From the category archives:

odds and ends

Socialist When Poor, Capitalist When Rich

by golbguru on November 1, 2008

When you are poor you would like someone to share your financial burdens; you want to someone to give you some tax relief; you want someone to give your kids financial assistance to get through college; you want someone to bail you out of the financial crisis; it seems logical for you that the “rich” are taxed more - you call that graduated tax; you consider it fair that there are incentives/affirmative-action for the economically and socially challenged; the growing disparity between the quality of life in the rich and the poor bothers you; the concept of “free market” doesn’t always work in your interest; you find it surprising that CEOs are paid several million dollars a year while you can barely make your ends meet; you generally don’t like that the fact that health insurance is controlled by for-profit companies; and you want the government to have some control over banks/firms who handle your retirement money; you generally envy the “capitalists”.

When you are rich you want to enjoy all your wealth by yourselves; you think “poor” people are “poor” because they aren’t working hard enough to get “rich”; you think it’s unfair that you are taxed at a higher rate than the “poor” - you call that “spreading the wealth”; for you “charity” is only a means of reducing your taxable income - you generally don’t believe that “wealth should be spread around” so the concept of “charity” doesn’t really appeal to you; you are a staunch supporter of “free market” (but you still want the government to bail you out of financial mess - I don’t know what’s up with that); you recoil in horror because some plumber who earns more than $250,000 a year will pay about $3500 more per year in taxes; you think it’s draconian to limit profits or pay of any company or individual; you don’t care about the fact that health insurance is offered by for-profit companies - because you can basically afford anything they charge; you want minimum government involvement in anything that you are associated with financially; you believe that lack of government control leads to a “self-correcting” market; you generally hate the “socialist”.

The world isn’t black and white.

Financial Crisis: The Theological Aspect

by golbguru on October 13, 2008

Here is an excerpt from an interesting article I read a few days ago:

Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.  …

“Narratives of how ‘God blessed me with my first house despite my credit’ were common. Sermons declaring ‘It’s your season to overflow’ supplanted messages of economic sobriety,” and “little attention was paid to … the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations.”

Read the rest of it here.

In addition to Wall Street, it looks like the faith business also needs a little more scrutiny. Apart from that, I am always surprised at how gullible people can be when it comes to being sold out divine rhetoric.

If we keep up with this even God will need a bailout someday!

Finally, God helps those who help themselves, for everybody else there is Mastercard everybody else needs to clearly understand the meaning of the words “deliquency” and “foreclosure”.

John McLane Rescues The US Economy

by golbguru on September 25, 2008

This is not a political blog, but perhaps I am a bit cranky after losing electricity and water for 5 days, so I will let this one slip by.

So here goes:

mclainJOKE1 musings

Image source: http://codenameblogtastica.blogspot.com/

…. he killed a helicopter with a car, and then he walked bare-foot on broken glass, and then he fired a few people, and then he suspended whatever that was going on and proceeded to Capitol Hill to beat the crap out of bad dudes and to rescue the economy.

Oh wait… it’s McClane not McCain you idiot. Oops! it’s probably the uncanny similarity between the looks of Mr. Willis and Mr. McClane Mr. McCain that confused me.

I don’t mean any disrespect, but I had to get this out because I actually had a dream of John McCain hanging “suspended” upside down in New York’s Central Park right above a huge pile of money (that looked like it was about $700 billion). I woke up a little scared and then realized that it’s because I read about David Blaine’s stunt before going to sleep last night - while I was being constantly bombarded by television commentary on McCain’s suspension of his campaign (or whatever - didn’t look much of a campaign anyways) and the $700 billion bailout.

You can imagine the kind of maverick-ish impact Mr. McClane Mr. McCain is having on me. :)

Anyways, with that out of the way, there is something else I need to say. It has recently come to my attention that some people don’t really know how many zeroes are there in a billion! That calls for a little bit of elaboration on the numbers you might hear in the next few months.

$700 billion = $700,000,000,000

300 million = 300,000,000 (as per Google search, the actual number is close to 301,139,947 - go figure what this number is)

Now, $700,000,000,000/300,000,000 = $2333.33 per person

As per 2006 tax figures, there were 135,660,228 tax returns filed.

Now, $700,000,000,000/135,660,228 = $5159.95 per tax return

Some other numbers to put things into perspective.

For the year 2007, AIG CEO’s (Martin Sullivan) monetary compensation was $13.9 million ($13.9 million = $13,900,000)

Earlier this year, most people I know received economic stimulus payments that ranged between $600 and $1200

Ike Is Closing In And TV Reporters Are Going Crazy

by golbguru on September 12, 2008

It’s probably just a few more hours before we lose electric power, and have trees flying around. I don’t know long it will be before we have electricity back up, so I just thought of dropping a line here.

