31 March 2008

yesterday, today and tomorrow..

the economy is tulmultous. the subprime boat has taken a beating. the debts are high and so are the food prices. health insurance is a luxury and so does taking care of health. doctors bask in wealth and so do actuaries who create financial models to keep insurance companies in the ever flooding sunlight of wealth.

jobs are for a chosen few while the online jobs are shipped across the borders. illegal and highly skilled immigrants fight for their rights and abide by their responsibilities in the land of the immigrants. teachers who teach the future generations are paid a miniscule. the country is in war with iraq and trying to find out if they should fight iran or north korea next.

the ego of the land is thoroughly bruised. public schools in low economic areas are trying to keep children in school and out of drugs. teenage social entertainment mainly encompases the x-box and the streaming games online. sports are now restricted to professionals where wealthy investors bet. gambling is rampant. teenage children are more keen to have a brand handbag and clothes than setting goals for themselves and their future. swearing and arrogancy are high in todays growing adult.

video parlours and sex booths keep the adults on their high while creating an inflated wall street. suburban house wives battle to keep the fire burning at both ends. when the recession was setting in the main stream media tried to keep it all hunky and dory, when it could no more hide. fore closures and increase in interest rates are a night mare.

still people want to immigrate and want to live the american dream - why ? this country is a land of second chances. inventions, discoveries and talent is welcome. you may be of any color but if you are skilled you have a place. your hard work never goes astray. scholarships and financial aid is available to the poorest and the needy. corporates give out scholarships to the worthy.

you do not need a family name, nor do you need a political connection, or be associated to the royals or a higher class, caste or tribe. one just have to be motivated and perseverant. women are treated with greater respect and freedom is galore. where water is luxury, no tap is dry in any home. basic sanitation facilites are available to everyone. for those who want clothes, furniture one can still find them at a thrift store. when the temperatures hits a high , the local government opens up their community hall for the needy. the new york state law states that every house should be heated.

human dignity and freedom still exists in the land. the mayor calls and is available in our city. the elderly and those who do not have family can go to senior citizens houses. though the medical care is in shambles, the hospital tries its best to take care of those who come in emergency and can not turn them in away. organic farming is being reintroduced and many city chics are getting back into farming, though there is a long way to go. the urban people are becoming increasingly conscious of their consumerisims, some grocery shops have stopped the complete use of plastic bags. children are encouraged to rethink their ways of living and develop concrete ways of curbing pilferage.

hope, enthusiasm, creativity have always been encouraged. though the presidential race and those in power are creating a racial war, nothing holds back the motivated. though there is corruption, the citizens can still count on the local law enforcement and judiciary to give justice. it is a land for those who have adopted it and are recreating a home which they did not find anywhere else.

27 March 2008

no menu..Just Cook...

When one walks into a restaurant on a saturday brunch with friends, we generally want to have a good time ... good wine..good food..great service, wonderful ambience, the time should fly by. So one selects the restaurant with great care, pocket friendly budget and finds out before hand does it belong to the zagats guide or who is the chef. What is the menu ? The Specials ? Rates and so much more. Has the president dined there ( i am kidding !) or which popular public figure is here often ? ( that does not sound real at all! )or was it featured on TV or on NY times (not always). We do look at the popularity ratings and reviews and make a carefully planned choice, so that both company and us do not feel duped in any way.

A couple of whom I know own restaurants. They look at the financial side of the business and leave it to their hand picked chefs to serve great food. Menus on the restaurant are carefully chosen. Popular flavors and foods, price points, readily available ingredients, , cook ahead and keep, minimal preparation when made to order are taken into consideration when menus are decided. Once the restaurant is open the menus remain the same except for a few select restaurants where they serve seasonal food and put local ingredients to use. For those who import ingredients from all over the world the menus remain very much the same. And menus are changed when there is minimal or no order of any listed menu.

A common scene at the restaurant is the server has to make 2 rounds before the customer orders. it is so hard to decide to order through the many choices !!
It would be simple enough if there was no menu and we as customers has to just say to the server, " we have no dietary restrictions. let the chef cook whatever fresh produce he has got from his suppliers and that would be our meal.. ..Shouldn't it be that simple ?
Credits go to:

22 March 2008

White or black

This post dictates the state of my mind concerning the ongoing Presidential race in the United!!! states of America. Ironically the America which had boldly named its land as the " United S. of A" is considerably divided into Black, White and the colored since its history (Hispanics, Asians and many others ).

When I was in school a classmate of Korean heritage born and bred in this land asked me, " what do you say if you are asked which race do you belong?"

To which I replied - "the same race as you".
"And which one is that" ? He quipped.
"The Human Race", was my reply.
" I didn't mean that, he said, you very well know what I am talking about?"
"Yes, of course I do know what you are talking about - hence said that I belong to the human race. If you are talking about black and white, I do not belong to any. There is only one race and everything else indicates the color of your skin. Essentially what you are asking me is, " what is the color of your skin." However american psyche has an ingrained mindset that race belongs to Black, white, which is further divided into hispanic white and white europeans. In government issued forms one will see further categorisation, Asian, Native American but no African or European. I have always been perplexed how suddenly the classification of the answer changes. Some words indicate color, while words like " Asian " indicates continents from where the people have immigrated from.

