Sunday, March 25, 2018

Air Turbulence

A few years ago, air turbulence did not bother me that much but during the last two years, I have fallen into the trap of not liking it at all and I am sure many people would not like to have a bumpy flight to their destination. A little bit of turbulence is expected (although I don’t even like it a little bit) but my tolerance level for air turbulence has gone down considerably and I am not happy about it. Even a little bit of turbulence makes me nervous and jumpy and I need to overcome that. And the fact that the pilot announces that the plane may hit some minor turbulence adds to my nervous. And the fact that I love to travel and visit new places especially Hawaii makes me madder that I have to endure turbulence in order to reach my favorite destinations. But as with acrophobia (which is fear of heights), this fear of air turbulence does not stop from traveling as with fear of heights has not stopped me from going on whiteface mountain in New York state which is at above 4000 feet elevation and also did not stop me from going to the Mount Haleakala in Maui (elevation above 10,000 feet).
And we were also planning to go to the Swiss Alps where the mountain reaches more than 10,000 feet so why am in complaining about Air turbulence, that is the question I keep on asking myself. If you are in a car and you drive, you also get shaken when an 18 wheeler passes by you, it is the same with Air turbulence and if there is not that much then I need to start taking nervous medicine to keep me calm even on flights with less than two hours of duration. People become nervous when it is their first flight and I have done many hours on flight since I was very young so why now I am getting the jitters and next time I take a flight I need to take a stock of this situation.

Arab League

Now I come to another of this so called unity among Muslims and introduce you to an organization that is as useless as the one described before that is OIC. Established in 1945, it has now 22 members all of them related by the Arab Ethnicity with little else in common in terms of their relationships among themselves and with the outside world. Here again I will give you examples which will show how this organization has been unable to help Arab in resolving their conflict among themselves or even project any kind of real power to the outside world. Let’s start with Palestinian issue which has been festering since the late forties; no Arab league success has been witnessed in this area. Along with the Israel-Arab War, this organization has simply ignored the Palestinian issue since their members tend not to agree on anything. Same thing goes with the First Gulf war, when Iraq invaded Kuwait; it was only the United States that was able to unite quarrelsome countries into a ragtag team of members to oust Iraq from Kuwait.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the voice of Arab league was again muted or silent and when the Arab spring came, there was no effort to resolve this issue among them. Now again with the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab League is just reduced to denunciation and nothing much. Although headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, it is predominantely influenced by the Saudis as they have the money to muscle with the kind of voice that the Arab league finds when it does. During the Saudi Boycott of Qatar (which is still ongoing), Arab League does not count as they are just sitting pretty on the sidelines. And the Yemen war which is also part of the Arab League and also the OIC, nothing has changed much. No discussion to end this war. Both the OIC and the Arab League are on the whole useless organization which cannot resolve any of the issues facing the Muslim world and it is complete waste of resources as the Islamic (and Arab) countries pursue their own path based on their own self interest.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Dark Tower (2017)-Idris Elba

The last gunslinger tries to prevent the destruction of the dark tower which holds the universe together from an evil entity. Although a massive novel, the movie makers manage to condense it to 90 minutes. I have not read the novel and I wonder what was left behind. On its own, an okay fantasy movie. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Wonder Woman (2017)-Gal Gadot, Chris Pine

An Amazonian warrior leaves her home to fight a world war waged by the enemy of her people. Special effects and action galore. Recommended

Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC)

I am not sure how many of you heard about Organization of Islamic Organization (OIC). Established in 1969 with now the strength being 57 countries, this is according to me one of the most useless organization that was ever created which does not do anything or the countries in it don’t give it much importance in matters of disputes among themselves. Headquartered in the Red sea city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, it was supposed to be United Nations of Islamic Countries meant to resort disputes among member countries but to date its working or the lack of it has been abysmal or even below that if this is possible. I will give you some examples so that you can see that how ineffective it has been in resolving the problems facing the Muslim World or even raising their collective voice on international forums. Since the issue Kashmir and Palestine predates this organization, I will exclude it but give a little bit of hint of both of them. Starting from 1969, this organization has virtually not done anything but to employ a bunch of people who are just there to sit pretty. I know I am being harsh but let’s start.
The 1971 war between India and Pakistan which saw the birth of the Republic of Bangladesh, a former part of Pakistan, no intervention and ultimately with the intervention of United Nations and some bilateral talks, nobody in OIC bothered to do something, same thing with Afghanistan war in 1979, the attack on the Holy Mosque in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, the attack on Bosnian Muslims until the United States intervened militarily, the 9/11 attacks and subsequent invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraq War and then the Arab Spring and then the intra Gulf fight between Qatar and some Arab countries, the Rohingya Crisis In Myanmar, the OIC has been overwhelmingly useless in doing anything to help the Muslims unless it is backed by the Western powers and still the emotional Muslims look to it like it has some magical powers, I think that it should be dismantled as the amount saved can be used somewhere else. The OIC should be called Organization of (I) neffective, ndifferent, ipotent  or any of the words that start with I signifying anything which is useless.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tyler Perry’s Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween (2017)-Tyler Perry

