Sunday, October 29, 2017
I will say this upfront that I am not a big fan or even a fan of electric cars which have now become the darling of the car industry and becoming popular enough that one country has decided to go all out for the electric cars with another one not much behind in order to reduce the so called carbon efforts released in the air. My concerns are although very premature early in the advent of electric cars is the scarcity of charging stations, there are not enough or even very few charging stations along the route that I travel and even if I travel far I have not seen that much. Furthermore the time it takes to charge a car takes anywhere between one and one half hour (I may be wrong or off by some minutes) as compared to gasoline cars which takes five minutes to fill up. As you all know time is money, so what do you do when you will be charging your car? I have not seen any gas stations being a hangout area and there is no example of what charging stations would look like. In case of gas powered powers, you can fill to whatever amount you want to fill, how about the charging stations, would you be able to fill to a certain amount. Also electric cars are now expensive as compared to gas powered and even putting in the tax breaks you get when you buy one (in the U.S. I mean) they are still more expensive. Unless there are no gas powered cars produced and it becomes mandatory to buy an electric car, I don’t see myself driving one in my lifetime.
I can understand that most of the people will be upset with what the white supremacists, alt right and neo Nazi will preach in the name of free speech but in their zeal to drown out any voice that negates their world view, there has been increasing efforts not to give space to the above mentioned people and thus stifle the free speech that is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. I know some speech will hurt the feeling of some people or even majority of people but that does not mean we ban the speech and stifle free exchange of information and ideas, if you want to fight hate speech with hate speech of your own by banning the opposite view, you are also committing hate speech. In a free society like the U.S. if you don’t like what other person is saying, you have to come up with your own speech to counter their argument, not resort to banning what they person has to say. Now there has been tremendous effort by the anti hate speech people to ban speakers who are known white supremacist even in places which have been known earlier to have liberal attitude towards free speech. This is not how the democracy works, although some people may not agree with me on this one, but the best way to go about this is to allow what that person says and then decide if you like their speech or you don’t like it, banning ti will not solve the problem because in the age of internet, they will always find audience of their speech of hate. Let them speak out in the open as it is also their right to say what they want to say, provide counter argument to them and then move on.
Now this is really tricky for me, as I am a big advocate of free speech but when a free speech does turns it into hate speech. And I am sure many people will find it hard to distinguish between the two. Let me see if I can differentiate between the two. Although some people believe that anybody can say anything at any time without any blowback or consequences but free speech do have its limits as long time ago Supreme Court case where the U.S. supreme court stated that you cannot yell fire in crowded theater and call it free speech as it will hurt lot of people. The same logic can apply today as words can hurt and incite violence as free speech can turn into hate speech which although some people will keep it at a speech level but there will be some who will turn free speech into a call to commit violence against people he or she may have not liked but was afraid to do anything about it earlier. And this same free speech some people who will grant themselves that privilege do not want to accord the same kind of freedom to people who under the guise of free speech preach violence in their hidden speeches and messages. And this exactly what happened when a march by alt-right white people who have come to Charlottesville to protest the pending removal of Robert Lee statue triggered an equally noisy counter demonstration and the violence that ensued became an unwanted distraction of what the issue was about.
A group of armed terrorist hold Iranian Embassy hostage in 1980 london while a trained gropu of forces prepare to storm the embassy. Okay movie, not much action though. Not Recommended
A group of high school students gain super power strength to fight to save the world. Almost 60 percent of the movie was a slow moving drama and when the action came it was too short to retrieve the movie. Not Recommended
A young employee is asked to retrieve the CEO of his company from a mysterious wellness center in Switzerland which is not what it seems. Although way too long, but I enjoyed the movie. Recommended with caution
In the wake of all the racism and injustices that has been going on in the United States, a favorite target has become the statue of different historical figures erected about several cities in the U.S. which are supposedly considered controversial or symbolizes the hatred that statue elicit or that person have done in the past. Due to this controversy, a case pending to demolish the statue of the Confederate Civil war leader Robert Lee erected in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia created quite violent showdown when a march by alt right white extremist group decided to protest the pending removal and march in the town. Obviously when passions are so much high, there is bound to be violence despite some calmer heads caller for restraint. In the wake of this controversial march, New York City also decided to look into the Christopher Columbus statue and other ones erected about the city. As this was not enough, some people decided that instead of celebrating Christopher Columbus day, they replaced it with indigenous people’s day. There has also been vandalism to the statues also. And naturally resentment would not stay only on one side of the controversy, both side are equally passionate about making sure the public hears only one side of the story. My take is that if majority of the people decide that the statues are not what they want, then they should be removed but if some of the people want to preserve history, the statues are just harmless pieces of clay which should remain there and if somebody don’t like it then they should ignore it while walking past them. There is no need to have the kind of violence that everybody saw in Charlottesville, VA and thing like this can be resolved much peacefully and democratically.
