Friday, February 26, 2010

When will the snow end...

This snow storm is insane. There is about 3 feet of snow and its heavy snow since its wet snow coming down. Apparently, the snow is coming down until Sunday. That is 4 straight days of snow.

The snow system started in New Jersey, went through NYC and out to Long Island. Then decided to come back to New Jersey and do a round trip. I guess the storm just doesn't want to leave any part uncovered.

I hear there is another snow system coming in next weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Banks attempting to force Greece to default

Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin.

Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American International Group, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers.These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company or, in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit.

As Greece’s financial condition has worsened, undermining the euro, the role of Goldman Sachs and other major banks in masking the true extent of the country’s problems has drawn criticism from European leaders. But even before that issue became apparent, a little-known company backed by Goldman, JP Morgan Chase
and about a dozen other banks had created an index that enabled market players to bet on whether Greece and other European nations would go bust. 

Its things like this that give bankers a bad reputation. It seems that they are attempting to force an entire country to go bankrupt in order to profit. With the global economy still struggling to recover, a country that defaults would delay any global recovery. It seems that the bankers are only looking out for themselves and trying to put bonuses into their pockets again. This time, at the expense of another country. 

I do not know what happened with the bailout since it seemed that 2 weeks ago, Germany agreed to help with. It seems that it is under question again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iphone apps removed from the Apple Apps store

In continuation of my last point, Apple has started banning many applications, like the Wobble Iboob, for its iPhone that feature sexually suggestive material, including photos of women in bikinis and lingerie, a move that came as an abrupt surprise to developers who had been profiting from such programs. Guess it just goes to show that when you piggyback off another platform to make money, you are at the mercy of their policies. It can be a good way to make money but one never knows when a policy could change that good flow of income. Facebook application creators often face this as Facebook is constantly changing their layout.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wobble Iboob

I am still amazed by the creativity over some of the applications that people make. Since Facebook and the Iphone became a hot commodity, there have been many applications created or accessories for them. This has been a huge market for some people of untapped revenue.

I came across an application that I found pretty creativity. Its quite useless and is just for entertainment's sake called the Wobble Iboob. I think the name of the application tells you what it does.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feeling lonely?

The Shanghai marriage market takes place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons from about noon to three. It is found just inside gate 5 of People’s Square Park, 75 Nanjing Xi Lu., across from the Grand Theater.

At the marriage market, parents, with or without their children’s consent, arrange meetings, dates and potential matches for their kids. Some children, often too busy working to devote time to meeting a soul mate, accept their parents' help. But its not easy even for a parent, and many also employ matchmakers. In addition, many Shanghainese women are extremely picky about the men they would date. Stereotypes say that they are usually very strong-minded,  stubborn and materialistic. Due to Shanghai being one of the richest cities in China, it has been often said that Shanghainese women require that the men own an apartment and a car before even considering them. With the latest housing boom, housing costs are extremely high and many men cannot afford a place to purchase. Thus, reducing their opportunities to find true love and marriage. It's quite unfortunate for many of these men.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Curling the Olympic event

I suppose I can understand why curling is an Olympic event this year since the events are in Vancouver. However, how did curling get into the Olympics in the first place. I cannot believe they took softball out of the Olympics in 2012 but curling is considered an event.

To me, it seems like a bar game on ice. Most people know this game as shuffleboard. These games will be played for 12 days during the Olympics. Thats 12 out of the 14 total days which the Olympics happen. How much athletic fitness do you really have to be in to participate in this event. I hear that one of the competitors is 5 months pregnant. I can't imagine any other event where someone could be 5 months pregnant and competing.

For those that do not know about curling, I've posted a video for your education. Notice how the lady says its similar to darts. We might as well add that into the Olympics.

Cure for sex addiction

The term "sexual addiction" is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict's thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.

Treatment of sexual addiction focuses on controlling the addictive behavior and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality. Treatment includes education about healthy sexuality, individual counseling, and marital and/or family therapy. Support groups and 12 step recovery programs for people with sexual addictions (like Sex Addicts Anonymous) also are available. In some cases, medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder may be used to curb the compulsive nature of the sex addiction. 