If you don’t have anything better to do, follow the eye of the storm closely and you would be able to zero in on my current geographical location.

Anyways, about TV reporters - man, those guys get so animated (even when other people in background are going about peacefully doing whatever they are doing). Interestingly, this afternoon, one of them even suggested this as a part of “survival tips for hurricane”:

People who use electric toothbrush should buy manual ones, and people who use electric shaving machines should get manual ones …

Ha ha.. I couldn’t stop laughing. :)

The only other funnier thing I heard this week was some other reporter dude suggesting that the CERN Particle Accelerator/Collider may create a black hole that would destroy the earth!

Need For Internet Income Regulations Reform

by golbguru on May 4, 2008

I won’t go in to the details of what prompted this topic since it might get a little too bitter for my own taste, but there is a serious need for reforms in the way the government looks at internet income.

To put it in a concise way, I am regretting that this blog ever made any money at all.

There is only one piece of advertisement remaining on this blog, but I am positively sure that after a few months/years of unsuccessfully negotiating with the organization involved, the issue will remain successfully unresolved (for the lack of any clear guidelines to either party) and the money will be eventually donated to charity …or something of the sort.

Then, I heard someone say something about how there are stupid laws and stuff. On that I have only one thing to say - laws are only as stupid as the people who make them.

Anyways, the point is that there is a need to take a second look at internet income regulations. In one way or other I am sure some other bloggers feel the same way.

Lastly, to put a closure to this incoherent rant I have another thing to say. This “equal opportunity employer” legal statement thing is a big load of crap. Here is an example:

” … to ensure equal employment opportunity without discrimination or harassment on the basis of race color, national origin, religion or creed, sex, age, disability, citizenship status, marital status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, …”

Almost every one of those issues listed in the statement has an effect on employment opportunities. Sometimes we are just blind enough not to notice it.

Or may be I am just jaded because of not being able to blog for so long.

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Lifestyle Deflation

by golbguru on February 3, 2008

Finally, it’s time to implement what I have been talking about on my blog over the last year or so - it’s time to address lifestyle inflation!

The first salary after getting a job is always a tempting  excuse to indulge in a shopping spree. Plus, a new unfurnished apartment cries desperately for a several-hundred-dollars expenditure on furniture/bed/accessories.

However, with great restraint, I have finally managed to convince myself back into a sleeping bag. :) I have had some good (and prolonged) experience with sleeping bags, so I don’t mind it.

Also, most other things were acquired at much lower costs than what I had imagined earlier (new leather shoes - $50, trousers - about $25 each , shirts - about $20 each, etc.) - so most of the inflationary items have been under control. Plus, I threw away an incredible number of clothes/accessories during my moving/clean-up spree - so I ended up with a lot less “stuff” in the new apartment.

May be it’s lifestyle deflation or whatever… but it certainly feels good to carry less baggage and live light. :)

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“The People’s Car”: The $2500 Tata Nano

by golbguru on January 10, 2008

I thought this was pretty interesting.

Tata Motors, India’s largest automobile company, unveiled the world’s cheapest car today - according to a press release on the company’s website. This brand new two-cylinder vehicle is priced at INR (Indian Rupee) 100,000 equivalent to $2549 US dollars.

tata nano exterior

tata nano interior

tata nano interior

Image source: www.tatapeoplescar.com

Honestly, when I heard about this concept more than an year ago, I thought the project will sort of fizzle out eventually because of cost inflation and gross underestimation of technological challenges. Now, I stand corrected.

By the way, on a side note, Tata Motors is also in talks with Ford to buy Jaguar and Land Rover businesses.

If you think oil prices are high now, wait till this $2549 car becomes popular. It should be noted that “popular” has a totally different meaning when we are talking about a country with 1 billion people. But it could have been worse …. we are fortunate that China isn’t making any $1000 cars …. yet.

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New Orleans - The Big Easy Still Rocks

by golbguru on November 27, 2007

We spent our Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans and did what people are supposed to do in New Orleans - eat jambalaya, eat beignets, travel in trams streetcars (see Lauren’s comment below), walk on Bourbon Street, watch alligators, and just take it easy. :)

There were a few interesting episodes regarding our stay - especially related to our “five star” hotel, but I will write about that in a couple of days. For now, here are a few snaps to capture a part of the awesome spirit of New Orleans. It’s too bad you can’t hear the jazz music playing in the background through the photographs.

By the way, this was our second visit to the city; the first one being just a couple of months before Hurricane Katrina. In spite of all the pain and suffering that New Orleans experienced after the hurricane, it was nice to see that the city still rocks!

