type he/she can run a business and the time and emotional and financial effort he/she can put in. It is obvious that a family person with responsibilities would not risk everything without trying to see if he/she can earn some money while he is pursuing his/her business venture. If you work the regular hours like from nine to five (or even more than that), you can work on the weekends but you have to make sure that you have time for your family too because if you don’t and then there will be constant tension in your family. But you can still pursue your passion if this is really you want to do but then you will have to sacrifice your sleep and social life while you are wetting your feet. My take on this is that if you are family man do it on the side like part time, despite all the other advices of experts, going full time without emergency funds and sacrificing all that comes with it like family life, finances etc, will completely burn you out and then you will regret that you took that step.

Friday, September 20, 2013

On the Business path: Full time Vs. Part time-3

Now after you have found out the financial and emotional pitfalls and advantages of taking your business full time. I will now to come to what if you want to pursue it part time. Is it feasible or not? Although the experts say that you should focus full time to your business once it starts to generate income, these same experts say that you should work full time if you want to see your business grow faster. But what about if you cannot become a full time owner and you are afraid of the risks and uncertainties with starting a business where you may not see any income for a few months (or years for that matter). What if you are not ready to take a plunge and you want to just wet your feet to see if it is practical for you and if you have the right kind of attitude to be your own boss? There can be many reasons that you will not want to go full time initially and opt for the safer part time option. It can be that you don’t have sufficient funds with you to start your business, there is opposition from your family, fear of losing whatever money you have if your venture fails, you are not sure if what you started is the right business, you don’t want to sacrifice your leisure time, you have enough money to be somebody else's employee, you don’t have the positive attitude to pursue anything on your own, you are afraid of uncertainties, you are secure that you get your paycheck regularly and don’t have to worry about where you will get your next one, every customer will be your boss and you cannot or don’t want to handle that, you don’t want to work hard enough to change your life and countless others that an individual person may have to avoid this path.

On the Business path: Full time vs. Part time-2

The bigger your dream, the more money you need extra to start your business. Although the internet has reduced dramatically the cost of starting a business but I am stating that if you want to start something outside the internet like a retail store, factory and other physical presence, the costs goes up dramatically. Although with full time, you will have fewer distractions to reach your ultimate goal, the financial aspect is crucial enough that can give anybody a pause. And this factor cannot be ignored outright (unless you have inherited a fabulously rich inheritance or you are being bankrolled by your parents who will not want your money back). If you living with your parents then the only costs will be initially the merchandise and marketing since you have already eliminated a big chunk of your costs like the physical presence. You are actually growing your business rent free, which will be unrealistic for a lot of people trying to go on their own since this factor do comes in when you calculating your profit. If you have family to support, then even if you start your business from your home, there will be more expenses to take care of even if your wife is working and if she is not working than you really need extra income to support financially while you pursue your passion. And you would need the support of your family members (another posts) to make it all happen. Going full time has all the risks and you have to tread carefully when you want to embark on a venture since you don’t know the uncertainties and risks that you may encounter along the way, even like have a medical emergency can drain your emergency fund very fast and it can really distract your attention.

On the Business path: Full time Vs. Part time

Now we come to the part where you have to decide if you want to risk it all and go full time or be a little hesitant and be a part time until you feel comfortable about being on your own. There are two schools of thoughts, one which says that you should go full time and the other one says that go part time first. Now I will elaborate both of them to see and will give you my view and then you decide what path you want to take. The people who advocate taking the full time route say that if you take one you are devoting all your energies and effort in that venture wholly, there is no distraction of any sort. Your sleeping, waking, walking and doing all kinds of chores you are always thinking about how to grow your business and how to maximize your revenue. But for this to happen, they say that you need to have at least six to eight months of your living expenses stashed away in a savings account. And the above living expenses are just for that like your mortgage (if you have one), your utilities, grocery, medical emergencies and other miscellaneous expenses. In some countries these expenses can increase of decrease depending upon where you are living and if you own your own house or if you live with your parents or not. And this expenses are just the beginning since the amount of money you want to invest will vary depending upon what you kind of business you want.

The beauty pageant

You may have seen beauty pageant being held year in and year out with the naming of anything after the word Miss and then they are quizzed on some issue and expect to get the politically correct answer so that it does not show that they are only choosing the contestants based on looks. And sometimes it does succeed, but after seeing so many of them and then abandoning them long time ago, I don’t really understand the need to have one. I mean I have seen more stunning women on the streets and in other countries and other places than the one chosen in these pageants. And if the criteria are that you have to beautiful and somewhat smart then the criteria is wrong. Since you can be average looking and be smart too. But since the word beauty has been inserted into the pageant that is how the things are. And why is that they have to slim in order to complete, to be truthful I have seen very stunning woman who are not as slim as these pageant contestants are and these pageants only judge girls (women?!) who are willing and able to contest. What about the ones who are unwilling and unable to contest and they are even more beautiful, would they be excluded just because they refuse to show their bodies for the world to judge them. Just so that everybody starts thinking that this guy is some religious fanatic (which I am not) I want to clarify that this beauty pageant is pure entertainment and like all entertainment you would have to suspend your belief and just see it what it is a minuscule group of "beauties" competing for a meaningless title that does not prove anything (except for the contestants maybe).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The injustices that people ignore

Are we unjust beings? By the way we look around; it certainly gives the impression that we are unjust to our fellow human beings. We see so many injustices happening around but until it affects us personally we tend to ignore it. And some injustice has been done to us then we go to extremes to make sure that we get justice and things are done the way it should be. And to be fair, we do raise our voices when we know that an injustice has been done, but our voices and protests are shaped by the media that we consume every day. Until some issue does not become very hot to handle, we keep quiet and we are waiting for someone to lead our way to undo that injustice. And it is also true that we have limited time on our hands and so we cannot protest injustices everywhere, so we selectively try to protest when there is a huge gap between a crime or issue and the injustice being done. There are so many injustices going on daily around the world that in our busy lives we lose track of it. We read it feel pity for it and then move on. There are so many crimes that the culprits get away with that we start to think that why that is happening and if something could be done but then our own problems come in between and we get busy with them. We would never be able to provide justices to all the people but at least the major ones we as a society we should make sure that the culprits of the crimes get what they deserve and for that to happen, we need a speedy and quick justice system which we are lacking since we try to make deals with people who deserve more time but due to deals escape justice. This should not be the case but it is happening and so the injustice goes on.

Can we ever reduce inequality?