Madea runs for her life when she ventures into a haunted campground and all kinds of monsters are unleashed. Literally I have no idea why I even care to watch this as it is very unfunny (save for some brief moments). Not Recommended

Technology is good, Technology is disruptive

I was reading an article about a strike going on near the Pakistan-Afghan border for the last four days because new technology has been introduced to easily facilitate the customs procedures by involving computers. This would seem very efficient from one’s standpoint but the old system had involved various steps and with each step somebody livelihood was involved and now they felt threatened and were striking to abolish this introduction of computers which they felt had eliminated their need for so many steps and now all those steps were replaced by one of two people. If I was one of them, I would also feel threatened since I would not know what I would do when my skill set which would have become obsolete by the new technology introduced to reduce costs and time, which makes me, come to this post. I also wrote in my blog a few weeks ago regarding how the online hailing websites has supposedly forced one of the taxi drivers to commit suicide blaming it on the new technology being embraced by the city of New York.
Technology is good as long as it enhances the standard of living and it has done wonders for the many people around the globe but the darker part which people did not realize (I don’t understand how would they not) that it has disrupted the lives of people who were trained to do things a certain kind of way. For example see how one of the biggest online retailers is experimenting with grocery stores with no checkout counters and no employees where people will only use their app to scan their products and also add to their account and just stroll out of the stores without interaction with any employee and instead of employing maybe several people to man their cash counters, they would have only a few employees to restock their stores. I have seen and used these electronic counters in stores where you scan your items barcodes and they will show the price and then you scan your loyalty card and your credit card and you are done without getting any face to face interaction with stores cashiers. Another one is how driverless cars are being experimented with so that there will be no drivers behind the wheel (scarier than in other cases as lives are at stake). Robots are increasingly taking over some of the work that humans used to do in advance countries as the ageing population is being gradually replaced by robots wherever the companies can. Although technology has definitely made life easier for people but it has and will cause substantial unemployment among less educated people and the resultant resentment will not be good for the economies which are increasingly relying on technology to increase their productivity and gain competitive advantage against their rivals.

On the lighter side-Movies-A Bad Moms Christmas (2017)-Mila Kunis

Bad moms are overwhelmed and raunchy as ever as they try to celebrate Christmas with their own moms. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Kill Order (2018)

A high school teenager discovers his super power abilities in this no acting, no story movie. Just to showcase some poor action sequences. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Keep Watching (2017)-Bella Thorne

Intruders enter a home where the inhabitants unknowingly become contestants in a deadly online streaming game. Recommended with caution

Some People don’t know how to shut up

I don’t know if the topic of this post will offend some of you but it is the reality that there are some people who would like to be included in the exclusive club of people who just won’t shut up even if they know that what they are saying will get into trouble. Even as I write I am sure, some people will mouth off and then when the backlash happens, will come out with tears or say that there words have been taken out of context (whatever that means) or they did not mean to say that or they have reflected on what they have said and they feel sorry if their hurts have offended some to the people or some sentences like that meant to soften the blow to their reputation or reduce the backlash they are encountering online or to protect their current jobs. Even with all the things going on, there will be some people who will curse or should ethnic or racial slurs and then come back the next day saying things that I wrote in this post.
I acknowledge that some people have had bad days ( I do too)  which means that they are encountering some of the frustrations of life which are not under their control or they feel they want to vent out loud so that people can hear them and some do under the influence of  alcohol or drugs (where it is still not okay but for this they have an excuse) but in such cases, why can’t they just shut up and don’t open their mouth and let their steam out in some silent mode or just step back and don’t react. I mean that words can hurt very much and once spoken can’t be taken back even when you apologize or try to clarify your remarks or whatever excuse you want to give for your sudden burst of ignorance (that is what I can call right now). Because your words can cause not only hurt and damage to other people feelings but also hurt your reputation and your loved ones. So my advice is to think before your speak since it does not take much time before you do and if you can’t please don’t show your ignorance and just shut up because people don’t want to hear about your problems and your rants as there will be consequences.

