Tuesday, December 25, 2018

On the lighter side-Movies-Puppet Master: The littlest Reich (2018)

A puppet and his minions go on a bloody rampage when they come to life at an auction held to sell puppets. Bloody, gory with sex thrown in for good measure. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Hotel Artemis (2018)-Jodie Foster

In the future, a nurse runs a hotel where the injuries of the criminals are taken care of. Good idea but not as great as it was supposed to be. Recommended with caution

U.S decision to pull troops out of Syria

President Trump of the United States surprised his security team, the generals and the whole world, when he declared victory in the war against Islamic State (IS) and decided to pull out of Syria troops numbering roughly 2,000. It has been slammed by everybody including his hardened supporters and allies but the fact is it was the right decision. The United States has long been considered the World’s Policeman which it should not be and it has been given that U.S. troops should be ever present in all conflicts going on around the world and that is why the world has been complacent and enjoying relative prosperity at the expense of the United States. As for people saying that it gives Russia, Iran and Syria a relative advantage, so be it. The United States never intended to stay there permanently and it was time that since Islamic State is now defeated, the U.S. should get out of there.
Another thing to notice is that, the United States military is very much on the move and it can be deployed at a moment’s notice, thanks to its numerous bases around the world and its floating bases of aircraft carrier in almost all the oceans. And if Islamic State ever emerges again, the troops can be sent to the region really fast unlike other countries that are limited by their defense budgets and capabilities of their armed forces. Another decision which did not get that much scrutiny in all this commotion was the decision to pull out some of troops from Afghanistan. Again the right thing to do as we can send more troops when and if the need arises.

The Invisible Debt

I was reading an article about how a small town in China spent precious amount of money to erect a statue in order to lure tourist but it has become an eyesore and source of increasing debt which the town has to pay since the possible lure of tourists did not pay off as was envisioned. Although it was just one story but it is being increasingly replicated all around China, as it desperately tries to keep the momentum of increased economic activity in the face of a global slowdown of world economy and its increasing although invisible effect on the debt situation in China. And it is not only in China but increasing around the world that the situation of these invisible debts are not known to the public and if know can bring disaster to countries where these companies and cities are located.
And sometimes these debts are not even mentioned in the debt books and are treated as off balance sheet items hidden from investors who are not aware of how much debt they are taking on. A recent study stated that everybody in this world has almost USD 86,000.00 debt without even knowing what they essentially owe. Even the debts reflected in the official books of the western countries does not show the true hidden debt that the government owes to its citizen and everyone seems to believe that the debt reflected is the only one that are true and based on these statistics the price of the government securities are lower than they should be. Even the auditors who are supposed to keep track on these invisible debt are clueless about how much debt is out there or are they hiding these from the public. A true Mystery indeed.

On the lighter side-Movies-Bird Box (2018)-Sandra Bullock

A woman with two kids tries to reach a safe sanctuary when aliens attack the world. Anybody who sees the aliens kill themselves so the woman and her kids try to navigate their way out blindfolded. Interesting premise but overlong. Recommended with caution.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

The woes of Public Transport in New York City

A rally was held to introduce congestion pricing in New York City during rush hour to solve the issues of subway funding. I have been watching this subway funding crisis since for so many years but still there has been no headway or any solution to this ongoing crisis. The politicians keep on coming up with various solutions but nothing pans out and becomes the law and thus people are subjected to fares and tolls increase every two years and still it is not enough to fund the subways. I don’t know where all the money goes as people and the subway authority keeps on demanding more funding but there is not enough to go around. The city blames the state but the state does not want to pay or does not have the money to pay for all the funding.  And the biggest of them all is the salary and compensation being paid to the employees.
Nobody has dared to question the salaries of the employees like if they are the holy cow that can’t be touched without igniting a union fight. The Politicians don’t want a fight with the unions and the unions keep on harping about preserving middle class jobs (which are buzz word for keeping the unions intact). Bold steps to address the issues of funding for the subways have to be taken but I don’t see it happening any times soon. And congestion pricing would not do alone and some other better solutions which address the subways without generating revenue from other sources will need to be taken.