The answer is a big maybe (but even I am not sure of it) because we see so much inequality that we tend to ignore it and keep on going on with our lives. And I cannot blame people because everybody is in a survival mode and if you are struggling to support your family (and sometimes your relatives) how can you think about reducing equality even one person at a time. You see ads on television and appeal by different charities for food, money and donations so that they can help the needy in their desperate times. Even after the U.S. and the rest of the world gives hundreds of billions of dollars in charity to help the poor, the inequality is increasing. This can be evident by the fact that poverty levels have gone up in several parts of the world and even the richest countries of the world like the U.S. and the Oil giants of the Middle East are struggling to reduce inequality. Is the population growing too quickly or is the concentration of wealth so much in some areas that inequality is inevitable? I can say that both maybe the causes but if you see that China has a huge population and they have successfully reduced inequality in their midst as compared to other countries by sound economic policies. Some people will say that China is an exception and it is a totalitarian state but if we can go past this political rhetoric and study the ways poverty and inequality can be reduced we can go a long way. If there is a will, there can definitely a way to find ways to reduce inequality. Just throwing money and not knowing how it is being utilized is no recipe for this great injustice to humanity. Sound government fiscal and monetary policies are needed along with peace and security to achieve this goal.

Covert operations

That means without authorization from the relevant authorities. And it is not just about military operations but I can put many operations which are covert that you will be surprised by it. The government has no longer a monopoly of these types of operations as now everybody is doing it. Let me explain what I mean. For example nowadays internet is a hot topic among teens and young kids (and also adults) and our lives have been changed drastically. So if you want to track what your kids are doing on the internet, you can covertly track their movements on the social media and other sites without them finding out. Many spouses and partners keep tab on their significant other if they come to suspect that they are cheating by hiring private detective to track the whereabouts of them covertly. Some websites without your knowledge keep track of your shopping and browsing habits. The government maybe the biggest user of these covert operations like surveillance and spying on its own citizens as well as non citizens and sending in military teams to do it but the ordinary citizens are doing it also covertly to track their loved ones, retailers tracking their customers etc. Now if you are going to ask me if it is legal or not, then that is the beauty of such operations. Even if somebody finds out, the main people behind it will never be caught, prosecuted or jailed since it is covert and they deny it to the max even if some indications suggests that they are involved. Watch out for these kinds of operations to increase in the future because they are hidden from the person(s) or entities actually are being targeted.

On the Business path: An introduction-4

I am not going to mince words when I say that owning a business is one of the toughest jobs you can ever have. All other professions may be hard but they sometimes shut down for relaxation but for a business owner for the first few years, you are constantly thinking about how to grow your business and even when you go to sleep that is the only thing you are thinking about. Everything else becomes secondary. That is why the statistics are true that only five percent of the business survive after their first year because the people who start their business cannot have imagined or do not have the patience to go after their passion of running their business. I have read about many former business owners who are back to working for somebody else because their businesses went down due to a number of reasons (which I will elaborate along the way in my future posts). So if you are willing to endure long sleepless nights, sacrifice your relaxation time and be oblivious to your other duties, then you are ready to jump into the wonderful and hardworking world of entrepreneurship. But wait everybody has duties and responsibilities which they cannot shy away from or ignore it all together and for this you will have to a work-life balance and I will try my best to bring you to this situation. But first we need to know if you want to go full time in your business venture or be on the cautious side and be a part time entrepreneur before you feel confident mentally and financially to devote yourself to it wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On the Business path: An introduction-3

But as they say in Finance, there is high risk and higher return. And so is the case with Business, you sweat yourself and you risk so much stuff and then you gain very much as compared to other profession. But if you don’t look outlook for everything, you will lose everything. This is the nature of business and that is why many people don’t even go through this path witnessed by millions of people who are enrolled in colleges and their dream is to work for some big reputable company and very few want to be business person. And in business as compared to working for somebody else you really a master of all trades as you have to know everything related to business otherwise you would not survive much longer. Now before even thinking about starting a business you need to know if you want to full time owner or part time initially. But even before this you have to know if you have the aptitude and the stomach to go on your own or you want to just part of a company where you come in put in a day's work and then go home without any worries since you know that at the end of the pay check period you will get your pay check whether your company makes enough money or not since as long as the company is working, they will keep on paying you since you have earned your day's salary. The attitude is important because once you start, if you falter than it will take a long time to jump back into the field of business since your mind is already frozen from failure.

On the Business path: An introduction-2

Most of the people become scared when they hear that only less than five percent of the business survives the first year of their creation and the rest are relegated to history. But even with these statistics to scare the living daylights out of you, have the creation of the business stopped. I mean for every 95 percent failure, does this mean that only five percent businesses are created with the intent that they will be successful. No, businesses are being created every day and very few people despite seeing many businesses fail, are eager to try to own their business. Don’t ever ask somebody who is employed by some company if they wish to go on their own because most probably they are quite glued to their jobs and don’t want to sacrifice their weekends and vacation to make it on their own, even though they may be working sixteen hours a day and also working on the weekend but for somebody else. You know people become doctors (one of the most difficult fields professionally) and they conquer so many other professions but when it comes to starting your own business, they shy away from even committing the same amount of time and energy. This attitude may have many reasons, namely the family pressure whether they are your parents or your spouse, statistics, uncertainty, fear of taking risks, upbringing culture and just plain laziness (at the end). I believe that, not to belittle the hard work that other professions do in order to achieve greatness, owning a business is on the top of my list in terms of hard work and sheer riskiness.

On the Business path: An introduction

As promised a few days ago, this is the second series I am introducing and it is regarding your decision or otherwise how to start a business and the trial and tribulations and agony and ecstasy that you will face as you go along. Just to be clear from the start, that I am not an expert on business creation or what is involved in it. Far from it, I am a novice but who have read so many books and read so many articles that some of you may not have the time or the inclination to go through it. And as I said that since I already own a dormant business, I know a thing about it too. But please don’t rely on my advice as you will see infinite number of articles on how to start a business. This series is just my input of how a business should be created and run. It is not meant to be taken as the final word but just for very introductory phase of creating and running a business. Maybe when I am educating you on how to create and run a business I will learn something new each time since you learn more by teaching others. Anyway to start with if you are ready for a business, you should know your strength and weaknesses. Not everybody can start a business or cares about it, the evidence being so many people being in the employment of other companies. Even when my wife, when I discuss with her, she says that she does not know that if the business will be successful and if I have the knowhow, ability and the patience to be a business owner, but if you don’t try it how would you know otherwise.

