Sunday, November 1, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Demon Catcher (2018-China) – Angel Fuhe, Billy Lau

 The title says it all. In Chinese with English Subtitles. Not Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Fist of Legend (2019-China) – Xu Shao Hang

 Another movie with the same name but with different actors. Continuing with the Chinese fight against Japanese occupation. In Chinese with English Subtitles. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Fist of Legend (2019-China) – Wang Wen Jie

 Action movie about Chinese fight against the Japanese occupation. Recommended with caution. In Chinese with English subtitles.

On the lighter side-Movies-Tai Chi Hero (2020-China)

 Martial arts and horror blend in this Martial arts action movie. In Chinese with English subtitles. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion (1950-B&W)-Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

Two wrestling promoters venture into French Algeria to find a famous wrestler but end up in the French Foreign Legion. Funny at times. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Africa Screams (1949 B&W)- Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

 Abbott and Costello venture into Africa to find diamonds. Good comedy movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Abbott and Costello meet the Invisible Man (1951-B&W)-Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

 Two amateur private eye help a boxer who has become invisible clear his name in this hilarious entry of the comedy duo. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy (1955 B&W)- Bud Abbott, Lou Costello

 Two Americans stumble onto a Mummy’s tomb to find a buried treasure. Usual comedy by the Famous Abbott and Costello team. Recommended with caution

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Expiration of the Stimulus Package 2020

 The cooperation between the two United States political parties of Republicans and Democrats which heralded into the passing of the Stimulus package has now been broken as the Stimulus has expired and so has the safety nest that the American people in these unprecedented times have comply to rely on. The plethora of heartbreaking news about people short on their rent and mortgages, and other daily expenses have been coming up daily in the news and the coronavirus that has devastated the world economies and also hurt the American people intensely and the vulnerabilities have been too much for the American people to cope with. Jobs are lost and have slowly been coming back but with the virus rearing its ugly head again ( no Thanks to some American people who chose to party and go mask less) have made sure that some jobs will not be coming back in the near future. The latest is the Airline industry that has started to lay off people due to the absence of any stimulus package to shield their employees from massive layoffs.

The lower middle income of which the minorities make a large part of have seen their jobs and income erode faster since they are the ones who are in the service industry where they have to go out and work as compared to the ones who have office jobs and mostly have transitioned to work from home. But even this segment of society may be vulnerable if the economy does not improve as the businesses will dry up. The only solution now is the pass a stimulus package in whatever shape and form and bring the economy back up and running with strict face masks and social distancing, otherwise, the minorities will continue to suffer and the economy will continue to sputter as I don’t see this virus going away anytime soon as the vaccines for which most of the people are seeing as the solution is not going to solve the economic problems as nobody knows what kind of vaccine will help.

A nightmarish trip to New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles

 The pandemic has screwed the world as we know it with no end in sight. The NJDVM got closed in March 2020 and started opening on July 7, 2020. The people whose licenses were expiring uptil August 2020 had their extended till December 2020. I was not one of the lucky ones out of them. Mine was expiring in September 2020 so I had to get it renewed this month. I have read on line the nightmarish lines at the DMV since people were sharing their experiences online with text and pictures, so I decided to follow their advice and woke up at 4.30 am on  a Saturday Morning and drove to the nearest DMV around 6.45 am and as expected there was a long line and I guessed it that people have been here camping since late night as people had their chairs with them and some were eating too. I sat in the car for a while and then decided to join the line (which was the best timing which I will tell you later). I heard some people were saying that other nearby DMV’s were more nightmarish then the one I was standing in.

I just started to pray that my turn comes today cause it would be maddening that after waking up and standing in line for hours and one’s turn does not come up. Anyway around 8.00 am, the start of the opening of the office, two people came to provide some stuff to the people standing ahead. I didn’t know at that time that it was a ticket. They are also eliminating people who were mistakenly standing in line for a things that were not available at that particular agency (which I did not know until I saw it when approaching it at the entrance. Anyway the line started to move and when the two people came close up they eliminated two people ahead of me and gave me a ticket which happened to the last one, the people standing behind me had to be told that no more tickets are available and come another time. Still some of the people who came after me thought that it was just crazy that they stopped giving tickets at 9.20 am when the office would remain open till 3.00 PM. After this the line starting moving excruciatingly slow as I could not see what was happening. Some people were saying that they are allowing only limited number of people at a time. So my timing and also a great luck got my last ticket. One of the guys from the agency said that even if I have a ticket which was green one, I was not guaranteed that my turn will come. In case it did not come, I will given a white ticket, so the next time I will not have to wait in line and go straight to the office.

There was only one restroom available and I dreaded to go in there with no facility for washing hands like the one you see outside construction areas. Standing in the sunlight was a torture but lucky enough it had a nice cool breeze. But the standing or sitting part was a nightmare as there was no tent available to give people shade from the heat. As my turn approached, I found out why they were so slow, due to COVID-19 there was restriction of only 20 to be inside and only 4 to five people were allowed inside. Also there was no registration, title or number plates available at the agency only issuances and renewal of driving licenses. Since face masks are almost mandatory to enter any facility and people are universally following face mask protocols, it was much easier to keep it one since the heat was not that oppressive as compared to the summer months of June, July and August. I was the last one in and had my RealID done past the closing time and finally I did not have to show up for four years and hopefully, life will somewhat return to normal and we would not have issues or worries about the Virus. So a nightmarish (or daymarish and hellish day came to a conclusion successfully and I got my license finally.

On the lighter side-Movies-Master SO Dragon Subduing Palms 2 (2020-China)-Fengye LIn, Yue Pengfei

 Two guys investigate killings in a small town. Comedy with some action thrown in. In Chinese with English Subtitles. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Devil all the Time (2020) – Donald Ray Pollock, Bill Skarsgard

 A Brutal film where evil is lurking at every corner in the 1950s and 1960s small town America. Available on Netflix. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Wong-Fei Hung: Wrath of Sea (AKA Warriors of the Nation (2018-China)-Vincent Zhao, Miya Muqi

 Chinese Martial arts legend Wong-Fei Hung fight the Japanese in the Martial arts drama. Nothing new. In Chinese with English Subtitles. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Mulan Legend (2020-China)

 Chinese story about a Girl who decides to change her appearance to a man so that she can take the place of her aging father to fight war. Typical Chinese movie with emphasis on action. In Chinese with English subtitles. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Santana (2020-South Africa-Angola)-Paulo Americano, Dalton Borralho

 Two Brothers take revenge on the people who killed their family. Good effort by Angola. In English and Portuguese. Available on Netflix. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies- Sword Dynasty Fantasy Masterwork (2020-China)

 Don’t even try to watch this as it is a waste of time, Unless you are Chinese movies fan and ready to watch anything Chinese language. Not Recommended. In Chinese with English Subtitles.

 

On the lighter side-Movies-Detective Dee: Solitary Skies Killer (2020-China) – Yiheng Du, Yang Shu

 Whoever gets close to a girl gets killed. Detective Dee investigates. Usual mystery movie. If you are not into Chinese movies, don’t watch this one. Not Recommended. In Chinese with English Subtitles

On the lighter side-Movies-Detection of Di Renjie (2020-China) – Yiheng Du, Yang Shu

 Detective Di Renjie investigates murders in a city. Normal Chinese movie. Nothing special. Not Recommended. In Chinese with English Subtitles

On the lighter side-Movies- Blood Vessel (2019) – Nathan Phillips, Alyssa Sutherland

 At the end of World War 2, a raft with war survivors stumble upon an abandoned German Vessel which harbors an evil secret. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Framed (2017-Spanish) – Daniel Horvath, Alex Maruny

 A group of friends are attacked by three strangers who live stream their cruelty and torture towards the group. Bloody, gory and brutally disgusting. Recommended with caution. But not for mainstream audience.

On the lighter side-Movies-Impetigore (2019-Indonesia)- Tara Basro, Ario Bayu

 A woman who is trying to survive in a big city learns that she has inherited her Father’s house in a far of village. So together she with her best friend ventures into the village which harbors an evil secret. Okay horror, mystery movie. Recommended with caution. In Indonesian with English Subtitles

On the lighter side-Movies-Joint Security Area (2000-Korea) – Yeong-ae Lee, Byung-hun Lee

 After an incident happens in the joint security area between North and South Korea, an investigation ensues to determine what happened. Entertaining mystery with lots of Flashbacks. Recommended with caution. In Korea with English Subtitles.