On the lighter side-Movies-Have Sword, Will Travel (1969-HK)

A mysterious stranger with excellent sword skills come to the aid of a couple who are hired to transport cash to another city. Typical Martial arts mayhem but good for early effort. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Christmas Chronicles (2018)-Kurt Russell

Fun filled movie about a brother and sister and how they help Santa deliver presents for Christmas when his ride gets grounded. Enjoyable. Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Leprechaun is back and he is looking for his gold and in the process committing gruesome killings. A group of sorority sisters who are fixing a house unwittingly leashed the Leprechaun. Fun filled gore movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-May the devil take you (2018-Indonesian)

Indonesian horror movie about a woman who searches an evil house in order to find out how her father died. Decent special effects. Recommended with caution

The French are rioting

Lately the French are becoming frustrated with their government and especially their President and having been rioting for the last three weeks. It all started with the increase in the price of fuel to fight climate change. French are already very heavily taxed and this may have been the last straw that people went ballistic and started this protest which has turned ugly enough to force the French government to retract the fuel tax but it does not seem to placate the rest working class people who are burden with so much tax that they have very few money left at the near end of the month to feed their families. It also does not help that the general public sees the French President as being elite and out of touch with the problems of the working class poor people of rural France who are struggling to make ends meet.
According to one recent study, the French are the most taxed people in the industrialized west and are getting taxed more and more. The climate change can be taken care of but to put more burden on people who are ill prepared to even feed their families just so that in the future the climate will be less polluted does not help their working class present situation. And if the government really cares about the climate then the rich should be taxed and also protection should be provided to the most vulnerable sections of society. Because you cannot expect working people to not think about the present while trying to preserve or save the future in which they may or may not have any stake. The present should be taken care now and the future would take care of itself if enough content people are convinced that it is in their own interest.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The pricing of Store brands and Brand names

Although it is not the first time that I saw it, but this may be the first time I am writing about it. I went to a grocery store to buy the usual stuff of water, milk and other things which caught my eye while browsing through stuff which are on sale and I noticed something which made me a bit curious. A brand item was on sale for exactly the amount of the store brand and it was not one item but several items stacked side by side. Although it does not happen quite often, but when a brand item is on sale for exactly the store brand item, why would anybody buy a store brand? And trust me I have used both the store brands and the brand names and there is still a difference of quality. I don’t understand that if a brand name is selling for exactly the same dollar amount as a store brand, why not the store brand would lower its price to compete with them.
I am curious guy and this intrigues me a lot. I would not buy a store brand if the price of a Brand name is the same as the store brand no matter how loyal I am feeling or how much I have gotten attached to the store brand. I buy store brand since they are a much cheaper than the brand name but if there is a sale which equates or even lowers the brand name prices to what I usually pay for the store brand, I will definitely opt for the brand name every time.

On the lighter side-Movies- Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (Animated-2018)

The monster family goes on a vacation on a cruise ship in this third outing as Count Dracula gets smitten by the Ship’s captain who may not be as she seems to appear. Enjoyable and fun sequel. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Skyscraper (2018)-Dwayne Johnson

A security guy for skyscrapers and his family gets trapped in the world’s tallest building and needs to find a way to stop the inferno and try to find out who was behind it. A popcorn action movie to say the least. Recommended with caution.