A few weeks ago a supposedly mad man decided to initiate the worst mass murder in modern U.S. history by killing 58 people and injuring hundreds (I know I am late to the news). The events started when over thirty thousand fans jam packed an open air stadium for a country music festival and the mad man used his high powered weaponry to kill 58 people and injuring hundreds from his 32nd story window, ultimately killing himself when police approached his room in a hotel. Apparently after more than three weeks, there is still no motive found for his behavior. Some people think he is a mad man who did the unthinkable but I don’t think a mad man would install cameras in and outside his room to know who will be nearby his room. Reportedly he bought half a dozen weapons under the noses of the hotel staff to carry out his carnage. He also cannot be a mad man to make a fool out of every hotel staff member and carry out his evil act. Despite the Islamic extremist group assertion claim without providing any evidence that the killer and converted to Islam few months ago and was their soldier, the investigators have failed to find any link whatsoever. This massacre has again reignited debate about how easy is to get guns in the United States and issues about gun control (another post in the future I will write about). I felt so sorry to hear about the loss and there are no words to describe how it would have been at the time of the killings. But some people who thrive on conspiracy theories are at it again believe that the massacre never happened. To each his own, but for the people and their families who have been directly affected by it, it will be hard to imagine how their lives would would go on.
Already under a burden of nearly 120 billion in debt obligations to creditors and to its own citizens, Hurricane Maria was not what they wanted. The entire U.S. territory lost power and still is 70 percent without power after one month of hurricane. Since the citizens of Puerto Rico are also U.S. citizens, most of them who had relatives in the mainland United States took the first opportunity to fly to mainland since the government is not sure when the lights will come back on and when life will return to some sort of normalcy. The territory was already losing its young population and with this hurricane, it will lose more. Although after every disaster there are claims to build it much better than before but with so much debt and already having declaring bankruptcy, I don’t know if private investors will lend money to a bankrupt U.S. territory unless the loaned money is backed by U.S. Treasury. The recent is that the recovery is ongoing with water and electricity being restored, airport is completely open now but the beaches are closed due to fear of water contamination from sewage water. The tourist industry is not up and running yet as most of the big hotels are closed for repair and without electricity, getting generators to work is not going to help long term. Although some of the restaurants are open but it is hard for them to cook as the ingredients are hard to come by. Although it will take years to bring normalcy back to Puerto Rico but who is going to predict that next year will be find and hurricane free, we do hope they recover but the threat of hurricane will always remain and they have to guard against that threat now more than ever.