On the lighter side-Movies-Blood Rain (2005-Korea) – Seung-Won Cha, Yong-Woo Park

 An entertaining movie regarding a small village plagued by gruesome murders. The government sends their best intelligence man to investigate. Recommended. In Korean with English Subtitles

Sunday, October 4, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-The Lodge (2020) – Riley Keough, Richard Armitage

 Two siblings give it a try with their soon to be stepmom at a remote cabin but strange occurrences start to happen. Okay horror movie. Recommended with caution

The UAE-Israeli Deal

 An unsurprising surprise came just a few weeks before that the UAE (Knows United Arab Emirates ) the kingdom of seven small wealthy states in the Arabian Gulf has decided to establish ties with Israel under supposed pressure or nudging of the United States. Given that the Arabs have been staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause (supposedly) this came as a surprise to some but for others it was business as usual as they knew that the Arabs have been working back channels to establish relationship with Israel while giving lip service to Palestinian (it is their fault too)  cause which was just a fake support to appease their already subdued population as their population is already suppressed to the extent that they don’t care anymore what happens to other Muslims or even their so called Arabs brothers.

I was under no illusion that this would happen but for some it is a surprise but the hatred of Shiite Iran, a Muslim country, is so overwhelmingly that they are ready to make peace with the supposedly sworn enemy, Israel. It will not come as a surprise if we see more Arab countries (reportedly Bahrain and Oman next with Sudan already contemplating relations) embrace Israel as they fight dissident, poverty and rotten to the core their economies despites spending Billions from aid from rich and Western countries. But the embrace with Israel will not them make them prosperous as they know already and also know that they are unable to fight a very powerful and very technological advanced Israel and thus they are just following the English idiom “ the Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend”.

On the lighter side-Movies-Swat Duty: City Crisis (2020- China) – Zhang Xiaojun

 A city under threat of massive bombs is rescued by the Swat team. Full of action and then some. The last one is super patriotic scene which can be seen as propaganda piece. Police action, Chinese Style. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Death Worm (2020-China) – Zhang Bo Nan

 Chinese Creature feature in which a group of feature fights off against a giant worm. It is similar to Sci-fi creature movies with shoddy special effects and dumb characters getting killed one by one until a few manage to escape miraculously. Subtitled in English. If you love subtitles, watch this foreign language monster movie, otherwise Not Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Horror Island (1941-B&W) – Dick Foran, Leo Carrillo

 A down on his luck guy arranges a bogus cruise to a supposed haunted mansion on a island only to encounter murder and real scare. Fun little dated movie. Recommended with caution

Fires all over again

 It is that season again in the Western United States particularly California that the fires are burring once again. And the latest news is that the fires have already consumed more area bigger than the State of Rhode Island and it is not stopping. It has now even engulfed the iconic Redwood forest. The State has already depleted most of its fire fighting resources and have called for Firefighters to come from other states to come and help them. I was already intrigued by the fires happening in the west with very less in the north east only in Southern New Jersey and very rarely in the heavily forested areas of upstate New York, Vermont and Maine. I started looking into why is that and without going into technical details, you can just say that Western fires have erupt in California mostly is the rest of different climate than in the Northeast with more drought and dry complete than the wetter climate we encounter in the North East.

With less rain to go along with in California and more trees than usual and more people living off the grid and near heavily forested areas, there is a tendency have more fires . Although there are calls for people to move away from these areas but some folks being stubborn and some can’t afford to move to pricier cities of California are unable to afford to move and hence they keep on enduring year after year of burnt homes and devastated communities but due to lack of resources keep on building in the same place abated by government who have failed to tackle the high cost of California living and thus precious resources which is supposed to help communities grow is instead spent on saving communities and lives in areas which are knowingly prone to wild fires every year like the government tolerance of supporting building in areas in the path of hurricanes. And thus the miseries of people keeps on going year after year with no end in sight. And the numbness of the pain inflicted on people has become normalized for most of the people.

On the lighter side-Movies-Chang’an Mystery (2019-China) – ZhengYao

 Right now I discovered a Site with a huge amount of Chinese movies with subtitles in several languages . Most of the subtitles are just horrendous and it is hard to follow stories with disjointed meaning and sometimes no meaning at all. This is also one of the ones which is not that hard to follow if you have used to connecting incoherent subtitles into some kind of meaning story. I am not going to even bother with the stars of some of the movies that will review which have Chinese names very unfamiliar to anybody outside Chinese speaking world. This movie is about the investigating of murders by government officials. The action typically in the Chinese movies which I am used to was just not there. Not Recommended

Whatever happened to the Minimum wage movement

 Just a few days ago, a thought struck my mind regarding the minimum wage movement that has been all the rage a few months back. This was a time when people were not worried about anything like this would happen, I mean the Covid-19 situation and most workers in industries which historically pay less like restaurants, fast foods and other places which are mostly staffed with minorities and elderly people and people with high school education who don’t see themselves moving ahead in life stuff in the menial jobs were clamoring for at least 15 dollars an hour, which they called livable wages and with the protest going on, many cities across the United States enacted laws to increase the wages to 15 dollars in phases sometimes going as long as the year 2023 to increase it to that level. The businesses mostly affected by these legislations were not happy about this sudden rise to their bottom line and they also started protesting but their protestation was largely ignored and drown in favor of the workers.

Those laws are still on the books of many states but everybody has been quiet for sometime as the Pandemic that has ravaged the economies of almost all states have not seen any protest to force business to increase their wages as they well know that in these times when jobs are scarce and businesses are shutting down due to lack of sales, they can ill afford to pay any type of wages. Although I sympathize with the plight of minimum wages workers but I was always skeptical about this huge increase which may in turn put pressure on the businesses to increase the salaries of their higher salaried employees, but with pandemic still raging on and some business shutting down permanently, it is no use to force businesses to pay this huge increase in minimum wage when you don’t have any sales left and people are hurting around with jobs lost and even people getting pay cuts and their hours reduced to make sure the businesses where they work survive in some form or another. This beautiful experiment in social distribution of wages need to stop for a while until the economy bounces back enough to the level before the Pandemic so that businesses have time to recover their lost earnings and profits before they start paying their employees these inflated salaries which have show mixed results thus far.

On the lighter side-Movies-Crocodile Island (2020-China) – Wallen Lo

 A plane crashes in an uncharted island where the survivors encounter giant animals and a deadly crocodile. A great effort on the part of Chinese to create an action/adventure movie but it is similar to Sci-fi channels monster fest that they occasionally put on several times every week. Subtitled in English with poor to average acting. If you into foreign language movies, take a look at this. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Gentlemen (2019) – Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam

 An American tries to sell his Marijuana empire to some criminals in London instigating blackmail, double crossing and other shenanigans'. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Bad Boys for Life (2020) –Will Smith, Martin Lawrence

 Action packed comedy movie about two Miami cops facing off against criminals. A long time coming second sequel to Bad Boys series and competently done. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Hunt (2019)-Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank

 Twelve strangers wake up in the middle of nowhere to find out that they are the hunted ones in this variation of the most dangerous game movie. Somewhat controversial but I just saw it as a movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-BloodShot (2020) - Vin Diesel, Elza Gonzalez

 A certified dead soldier is brought back to life with superhuman powers. Exciting action sequences. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Emma. (2019)-Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn

 Jane Austen novel already filmed before about a wealthy girl interfering the love lives of others. Okay movie but sometimes hard to understand with its British accent. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Underwater (2020) – Kristen Stewart, Vincent Cassel

 A crew of people working in an underwater facility gets trapped when underwater earthquake happens. Nice little movie with tension but hampered by its rating of action and violence. Recommended with caution

 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Dolittle (2020) - Robert Downey Jr. Antonio Banderas

 Remake of the movie of yesteryears about the adventures of a physician who can talk to animals. Cute movie but not that funny. Recommended with caution

Return to work while in Pandemic

 After enjoying my Work from home (WFH) for almost five months (since March 13, 2020) reluctantly my office asked for volunteers to comes once a week to see their new arrangement in the office. Although I am doing WFH and have honestly got spoiled from it, I had to go and check out what was soon to be a new normal. I had gotten used to waking up around 7 Am every day that it was such a drag to wake up at 4.30 to start my day which I was not looking forward to. But anyway dragging myself to go at least after such a long time, I started to reluctantly prepare myself for the morning commute (on Wednesday, August 12, 2020). Although I knew that the traffic would be light because of the Pandemic and also because schools are closed but there was still traffic on the roads but not that much and what was there people were driving like there are driving on snow covered or rain drenched roads, too slow and not going out of my way.