The war on terror-Pakistan 0, Terrorists 1 (or more)-2

My readers in other parts of the world will ask me why I keep on writing about Pakistan all the time. The reason are manifold, among them, it is a nuclear armed state with a dangerous insurgency going on its two of four provinces and the rest of the country is not even peaceful. It is at a time, war with India, the U.S., its own people. It has a restive population which does not see any future for themselves and their children. All the world powers are inherently interested in the survival of this country, except the rich citizens who have already made arrangement for their alternative residences. This country use to have a great potential of becoming the next Japan with its rich resources and huge potential but now it is just on survival mode. Nothing seems to be working correctly and if it tries too then there are enough people to pull that correctness down the drain. The U.S with all the anti Americanism (fuelled by hard line clerics, ultra nationalists, military and the government) is trying to make sure that this country does not fall apart but when can you do when the citizens are not even interested anymore. No lights, water and corruption rampant with crime out of control and insurgency going on two provinces and government's authority eroding every day, people who have the means or even without one are making sure that they escape this chaotic land of the pure (which the mean of Pakistan is by the way). So keep on checking back as I decipher this land which is rapidly descending into a land of human despair and misplace extremism.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The war on terror-Pakistan 0, Terrorists 1 (or more)

As you may have already read my last post on Pakistan’s answer to the so called "war on Terror" and I wrote that you should stay tuned for the next step. So here I am again staying tuned did not take too long as immediately after the Government of Pakistan "surrendered to the Warriors of Islam" that they killed a major general and a lieutenant colonel of the Pakistan Army. And the response from the government too bad and life goes on. The government is so week that it has completely surrender its authority over vast area of land to these so called Taliban and only time they protest is when the U.S. sends a drone to kill some of them. It is really pathetic to see that the people along with the government of Pakistan has decided to live in a state of fear and denial and then talk about fighting and liberating Kashmir when they don’t have the will to fight a small group of people with hand held weapons. The only thing the government can do is to offer condolences and empty anger because they don’t want to solve this problem. Because maybe one of the reasons is that it is not affecting the heart of the country mainly its Punjab province from where the overwhelming majority of the military comes from. It is surprising that how money and fear of life corrupts everybody and how the government is just there as a showcase since the slogan of sovereignty was long time gone away with the surrendering of the land to these so called "True" warriors of Islam.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Bling Ring (2013)

Supposedly based on true events. a group of teenagers uses social media to track celebrities and break in to their houses while they are way. Good acting by newcomers. Recommended for curiosity sake since it depicts the ugly side of social media and how it corrupts young people sometimes.

On the lighter side-Movies-World War Z (2013)-Brad Pitt

Great and different Zombie movie about a United Nations employee who races against time to find a cure for a virus which is spreading fast enough and infecting the population turning them into fast moving zombies. Despite production problems, a good movie. I loved it and you will too. Recommended

Monday, September 16, 2013

The bullying culture-2

But this culture is alive and well in the colleges and also in the Military where hazing is a fact of life. And it is not in the United States but in other countries, hazing is done but we choose to ignore it since it is between consenting adults and so we make half hearted efforts in that area. When you ask them, they say that it has been happening for years and it is rare that some person dies during this hazing process. Usually it happens to the people who want to join a fraternity or sorority and it is the same people who are desperate enough to join these clubs that they endure physical and mental abuse so that they could be part of a cool group. But even one casualty is too much in this area but we cannot do anything because these are adult kids who chose this initiation process from their own free will. And this happens in the military too where it is just a form of breaking in the new recruit to put in mildly and it happens in almost every military of the world. The constant yelling and the verbal abuse keeps on going in so many military academies that it has become part of the norm. And this culture has now invaded the school kids with devastating results. So even if we continue to tolerate in the adult culture, we should and must make every effort to eliminate it from our schools and on the internet aimed at kids.

The bullying culture

You know despite all the efforts of government officials, politicians, parents and school people, bullying lives on in our culture and also in other cultures, although the other cultures have not had the same kind of publicity and effort that people in the U.S. have done in order to prevent this from happening. But I was reading about a seventh grader in Florida who committed suicide because of the constant harassment on the internet by the school mates in the school where the victim attended. ( I am not going to reveal the name, gender and what was the reason because it is not my intent here to mention the whole case), but I can say that there is a systematic culture of bullying which has moved from being physical in school to the social media. And it is more dangerous since the parents and school officials can hardly keep up with the constant apps and other websites on the internet that contribute to this factor. I know that people are busy in their lives and are totally exhausted when they come home to even know what is going on in the social media and the kids are trying to hide from their parents what is going on in their lives, but still it is the parents’ job to keep track of their kid’s activities. But in order to do that the whole culture of bullying should stop. Bullying is not confined to schools but since the kids are not adults, they are the most vulnerable of all.

Fire on the Jersey shore

Last week there was a devastating fire on the jersey shore in the town of Seaside Park/heights and more than two dozen businesses were destroyed along with the recently reconstructed boardwalk. That community was already hit by last year's hurricane Sandy and was just recovering when this tragedy occurred. The famous boardwalk that was recently constructed was partially destroyed in the fire, the cause of which still remains unknown. There have been stories about business being built and now completely destroyed again. Although the governor of New Jersey has promised low cost loans and grants to rebuild the community. But it is really heart wrenching how you people who are trying to rebuild their lives, get pushed back again to where they were before. These owners have not have completely recovered the investment that they have put after hurricane Sandy and now they have to endure another year working to rebuild their lives and businesses. And it is not that businesses are destroyed but some of memories are also gone forever in this fire. Another irony is that the first time it was Hurricane Sandy which put so much water on the shore and destroyed their business and now the same water was used to put out the fire. But it is the resilience of the human spirit that some of these business owners have vow to rebuild their business and come back next year. And you can see that this kind of resilience is happening every day around the world. Let’s hope for the best for Jersey shore as it struggles once more under this new tragedy.

World of Finance: Job fairs-Do they really work?-3

Other thing I want to talk about is the attire that you wear at these fairs. They always say that wear business attire, but I have seen people coming to the fairs like they are coming to the movie theaters, casual and informal. Again I suspect that these people have no expectation for getting hired or because there is no clear interview procedure, your business attire would not help you distinguish from so many others qualified recruits. You are really better off wearing business casual because the recruiter would not see past through you if you wear a suit. Suits are not compulsory if you happen to be in one of these fairs. The only job fair that I recommend is the one that your college organizes since these recruiters are genuinely interested in recruiting from young graduates and they make a push to come to these schools frequently. And since I had to register to these job fairs to attend, I still constantly get email updates from them but I know by now how wasteful the time is to get ready and go there when you could be hunting job on your own through the internet (another post), personal contacts, networking, contacting employment agencies directly etc. If you still feel that the job fairs gives you good leads, then go ahead and make a trip to experience yourself, you will know what I am talking about. This post is usually about what happens in the U.S. but I suspect that some other countries may have the same problem as with the internet, these kinds of face to face contact with recruiters who look bored and want to just get over their assignment and when you don’t see much prospect of any interview happening, you will start to stay away from these job fairs.