This Hurricane season which is about to end in 2017 has been the most active that I have seen for a long time. Hurricane Harvey came first with its devastating epic rains drowning out Houston with almost 52 inches of rain and also some parts of Louisiana. The federal government was in the process of helping the people there when another hurricane with category 4 winds came directly to hit Florida and Caribbean islands and if this was not enough Hurricane Maria wrapped up the devastation in Puerto Rico with a direct hit to it devastating the whole island and leaving the already bad infrastructure in even worse shape. South Florida especially the Florida keys were hit with high waves and lost power but now have quickly rebounded but still people of Houston and Florida will have a long road of recovery ahead as it will take many years to recover from the financial loss and emotional toll. And as if Hurricane Harvey was not enough then the Caribbean and Puerto Rico got hit first by Hurricane Irma and direct hit with Category 4 to several Caribbean islands and also Puerto Rico. The French island of St. Martin was in utter devastation and so were Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and also the two U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. John and also the British Virgin Islands. But the most impact was on Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria had a direct hit and complete chaos ensued there as the whole infrastructure of the island which was already in deep trouble and in bad shape went into complete meltdown.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
An Egyptian mummy is brought back to life to create havoc on earth. Big budget reboot/remake of the previous movie with Brendan Frasier. Action packed. Just watch the action and ignore the story. Recommended with caution
A former Pakistani army officer brought back from retirement to battle terrorists plotting a major attack. For a Pakistani movie, impressive actions but otherwise a normal action movie. Recommended for curiosity sake
Two sisters are trapped in a steel cage at the bottom of the ocean in shark infested waters. Not enough horror but enough stupidity to go around. Not Recommended
A martial arts master comes to the U.S. to look for his sister. Martial arts mayhem ensues. Recommended with caution
A simple farmer in the year 1922 plots with this son to kill his wife in order to save his farm. Slow moving horror drama. Recommended with caution
Since it was a beautiful day to be outside, the parking lot was already getting full by the time we reached there around on o’clock. I was so happy to find the place that I visited almost nine years ago, and although I do not remember some of the stores there, but I found some from whom I bought stuff before. Since we forget to buy water from pharmacy, the first thing we did was to go to an outside stand which was selling water, lemonade and other liquid items. My sister decided to get lemonade to quench her thirst. Since I did not get my coffee in the morning, I went to a local coffee shop and ordered a small French vanilla latte coffee and it was really delicious. We went to a nearby Amish store which sold homemade eatery times and then went to a souvenir shop nearby. We bought some magnets and when I was paying for the items, I put my coffee cup down to take out my wallet to pay for the items. and the two ladies attending the cash register said that the coffee smells really good and one of the them said that even though she does not like coffee but the smell of my coffee was really great. After browsing some other stores, we ate some delicious locally made ice cream. I told my sister that we us have buggy ride; she was not that keen as she was more excited about going to the outlet all in a nearby town. But I persuaded her to take the buggy ride as it was something different in the U.S., she relented and we bought tickets for the ride, we actually got a discount on the bigger duration ride. We started our journey on the buggy and went through open spaces and farmlands of Lancaster country full of corn crops as more buggies passed us by with some of their occupants waving at us. After the buggy ride, we decided to go to the outlet mall called tanger® outlets which are all over the United States. After browsing some stores, we started to drive back home and were able to reach home without any traffic.
My elder sister was here for a visit from overseas and instead of taking her to mall, which she has done several times or going to the beach. I decided to take her to a place unique in the U.S.A in the heartland of the Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is about 150 miles from my house in New Jersey so the driving time would be around two and a half hours including all the traffic, but including any road construction or accidents along the way. I had already been to the town called Intercourse but it was almost since years ago so I was also excited to see the place again. Leaving around 10 in the morning on Saturday, we started our journey but as usual we encountered road construction which reduced our speed considerably but we did not waste much time passing by construction and traveling towards our destination. When we reached Intercourse, I tried to find the same place where went before but since it has been almost nine years, I was having a hard time finding that place as Amish country encompasses several towns not too far from each other. It was a beautiful day and the crowds of people were everywhere. After getting back and forth on a road with several tows, I noticed open area thaw was more crowded than other places and then it hit me that I had seen the same place and I had already passed it before too. It is called Kitchen kettle village, as small area with almost 60 shops and restaurants and also buggy rides which were available in some other areas too.
If you live in the United States and call the toll free number, you might of I should say definitely heard this on the phone before being connected to a real person. This phrase, I have been hearing for a long time and without saying yes or no I just wait to get connected to a real person and a while ago I started thinking that what kind of quality purpose the companies want to train their employees on and it hit me that it was more for their own legal protection duh! So dumb not to figure it out before. The companies want to record not for quality purposes but in case something goes wrong, they will have your call recording as evidence in the courts. This message is so prevalent that you cannot get pass through it and there is no choice of either opting out or opting in. you have to listen to it in order to talk to the company representative. I may be wrong about it but very few recordings are done for quality purposes and most are done for evidence as explained above. Since presenting evidence is so crucial in court cases nowadays that even your voice can be us used to incriminate you in case you deny that you did not call or it was not you. I wonder how long your conversation is kept on file of the companies but this what we have all to deal with in this age and time.