I reach my train station and there was signs everywhere to wear the mask at all times on the train and public areas and also in the elevators there were signs where the people are going to stand . Anyway the train came and the best part was that I got a seat with nobody sitting beside me all the way to Manhattan. The Compliance with the mask wearing was near universal on the trains. I got off the train and started walking towards my office. There was less crowd than on a unsual week day

and everybody was wearing mask. Where I work it is a majoy tourist attractions for people all around the world and the weather was near perfect but the crowd as light and the streets and side walks of Manhattn wore a deserted look. I took my coffee and bagel and spoke to my usual guy, who said that the business was not good as expected since less people were trekking to the office. As I approached my building, there were again signs of social distancing and spacing of six feet and also on the elevators, designated signs where one is supposed to stand. There were hand sanitizers in the lobby and also in my office with marking all over the place to make sure there is one way traffic to the rest rooms. With the Caffeteria sealed off entirely and phones taken away from our desks. Even the seat where I was supposed to sit as usual had been taken away and in one row only three people were supposed to sit instead of five. During Lunch hour I trekked outside to get hot food since the luxury of microwave has been taken away from the office. There were few people on the streets which was supposed to be crowded with tourists and local office workers. The guy who got my food from said that he was also hurting and now had to take two jobs to make ends meet. After finishing my work, I started walking towards my train station with few people to encounter on the way back. I took some pictures in the morning and some in the evening for my friends to let them know that how empty and deserted streets of the Financial Capital of the world looked like and it was really haunting to see so few people in the middle of August with schools off and not a sight of tourists. But the good thing is Face covering was almost 99.99 percent universally compliant and I did not see any protest to the contrary. And after reaching my parking lot, I drove back home. But with the added burder of carrying my laptop back and forth, it was not a fun day at the office. But the sorry state of affairs with restaurants closed and taking only take out delivery and some non essential stores and some even shuttered for good, it will take a lot of time even afte the vaccine is available that the City of New York will come back. But as I spoke with one of my bosses, the days of coming to the office Five days a week are gone for good and this reality will hit hard the revenue of many businesses and cities across America, as people tend to stay indoors and work from home and there will be less support for the people who have to interact on a daily basis for their economic survival.

 

The vast array of streaming is driving me nuts

 I was just today looking at options of streaming sites and it seems streaming sites are spreading like wild fire, with every body who has some original content is ready to jump in the streaming wars and make some money. Apart the obvious ones who have a huge content to rely on, I just thought of comic sites which I had ignored earlier and discovered DC comic, Marvel and Kings Features which distributes comics to newspapers around the world.  Then you can find streaming sites dedicated horror, and thriller, and classic movies and Animation and also recently I am hooked on a Chinese website which stream movies that are not available on any other sites since it has subtitles (which majority of Americans hate but I love the it and have got used to it long time ago since I like the original language movies). So coming back to streaming options, people right now are subscribing in increasing numbers due to being confined to their homes and it remains to be seen how many will survive these streaming wars because if start subscribing to each one of them since they have exclusive contents, you will run easily into hundreds of dollars and also would not have to time to watch what they offer.

These websites will have to offer original content which is right now rare due to shutdown of studios in the United States and some countries at least. But I still wonder how many will remain in the field since they would need a decent amount of subscribers to remain profitable and for that to happen, they will have to invest heavily in make original and exclusive content and I don’t think some of them have the funds to keep on making exclusive content to chase the same number of people who may have subscribed to multiple streaming sites. So lets see what happens as the race is on. 

The Mask Issue

 As with the political divide plaguing the United States, with the Coronavirus rampaging communities and states, there is a definitive resistance to wearing a mask in public, with most Republicans voters oppose to wearing it as compared to Democrats. The President has not been helpful either by not wearing the Mask himself to show his opposition. The various reasons that people give of not wearing masks is it is suffocating, they have a medical condition, it does not work, personal freedom, conspiracy theories and whatever you can come up excuses not to wear it, including some Politicians and Celebrities. Although it is being recommended by health officials and some states and cities have mandated it, people are refusing to wearing it and even partying without it especially the young crowd who seems to think they are invincible. I don’t have any issue with people not wearing it, it is their choice if they want to get the virus or not. Sometimes people have become confrontational with people who asked to wear it. These people who admonish people who are not wearing  a mask should butt out of people’s lives as I have read many stories of mask less people becoming violent when asked by masked people to cover their faces.

I understand that people are fed up with staying indoors and have to put with restrictions and think that the government is unnecessarily intruding on their private domain, but it is for their own betterment and for the people surrounding them. I don’t know why it is hard for American specially to stop partying for a few months until the government get hold of this virus. Why they are being impatient about partying. They partying is not going to go away if they behave. Due to this defiant attitudes of the Americans, most of the world don’t want them to come to their countries even though the Americans are the biggest spenders.  Even in their own country, some states or I should say each state has a mandated list of states from which their own citizens or other citizens should isolate themselves for 14 days when come from hard hit states. But still people are going about their lives like the Virus has been conquered and every thing is back to normal. If the people can only read and see that it is still spreading and people continue to die while the economy is in the gutter. Unless we collective make an effort to social distance and wear masks, nothing is going to change including opening of schools and Colleges and international travels which the Americans so much crave will remain very light and countries around the world will keep on shunning Americans as long as the cases spike. Is it too much to ask or am I being unreasonable. But as I keep on reading, the numbers are keep on increasing for the infected people which seems that people are not keen on getting this virus under control. Well I intend to keep on Face mask till it safe to take it off in public even if it takes years. I am not responsible for other people not wearing mask, but I can sure protect myself from deniers.

 

 

U.S. Troops withdrawal

 Recently the U.S. government announced that they will withdraw some troops out of Germany out of which some will come home and some may be reassigned somewhere else. Immediately as usual there was a big hue and cry especially from Germany and also some Republican and Democrats in the U.S. that it is not a good movie, especially in the view of a hostile Russian posture and damage to the U.S. commitment and credibility. I have been emphasizing here that it time to bring those troops home and let the Europeans raise the defense budget to defend their own countries instead of relying on the U.S. for much of their defense which is a legacy of the World War II. Although the host countries may or may not been contributing to the costs of the hosting the U.S. soldiers but irrespective of who is paying the bills, it is time the U.S. starts to take care of their country instead of providing round the clock security to Europe. During this more advance times, the U.S. can easily send their soldiers faster than it before in slower times and also with new offensive weapons, the U.S. can launch missiles while at the same time making sure the troops reach as fast as possible.

The Europeans should also realize that the U.S. cannot forever be there for them and even with reduced troops the presence will still be there (although I don’t agree with even less troops). The U.S. needs to align more troops in places where it is needed or make sure the troops can reach faster instead of basing their troops in countries where even the citizenry don’t want them there feeling them a potential target in case of conflict breaking out. So bringing back troops is the right and correct decision.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Onward (2020-Animated)-Voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt Janssens

 Two brothers go on a adventure to bring their father for one day. Entertaining animated movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-The Invisible Man (2020) - Elisabeth Moss Aldis Hodge

 A woman escapes her abusive ex but start gets haunted by someone she cannot see and hard to convince the police that she is being stalked. Entertaining horror movie. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)- Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley

 Continuing saga of the Star Wars series with reistance again going against the evil Empire. If you are a star wars fan, you are in for a treat, all others it will be just another science fiction movie. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Warning: Do not play (2019-Korean) – Ye-Ji Seo,

 A director trying to make a horror movie stumble upon a horror movie which was made years ago. The more she digs deeper into the origins of the movie, the more supernatural she gets into. I was so pissed off at this non horror movie. Available of Shudder.com. Absolutely Not Recommended 


On the lighter side-Movies-Spies in Disguise (2019-Animation)-Voices of Will Smith, Rachel Brosnahan

 When a spy turns into a pigeon, he reluctantly relies on this tech guy to save the world. Mostly entertaining but too sentimental in places. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Room (2019)-Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens

 Intriguing concept about a couple who rent an isolated house. There they discover a room which will grant them any wish they want with horrible consequences. I enjoyed the concept and the movie. Available on Shudder.com Streaming site. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Grudge (2020)-Tara Westwood, Junko Bailey

 When you run out of ideas for a movie, you remake it in the hope that people will like it with updated technology. But it is the same movie with the same damn story, so if the original novelty has worked before, it should not mean it will work out again a few years or decades later. Not Recommended

Erasing History

Because of the recent and ongoing racial tension in the wake of the killing of young Black Man, the process of erasing history via toppling of statues, names of teams and products based on historically minority names and deleting or erasing number of racist scenes in movies is continuing unabated. Even some famous people on social media have been trying to defend themselves in the face of their post of past videos which have become now taboo due to their racist content. Although these people are trying to defend their behavior and apologizing for it and even deleting it, it seems it is this moment of reckoning that no amount of apologies or reeducation of sorts is coming to their rescue. Lets start with statues for instance, it seems no historic figure statue is safe how as their past racist attitude have overshadowed their achievements and people are just fed up and trying to topple their statues and in its place trying to either erect a politically correct one or just erasing them, but is this way to do it, I have my doubts. Although I understand that is so called cancel culture is trying to correct the wrongs done before but by erasing them, people would not know what sort of people were at that time and place and how their beliefs came to shape at that particular time in history. It seems like the people trying to erase these are saying that part of history never happened. And when it never happened, people would not be able to learn, how far the current era has come from those dark and unjust era.