  • Let’s start with an interesting FEMA t-shirt. :)

new orleans fema tshirt

  • Parking rates: Compare these to parking rates in New York City - hourly rates in NYC seem outrageous, but overnight rates are almost comparable. By the way, “valet parking” is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen (more about it later). In this photograph, the “overnight” rate seems to have been inflated unnecessarily to make the valet parking option appear more attractive (think in terms of tips for valets). :)

parking rates

  • Typical snack: Beignet (pronounced as “bin-ye”) and coffee make an awesome breakfast - or a general snack at any time of the day. The one place you shouldn’t miss in New Orleans is Cafe Du Monde; this particularly untidy cafe (consisting of tables, chairs, and waiting staff - all covered with powdered sugar) serves the most popular beignets in the city.

beignets and coffee in New Orleans

  • When in New Orleans, think sea food. It’s all about sea food - even when it comes to candy. :)

new orleans food

  • Pralines: This, by far, is the most expensive confectionery you can buy in New Orleans. $17.95 will get you just about 10-12 pieces - a casual eater can finish that in less than a day.

New Orleans pralines

  • And then there is beer. A whole lot of it, available cheap and served in a variety of mugs/glasses of various shapes and sizes. To keep this beer-drinking crowd in control, you will generally see swarms of horseback riding policemen keeping an eye on the busy streets throughout the night.

New Orleans beer

  • Here is some stuff you can expect to see only on Bourbon Street. Obviously, that’s the only thing I can publish here … the rest of it is.. well, you got to see it yourself. ;)

A flashy car on Bourbon Street

  • If you are romantically inclined, there is this dinner and jazz cruise on the Mississippi river. It’s worth the money ($58 per person) on nice cool days - if you want to try something different than the usual stuff.

dinner jazz cruise in New Orleans

  • Or you could spend time traveling around the city in tram cars. This is the most efficient and traditional way of getting around in New Orleans - after walking. A three-day unlimited travel pass in these trams costs $12 and it effectively solves all the potential parking problems. The photograph below shows trams on Canal Street.

trams on canal street

  • Or you could hide yourself behind a mask and do unmentionable things on Bourbon Street. :)

new orleans masks

  • One thing that I didn’t quite understand is people’s attraction towards the “French Market”. It seemed like any other market to me … selling overpriced and commonly available stuff. You could walk a few blocks away from the market and buy the same stuff for a much lower price tag - and yet you will see a lot of people buying a lot of stuff from the market. Anyways, if you miss the French Market, here is a photograph for you.

New Orleans French Market

  • A trip to New Orleans is incomplete without visiting some swamps. It’s fun to touch and hold alligators (small ones), and generally these alligator swamp tours are not too expensive. The way our tour guide was treating the alligators, they almost seemed “domesticated” - and he was also feeding them marshmallows, which the alligators seemed to particularly like. Below is a photograph of a relatively small alligator jumping out of the water to grab a marshmallow on a stick.

alligator in New Orleans swamp

  • Now, here is another FEMA t-shirt before you go. :)

new orleans FEMA tshirt

Au revoir! :)

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An Interview From Hell

by golbguru on November 14, 2007

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very busy applying for jobs and preparing for interviews and some such related stuff. I was expecting to steal a couple hours each day from myself to post something on this blog, but it looks like I totally underestimated the amount of time and energy that job hunting can demand. It’s probably typical with students (in certain areas) who are new to the entire recruiting process (?).

The stress of the entire process eventually starts to take a toll on health, general state of mind, quality time, and what not. And then, there comes an interview that almost puts the nails in the coffin. It was one such interview that caused a big break in my blogging between last week and the current one.This interview in fact consisted of 13 one-on-one interviews with technical people (not a single HR representative) at various levels of the organization and one presentation (about my current work) - which was basically an invitation for interested folk to vent their general frustration on me. :) All this culminated in a series of written tests which included everything from IQ/EQ to some serious technical stuff.

I talked and talked (mostly about myself), and then I listened to everything that was being said - and did this from 8:00 am in the morning to 7:00 pm in the evening, with a 15 minute lunch break. Fortunately (and ironically), I was suffering from a pretty acute diarrhea which carried over from the previous day, and that led to several small breaks in the ordeal. I never really saw the positive side of diarrhea till then. :)

Anyways, the shortest interview was about 30 minutes long and the longest lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes! By the end of it all, I guess they probably knew everything about me except the size of my underwear.

Save a few distant recollections of terrible stomach cramps, I don’t have any memory of my journey back home from the interview. It took about 14 hours of sleep, starting later that night, to regain my lost senses. :)

But hey, who said good jobs come easy? :)

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Top Posts From The Month Of October

by golbguru on November 8, 2007

Call me naive, but I always thought that hosts of late-night talk shows made up their own jokes and funny stuff. So, this writers’ strike has brought some new disappointing knowledge to me:

Late-night talk show and comedy shows, including “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” have announced they’ll air reruns Monday night and until further notice. (source: CNN)

I used to admire Letterman and Leno because I thought they were funny.

Anyways, here are some popular posts from last month - in case you missed them earlier. :)

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