World of Finance: Job fairs-Do they really work?-2

By the tone of my posts, you must have imagined how upset I am and you bet I am about it. From my experience, job fairs are nothing by give you a little hope to the unemployed people while at the same time, the politicians can point out that they have done their part of organizing these job fairs. But if you really want to show somebody you are doing something, you go to a job fair since there is nothing the people standing near their employer booths (a table and some card board of their company's name plus some brochure about what they do) can do to help but you give you their brochure, smile and then direct you to their website. Most of the information they are providing is already on the internet (even all of the information plus more) and the jobs that they are advertising is not even worth the consideration since they are not there to conduct an interview but collect the resumes. I just suspect that the companies represented at these job fairs have been coerced into coming to it by the politicians and elected officials to show to their voters that they are doing something about the unemployed people and then they washed off their hands. One of my friends told me that he had gone to such fairs as a recruiter because their company has made commitment long time ago and they were there just to collect the resumes. It is rare that somebody will get recruited right away in the fairs.

Friday, September 13, 2013

World of Finance-Job fairs- Do they really work

If you have seen my posts about my adventures in Job fair attendance, you will get an idea about how upset I was when I attended two or three of them. Okay everybody has different experiences regarding what it is like to attend and what expectation one should have. I was unemployed (two times) and during my long bout with unemployment, it becomes obvious that when you are desperate, you will want to avail any opportunity to get some job leads. I knew that I would really be wasting my time attending one but since sitting at home and sending my resume via internet (another topic, another post) would not do and also to show to my wife that I was doing something to get a job, I decided to join this sorry excuse to get a job band wagon. When I started I had the lowest expectation there could be but I was wrong, since it was worse than that. Standing in your suit in heat and with long lines lasting somewhat one hour was not my cup of finding a job and it was for so many other people too. Whenever I approached a desk for some job opportunity, they were just collecting resumes and directing me to their website. If I wanted to do that, I was already way ahead of them in this field. I do not know if it is me or something else but I did not see any kind of enthusiasm on peoples' faces. And the way it was being conducted was like we are living in an age without internet.

The war on terror from Pakistan's view

Since Pakistan is crucial for any U.S. (and NATO) withdrawal from Afghanistan as most of the equipment leaving Afghanistan has to come through road to the port city of Karachi, we need to see how that country's confused policy has created a weak government response to the almost daily bombings that are occurring there. A crucial meeting happened lately between all the parties (and there are numerous of them) to discuss the strategy of peace negotiations with the Taliban. And it was decided that they should get out of the war on terror which all parties believe that it is not there war and it has been thrust on them by the Americans or so the majority of the views goes in that country. So here is my problem, if they say that it is America's war than all the so called forty thousand people (which is the rough estimate claimed by the Pakistan that have died fighting and getting blown up since 2001) died for nothing. And for this matter, you will hardly find any monument or mourning for these thousands of people since for the living these people died in an "American war" and so life goes on for the rest of them. It is really pathetic that people who have died are not remembered and they don’t even know how many people have died since statistics are used as a secret and now they are ready to talk to Taliban and even at this point they don’t know which Taliban to talk to since there are so many splinter groups and don’t know if the talks will be successful enough so that everybody will be happy and peace will break out in the country. So stay tuned as we see what happens next in that part of the world.

Blind Patriotism-2

These ultra nationalists are so blinded by patriotism that they are ready to go to war with any country that they believe is belittling them. And you know that the whole history of the world is full of examples where one nation has asserted or to assert supremacy on another country and lost countless people in the process but they still are adamant that they did the right thing. This nationalistic superiority is without question is bad for a country but if you have some people controlling the policies of the country based on their extremists nationalistic views then it can only sow damage and destruction. We in the United States also have this sort of people who are called ultra conservatives who believe that the U.S. should be the Police man of the world even if we don’t have the money. They believe that they have been given divine rights to fix the problem of the world (usually by force). This blind patriotism leads to decisions which cannot be called rationale in any way and it clouds the minds to alternative which may not be as patriotic but more practical. But if you suggest one, you are obviously branded a traitor since the ultra nationalists don’t want to hear or listen to anything which clashes with their nationalistic view of how things should be done. Nobody is perfect and it so it goes with a country too since the country is made up of people who make decisions which can be right or wrong. And this blind patriotism has been the cause of many wars and agony and killings and I believe that it will continue to be so because decisions are done with heart and not with mind.

Blind Patriotism

You have seen them many times and in all places and even you might one of them and why shouldn't you be. Patriotism is good for the soul and for you and it is an honor that you sometimes proudly display. Be it an occasion for sports, war mongering, comparison between different countries and anything that will involve one's country, Patriotism is in full swing. People feel very proud about their country even if they can find some faults with its policies. Especially in sports you can see the height of this blind patriotism, where citizens of different countries clash when one team loses to another no matter if they are from the same religion. The tension and aggressiveness is very high in these games. And even when you are trying to defend your country, you see sometimes that people go overboard and property and sometimes killing also happens. And this feud between citizens escalates into accusations and fighting among nations. In every country there are patriotic people and then there are ultra nationalists who are the top of the heap. They believe (wrongly or rightly) that their country can do no wrong. They take it upon themselves as being the guardians of their countries culture, religion, borders and what not. They try to present solutions which do not have practical applications in the real world but they believe that once implemented their country will become utopia in a chaotic world. They look down upon even to their own people who they believe are not patriotic enough.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The revelations about surveillance-2

Times have changed and so do the surveillance tactics. You know I will be the first one to dislike the government being spying on me and checking all my emails, phone calls, my internet surfing habits, my television viewing, my regular mail and even my face to face conversation but tell me what can you do to put a stop to it. Can we unplug our selves from all this. Yeah right that will be the day. Every day I see people playing or looking at their smart phones and tablets (mostly smart phones) and even for a few minutes like in the elevator or just walking, they cannot put it down since it has become so much addiction. And with social media exploding, people want to connected and have already surrendered their privacy to the companies running the internet websites. So this surveillance will keep on increasing and government will have a treasure trove of data to find out who is a threat to them. But it is not only our government that does the spying (although we have unintentionally acknowledged it now) but all the countries of the world spy on their citizens while not acknowledging it outright. We may have the biggest one but surely other countries relative to their sizes may have bigger ones too and they not only spy on their citizens but on industrial secrets, so nobody is angel in this game. We can express as much outrage as we can but to tell you the truth, it was always there and always will be no matter how much disgusted we feel about it and unless we unplug ourselves and live in caves there is no escaping this fact.

The revelations about surveillance

So this Snowden guy (who is in Russia) has revealed that we are being watched very closely. So it has become a big news event but didn’t we know this long before or we were just acting like nothing was happening. I guess we were ignoring it because we have been too eager to share the private matters of our lives for too long but now if it is revealed why we so much surprised and at pain that our own government is spy on us using every technology available to us to make sure that we are supposedly safe. But you know this was bound to happen, how else I may ask should the government keep track of subversive elements hell bent on destroying the United States. If the terrorists are using every mean at their disposal to kill as many Americans, why should the U.S. be handicapped in its search to seek and destroy these elements and we should be using every available means at our disposal to protect ourselves. But now you will say that it is un-American and the government should take authorization from the courts to do the surveillance and it should only go after people whom they deemed is potential suspect. But how do you know who is a suspect when nowadays you don’t even know your neighbor completely. How will the government be able to convince the court that a person is suspect when they don’t even know themselves? The court will never give authorization to phone tap and do other surveillance things based on some hunch, it does not work that way.