Few would have envisioned how the future would be and what it will hold. Things that were once considered a luxury and not needed by the middle class families have not become a necessity that people cannot live without. Take for example the most common item nowadays, cell phone, which was not too long ago considered a luxury, is now a necessity of such immense proportions that the recent generation of kids don’t even know how their parents and grandparents functioned without it. And cell phone is one of the unique items that is readily and easily available to everybody and if not then some people make sure to have it even sacrificing some other luxuries in their lives to afford it. Same thing has started to happen with streaming services that people cannot live without and internet without which people sometimes have withdrawal systems if they are not on it for even one day. Likewise, goes for two day shipping or even same day shipping services, high end coffee and other items of once luxury items that have now been adopted as being a necessity and people become a bit surprised when they ask somebody who does not have that so called “ necessity” item that how can they function without it. As more and more people adopt items that were once considered a luxury into necessity, nobody knows what the current items of luxury will turn into items which people will find it essential to have it out of necessity.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
After stating their demands, the four Arab nations have now said that it is okay if Qatar does not close down Al-Jazeera network and does not expel the supposed terrorists in their country but the boycotting nations still insist that Qatar must accept their demands otherwise more sanctions will be imposed. Now let us breakdown what is going on, the Al-Jazeera network is a problem with other countries because it shows stuff that other nations don’t want their citizens to know, so it is a problem with the authoritative regimes. The decision of Qatar to host members of some organizations is also an issue which is not receptive to the boycotting countries. Downgrading or completing breaking away from Iran is another issue since Qatar shares a gas field with Iran so it is may not be feasible unless Qatar sells the gas field to Iran and then break off relations (just my speculation). The most intriguing objection is the closing down of Turkish military base. Turkey, despite objects from the four Arab nations has been building and moving troops to Qatar military base and it is not to the liking of Saudi Arabia and its boycotting allies. I don’t know why that is since Qatar also hosts the biggest U.S. Military base in the Gulf. Why do they only insist on closing down the Turkish base but not the other foreign bases in the country? Although Qatar, reportedly the wealthiest country in the world with substantial foreign exchange reserves, can withstand the embargo and sanctions imposed on it but it is debatable whether it will be able to withstand long term. As of this writing, the standoff still continues.
To me, it was an unexpected conflict that has occurred between the Persian Gulf nation as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have accused Qatar of supporting things that are in conflict with their own likings. After keep quiet for a time, the above mentioned countries sent Qatar 13 demands, out of which the major ones were, stop supporting terrorists’ organizations, close Al-Jazeera network, close down the Turkish military bases and downgrade or complete break relations with Iran. And in order to enforce these demands, they have closed borders with Qatar and imposed other sanctions. IT all started with Saudi Arabia imposing sanctions and you already know that United Arab Emirates and tiny Bahrain will follow suit. Egypt being the largest recipient of Saudi Aid had to follow, although it has its own issues with Qatar supporting Muslim Brotherhood organization which opposes the Egyptian government. To me, the most surprising aspect was all the states involved are Sunni states or are ruled by Sunni rulers. And Qatar is also a member of a regional group called Gulf Cooperation Council, a group, dominated by Saudi Arabia, is planning to expel Qatar if their demands are not met. The United States and Kuwait has tried to use their influence to defuse the escalating tensions but have not succeeded thus far. And Qatar is not ready to budge from tis stance as it deems these tactics as bullying a small neighbor. And by the recent statements from United Arab Emirates, this conflict will not be resolved soon.
Monday, October 16, 2017
So let me breakdown how much does the so called Millionaire if as mentioned earlier starting at 500k annually actually get to take home. Please note that all figures are approximate and rounded to make it easier to come to a round figure. Federal tax comes out to the maximum 39.5 percent in addition to the New York state tax of 6.85 and New York City tax of around 3.5 percent. Rounding all this comes to around 50 percent but if you put the total amount of tax including the Medicare and unemployment tax the amount comes you are paying is around 295k, which leaves you around 200kj to take home and play around. And the taxes don’t even stop here since everything is taxed a certain sales tax rate of 8.875 percent on clothes, shoes, food from restaurants and anything that the city can get their hands on the hard working rich people of new York city. Since these so called rich people make so much money, they would like to have at least on vacation per year and also have some entertainment time to themselves, plus maintaining the house where you have to pay utilities and mortgages and you end up with around maybe 150k or even less than that. My point here is not to garner any sympathy for the so called rich class, but to give you an idea that 500k is not much of a salary in a very expensive city and before everybody jumps into the bandwagon of taxing the rich, first you need to understand what and who should be considered rich in new York city.