Increasing traffic on the road

I don’t know if it is I or is it the traffic is getting worse and worse every day. I have already written about my traffic nightmares and it is getting worse. Even when I leave around 6.40 in the morning, I see tons of cars driving towards the Lincoln tunnel and I just wonder and the way I am thinking about leaving early, the same kind of logic people think and they leave early to beat the traffic but it seems the traffic does not goes way and there are many different reasons for this. Accidents, construction work, late construction or emergency construction along with some stalled car or bus and during the school days school buses which unnecessary slow your progress towards your work. And when one is done with driving, there is the issue with subways and trains, sometimes they are on time and sometimes they have equipment problems, signal problems or track conditions whatever that means.
And the above is just the normal day. A week or so ago, there was an unlikely snow storm which dumped 6 inches of snow and it seems nobody was prepared for this resulting in a commute where it lasted three hours for me which can usually last an hour and for some more than three hours and it just makes me throw up, how much I alone am wasting sitting in a car to reach my home which is just 16 miles from New York. This increasing disdain and hatred for the commute I endure makes me want to stay at home and work from there instead of stressing myself out for a commute I dread. And on a Friday, I had to drop my sister at the New York Airport and afterwards around 2.30 started going back to my house and it took me more than 2 and half hours just to travel 35 miles. I am just so sick and tired of this ever increasing traffic mess and it seems I don’t see any solution to it as people are not willing to pay more taxes to build more roads and highways or the other solution is to make people work remotely more often.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Marine 6: Close Quarters (2018)-Shawn Michaels

Another in the long line of sequels where two marines try to save a kidnapped girl by fighting bad guys. It seems it was shot in one location as there is not much to wander around and the movie drifts from one action scene in one room to another action scene in another room. Recommended for action fans only and even they will not like what they see.

The migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexican Border

The crisis of asylum seekers at the Mexican border does not seem to die down as recently some of the asylum seekers desperate about their situation tried to gate crash the border with U.S. resulting in firing of tear gas by U.S. border agents to stop the migrants from illegally crossing into the United States. As usual, this supposedly harsh response has been criticized by some Americans and defended by some. Whatever is the case, this kind of behavior has resulted in a slowdown of the asylum process and dim prospects for the peaceful asylum seekers who did not take part in this mayhem. I understand their desperation but this kind of activity has harmed both their cause to seek asylum and also slow down the process of their application as from time to time, the border gets closed for hours and the backlog grows due to this situation.
And I also understand their right to claim asylum, but it should be done legally and in an orderly fashion, otherwise the border can again close of hours or even days resulting in harming not only the asylum seekers but Mexican citizens who travel daily across the borders and the flow of goods between the two countries. And also the borders cannot be open to let anyone in, like one cannot open their home to someone for indefinite period of time without knowing what kind of person they are and even if they know, they would still not let them stay indefinitely. So the people supporting the migrants should relax and chill and let the law takes its course as it do for millions of people who legally come to the United States through legal channels and legal points of entry.

Amazon’s Second Headquarters

After a yearlong search and creating a big hype about bringing 50 thousand jobs and around 5 billion dollars in investment, the decision was finally made to split the headquarters into two and thus New York and Virginia was chosen. The tax breaks given by both states obviously played a part in this decision but now some New Yorkers are claiming that a company as rich as Amazon does not deserve billions of dollars in tax breaks and this money could have been used elsewhere to better the lives of ordinary New Yorkers, although the top politicians who have worked really hard for this may disagree to this idea. Although with the split of the headquarters into two, the number of people to be employed also splits into 25 thousand each. And with that more pressure on public transportation and housing costs, cost of living and crowded neighborhoods.
I believe that with Amazon coming to New York and Virginia, there will indeed be some adjustments and costly adjustments to all facts of lives for New York but it will also have an economic impact as more start ups and other related fields will come close to where the Amazon headquarters will be and although the housing costs nearby will increase, homeowners who are already there will see the prices of their house increase but other areas close by will also see more economic activity due to this presence. There are some people who will always protest, as it is their right to protest but protest like these will not stop the march to progress as New York being a high cost state needs these jobs whether some people will like it or not.

On the lighter side-Movies-The Unity of Heroes (2018-China)

Chinese Hero Wong Fei Hung tries to thwart Western medicine people to poison Chinese people in this martial arts action movie. Not much excitement here. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Cam (2018)

A cam girl trying to reach the top 50 girls on the internet finds one day that her account has been hacked by none other than herself. Somewhere it has been listed as horror, which it is not, but it is a mystery with dosage of sex and some violence. It kept my attention without I drifting away from it. Recommended with caution.