The same goes with the erasing of some of the most racist pieces in media as some of the companies are trying to erase scenes which were okay for that era (rightly or wrongly) but it should not be shown now. It would have been more appropriate to mention those times of history when these movies of made and explain that era  and preserve this past so that people know how must injustice was there at that time. But by completely erasing it from media, it seems nothing happened at that time and those times were the same as today. I don’t believe in this erasing an important part of history. Also books should be read of that era but with a side note that it was done at that moment and it should not be done then and it should never be done instead of ignoring and sweeping under the carpet.

The changing of the brand names to less controversial ones is a welcoming sign and needs to done for which I once agree but this will take time to change due to marketing and other costs and time related to it. The process has started so let’s see how far this phenomenon will go but it is promising.

All I am saying is that there are certain aspects of history that you don’t want to erase but learn from it and teach the next generation the dark times in our history but to completely erase it will be ignoring what had happened before and unless the people are reminded about what kind of past they had they will not be able to create a new future based on learning from their past mistakes.

To wear a mask or not

 Despite increasing number of corona virus cases and mounting evidence that wearing a mask at least helps you in not catching the virus, some people insist on not wearing one. Some have excuse that it is their right not to wear one, some insist that they cannot breath and some outright dismiss it as having no effect on them as they are healthy. It has become a big debating issue as people have even gone to fist fights and attacks when confronted by people who are wearing mask. Where I live, it is mandatory to wear mask when entering a store otherwise there is no either no entry or no service. I have no idea why some people are adamant of not using a mask when it is not only good for themselves but for the people around them. The vaccine has not been developed yet and even then one would not know that the person next to them six feet apart has the virus or not.

Although all fifty states and overwhelming countries of the world have endorsed the use of Masks and even forcing people to do the same, there will and are always some fringe people who are in their own world and refuse to wear a mask for their own sake and for others. The only solution is that since the advice and laws are not clearing working to force them to wear one, it is only the social ostracizing them publicly that they will come to their senses, other than this, people will keep on putting their lives at risk and the people around them.

Private lives bared all

 You like millions of us are fascinated with watching celebrities chronicle their lives (sometimes too much) on social media. And it is not only the celebrities but ordinary folks with unusual circumstances and families are exposing their daily lives on Television and social media. And if this is not enough, some of the ordinary folks have dedicated videos channels where they have hundreds of thousands of followers following their every trivial detail of their lives (good or bad) and they are hooked on it and they keep update with the latest news about these instant celebrities. These so called Internet celebrities or Television celebrities make tons of money not only for themselves but also on the platform they host their lives. This has become a massive industry where some of celebrities constantly keep on updating their sites with new and updated status of what they are doing, buying and now their kids are joining them to and this updating is constantly having people clamor for more and more.

With everybody being a photograph thanks to smartphone and cheap access to internet, now anybody can create pictures and videos and upload it and make some money with the only condition being you have to expose your private life to public view. Sometimes the better known ones have also shown their vulnerable side and sometimes they face backlash for altering their pictures to show how good they look. Others have craved themselves niches where they go beyond the private life deep into things which are not viewed for public consumption but they make money by created a pay wall where you have to subscribe and see their most intimate details and also make money in the process. For many of them this is their only livelihood and they pay their bills with it and then some.

Television is another area where there is plethora of reality shows (many more or less scripted) that shows families with peculiar situation detailing their lives sometimes too much in front of the whole world. Although I am addicted to some shows but I don’t see the whole episodes just a little bit but I can figure out the story from these tid bits. Some shows are addicting and some shows are gross out not watchable unless you have a certain kind of weird fetish. But they are in all for the money and this is how they support themselves by exposing the most intimate parts of their lives which a normal and common human being would be very shy to do (at least I would not). But money makes many strange things happen.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn (2020)-Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez

 A superhero joins others super heroes to save a girl from a crime lord in this action packed, sometimes funny but overwhelming movie. Recommended with caution.

On the lighter side-Movies-Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)-Jim Carrey, Ben Schwartz

 A small town Sheriff helps a fast moving hedgehog evades an evil scientist. I enjoyed this goofy movie. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-Guns Akimbo (2019-New Zealand)-Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving

 A hyper active action movie where a meek guy develops powers to save his girlfriend from kidnappers. Entertaining in a weird way. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (2018-Korea)- Seung-chul Baek, Kim Byung-Ok

 Action packed movie about a teenager who discovers her super powers. Supposed part of a trilogy and hence the Part 1 in the title. Available on Netflix. Recommended

Be careful for what you say

With everybody being a photographer and the internet is within the reach, now or ever is a good time to say something that will offend some minority or any person who has been wrong before in their lives. Everything can be recorded and monitored and even if you have said something in your past years, it can haunt you and people will dig up any remotely racist or insensitive and they will flash that in front of the social media (meaning the whole world literally) and then your job, your business and sometimes even you and your family are threatened. Even if you think that you are safe but have posted something years ago when you were young and reckless and thought it would not surface up now, it seems you are in the wrong as many thoughtless moments when you posted that picture or said something insensitive about some race or people have come back to haunt people and they have to apologize for the insensitive remarks. For this unforgiving world, this is not enough and these people have been fired and drop from sponsorship.

It seems now the freedom of speech has gone out of the window and people have been forced to retract their statements under pressure but in their heart I don’t believe what they said will be erased and it is only the fear of being social outcast and being economically ruined is forcing them to walk back on their statements and saying that they have now been educated enough to see that their past behavior is now unacceptable. I feel it that way and as usual maybe I am wrong and truly those people are sorry for what they have said in their past.  Now I saying is that people are becoming intolerable about how others feels and they are forcing them to mold them in their worldview and their opinion so we are all becoming a little bit more careful of what we say. But again if you feel that you are right and the world is wrong then please keep it to yourselves as the world does not want to listen and they will really punish you for what you believe in. A whole new world indeed.


Is this the boiling point on racism? (Reader discretion is advised)

 The death of Geoge Floyd at the hands of Police (advertently or inadvertently) seems to be tipping or boiling point for the minorities who are fed up with the racism that they encounter every day. Strictly going by the reports, he was arrested, handcuffed and a police officer put his knee on this neck for nine minutes, the police officer did not remove his knee while the Mr. Floyd kept on saying he could not breath. I am not going into details of the legal matter and the related heated arguments. My point is to make a statement that will this be turning point in addressing racism that permeates parts of society and it is just a phase that will also pass thru and people will normalize themselves again. The way things are going with protests erupting all over the United States and around the world, there are hopeful signs that things may change. I say hopeful and may in the sense that it is hard to predict human nature and change what has been ingrained since childhood and then growing up in a society which had a very racist past and keeps on repeating it now and then.

From Rodney King in 1992 and others before him and after and recently in New York and other places where there has been lesser known but equally reprehensible acts of brutality, will this latest episode tip the balance of racism in favor of equality? Slowly and steadily we are seeing backlash against people who say word or utter a sentence which seems remotely racist or insensitive to minorities and that person gets persona non grata for the rest of his life. Meaning he and she will be ostracized for not only him or her but they get fired from their jobs or their business sustain losses beyond repair. But is this a catalyst for change. I have read history of the United States past as you have also and although there is a great momentum going on to address the systemic racism in all walks of life but despite that I am not sure until I see a change with my eyes that we will truly be a society where all Men and Women are created equal and are afforded equal opportunities in life without the need of being called anything but human. I hope it does but not only the laws but also the mentality needs to change to this to happen.

The Jewel Crown of Hong Kong as I know it

 As Hong Kong spirals out of country and as the residents seem to be betrayed by the Chinese government of the promise of the 50 years Special Administrative Region in which there will be one country but with two systems of different government styles and economies. I don’t know why the Chinese government was in a hurry in destabilizing a place which had the most free economy and system in the world. I remember the time when my Father was posted there in the early 1970s, although I was very little, I still remember fondly the type of freewheeling world that was. I loved that place too much and still remember it but that was under the British supervision as compared to now. The British did create a Crown Jewel out of it and it was their biggest achievement for a small place. Law and order and hustling and bustling were there and so it was fun too.