Recently a proposal is being floated around to tax millionaires to fund the aging New York transit system. Although the tax is being called millionaire’s tax but the figure which is being proposed is anybody earning from USD500k and above will be taxed. Although it has been floated around before it was a no show in the New York State assembly and Congress but the aging New York city transit system needs funds and anything to tax the rich will be popular and easy money to get the city’s hands on without jeopardizing the electoral votes of the common people. I am not a millionaire, not even anything close to even six figures but this proposal is so incorrect with the realities of paying taxes that no wonder the New York State assembly keeps on ignoring it wherever it comes up even in casual conversation. Let’s break it down for folks who think 500k is a large amount in New York city, although I will agree on one thing that if the median income is 69k which is not a lot by any standards if you are living in New York city where sometimes to breathe is taxed as being resident of new York, the idea of somebody earning 500k evokes jealously, envy and sometimes hatred enough that anything that can hart the so called rich is welcome news to the masses who are struggling. But even the so called rich can struggle in this consistently one of the most expensive cities in the world not to mention in the United States too.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
As another Prime Minister of Pakistan has been removed from office one year before his completion of this five year tenure due to corruption, another tumultuous set of events have fallen this unfortunate country, as it is again mire in crises. The country is fine as is but the people funning it have ruined it to the ground. Corruption has been the main sourced of problem and has dodged every government for the last forty years or so. The powerful military has government this c country for nearly half of its seventy years of existence and the rest has been pulling strings of the civilian government who have to constantly look behind their shoulders to make sure they are not overthrown by them. And now is not the time for another Martial law, as the Supreme Court has taken the upper hand to see to it that the Prime ministers do not stay in office to complete their term of five years. As people of Pakistan who were sick and tired of hearing the everyday stories of the corrupt elites of the country, this is welcome relief to them, but plunges the country into uncertainty as the opposition is not without corrupt members in them. As the ruling party whose ministers all stand disqualified not struggle to make sense of what has happened to them, the foreign investors will be taking a nervous look at the uncertain future and Western powers look increasingly concerned for the future of this nuclear armed country.
Since the new U.S. Administration came, it has been plagued by any and everything related to Russia. Be it election meddling or meeting with Russian officials during the election campaign, I am now simply having a Russian fatigue. Not a day goes by when Russia is not in the news, be it in the President’s son-in-law meeting with Russian officials or his son meeting with them or his staff’s connection to the Russian government, the investigations are being done on multiple levels. The most serious allegations are the collusion of the Russians meddling in the U.S. election to help elect Mr. Trump to the White house and the republicans despite the pressure of the U.S. President are pressing on with their investigation sin this supposedly meddling. Recently the U.S congress passed a veto proof laws to put more sanctions on Russia on the perceived meddling in the elections. I don’t know how long these investigations will last and what would be the ultimate result but it has definitely paralyzed the new U.S. administration since its start. I have never seen so much obsession with Russian since the end of the Cold War. It seems that ongoing investigations seem to find out if the Russian meddled in the elections and if they did, to make sure it does not happen again and the second aim is to see if the current U.S. President was helped by this alleged meddling. Whatever the outcome, these investigations will continue to cast an unwelcoming shadow on the works of the new U.S. administration.