On the business path-2

So this is the second series that I will be introducing in my blog which you will read on a regular basis. I am not an expert in how to run a business but I know a thing or two so that I can share by experience and expertise if you happen to go to that path in your quest to become successful. Every business has different risks, opportunities, barriers to entry, hurdles, regulation and to tell you in advance that what I write here will not be specific to a particular business but will be generalized because every business person encounters different situations and problems depending on the type of business they pursue. Owning and running a business is not easy task as you may have seen people rather work for somebody, show up for work and then go home to come another day. A salaried person work finishes when his day finishes with a certain number of hours (usually eight) but for the business person there are no set hours to follow. And it is this distinction that makes them earn more money. More hours to work during the week and still more to do on the weekend. So while the salaried people enjoy their weekend with their families and going to grocery shopping or the mall, doing chores around the house, going to the park or the sea shore or enjoy other activities since they think that they deserve it. All the while the new business owner is trying to find ways to grow their business. Even when the business owner is outside during the weekend, all he/she is thinking is how to grow the business, how to increase customers, create brand awareness, and increase revenues and what not. In his/her sleeping and waking hours, all the thinking is being done in terms of how his/her business needs to grow to a certain level. All this will be discussed when this series starts shortly. So stay tuned and enjoy this new series because it will be informative, entertaining and will contain many lessons for would be owners.

On the business path

When you hear somebody is a businessperson or owns a business the first thing that comes to mind is how rich he/she could be. And indeed when you happen to know one or have visited their houses you feel awe and sometimes jealous and envious of how much money they are making as compared to you in your salaried job and then you feel like you should have your own business and live comfortably. These are very envious thoughts and it should be encouraged but have you for a moment think about how much effort had been put into a particular business that is now making their owner's living comfortable? Why do the business people make more money than regular salaried person and is it right to become jealous of these business people when you are thinking that you working hard but not going anywhere in your life except to live pay check to pay check and living on the financial edge literally. I have been writing about business for a long time (almost four years now) but this is the first time I will be writing about what business people really face when building a company. Although I do own a business (a dormant one to say since I have all the ingredients to start right away) and as such I can say for sure that it will not only be my experience that you will be reading but also other businesses that face similar and not to similar situations on the way to owning a successful business.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Do you want paper or plastic?

If you have ever gone to a grocery store or any other store in the U.S. for that matter and are on the checkout line, the bag boy/girl or cashier wants to know if I want my groceries to be bagged in a plastic bag or a paper bag. And I carelessly reply that I don’t care about it. So they bag it in a plastic bag. Why? because it is easier to bag and hold the bag and second even if you say paper, that paper bag does not have a handle and it still will have to bagged in a plastic bag since paper bags can burst if there are heavy stuff inside, so what is the use of asking? Because they want people to say that they are environmentally conscious and they want people to have a say. And in my state of New Jersey, they have passed a law that all the groceries will be packed in paper otherwise they will charge us five cents for each bag of groceries, so now the people will just bring their bags to the market to bag their groceries. Is it really environmentally friendlier than the plastic that paper is all hyped to be? Although we all know that it takes more time to decompose a plastic than a paper bag but it would not do that much harm since we will then use maybe two or three paper bags to hold our heavy groceries so that they don’t fall out of the bag. So more bags will be ordered and more trees will be cut to serve this purpose. And since I like plastic better than paper so I will always favor plastic because it has a handle and sturdier than paper. So there should not be any specific law to ban one item or the other, let the people decide.

Doing Favors to GOD

This statement should not be even arising but I have seen in movies and also in public that if they do something good then GOD should pay in kind or do them a favor too. Does GOD really care if you do favors to him? I mean if he has created all creatures and this universe and the heaven and hell so what kind of favor that we can possibly do to get him to do favors for us. But as human beings we think that GOD likes to have favors and so we do the same to him as we do to our fellow human beings and act them we need to please (doing favors) to him so that he can also do favors to us. Although if we do good deeds we will be rewarded but if you are going to word it in terms of doing favors than it does not work like that. Whenever we pray, do good deeds we do it for ourselves. When we go to a mosque, church, synagogue, temple, shrine or whatever place of worship, we do it for ourselves and to seek redemption because there is a purpose we are here in this world other angels were enough to carry on the work of GOD. Although for some people this post may seems like alien to them because they may not believe in the Supreme Being but if they reflect this world can work perfectly and in completely harmony without somebody running it. So instead of doing favors to GOD and asking some favors from him right away, we should just pray that things go our way, work hard and honest and leave the final outcome to GOD.

World of Finance-2

Even if you are not making financial decisions, the world of financial is so linked that a decision made by some stranger, government or entity can have unintended affects far from their place of implementation. Be it real estate, college student loans, stock market, mortgages, home equity line of credit, loans of all types and shapes, bills and name anything else and finance is there. You can say that money does not buy anything and that is true to a certain extent but you do need money and some financial sense to figure out your own finances and the world of finance so that you are not caught off guard if you happen to need money for your needs. And I have noticed and read that even with the financial crisis; people are still clueless about this most crucial aspect of their lives that what is going on in the financial world. This is surprising considering that fact that there are countless websites and magazines and information overload regarding how to manage your money and understand financial things. People are woefully ignorant about financial issues and the only thing they know is what they have in hand and what is going out. Even after spending so much money on financial advisers and in your face financial news, the regular person is very much ill informed about what is happening to his/her finances and to the financial world around them. Even blaming the people who have nothing to do with wall street but happen to work there in some other capacity blame them for what is wrong with the financial screw ups that comes along the way sometimes. So with this in mind, I decided that it is time I also put my input since with so many years of experience and education, I can be also qualified to state my opinion about everything financial

World of Finance

As promised here is the series I was talking about in my previous posts regarding the world of Finance. I have always been fascinated by it and that is why I did my bachelors and masters in finance. And if you have been frequent reader of my blog, you may have come across many articles regarding what is happening in financial world. But with this series, there will be more frequency to posts and more articles. I always read financial articles of interest and it is not confined to one magazine but several ones. And even if people want to avoid the news, they are drawn to it since it sometimes becomes the most prominent news of the day or even days. And who would forget the financial crisis of the year 2008 with two major investment banks closing and the great recession setting in throwing many people (including I) onto the unemployment line. The financial news have always been with us, be it with the Great Depression or other recessions and the financial problems of other countries but the difference is that before the internet, we had to rely on the Television and print media to inform us of the happenings in the financial world and sometimes we had to wait for a day or two to get the full news story and the impact was not felt immediately. But with the internet, we get our news as it is unfolding and the impact on our lives is much faster and instantaneous.