Banks are spooked by Compliance

Really I should know because I use to work in a bank and have gone out to some interviews in banks which have their headquarters in third world countries with questionable compliance issues. It is an issue with all banks but the ones which are under intense scrutiny are the tiny banks on third world countries where the issue of compliance has not been taken seriously previously and are now scrambling to be acceptable to world financial institutions. Every bank that I know of has ramped up their compliance departments and the growth of jobs is increasing there. But the banks of the developing bank have become overly cautious about their hiring process and they ask an absurd amount of knowledge about compliance before even considering hiring you. As you well know there are always officers involved in checking two to three times whether something is in compliance before issuing something and still the lower staff gets blamed for things that should have been stopped by the departmental supervisors.
Although I understand that banks in the past have been lax with their compliance issues but now it seems that the pendulum has sprung to the other side as every decision made has the key feature of compliance in it and if it cannot pass the compliance test than the decision is abandoned. But I want to emphasize here that the past occurrence of loose compliance issues were not done by the rank and file and it was usually done or overlooked by the management as everybody was making money but with the current environment of money laundering and terror financing the main headlines dominating everything, the compliance monster has taken over or I should say consumed the entire banking industry (and other financial institutions as well).

Is Israel helping Egypt in combating Islamic militants?

An American Influential newspaper reported a few weeks ago that Israel has been helping the Egyptian military in its fight against Islamic militancy in the Sinai region. The report said that that Israelis go to extreme lengths to erase any symbol of Jewish state on its plane and drones that bomb the Islamic militants and the Egyptian Government takes pain to hide this help from its people. It was also reported that Israelis are happy to oblige as they feel the Egyptian Military is becoming dependent on them for this fight. And I have not seen any denial of this news report as if it does not exist or it is not worth issuing a denial about. But anyway based on the report if it is untrue then I just read a conspiracy theory which would not have prompted me to write this post. But if it is the truth which nobody wants to know about then it is really troublesome and sad.
I will explain, it is said that Egypt being the most populous Arab country has the supposedly most powerful military but with the above mentioned news, it seems that this is just a bit of propaganda that had been circulating around for if the Egyptian military cannot handle a bunch of militants in their own backyard, how and for what use is the military when it will come to the main task of fighting overseas if ever or supposedly fight their enemy(which is non-officially Israel and also officially Iran-an easy Muslim target). It is a sad state of affairs for the Muslims that they are only good in fighting among themselves and depend on others even for their security while maintaining huge militaries.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies- American Made (2017)-Tom Cruise

True story about an American pilot who becomes a drug runner for the CIA in the 1980s. Okay but predictable. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Big Sick (2017)-Kumail Nanjiani

A romantic comedy about a Pakistani guy and an American girl who fall in love with each other and the ensuing culture clash it creates. Entertaining and fun. Recommended.

Do people censor themselves?

What kind of stupid question am I asking, if you say that they don’t do then you need to think deeper for times that you wanted to say something but held back your thoughts spilling out of your mouth in order not to offend your boss, your spouse, relatives, colleagues, friends, authorities and even when you writing you have to make sure not to offend your core audience or not to write something which is deemed offensive by authorities in various countries around the world. Even when you feel safe in saying something, you don’t want to say it in case it offends someone later on. This becomes a reality when you are investigating some criminal act where the perpetrators don’t want you to go in deep enough to find the real criminals, be it the state sponsored agencies or criminal enterprises. Especially it is really dangerous in the developing countries where the level of corruption is high and the governments want to hide their wrong deeds.
Even I residing in the United States and writing on my blog try to censor myself and don’t write things which may cause me trouble when I travel overseas to certain countries or harm some people inadvertently. Although I hate to do this but self censorship is a reality for me and for millions of other bloggers who have to tread a fine line between what is reportable and what should not be mentioned in the greater good of their fellow human beings. This is the sad reality of which we are all part of.

On the lighter side-Movies- Bad Genius (2017)-Thailand

A poor genius student who makes money by helping her classmates cheat try to cheat in a international exam. Supposedly based on a true story. Exciting and suspenseful movie.  Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)-Taron Egerton

Kingsman discover that they have an affiliate in the U.S. and team up with them to defeat an enemy. Not better than the first but fun nonetheless. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies Amityville: The Awakening (2017)-Jennifer Jason Leigh

A single mother with three children moves into a house which is haunted. I don’t know what happened to all the original ideas but this was an unnecessary remake. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Wind River (2017)-Jeremy Renner

A person with the fish and wildfire service helps in investigating the murder of a Native American woman. Enjoyable and Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Journey to the west: The Demons Strike Back (2016-Hong Kong)

The second time around is not the charm as the monk and his three disciples continue their cartoonish battle with the demons. If you want to continue on with the series, it is okay entry, otherwise not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The age of Shadows (2016)-Korean