Recently a U.S. Senator from New Jersey said that he is sponsoring a bill to make Marijuana legal in all states but knows that the passable of bill in the Congress is slim to none. His argument in support of the legalization is that the criminality of Marijuana is affecting more minorities and people of color than whites and he wants to decriminalize Marijuana so that minorities are not arrested for carry small amounts of it. As will all people, I do not agree with this bill as it will still affect the minorities more than the majority. Why a State representative in the U.S. Senate would want to table such a bill when he knows that (or maybe knows) that it will affect his own constituents where drugs are already prevalent (even though he may think Marijuana is not a drug). People on drugs are already getting treatment in state supported treatment centers which are paid by tax payers, and he wants to increase the number of people in those treatment cents. What about people who are high on Marijuana decides to drive their cars and crash them in the state of highness? Who is going to pay for all the damage and loss of life if any in case of such accidents? The U.S. has enough problems with opioids and alcohol addiction and now adding Marijuana will create more problems. And if this legislation is such a great piece of bill that we have solved all 9our problems then why do we have to stop at Marijuana, why discriminate against other drugs and opioids? Just make every drug legal using the same argument as above and let everybody who can afford it can get high anywhere and anyplace and at any time so that the drug problem as we have it in the U.S. can be solved easily. I don’t think this bill makes any sense whatsoever in any shape and form and there are other pressing problems than to make everybody a junkie.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Recently there was an incidence in a coffee and ice cream shop where two cops were refused service and were told by one of the clerks that he does not serve cops. There was an outrage over this as the owner of the shop tried to play things down and apologize stating that the layout of the shop was confusing and there must been a misunderstanding in this whole situation. Although the cops are not buying this story about what the owner said and I think they are right. This is not the first instance that copes have been denied service by a food shop as the climate of hostility towards law enforcement is at very high right now. I can understand that some of the cops may have not upheld the best of the behavior that their uniform demands and for which they have been trained for but you cannot blame the entire police force for the misconduct of the few. For a scenario, how would it feel if the same people who refused service to cops need them for something legal, like a break in or a accident or just calling 911 of for protection, how would they feel if the cops say that they do not want to serve fast food people (it has mostly been in the fast food industry that is why I am bringing them up) because they had bad experience with them or whatever reason they can come up with. A customer is a customer and if you are in the business of face to face contact with them, you should keep your political and personal vies our of your place of employment or be prepared to be served with the same kind of response down the road. Because as the saying goes karma is a bitch (excuse my language had to put it out like it is)
I have been keenly reading the back and forth that the U.S. Republican Party has been doing in case of their healthcare bill. Since it was passed a few years ago, the rhetoric on the Republican side has been that they hate the bill and as soon as they gain majorities in both the houses of Congress plus the White House, they will repeal it right away. Even the Republican Candidate for the Presidency had said that it will be repealed within hours or a day or so as soon as he is elected and now it has been more than six months and the healthcare bill (also known as Obamacare) is still intact as the Republicans keep on oscillating between repeal and replace then repeal then again repeal and replace and every time some of their members oppose the bill and thus they come up short on votes to repeal the healthcare bill The reality is that the replacement bill that the Republicans are proposing is being done in haste just for the hatred of the old bill and also the scenario that tens of millions of people who have gained insurance through Obamacare will lose it in the Republican version of the bill and the now the Republicans don’t even have enough votes to repeal the bill and replace it later with their version. The President is not happy and he should be as the Republicans were making a hue and cry about their opposition to Obamacare but for three years the Republicans did not sit down and hashed out a bill in case they will both the houses and the White House. They should just face it that they were not prepared and only when they are under pressure, are trying to get their own version which is much more flawed than the one they are trying t co replace in haste.
Recently there were around six acid attacks within a span of ninety minutes and a teenager has been caught and has been indicted in London. Although, thankfully, it has not been related to a terrorist attack but still it is a dangerous incident which should be dealt seriously. I thought that the acid attacks were phenomena only in South Asian countries like Pakistan and India where there has been several attacks on women refusing advances from men and have acid thrown on their faces in revenge. As I read about the acid attacks in London. I was surprised that these types of incidents have increased recently. I am afraid that copycat attacks may occur since it is so much easier to get acids in retail stores, as they are found in everyday household items. Although, not labeled as a terrorist attack, it has all the hallmarks of being a terrorist attack as the purpose was to terrorize people even if the motive of the attacks were unclear. London used to one of the safest cities in the world and it seems that way as most of the cops patrolling the streets do no carry guns but the way things are going, it is not far that most of the copes would be required to carry guns. The weapon of choice in the London attacks is so easily available that it makes me shudder to think if the terrorists get this kind of idea than the use of guns by them will be useless and this easily available household item will become a weapon of choice for them. I pray that time may never come