9/11 Anniversary 2013

As in past years, another anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks have arrived. Since I work nearby the site of the attacks and have seen the new tower being rebuilt, I know where I was at that fateful day that has changed the world so much. I was way uptown not many miles away from the attack center and when the first one happened, somebody had a small TV and they said that it was just an accident, but when the second plane attacked the second building then we all knew that it was not an accident and we had to evacuate our building. Chaos and anxiety ensues as rumors started to spread that more planes are coming, the number being in the double digits and you know that when there is panic, you will believe any rumor or false news. But right now when I reached the office, there were hundreds of cops and family members ready to read the names of their loved ones. This tragedy has changed the way we look at the world and even after the passage of 12 years, it seems like it is something new and we are constantly reminded that we will never forget that fateful day and will continue to fight the terrorists we try to destroy our way of life. But even while we continue to fight and seem to move on, we are always reminded like when we go the airport and other areas that security remains tight and things will never be the same as before 9/11/2001 and we should get use to it. We have gone through two wars spending trillions of dollars to find the mastermind of the attacks and also wage war on terror (which by the way is still going on) and our life even when the politicians say that we should go on with our daily lives will not be the same again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Introducing two new series-3

The other series I will be introducing will be called "On the business path" and it will detail my own as well as the business side of what you should or not do based on what I have experienced, read, heard and taught over the years. As some of you business owners know and many others who don’t own a business know that running a business is a complicated and exhausting process with many uncertainties along the way. No one day is similar to before. If it has pitfalls then it also has rewards. It can have good days and bad days and the biggest one of the uncertainty is that it can fail due to multiple factors like bankruptcy, slow sales, competition, slowing economy, fraud, overhead costs, wrong business decisions and countless others which you cannot anticipate in advance. This series will give an insight of how I will be going along growing my business and also tell you the how to grow yours or start one if you have the inclination to do so. Mainly this one will be more about how to go handle a business and you would definitely find my own side of what I am doing for the business venture. I know that these two series will help deal with people's financial experience and education. It is not all exhaustive since you can find way more information on other websites but it is my own view without any corporate sponsorship but even if I had one I would still provide an unbiased approach to what I think should be done right. It is just my opinion and if you feel like you don’t agree with it, just leave your comments and consult a professional and licensed person. In order for me to do this, I need your monetary support in the form of donations of any amount so that I may succeed in this endeavor and provide you free and interesting insight to the fascinating world of finance and business.

Introducing two new series-2

Just before starting these two new series I want to clearly emphasize that I am not endorsing any product nor getting any remuneration for my posts. Nor I have any professional license that allows me to dispense advice to you. I just have an bachelors and Masters degree in Finance and extensive reading habits that will enable me to provide you my take on what is going on regarding the financial side of our world which people are usually unable to comprehend or simply ignore. The first of the series will be called "World of Finance" and it will deal exactly as what it says what is happening in the world of Finance and how you can understand and cope with it without getting burnt and angry at people who have very little do with Financial decision that is happening in the board rooms of corporate world. Because people have a tendency to blame where the blame is not due so I want to set this straight from the onset. I have no intention to put every financial news that is available every day and every hour since I don’t have the expertise or the time to do it on a regular basis. I cannot analyze everything about what is happening in the financial world since it will consume much time and also since I am not getting paid for anything, it will just become a financial blog of sorts rather than the different opinions that I share on it but any major news I will be able to analyze and provide coverage along with some opinions (strictly) to suggest what to do with your money extra or not.

Introducing two new series

I am excited to introduce two new series in my blog which you would hopefully find interesting and entertaining. As you know I have been writing my blog since October 2009 and now in its fourth year have grown to more than 1700 posts and hopefully reach 2000 posts this year. With the addition of these two new series I hope to write more and increase the post frequency. And if you have been a frequent visitor to my blog you are already know that I have two long ongoing series one being called "'On the lighter side- Travel" and the other one called "On the lighter side-Movies". The movies one is very frequent but the travel is not that frequent (due to financial constraints although I love to travel and see new places). But the new ones I will be introducing, you may have been familiar with it too since I use to post infrequently throughout my blog. But after reading and analyzing so much reading, I have come to the conclusion that there is a need to deal with the financial inadequacy of the U.S. public and also many people around the world who are clueless about what goes on in the financial world which is of utmost important to all the people alike. But as you already know that there are numerous websites out there and shows on television and newspapers, magazines devoted solely to the happenings and going on in the financial world and I thought why not I put my own perspective to this crucial world of finance.

On the lighter side-Movies-Star Trek into darkness (2013)-Chris Pine

I have not seen the first one so I cannot comment on that but this is the sequel to that reboot of the Star trek series with a younger cast. In it captain Kirk is back at home where a renegade force detonates bomb making home a devastated landscape and captain Kirk in order to take revenge goes after the culprit (s) who is responsible to the far reaches of the Universe. Excellent special effects and exciting story makes it a must see for Star Trek and science fiction fans. Recommended

Monday, September 9, 2013

The chain wars-3

And are we finished with these wars. I don’t think so because recently I read that a politician was saying that attacking Syria will give a clear signal to Iran not to pursue its weapons program. Why have we become such a moral authority that we are dictating for other people what to do and what not to do. We, the United States don’t have any money to sustain one war and we are constantly getting into one after another and who knows that even if we happen to attack Syria and the situation does not change there, we might have to send our war weary troops on the ground then we would be real deep trouble because Syria is like a combustion that is ready to explode and it will provide more jihadist to go there to fight the Americans. Right now the jihadist are fighting the Syrian regime whom they think is not Islamic enough how would you know that after getting rid of them they would not turn on any occupying force (if we happen to send troops there) even if they are the benefactors. And by all accounts, the limited strikes would not do that much damage to the Syrian regime anyway. But again why are getting into one war after another and still want to get into more since we are more morally right than other countries. Why does not the so called Arab league do something since they are also pushing to strike one of their own? Again this addiction to wars has to stop because we cannot keep on rescuing citizens of other war torn countries when the other rich nations keep on cheering on the sides and don’t spend much money and don’t send in their forces to fight to liberate their new found causes.

The chain wars-2

And while we even did not finish that one, another war was thrust on us in the shape of Libya. Although Libya was a joint European effort involving France and other Non American countries but since they did not have the extensive logistics that the U.S. have, the U.S. had to provide it to them so we got indirectly involved in it (but thankfully we did not send troops on the ground). Now that we were done with our war in Iraq and trying to leave Afghanistan with as little or no troops by the end of 2014, we have again found ourselves getting involved in Syria due to alleged chemical weapons use by that country's government (not proven conclusively yet so that is why I said allegedly). And we are cautious enough this time to involve Congress to authorize the use of force, although the U.S. public remains opposed to any military action. It looks like everybody else in the world is looking towards the U.S. to do these strikes and really I am sick and tired of the U.S being the Policeman of the world while our deficit and debt is getting out of control and we have so many financial problems that we don’t want to distract ourselves with this another war. This is what I call chain wars where you have not finished the one war you are in and trying to start another war with even less money on hand than before. Why can't the world take care of their own problems and let the U.S. take care of its own first?