In what classification would Native American come under is a question for thought since history says that native americans are asians who travelled to North America once upon a time. My assumption is that there would be new additions in the race box to be checked - Middle eastern Muslims, Koreans, Iraninas . The list would keep increasing as the list of enemies increases. Nature and Genetics determine the color of our skin while continents indicate geography torn by war and physical drifting of the mass of land over the centuries.

Surprisingly, the Jews who originated from the middle east are clubbed under white but they could be european or asian or russian or Iranians. If you check any application form for college , you will find that a jewish kid checks the box "white ". May there should be a seperate box for Middle eastern jews or Indian jews or jews from the Queens region of New York. I wonder which box my distinct cousins - half jewish and half asian would be checking. One look at her and no orthodox jew would see the " sterotypical jewish looks - short, blue eyes, dressed in black etc etc, but her parents have raised her as a devout practising jew. Doesn't it sound confusing? Isn't that what Bill Clinton the former president of America who has endorsed his wife Hillary clinton using the "Race card" for one of the highest government offices in the land doing ? Creating confusion, a popular mechanism used by politicians. Doesn't it sound puny and belittle for somebody who have already occupied the position of presidency?

The nature of the current situation is ALarming. And is what American politicians have been doing. Divide and Rule. Anything to win the RACE - two important races at the same time.
1) the presidential race.
2) the color war.

I dare not call those in the presidential race as leaders, since leaders do not confuse people.Leaders motivate people and develop leaders. Gandhi was a leader, so was Martin Luther King, Moses and Nelson Mandela. Using Race as card to win for either of the democratic candidates displays the corruptive state of power. The British Empire fell on its knees at the height of its arrogancy when genuine selfless leaders led their nations to freedom from imperialist power. The Queen ( I am making a guess here) proudly declared, " the sun never sets in our empire" and it eventually did.

Ever since world war II the British empire has been fading and the economy of Britain has not been something to boast about and the country is conflicted among tribes, classes, royals, religious and land conflicts. When American politicians loose the vision, overpowered by issues such as race, it is calling to the people of the land to start another american revolution. Let wisdom reign. Let the best man or woman win. As for Obama's 45 minute
speech on Race it will be quoted, discussed, debated in the years to come and would be endeared as the famous speech of Martin Luther king.
Credits go to :http://www.flickr.com/photos/luchilu/677786684/

20 March 2008

The center of the earth

Tall trees, densely packed - the sunrays pierces through them to warm the earth at its feet and you enjoy crisp fresh air. A brooke winding its way follows the path down the land, collecting into a lake . There is moss and rain and fern. Amidst them you build a glass cabin .. You collect fruits and vegetables from the forest and whateever you tend in your yard . The fish is from the lake. Wild goats give you milk and so does chickens provide you with meat. Fire and love kindles your home. The floor is made of wood and the aroma of food cooked in clay vessels adds warmth to your home. The sound of the birds, water and the woods, the occasional falling of branches, the speed of the wind, the rustle of the leaves and voices of people is played on natures music station. You spin cotton yarn to make a covering for yourself. While wool that comes from the wild sheep helps to make you a wrap a- round for the cold. Your neighbours and you get together to share knowledge thus enriching each other. You write, draw, paint , think, and work off the earth. There is contentment, peace and happiness, satisfaction and justice, welfare and harmony. In the evening you relax amidst a bonfire with the clan drinking in the fruits of the labor ...You are at the center of the earth.

19 March 2008

It is just counting;

Gamblers paradise - some make money at the casinos and some others make money on wall street. One would deride the others in that gambling at the casinos is an addiction while betting money on wall street is a mathematical exercise. I see no difference in both. The very first time we invested money on wall street, in a few days we were at atlantic city throwing dice trying to beat the odds.

Casinos have mathematical geeks who model games which rely highly on theories of probabilities and stocastic processes with an added advantage to the casinos treasurey, while on wall street the projections are founded on complex theories of probabilities and alogrithms. So when bear stearns the financial giant known for high risk taking equally with a high revenue production company was sold at $2 after an almost 50 (? not sure) year reign in the industry, the wall street tumbled once again prompting the former ex-chairman of federal reserve Alan Greenspan to declare that the US economy is now in the trench, so deep that it has not faced since world war II. When the casinos loose money no economy is shattered.

However the law of inertia is well balanced in both.