I again went there in 1983 for a few days and was very happy to see that it was still thriving but to live there for a year or so and to visit for a few days is very different, still I was very happy to visit it again and I thought maybe I will come back again to visit. As I said before, everything was working perfectly with the fear of return to China in 1997 all but gone from memory and there was no beep even with almost 7000 k People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers came in to take border control. I am still try to make a sense out of who advised China to crack down and try to kill the goose that lay the golden eggs. It seems that if they had kept a low profile, they would have keep a lid on what was going in Hong Kong till the end of fifty year rule in 1947 and maybe even extended it or modified it at that time but some of the people in the Chinese Communist Party felt threatened and were anxious to show who is the boss in Hong Kong and put up a heavy hand on the protesters. They should realize that unlike China where the people have been docile enough for decades that they can keep a lid on protests that these heavy handedness could backfire in the case of Hong Kong since the people there are used to freedom not enjoyed by the Mainland Chinese. I hope better sense prevails on both sides. By the way, maybe this post can be blocked in China, but lets see.

Corona Conspiracy theories

 As Corona virus has spread so has the conspiracy theory related to it in various forms and in various countries. Some are in complete denial that it exists and some are saying it is a lie or related to 5G technology. Some say that it was man made and some say that it was done in China or in the United States. Some are now refusing to take the vaccine if it comes out since they smell some conspiracy in that too. In other countries, the conspiracy has taken on a whole new meaning with some Muslims even saying that since they are very pious, it will not hurt the Muslims and this is a disease that afflicts only the non-Muslims, even though Muslims have also been dying despite being supposedly very pious. As with other conspiracy theories developed over the years by naysayers, this one has its share of deniers which reach the highest levels of government as some head of states saying that it is just a flu and refuse to wear a mask and are opposed to a lock down of their countries.

I have read some of the people who were in denial and said there is no such thing as Corona virus later on were infected with it and now they are the biggest proponent of the Corona Virus being real and warning others to take the virus seriously and take precautions. There is something about human nature that when one someone is unable to explain certain things or their brain cannot comprehend the reasoning and logic and facts of a certain event or situation, they try to create a narrative which fits their world view and then the peddle this to other like minded fellows and thus perpetuate this view even if it hits them in their face. Nobody can convince them otherwise of the futility of their views and the only way is to leave them alone and their views because you cannot convince all the people and there will always be some deniers and their blind followers. I may be also been fallen to this mentality but when faced with truth I have accepted it after researching and confirming the fact but conspiracy theories don’t want to be even bothered by research and they are convinced that what they think is right.

Can’t a have lockdown forever

 A great Lock down in World history is still going due to the Virus called Corona. In order to stop the spread of the virus and with no sight of any vaccine coming out soon, desperate governments did what they can do and ordered a lock down of their countries and in effect shut their economies in order to save lives. Despite losing hundreds of thousands of lives in the process of lock down, it seems that the world will have to live with it and so cautiously some countries where the virus is on the decline have started to open up their economies which is the prudent thing to do. By prudent I knew, we cannot have a lock down of whole economies for unknown amount of time as the vaccine is nowhere in sight despite the best efforts of scientists and the world cannot stop working due to this virus. We will have to live with and face whatever casualties we will have to incur. The best thing to do is to believe that there is a virus, unlike some conspiracy theories going around (separate topic).

Then the precautions to take it to keep a distance between person like you do when driving and also keep a mask on since you may not have it but the other person may get it since even healthy people are having this virus.

With the world coming to a standstill due to this lock down, the effect on economies and lives have been devastating. People who work on daily wages and who work in restaurants and other places with a high level of personalized services have been let go and unemployment has been increasing everywhere in the world. It has been devastating the lives of people who were already living on the edge financially and now with unemployment now way up, the psychological and mental pressures that these marginalized employees are having was too much to bear for the governments to bear. The governments have been trying to aid their unemployed citizens but they cannot do it for uncertain time in the future. So it is appropriate that the lock down is being lifted slowly and hopefully we will either develop immunity to the virus or just make it part of our lives and go on with our lives working and praying that we don’t see a spike in cases and deaths in the future.

Financial advisors and reality

With the pandemic still going on, the Federal government has eased regulations regarding taking money out of your retirement funds to the tune of USD 100k instead of the maximum $50k as before and people have been increasingly taking money out of it for their current expenses. This has alarmed or you can say pissed off many financial advisors who think it is not right and the people cashing out or taking money out will be losing big time in the future. I had never paid any heed to any financial advisors who have such a big disconnect with reality of the common American citizens that it really pisses me off. You see I have written about this many years ago. Since I have been laid off four times, I have cashed out my retirement plans completely two times in the process incurring penalty and tax liability. It is after I had nowhere to turn too and had exhausted all avenues of getting funds when I was out of a job.

These financial advisors who may be sincere in their advises keep on harping about not to take out funds out of your own retirement funds and to tap some other revenue stream like cutting out your expenses, or taking some kind of other loans.

The thing is that people don’t want to tap their retirement funds and whoever is doing it (including myself) but when you are down on your luck and have nowhere to turn too, have reduced your expenses to the barest minimum, where are you going to turn too. It is your own money and like retirement, it is saved for a rainy day. And what can be more of a rainy day then when you unemployed, deeply in debt and can’t pay your bills and nobody is offering your any aid to support your in these dire times, you will have no where to go but to tap your retirement. I am sure the people who have died due to this virus followed the advise of the financial advisers by saving for retirement but if you are going to die early then all this retirement fund is useless. If you can guarantee one person that you would live to tap your retirement fund, maybe you can deter that person not to go after it. It is easier to keep on making noise about not to tap your retirement fund as you will lose out on future income but for many the future is now. Make your own choice as nobody can know your situation unless they are in your shoes and walk the path you are taking now.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Uncut Gems (2019) – Adam Sandler, Julia Fox

A New York city jeweler with massive debts due to his gambling addiction tries to stay afloat in this last bid attempt to score a massive winning bet on Basketball. Good movie with good acting by Adam Sandler. Available on Netflix. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-The Beach House (2019) – Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros

A romantic getaway for a couple turns into an environmental horror at a beach house. Slow moving horror movie with hard to explain events. I was just scratching my head of what was happening. Available on Shudder.  Recommended with caution  

On the lighter side-Movies-Invisible Target (2007-HK) – Nicholas Tse, Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue

Three cops chase after some really bad guys in this shoot them up Hong Kong Style action movie with plenty of gun fights. Recommended with caution. I liked it


On the lighter side-Movies-The City of Violence (2006-Korean) – Seung-wan Ryoo, Jae-mo Ahn. Kiil-kang Ahn

Two child hood friends track down the culprits who have killed their friend in this no holds barred Korean action thriller. Recommended


The Pension nightmare of U.S. States

Already the pension obligations of various states were nothing to brag about especially Illinois, New Jersey and New York, and now with this Pandemic, when the tax revenue shortfall is hampering the budgets of all states, these so called legacy obligations unfortunately enshrined in their state constitutions are no longer a priority and the shortfall is expanding exponentially with each passing month and year as the States fail to put whatever extra money they have into these Pension funds. Everybody who matters which means most of the state politicians have turned a blind eye to these obligations and just pushing this problem to the next legislative body that comes in. The scarier part is the more and more of the states’ budget is being consumed by these obligations which are becoming a rarity in the private sector. And the public sector employees who have a pension plan are under the illusion that all the promises they have been given regarding their pension plans will be fulfilled. How, nobody knows that and it seems nobody cares cause the future generation keeps on getting indebted with these obligations and the budget seems to getting bigger with tax increases the easiest way to pay for it.

And I have read how much pension some government employees are getting. I know that public sector employees’ salaries are less than private sector and they rely on these pension to bolster their salaries but not all private sector employees make a ton of money. If most of the private sector has done away with pensions and replaced it with other retirements plans, why can’t the government replace pensions with it too since it is useless to promise something which you don’t have like this promise of paying pensions when they don’t even put funds in these plans. It is time that government and public sector employees both contribute to their retirement plans and save the future tax payers a lot of grief and anguish and the states trouble to provide for present population instead of worrying about whether the past employees pension funds are fully funded. Get on with amending the state constitutions if you have too.