The chain wars

No it is not about the chain stores that we encounter every now and then and also read about it that how they fighting for our money. But it is about the wars that we have been fighting for the last decade. If you have heard an expression that somebody is a chain smoker you will see where I am going with this topic. A chain smoker is the one who has not finished the first cigarette when he/she lights up a new one with the burning ashes of the one which is already in his/her hand. So as we approach the new push to strike Syria, I would like to elaborate on this matter a little more. I don’t know if this word has been coined before or not but if you look at the wars that we have been getting involved, it is pretty much clear that we are into chain wars and this addiction is not going away no matter how less money we have in our budget. Let us start with the attacks of September 11, 2001, as I will not talk about the wars that the United States has been previously engaged in. When the U.S. was attacked, we quickly figured out that the attack was planned and directed from Afghanistan. The attack was justified in order to destroy the terror infrastructure that was established there but the war did not end there when we decided that Iraq should be the target since at that time, it was supposedly hiding Chemical weapons and also we somehow convinced the U.S. public that Saddam (the Iraqi President at that time) was a threat to the world and had to be removed by force.

Replace dreams with a dose of reality

I wrote long time ago about what it means to follow your dreams and why dreams don’t pay your bills if you don’t have a backup. It is that the dreams can be followed but with a healthy dose of reality and if you believe that on the way to achieving your dream you will bankrupt yourself, alienate your loved ones, destroy your health and still are as far away as the next solar system from ours then it is time to abandon your dreams. I also have a dream to have a successful business and my blog to reach thousands if not millions per day and I should be financially secure but in order to pursue that dream, I am not abandoning my regular job but struggling to make my dreams come true while providing financially for my family. And it is not that I can only do it but you can keep your dream but be realistic about your financial situation. And we are in a situation right now that you don’t want your kids to accumulate huge college debt and then in order to pursue their dreams add more debt while that elusive dreams consumes their precious productive time. Again I reiterate here as I have been doing all along that dreams does not pay your bills and or your bills are not put on hold while you pursue your dreams or passion. And while you are at it don’t be shy to ask your friends and family to help you in pursuing your dreams, you never know where the opportunity comes from.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The allergies we all have

We have become an allergic nation, and we have been overrun with it, especially the food allergies that we find in our kids. The peanuts allergies have become the worst as now most of the schools are peanut or nut free and there is a separate section in the cafeteria where the peanut allergic kids eat their lunch. Even some airlines have now become nut free since there are so many kids being diagnosed with it. And it is not only peanut allergies that I am talking about but other kind of allergies like whey, wheat, sesame seeds, milk and other kinds where some people immune system cannot tolerate these kinds of things. I don’t know where these kinds of allergies are coming from but when I was growing up I never heard any kid having these kinds of allergies. And every kid could eat anything and the parents would not have to worry about if the kid will have any reaction to food allergies. And if the food allergies were the only ones we should have to deal with, we have our own allergies to content with and it has nothing to do with food but with other things like slow drivers on the fast lane, very slow drivers in any lane, cameras on stops, outrageous bills, low or stagnant pay, lousy movies, sick during your vacation time, annoying customers, sitting in the doctor’s office, going through the security lines at the airport. These are some of the allergies I have mentioned above and I am sure there will be lot more for every individual.

The minimum wage protest-2

So if we believe that if the fast food workers have their way, then there will be a ripple effect and more people will want to have raise because the fast food companies will have to raise their prices and in order to afford the prices either the other workers salaries will have to rise proportionately or the demand will drop accordingly because people will either don’t come that often or maybe use more homemade food. I would have been more supportive if the demand would be down to USD 10.00 because it is more manageable and most of the people who frequent these places would be able to afford a little increase in the price of their food or maybe the fast food companies may absorb this labor costs more easily and don’t raise the price at all. And the people who have given support to this unrealistic demand know very well that it is not going to happen overnight. So why give support to this unrealistic demand because it makes for a good politics and potential voters in the future. And further more you feel good about helping the less fortunate people (even if does not help them any bit). And asking for dramatic increase is more effective and shocking and popular than little increments. And I know that maybe with a little increase which is much less dramatic, these protests will fizzle out as economic reality will set in. I have not even gone into the logistic of how this increase will phase (that is another topic in the future).

The minimum wage protest

Lately protests of sorts have started to occur in the fast food industry. And it is about how much they are getting paid now and what the future pay should be. And the protests are getting louder. So what is the issue here? It is that the workers say that they are getting the minimum wage of USD 7.25 or so (coming out to approximately USD 15,000 or so based on forty hours) to at least USD 15.00 hours or more than double of what they are getting (which comes to USD 30,000 based on the same hours). Another protest is also going on with Wal-Mart® employees who are saying that they want at least the wages should be minimum USD 25K. Although I sympathize with their plight but to demand double of what they are making is particularly absurd to me. And since I am not a conservative person who may be against this raise, let us analyze this issue before we get carried away with emotions. It is nice to protest for what you believe but is it really your right to demand such huge increase where the margins are thin. Although fast food companies are making huge protests but they have to earn money for their investors and also hire more people. When I was applying for jobs even with my MBA degree I was being offered jobs with USD 15.00 and that was a stretch too and generous on the part of the employers. So how can the protestors expect to be paid so much so fast?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Outrageous labor costs-4

The world is a different place now and labor costs are coming down due to internet and automation and then we see here that a living wage protest is going on (more on that later in another post) because people are unable to afford to pay their expenses and have to rely on government subsidies and grants (in turn taxing the already heavily taxed taxpayers). And what will this increase do but to further increase other costs and putting more people out of a job since more people will apply to it reducing the demand for the job. I mean everything has become so expensive because the wages have become stagnant but the price of stuff is going up every now and then. It is imperative that labor costs come down otherwise more and more jobs will be going overseas (and they are already for which figures are not shown/released). And if it were not for the affordable clothes imported from other countries, we would be all bankrupt by now and it is not just clothes but every other thing that is made in cheap labor countries that keep our living expenses somewhat in check but that finishes really fast when you have to factor in the local labor costs. Even if you want to have some plumbing or electric work done the amount of just coming out to check out what is wrong is USD 75.00 and if they work then you get a bill with which if it is not plumbing related you can buy a new replacement thing. I mean how long will these outrageous labor costs last?