Back in the days when the first hedging on wall street was taking place, the society would eye "wall streeters" as gamblers that has detered the face of the society. Since some of the people who made their money in the bull market put it to some charitable use and gained the reputation of the society, many others also followed suit and in larger numbers. In the days of the internet even commoners (like me) with little money to spare have tried to gamble on wall street with sometimes not very satisfying results. That happened at the dot com bust and inflated stock prices in 2000's and now the same thing has happened with major home loan lenders like citigroup and other institutions which had defaulting borrowers. In both cases the inflated price of the stocks and the inability of the borrower to pay back has driven the wall street lenders to run hither and thither. The probability theories hit a huge rock.
So what 's the difference between the casino and wall street ? Structurally both of them own a stretch of land with tall buildings and kitschy architecture which does not hold the interest of the eye when the lights are switched off. The adrenalin rush at both ends are high when the winning streaks are bright. The risks, the winning and the losses follow one after the other. Surprisingly I can gamble on wall street and play in the casino at the same time online. Noone has to know my gambling addiction at the casino and everyone can know I am one of the brokers working with a famous brokerage firm on wall street. But tomorrow if the famous brokerage are caught bypassing laws, I will be hold in same contempt as I would be if I am a gambling addict at the casino. But this I sure know , the mathematical gurus who made wall street a darling numbers game business are the same people who have made casinos happen and thriving. The arena may be different, but the ring is still the same.

Will we stop playing on wall street or will we stop playing at the casino ? If we stop one, we will definitely stop the other, May be or May be not. What do you think ?


13 March 2008

Money, Power and Sex

Isn't that how it goes ?

Eliot Spitzer, the former attorney general of NY was treated by his very yardstick that he measured others when he was the attorney general of NY, a seat which he used wisely by prosecuting commercial organizations who had sidestepped. Spitzer, as attorney general was relentless.He did progressive work, unraveling scandals at Securities and Exchange commission thus raging a war against corporate tycoons who were using sophisticated tools to get away with the law. As attorney general, he won applauds and laurels which was the talk of the media for days. A change agent on Wall street, Spitzer sent some corporate big wigs packing . He held the trophy of writing history on wall street. Spitzer now having won the trust of the people cashed this extra feather on his public service cap by running for the office of the Governor of NY and buckled his seat belt.

So it is not surprising that the now tanked wall streeters may have conspired to nab Spitzer in his own ring. Once friends and now enemies they designed the net. And in 2 years of his being the Governor of NY, they have managed to catch Eliot Spitizer in the web. It is no shocker that Mr. Spitzer was caught and is being burnt in a seat that he had to relinquish it. Such scandals have been in the public eye for so long but every time a man in the power is caught, the media runs with it. In my opinion, we would never get to know what the real truth is. When the first bait was encircled on 13th february, the media only reported in the 2nd week of march. The time frame being unusually long for such a big headliner ! What was going on ? Was some kind of negotiations taking place? Would we ever know ?

It is a grapevine that every man and woman who has power and money is offered sexual pleasure outside marriage - it is camouflaged bribe. We all know the old saying, If you have tasted sex once, outside or inside marriage you want it again and again and again. And if it is kinky, the better. It is nothing unusual that Eliot Spitzer was just another ordinary man who succumbed to it and got caught. Harvard Educated, Ambitious, Wealthy, Powerful, Articulative, Competent - Type A personality had just one more kind of "ism" in his brain which he fulfilled to gain gratification. As a society, we have to understand our leaders have stretched across several miles to reach a level of "perfection" where they think they can have it all. A perfect analogy would be this - food addiction when curbed using surgical tactics have been transferred to other addictions. This is what happens to powerful people as well. As money and power is addictive, so is it with sex. And sometimes pitifully kills his seat of power !

It happened with President Bill Clinton, the New Jersey Governor McGreevey, and now the NY governor.

Those in power reflect the society that they live in. It is said that the people deserve whom they voted. When the fingers are now pointing towards Spitzer, the rest of the three fingers are shooting right back at us....

Credits to the Image

06 March 2008

What Globalization means to me..

If my reading is correct, globalisation is a word baptized for North America by Thomas Friedman in the book The Lexus and The olive tree and further propogated the word and its phenomenon in his next book The world is flat. If I may borrow Martha Stewarts's catchphrase, according to Friedman, globalization is a good thing, which I would take only with a pinch of salt. Further, though the world has only seen the phenomenon actively in the last few years and fears the consequences of it, General Electric has been actively globalizing its company since a couple of decades, which is why it has been able to keep its shareholder value at a price while continuing to diversify in as much and as many as possible. It is not just General Electric but even people who have been able to sucessfully work and cross culturally beyond their boundaries and have been able to have a larger vision rather than their counterparts which are homespun.

What does globalization mean to me - The world will become a homogenous society. Languages will be erased and English will continue to domineer its power. So much will be lost in translation. Culture, Ethnic communites, Traditions, Heritage will slowly disintegrage and the world will disintegrate, just like how assimilation has created a faceless america with absolutely no culture of its own but loosely tied tidbits with commercial strands. Essentially the economically strong will always rule and may be even cast something like the world government. International organizations like the UN and the others will slowly diffuse and a world parliament will be formed. Basically there will be one world body governing the surfaces of the land. In terms for those looking out for jobs, the forest will become larger, but this time denser - because a few of them will decide and plan while the others will have to do just what they are told to do. Slowly a dark dictatorial government will take shape. Soon there will be uprisings and protests, revolution and wars - the world will run a full circle and may be wars will reach a point where so many and so much will be destroyed and man will return to the stone age, only this time the temperature of the earth will reach boiling point. It will be like Times square - glitch and kitsch. When the electric lights are off and the crowds are gone, there is nothing in that square -

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