The economic disaster that awaits states and cities because of pandemic

With this pandemic upending everything, the states and the cities are set to get hit with revenue shortfall which will take a long time to recover. Already the states seeing a hit to their revenues are asking Congress to reimburse them for losses incurred due to this pandemic. Already some of the states are planning to lay off essential workers if the Federal aid does not come their way. This will include Police, Fire fighters, sanitation workers and other retrenchment in government offices that help the poor and needy citizens. Because of the lock down due to the pandemic and the huge job losses in the private sector, the resulting effect of their not spending money is hurting government tax revenues which are critical and essential to providing services to the citizens of their states and cities. I will give you one example of mine. I live in New Jersey and work in New York, I used to go every day to New York,  although I used to get coffee and donuts only and sometimes on Fridays lunch but my smallest act was supporting somebody’s livelihood and thus contributing to the economy of New York. My working from home for the last 3 months has not helped New York or even New Jersey much. I don’t drive much since I stay home five times a week working from home. I don’t take the subway and I don’t take coffee and donuts too and so it all adds up. This is just a simple example of one individual who is not even a resident of New York may be hurting the economy of New York.

One can just calculate how much the residents of New York who are under a lock down are hurting the economy of New York, while the salaries of essential workers are not stopped. The Tax revenues of almost all states are in dire straits right now. And this is on top of all the unfunded pension liabilities that keep on piling up. And at this time, nobody would want to increase taxes as common citizens are hurting without jobs and even talk about increasing taxes is a big taboo. So the only way to avoid mass layoffs and avoid cutting off essential services to vulnerable citizens is either to cut the barest minimum services or wait for the federal help to arrive which even if it arrives will not be enough to offset all the losses that have occurred or will be occurring in the near future. States and cities better brace themselves for a bumpy ride of economic ruin and decay for a few years to come.


Lessons learnt and being learnt because of COVID-19

Although it is too early to take stock of the lessons learnt during this pandemic since it is still ongoing but we can still try to take a look into what have we learned uptil now. The biggest lesson as we all know that and come to realize the hard way is that the life is unpredictable and without health one cannot work and we need to build up our savings however we can even if we have to stop our temptations and spend unncesssary amount of money on stuff which we don’t need and which we can do without. I am in the same boat as most of the people are since I have also been laid off three times and have to completely cash out my retirement plans to pay for ongoing expenses. The crucial thing is in the United States, your job is just hanging by a thread and as numerous surveys have come out stating that at least one third of people don’t have even 400-600 dollars for emergencies. So as life is unpredictable so are jobs so don’t listen to any financial adviser say one should have six months emergency funds. As jobs have become scarce and also outsourced, it is better to have a one year emergency funds at hand and if you can save more the better that is.

Where you are used to buy many shirts and trousers and clothing each year, you make it last longer than one year until your bank balance increases to a one year expenses level.

I don’t think I have to repeat this but your loved ones, family, relatives and friends are your most precious resources, check on them frequently and when this pandemic is over, go them and hug them and remind them how much you love them and miss them and try to spend more time with them instead of in front of computers or Television screens.

Another thing that this pandemic has taught us, although not new, but still relevant, is to have side hustle or second stream of income. If you are unable to do a side hustle on the weekdays due to your regular job, then on the weekend or at night you can do it. It maybe one hour at night and few hours on the weekend so that you have extra money on hand and if you ever get unemployed again, you may expand that business to survive. With Internet and technology growing faster each day, one can easily have their own business. Even if you don’t have access to high speed internet or no internet, there are things you can do with the word of mouth in your local area and when you generate that extra income, you can put it towards buying a computer and have internet access to expand your business beyond your local area.

Lately store or no name brands are becoming a popular alternative to name brands. You should buy store brand or no name brands which although lower in quality a bit are also lower in price and they are as good to eat and wear and use as the name brands. Although some people obsess about organic food but as money becomes tight, one should use the regular foods as the chance of dying by eating organic and non organic food is the same The best example is this Virus as I am sure that of all the people killed by this virus, there are sure to be people who were obsessed in buying organic food. And believe I have tried organic food and they don’t taste must different than the regulars. It is all in one’s head and it hits your wallet pretty hard when one needs to save money.

These are some of the financial and moral lessons that I can think off right now but as the pandemic progresses, we will learn more about what is important to us and what is not.

 


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Losers and winners in the Pandemic

In every situation there are Losers and winners and so is the case with this Pandemic. It is hard to say for now which will come on top and which will go under but a clearer picture is emerging slowly which may change in the future. Lets start with some Losers, which includes bars and restaurants, big live events, air travel and theme and entertainment parks, movie theaters and Broadway shows to name a few where there will be social distancing and hence less crowds to deal with. Although a good thing for the lucky few who manage to get into these areas but bad for the owners as they will lose out tons of money with less people coming in and the added costs of hiring people to clean their areas thoroughly and every day and even every hour to make sure their guests feel comfortable enough to come in and in turn get a good word of mouth when telling to their friends and relatives. Apart from the huge losses to live events like concerts and sports and also theaters and theme parks, and shows, they managers of these places will have to hire people just to make sure their customers maintain social distancing. Cleaning every thing after each show or event will entail huge amounts of business expense.

I don’t know how the airlines and other places used to packed houses and people on top of another will be able to sustain profit when they will have almost 50 percent capacity then before. They will either have to raise their prices or keep open for longer hours then usual. The movie theaters are in a precarious situation as people would not want to go there right now to sit beside a person who may or may not show the symptoms of the virus. In such a situation, there would be have to be some spacing done between each individual so as to make people ease of mind. But even if that happens, it will really take a long time to have a packed house full of people in a theater and Studios are adjusting to that by releasing movies to streaming web sites before they will hit the theaters or even bypassing it completely. Hopefully people will come back to enjoy theaters as the Drive in boom seems to be coming back which is a testament of people becoming hungry to come back to normal routine but in a small place it will be hard to have social distancing when the virus is still the rage.

The airlines are in a bit of a pickle too since social distancing is impossible in a confined place for a number of hours where you can’t go anywhere unless you land on the ground. And the idea of leaving the middle seat is also absurd as the planes will fly at a huge loss and to make up for the huge loss along with cleaning the planes thoroughly will not be feasible and some of the airlines may go out business if they are unable to innovate and find ways to either increase the prices of the seats exponentially or get more out of what is now free to force people to buy everything.

With unemployment so high, nobody is going to be in a mood to go shopping for non essential items especially handbags, clothing, jewelry and other stuff which you can make do without and last longer what you already have. As such department stores which cater to these items will struggle to strive but it seems the carnage is starting now with some well known name brands apply for Bankruptcy protection and the rest of it relying on online sales which will become more of a norm in the future as the Malls will be only for people who are bored at home and can’t go on vacations to socialize with a distance in these less than full places.Broadway shows in the U.S. are supposed to open in the fall, lets see how they fare as again they are in confined place and will have to make sure there is distance between people and thus will lose out much of the revenue due to empty seats.

The restaurants, bars and hotels are another place where will be bloodbath in terms of how many are going to survive. Although some restaurants are surviving on take out deliveries but it is not enough to make up for full in dining. Also the servers are losing out to all the tips since the delivery does not include tips. The bars are under severe pressure as I don’t believe they have even the option of take out and must rely on full open bars with noisy customers to make a profit. The hotels will survive as each room is in itself a self contained quarantine center but they will have to make sure that it is cleaned every day.

Sports arena are another big area where the virus can spread as they thrive on big crowds, people will return but it would not be the same crowds for a long period of time unless one takes precaution which will be hard in an area where people are very close by cheering on their favorite team.

Doctor offices and dental offices along with labs and other health providers are also going to take precautions especially the dental offices where the dentist and the staff can put on the mask but the patient has open up their mouths, I don’t know how this will work. I have been holding onto my dental appointments until this virus potency is reduced somewhat and I can safely open my mouth.

I am sure many places will be struggling too like gyms and swimming pools, day care centers, and any places where it is not that easy to replace it with work from home situations. As such it will be long time even after the vaccine is found, people will feel safe to venture into close areas since the vaccine will have to deliver to people and administered. So we are all in for a bumpy and unpredictable ride for the future.


The unemployment benefits controversy

A massive portion of the huge stimulus package passed by the U.S. Congress was to give each American individual USD 1,200.00 and their dependents USD 600.00. Also included was the extension of the unemployment benefits to include USD 600.00 each week on top of the state benefits. The federal benefits will expire on July 31, 2020 unless extended. These extended federal benefits were meant to a safety cushion against the historic unemployment that is now raging in the U.S. due to the pandemic. Now the problem is the federal government has also extended loans to businesses hurt by this pandemic with the condition that they must retain their employees when their business opens. Now the extra 600 dollars in addition to the state benefits have created the undesirable effect for people who are making more now while sitting at home doing nothing than working and this has also make life difficult for small businesses to attract new or even former workers because the workers would be making less than by just claiming unemployment.