Japanese spies vs. Korean resistance fighters in 1930s South Korea. Exciting action movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Mountain between us (2017)-Idris Elba, Kate Winslet

When a small plane crashes in a snow covered mountain, two people must cooperate with each other in order to survive and find their way back to civilization. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies- Beyond Skyline (2017)-Frank Grillo

A detective tries to stop an alien warship which has taken his son along with other people. Okay sci-fi. Recommended with caution

Open office floor concept

When I use to work in a former place, the management has the fancy idea (well it was fancy at that time) that open floor office is the way to go as there will be more collaboration and the staff would be feel more easy access to the higher management. On paper it all seems good and I had the opportunity to work in such an environment. At last it was weird to work with your colleagues with no barrier and it again became weirder when you see that you departmental head is sitting in front of you and there are no barriers in between. He/she watches your every movement and it makes you feel uncomfortable. Furthermore, you have to set your own boundaries regarding your stuff as with no known boundaries, your stuff can spill over to the other person doing some other job. The biggest complain about this open floor concept is that it is too haphazard and chaotic.
I don’t see any kind of collaboration that was mentioned as being advantageous to this concept as too much noise and constant invasion of your private space distract you from doing your task at hand. Even further if you are checking some documents or are preparing to write a report, there is no privacy or space where you can gather your thoughts to prepare an effective report. I don’t know if the saving of costs that is so much advertised in this concept regarding less office space is worth the resentment that brews underneath all the employees. Maybe it looks good to the senior management since it may or may not show up in their bottom line or hearing from their line managers that it is working fantastically but for the rank and file (and to I at least) it is just another dreamt up concept to generate a few extra dollars and some savings without caring about the input of their employees.

Safety and Security at Schools

Since the Florida shooting there has been increasing emphasis on school safety with the major proposals being arming teachers and to a lesser extent put metal detectors. And with the heighted attention comes increasing threats from so called students on the social media to attack the schools. Thankfully every time a threat of such kind was posted on the social media, somebody alerted the authorities and the threat defused and the people who made the threats arrested or searched to make sure that the threat was not credible. It is good that everybody is now alert to these kind of threats in order to make everybody secure. The President has suggested that even if some teachers were armed, the kid would not have killed so many of his former fellow students and he is all in for arming some percentage of teachers in schools. I don’t know how effective will that be and how it supposed to work. Will the firearms be locked safely away from the eyes of students which in the case of another attack (GOD forbid) will be then useless?
I am not so thrilled about teachers packing heat in class in full view of the students or even hidden somewhere under his/her clothes. Teachers are there to teach not to fight crazy would be killers. But I have read that some states do arm their teachers. Anyway arming the teachers would not help that much as compared to installing metal detectors and hiring off duty or retired cops to police the schools. They should be armed in case of any eventuality. Besides this raising the age to 21 are proposed is not going to do that much good (but it is a start) since people are still getting guns without much background checks. I will come to the top of Guns in the posts in the future.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)-Animated

A ninja tries to defeat an evil enemy who also happens to be his father. Not better than the Lego Batman movie but still fun. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018)-Alain Moussi

A martial arts wrongly imprisoned in Thailand has to fight a giant fighter in order to gain his freedom. Typical action movie and a continuation of the series. Recommended for action fans only.

On the lighter side-Movies- Girls Trip (2017)-Regina Hall

Four friends reunite to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to have a fun time. Raunchy and loud movie. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies- Home Again (2017)-Reese Witherspoon

Three guys unexpectedly move into a single mother’s house upending her life. Okay movie, not much else. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Hangman (2017)-Al Pacino

A homicide detective teams up with a profiler to hunt down a serial killer. Al Pacino must need that paycheck that is why he had to take any work. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Asura: The city of Madness (2017-Korean)

A corrupt cop juggles between his department’s internal affairs and the city corrupt mayor in this exceedingly violent Korean crime drama. Recommended. With English subtitles.

On the lighter side-Movies-Cars 3 (2017)-Animated

Not the best of the three as lightning Mcqueen decides to take on a new generation of racers to prove his mettle. Not recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Dead Shack (2017)

A group of kids try to stop their neighbor from eating their parents in this horror comedy. Bloody and sometimes gory. Recommended with caution.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Veronica (2017-Spain)

After playing the board game Ouija to try to connect with her dad, a teenager tries to protect herself and her siblings when she summons evil spirit in her apartment. A good horror movie. Recommended. In Spanish with English Subtitles

On the lighter side-Movies-Les Affames (Ravenous) (2017-Canada)

A group of people try to survive a zombie epidemic in rural Canada. A slow burner horror/gore movie. Recommended with caution. In French with English Subtitles