Outrageous labor costs-3

This labor costs looked nice a few decades ago but in order to be competitive we need to make it come down not to force other countries to raise theirs in order for them to be competitive. I also read not to while ago that ninety six percent of the apparel that we buy is not made in the United States due to high costs and also nobody wants to work in factories. I have often heard people say that to kids that if they earn some money, they are putting in their college fund and the kids reply yes without knowing that college is now overblown stuff. But probably you must be thinking if my kid will also go to college and the answer is yes but apart from that I want my kid to have practical experience also which is actually lacking in colleges (trust me I know that since I have been in college for too long). I can understand that going to college to important and learning different subjects give you a good sense of different fields but really do you want to major in English, history, languages and other humanities and art courses and then complain about not finding a job in these finds. It is fine to do this when you don’t have to worry about your college bills and not doing anything later on in life, but for most of the people the college expenses are a reality and they have to find a job to not only pay these college bills but also have living expenses.

Outrageous labor costs-2

Although I know that they told me the cost separately from the oil change and I agreed to it but when the whole invoice came out, I was shocked to see that apart from the sales tax (another tax as you may have seen my previous post on Middle Class), there was the costs of parts and the labor one was the biggest one which was bigger than all the other categories in the bill. If you happen to go to a private workshop, you will see that the rates for labor are in the range of USD 65-75 per hour. And then they say that the jobs are disappearing from the United States due to low manufacturing costs in other countries. I am just stunned that how much the labor costs and the people who go to college (I am not saying that the mechanics do not since they also have rigorous training to do that stuff), but still we waste ( I should say it by now) four years of our productive lives in college and then if finances permit go to graduate school and still would not make that kind of money per hour. I don’t know how much these workers are paid but by the amount of time in two hours they make like USD 65.00 per hour, but this are my point why this is so expensive. Although it is labor intensive but come on, the people in the office looks nice and use their brains (not to say that the mechanics don’t do that ) to do their job and don’t get down and dirty but still get the people in the nice offices don’t get paid that much. It is a huge amount and even with all the talk of loss of manufacturing jobs we forget how much we pay our labors.

Outrageous labor costs

I may have told you once before long time ago that the car dealers rip you off as you are some filthy rich person. But due to the particular nature of the problem with my car which two of the independent workshops were unable to fix and directed me to the dealer I had no choice but to follow their advice and went to the dealer. Initially I thought that I would get that problem fixed along with oil change. But as many of you have find out once you start working on a car you are shocked to hear that this and that part are at the end of their life cycle and needs to be replaced (with somewhat urgency) and you are at considerable risk if you drive without fixing it as it is told by your car dealer mechanic and in somewhat irrational sense since you are already there you might as well take care of this additional problem as well. It was just air filter, cabin filter and some minor stuff including oil change, tire rotation and the amount was upfront given to me. I had also be warned that the rear tire brakes need to be fixed but the amount was too much to handle and I already had experience with car dealers charging you outrageous amount of money as compared to local independent and even chain shops, so for this reason I declined and decided that the rest of things should be taken care off first.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Revenant (2009)

Funny movie about a soldier who comes back to life and joins his friend in quest for blood which sustains his decomposed body. It is really a funny and different kind of zombie movie. Recommended

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Regrets of life-2

Other regrets include not spending time with your family, making the wrong choices when you know that there was no way back. My biggest regret is that I was unable to see my father on his death bed since I was in the United States and he was in his home country. And this regret will remain with me for the rest of my life. And as you know you may have a list of top level regrets that you may have with your life. And once you have done something you don’t have time to do cost and benefits analysis right away but later on even a day or hours after that chore is done and it was time or money sensitive and you lose something on it, then the feeling of regret sinks in and stays for days after. Do you ever get over your regrets? May some do if the costs and expenses is lower. But if the pain is huge and irreversible then your regrets lasts way longer and hurts as well. And since we don’t know the future, we can only come to regret our decisions, once the decisions have been implemented and its affect felt. But no matter what an exemplary life that we lead, there will always be some decisions where you will come to regret that if you had done differently, the outcome would have been more favorable to your liking. And that is the regret we will always have as one of our regrets in life.

Regrets of life

I am sure that everybody has regrets in life of what they have done or achieved or what they could have avoided in the first place. And I have many regrets in my life (which right now I am not comfortable to elaborate online) but anyway regrets are part of being a human being. The regrets you have may start to crop up when you are at an age where you reflect upon what you should not have done at a certain point in time based on what you know right now. Like when you came out of college, you may regret that how much you paid for your education by the loans that you took out which was unnecessary now since you are able to pay or secure a job with enough income to pay the loans back with interest plus your living expenses. This is the biggest regret that I have been reading on the internet who took out huge loans to pay for education which is not paying them enough due to the economy and other circumstances. And this regret of taking out huge amount of students’ loan reverberates throughout their lives, as they are unable to secure well paying jobs, delay marrying and starting a family and then buy their new starter house. Then another regret related to it is if we would have gone to a good college or choose a major which is more in demand or more still listen to your parents advice and not follow your dreams to the max without realizing how are you survive on your dream.

On the lighter side-Movies-Byzantium (2012)-Gemma Artenton, Saoirse Ronan

A different kind of vampire movie in which two mysterious women come to reside in a coastal town and start killing the inhabitants and suck blood out of them. Very slow moving and not for all tastes. Not Recommended

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On the lighter side-Movies-Long Weekend (Thai-2013)

Horror movie in the mode of Friday the 13th about a group of kids who go to a island on holidays and pull a prank on nerdy kid which leads to all sort of horror on Friday the 13th. If you like Thai horror, you can add this one to the list but not that great. Recommended only for Thai fans but even they may find it little underwhelming. All others don’t waste your time on it.

On the lighter side-Movies-Static (2012)-Sarah Shahi, Sara Paxton

Weird mystery movie about a couple who had lost a child and marriage on the rocks move into an isolated house and one night encounters a mysterious stranger who arrives at their door for help and all hell breaks loose afterwards. Slow in the start but with unexpected ending I would give it a onetime watch. Recommended only for one time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In search of topics

I have been writing my blog since the end of October 2009 and until now I have done almost 1750 posts and sometimes it becomes really hard to figure out what to write. But after a few days I am able to get my thoughts together and start thinking about topics to discuss and what is happening around me. But really sometimes it becomes hard to think about what your views and opinions are after reading an article that you think will interest you and your readers. I mean what may seem interesting to me may or may not be interesting to my readers and what applies to the U.S. (where I live) may or may not apply to where my readers live. But usually I try to write stuff which is of interest to all my viewers and this also includes what I do in my daily life or when I am on vacation where I am going I try to give account of what I have experienced. But in order to keep on writing, there should not be any dearth of topics since the world is constantly changing and events are happening all the time. Plus I will be introducing new topics which are not one off posts but a whole series of posts that people can enjoy and learn from. And one of these topic series will be about the financial world where I will be discussing the latest happening in the world of financial and how people can save and earn more since I believe the knowledge of finance is woefully inadequate right now. So new topics will be cropping up very shortly.