Although the federal benefits will end in July 31, 2020 if not extended but people are still hoping that it may be extended due to a new bill introduced in Congress extending it to January 2021 or whenever the government decides the end of pandemic. Besides its massive debt it has created and the overly generous benefits given to people, it has also created a shortage of staff who are willing to take an essentially pay cut by going back to their work place while there is no vaccine for this virus. In order to make sure that the economy does not collapse by the weight of the massive unemployment, this massive bill was passed which has now unintended consequences. It would have been better that the federal benefits should have been limited to USD 400 instead of 600 and should have lasted till November or December so that there would have been incentive to come back to work. It was already known that the virus is not going to end on July 31, 2020 and neither would the economy bounce back on the same day. Now with the bickering going on in Congress, it would be prudent that the first stimulus package even if it was going to be late should have been packaged in such a way to last longer than July 31, 2020 but as they say hindsight is always 20/20


The unemployment crisis of 2020

As many of you in the United States and around the world may be reading or experiencing the high unemployment figures which is getting scarier day by day. The pandemic has closed down the biggest economies of the world thus exacerbating the precarious situation of people living paycheck to paycheck. As the economies start to open, the main issue will be if there will be demand for the services most of the low income people are employed in. For the United States, the unemployment situation has gone really bad as unemployment is approaching levels not seen since the great depression of the 1930s (which many people right now don’t know about). Although the government of the United States have passed a stimulus package to cushion these unemployed people with $600 per week additional employment aid but this is due to expire on July 31 of this year and nobody is sure that the economy will pick up by then to make sure that the people out of a job will have enough to pay their bills. I have been there in their shoes, being unemployed almost four times in my life and so the sheer panic that one would not be able to feed themselves or their families without a job is a terrifying thought.

With historically high unemployment rate, the 50 states unemployment offices are being overwhelmed with claims that are taking forever to pay out the unemployment benefits. Since the states for whatever reason did not invest in the long crumbling systems, when this pandemic came along, their systems crashed and they had to hire people and update their systems. But with less revenue coming into state treasuries, it is hard catching up to do. Since I live in New Jersey and work in New York City, I had to apply for New York unemployment insurance and it took me less than 10 minutes to file and get approved in day or so. Those were the days but the system in place was not used to this kind of overwhelming unemployment claims that have crashed or made the states’ benefits systems crash and unable to respond after some people calling them for hundreds of times or logging in for hours and days on end without any resolution of their benefits claim. This is a wake up call (if they wake up) for states to update their systems and make sure the claims are given out even if has to operate 24 hours a day to fix it because the bills will not stop while you are sleep or wait for your benefits to arrive.


The Housing Crisis that Covid-19 is creating now

Of all the continuing pain and horror that Covid-19 (the coronavirus or simply Corona or commonly pandemic) is inflicting on the wold economy, add to it the housing market namely the renters and mortgage paying lot like me. The renters are so much up in arms because they have lost their jobs that the U.S. Congress had to pass a law that during Pandemic, no renter can be evicted solely on the basis on their inability to pay their rent on time. Although a great initiative and a great help to millions of renters who are unable to pay their rent due to loss of job and/or have their work hours reduced due to low demand, it has created a movement of rent strikes aimed at forcing the landlords to stop collecting rent and stop their eviction process until this pandemic ends. There is a great deal of resentment against landlords right now but it must be emphasized that the majority of the landlords are mom and pop operations with three or less houses to rent and all these houses are mostly under a mortgage. These mom and pop landlords depend upon the rental income to pay their mortgages, utilities and other upgrades of the houses and also of their daily expenses.

I have been a Landlord and I know how it feels to be under pressure financially. Not all Landlords own their houses and most of them are under mortgage and if for one month their rents are not being paid, it cascades into a financial crisis since the Mortgage and property taxes and utility bills and maintenance does not stop. I can understand that people who have lost their jobs are increasingly under financial stress and juggling to pay their pays and how to prioritize them. Will they want to pay their mortgage first and keep roof under their heads or will they pay their car payments in order to drive to groceries and job interviews if any. Will they keep their health insurance or buy groceries with their unemployment insurance and government assistance. These are hard questions and most of the people who have little to none financial cushion are having sleepless nights and get their dignity kicked to the ground by going to food banks for the first times in their lives. These same questions are being addressed by the same small time landlords whose rents are being put on hold.  Although it is a commendable idea that rents should be frozen until this pandemic ends (God knows when it will end) but the rush to stop their rent payments will also affect the small mom and pop landlords who will have no choice but to stop Mortgage payments and in turn will get notices from the banks for foreclosure which will also hurt the renters. The best thing now is to provide direct assistance to renters who have lost their jobs by giving them at least 50 percent of their rent payments and persuade the landlords to lower their rents by the same percentage for at least a year until the economy starts to recover somewhat.

 


On the lighter side-Movies-Trolls World Tour (2020-Animated) –Voices of Anna Kendrick, Justine Timberlake

When the hard rock trolls try to conquer the other music genre trolls to create a one dimensional and one music world, other trolls band together to stop it. Although it was overwhelming to keep up with the characters, but it was all fun. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (2020) – Michael Pena, Maggie Q

A group of people descend on an island where supposedly all their fantasies come true but quickly discover the deadly secrets the island harbor. Could have been more gory and bloody but played it safe. Recommended with caution.


On the lighter side-Movies-The Turning (2020)-Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard

A girl gets a job caring for two siblings in a mansion and gets trapped there with horrifying results. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-Gretel & Hansel (2020) – Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey

A brother and a sister search for food in an isolated forest only to find an evil witch trying to get her hands on them. I struggled to complete this movie with no horror involved. Not Recommended

Sunday, July 5, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies- Lost Bullet (Balle Perdue) (2020-French)- Alban Lenoir, Nicolas Duvauchelle

A small time crook on the mend and working for police as their mechanic defends his innocence when his cop friend is killed by crooked cops. French movie which you can view as English dubbed or some other languages including the original French. I went with the original language and read the subtitles as I am more comfortable with it. Low budget action movie with some action and car chases. Available on Netflix.  Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-The Mandarin Mystey) (1936-B&W) –Eddie Quillan, Charlotte Henry

Ellery Queen, the detective investigates the disappearance of a valuable Stamp. Very Short Murder mystery. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-Pulse (Kairo) (2001-Japan) – Haruhiko Kato, Kumiko Aso


A group of people try to investigate that otherwordly spirits are trying to enter human world via internet. Slowly moving dated movie with very little creepy stuff going on. Not recommended

Saturday, June 27, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-First Love (2019-Japan)-Becky, Bengal

A guy and a call girl try to survive a night in Tokyo from drug dealers and Police. A little bit slow than usual and not must action. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-The Grandmaster (2013- Hong Kong-China)-Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi

The story of the grand master who trained Bruce Lee lacks martial arts and is too emotional and slow to warrant a second look. I had a hard time to finishing it to the end as I was expecting more action. Available on Netflix. Not Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Ip Man 4: The Finale (2019- Hong Kong-China)-Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins

Ip Man, the Martial arts master travels to America to help his student in this uninspiring and week martial arts movie.  Too much emotion and less action. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)-Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black

Another exciting adventure in the Jumanji game with action and comedy running side by side. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-Charlie’s Angels (2019)-Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska

Charlie’s Angels are called in to protect a guy who is being targeted for exposing a dangerous technology. Okay reboot but nothing news except for the story line and new faces. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-Ellery Queen’s Penthouse Mystery (1941-B&W) – Ralph Bellamy, Margaret Lindsay

Missing Jewels being smuggled from China to the United States sparks murder which in turn Ellery Queen investigates. Okay Whodunit. Recommended with caution


On the lighter side-Movies-Ashfall (Mount Baeddu) (2019-Korean) - Byung-Hun Lee, Jung-woo Ha

As a dormant volcano erupts, a team of professionals try to contain the fallout. Disaster movie, Korean style. Okay time killer. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-21 Bridges (2019)-Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller

A New York detective races against time to uncover the killers of cops in this entertaining movie. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-I see you (2019) – Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney

An estranged detective family encounters strange happenings in the house. First I thought it would be horror movie but it turns out it was a mystery movie and quiet predictable at that. Not Recommended


Sunday, June 14, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-The Shadow Strikes (1937-B&W) – Rod La Rocque, Agnes Anderson

The Mysterious Shadow assumes the identity of an attorney to investigate a murder. Not recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941-B&W) - Ralph Bellamy, Margaret Lindsay


Ellery Queen investigates the murder of the owner of a hospital. Decent entry. Recommended with caution

On the lighter side-Movies-The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935-B&W)-Donald Cook, Helen Twelvetrees

Detective Ellery Queens investigates a murder while on vacation in California. Entertaining. Recommended

On the lighter side-Movies-Time to hunt (2020-Korea) – Lee Jehoon, Jae-hong Ahn

A group of young friends steal from gamling house, starting a man hunt by a killer to hunt them down. It is an okay movie. But I don’t think you should waste time on it though. Available on Netflix. Not Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-The Thirteenth Guest (1932-B&W)) –Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot


A missing guest is the main suspect in the killing of the remaining 12 members of a family gathered 13 years ago to listent to a will. Entertaining little movie. Recommended

Saturday, May 30, 2020

On the lighter side-Movies-Black Christmas (2019)-Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon

A group of girls are stalked by a killer in this remake of an old Canadian movie. Recommended with caution.


On the lighter side-Movies-Ford V. Ferrari (2019)-Matt Damon, Christian Bale

A car designer and a race car driver battle against odds to build a car to win the 1966 Le Mans race. Exciting car racing sequences. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies- The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939 B&W)

The detective Mr. Wong investigates the murder of an antique Collector. Good little mystery. Recommended 

On the lighter side-Movies-Mr.Wong in Chinatown (1939-B&W) - Boris Karloff

Mr. Wong investigates the murder of a mysterious Chinese woman. Good movie Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-Mr. Wong, Detective (1938 B&W) - Boris Karloff

A chemical manufacturer murder is investigated by Mr. Wong. Nice little movie. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-Doomed to die (1940 B&W) - Boris Karloff

Mr. Wong and a reporter investigate the murder of a Shipping company owner. Good Whodunit. Recommended


On the lighter side-Movies-The Fatal Hour (1940- B&W)- Boris Karloff


When the Police Captain best friend is murdered, he enlists the help of Mr. Wong to uncover the Killer. Good, Short and sweet. Recommended

Sunday, May 17, 2020

To open or not to open during the pandemic


That is the question that is being asked by the governments local as well as the national as to how to deal with this situation since the virus is still being spread with no sight of vaccine coming anytime soon with the need to alleviate the suffering of the people who are cooped up in their houses and also for the poor and middle class who don’t have the luxury to work from home and their services are essential to put food on the table and pay their bills. The people who are stuck at home have started to get restless as the weather becomes warmer and most of the people want to come to the beach and do activities with their kids so they have started to protest all across the United States to lift the lockdown and get on with their lives. I can understand that part as I have been working for the last eight weeks from home and don’t go outside for at least 4 days of the week.
The case of opening is also valid in the sense that people and the economy of all states are hurting under the strain of low tax collection and more unemployment benefits being shelled out. Although the Federal government has stepped in to help but it is not enough since not all categories of jobs can be saved unless the economy opens up. And even if the economy opens, the fear of contacting the virus is so huge that it is unlikely there will be demand for businesses to stay afloat amid very high unemployment numbers. It is a catch-22 situation, and personally with so much financial pain being afflicted on the American public who are mostly living paycheck to paycheck even with high earners and working remotely, It is about time to open the economy with strict social distancing and protective measures and start resuming our new normal life whatever that means.

The ban on assault weapons in New Zealand and Canada


After the bigggest masssacre of people in New Zealand history, New Zealand clamp down ban on assault weapons and the same thing has now happened in Canada after a man killed more than 20 people in one of the worst mass shooting Canada has witnessed. The Prime Minister of Canada visibly shaken by the massacre decided to ban all types of Military style assault weapons saying that they have no place in a civilian society and their only purpose is to kill as many people in the shortest amount of time. One of my Canadian friend told me that his country has done it so why can’t the United States do it and I told him that the U.S. is a different society and it is enshrined in the Constitution that it is ther right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Although personally I am against any sort of restrictions of possession of firearms by the general public but there should be some sort of regulation and not everybody can own firearms (which would exclude people with mental health and convicts and minors). I will discusss this matter in more detail in my other post, but although the type of assault weapons used are ususally for military purposes there is be some sort of reason to keep these weapons at home. As I am in the United States, I am conflicted about the need to keep fire arms and need to make sure it is kept out of the hands of the criminals and minors and mentally disturbed people but how do we know that if you are selling a firearm to a completely law abiding citizen, that citizen may not snap in the future and use that to kill his neighbor or random strangers. That is the dilemma that has to be faced by all the authorized concerned.

Clamoring for Relief


As Covid-19 ravages the world economy, every body from small business to big companies and individuals are clamoring for some relief from their governments. And governments are obliging in ways never seen before throwing in trillions of dollars haphazardly without any oversight which has resulted in some under serving business getting billions in loans and aid while leaving out small business who really need them to get thru this Virus induced recession (or call it depression). The unemployment rate in the United States alone has surpassed 30 million with more than 12 million still unable to log into their states’s unemployment websites to register according to some reports. Some well known big business and retail giants may not come out of this situation in one piece and maybe become much smaller in order to survive, which in essence means that more people will be unemployed long term. I have been reading articles about the impact of this virus on people of all walks of life and it is frightening how ill prepared and financially stressed out people are in the United States at least where I live.
With demand completely zapped out and people under strict lockdown and non essential business all but shut down, people who were already living paycheck to paycheck are now in a survival mode and that includes all kinds of businesses. Hairdressers and salon the most close contact people are completely shut down and down know how they will be able to open up. Travel industry is completely shut with airlines, hotels and theme parks closed since they are also the places where large and close contact congregations can breed the virus. Sports arenas and restaurants are done with as they are also in the customer service business and nobody is going to them anymore. Besides with 30 million and counting people
Out of jobs, people are more worried about have a roof on their heads and food on the table, nobody is not in the mood or have the financial capacity and being afraid of catching the virus, all the discretionary spending is at a standstill. All people are suffering now and even if the supply is there, people are afraid to spend since many people have lost their jobs or are afraid to lose their jobs and are not spending. Despite the U.S. government spending trillions of dollars to shore up the economy and help common folks navigate thru this terrible disease, still unless the economy opens up soon, all these efforts will not help revive peoples’ fortune. For this to happen, it will be better despite the spread of virus, to open up the economy slowly since nobody knows how long the vaccine going to take for this virus.  Right now all categories of people and businesses are clamoring for some kind of relief like in rent and mortgage and car payments but how long will the relief be given is a question nobody knows since the jobs are not there anymore and people need jobs to pay their bills. Hopefully the next few weeks, we will see a clearer picture of how the economy is doing and if we the people will be able to overcome the fear of catching this virus and start to accept it as a new normal.

European Union reponse to COVID-19


Only one word says it all. Pathetic. As you have been reading, European Union (EU) response to COVID19 has been nothing short of being on the criminal side. When Italy was asking for medical supplies, some of the nations banned the export of it and also closed their borders. Same thing happened with Spain too. Now the Virus shutting down hard hit Italy and Spain and they want to have more aid to support their economies, the richer countries, particularly Germany and Netherlands are opposing it. Particularly the issue of Eurobond has been very contentious as the bond will be collective liability of all nations involved and so the wealthier and more frugal north is a big NO to it. Although EU has already apologized to Italy and Spain for the botched response to come to Italy’s aid but memories will linger on and there is a now a doubt that after all this over Italian may start to rethink their relation with this mess of a Union which is when it comes to crisis is nothing short of a disunion with every country fending of itself, closing off their borders and restricting the supply of essential medical equipment.
The problem from the start was that Europe, despite sharing common religion (Christianity) and almost shared culture still acts like they are separate countries when it comes time to act for a common cause like defense and now the Virus, which has exposed how disunited and disjointed the alliance has become.The virus has also exposed how the supposedly united borders are now shut for anybody not of that particular countries. Every country in the European Union is now acting like an independent country as they shut borders and isolate them from other countries in the Union. They may still call themselves European but in truth they are independent countries with independent Presidents and budgets and when it comes to finances, Germany and the rich north does not want to underwrite the supposedly financially irresponsible south like Italy, Spain and other countries. It does make sense that the rich north should be more assertive in how their money is going to be used but it defeats the purpose of being a single United States of Europe. People do act like they are not part of a Union but still belong to their individual countries and speak their own language. This Virus has exposed the lies that underlie the whole fake notion of belonging to one country and it people in Italy and other poorer south have started to doubt about this whole European Union experiment.