With so many public figures lately accused of being sex addicts, Tiger Woods and Steve Phillips being some of them, I am curious about how effective these counselings to "cure" sex addiction. This seems to be the only addictions where you do not stop cold turkey. Gambling, drug, alcohol addictions all require you to stay away from these vices. However, for sex, you are actually encouraged to have it but only in a healthy manner. I wonder what kind of treatment that they are giving to Tiger Woods now to cure his problem.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

High speed rails

In a car driven culture like the United States, will a high speed rail be profitable enough to not become defunct? Amtrak lost money on 41 of its 45 train lines in 2008. I hope Obama knows what he is talking about with his endeavor to build these throughout the country. I am assuming his proposal is to reduce our dependence on cars and buses for transportation and the possibility of oil prices spiking as this natural resource becomes depleted.

If oil becomes more expensive and low-carbon technologies are given a push because of concerns about global warming, we would be able to see an increase in travel via trains especially since flying seems to be becoming more of a hassle. China has been purchasing these high speed trains as they are rapidly expanding their train system to make travel more accessible within the country. China is about the same size as the United States too.
China, Europe and Japan have been using high speed rails for years so it is possible that this can be used as a preferred method of travel.  I think the biggest problem is due to our city layouts. Not too many cities within the United States are pedestrian friendly or public transportation friendly. Have you tried taking public transportation in Los Angeles? Its pretty awful, mostly because not enough people use it. And many cities do not have taxi cabs just roaming the streets like NYC.

In China, the Chinese are not as reliant on cars as Americans are and most cities do have their fair share of taxis for cheap prices. In Europe, the cities are extremely pedestrian friendly and the train stations are usually located in convenient places. In addition their cities have public transportation making it easy to get around. Japan also has a good public transportation system outside Toyko if you can understand Japanese.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Safety for sports

I may not know much about the sport of luging but when I saw the course with its metal pylons, I thought to myself, did anyone not think of putting padding on them before the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Only after someone died did they decide to put some padding on them. For a sport that is as dangerous as it looks, with lugers speeding at over 80 mph on a piece of metal, one may have figured to perform some safety checks and reduce any risks of injuries.

Its unfortunate that simple things like padding is not put on walls where people may crash into. This occurred when Aaron Rowand of the Philadelphia Phillies dove into the wall to catch a flyball and broke his nose. The wall was pure metal. Luckily, padding was put on afterwards. I am guessing that the designers felt that the padding took away from the aesthetics of the overall look of the baseball field.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bait and Switch

In retail sales, a bait and switch is a form of fraud in which the party putting forth the fraud lures in customers by advertising a product or service at an unprofitably low price, then reveals to potential customers that the advertised good is not available but that a substitute is. 

For some reason, this rule does not apply to real estate. Agents can show on a beautiful home on their realty website for a affordable or cheaper price in order to entice potential buyers to contact them. However, usually what will happen is that the home will be "just sold". This was a common occurrence in China and it also happens in the United States. It just goes to show that if there are no laws to prevent something, people will attempt to take advantage of it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Undeveloped countries and their garbage habits

As with every developing nation, they will go through their troubles to regulate pollution. Since there are many uneducated people in these nations, they do not know the ramifications of dumping garbage. I have seen this in Peru, Cambodia, India and China. In other developed countries such as Australia, Germany, England, Japan, garbage on the ground is hardly seen. The United States, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. It might be the cause of too many uneducated immigrants or just uneducated people.

When I was in China, I would often see people throw trash on the ground to their hearts' content. I talked to some Chinese friends about this, they replied that sooner or later street cleaners would pick up the garbage. “Besides,” they joked, “it gives the street cleaners something to do and a job.” 

That is true that under-appreciated and underpaid cleaners do eventually pick up the trash. I have seen them at work. Rain or shine, every morning they get up very early, often before 5:00 am, and pick up seemingly tons of trash and sweep the streets. Often before 7:00 am, when most people are just waking up, the streets are already clean. Nevertheless, my friends’ logic is flawed. 

If I were to arbitrarily throw trash on the floor in the home of a friend, it would be a sign of disrespect, and that friend would most deservedly give me a tongue-lashing or even show me the door, and rightfully so. In the same way, throwing trash on public ground is also very disrespectful, because public property is owned by all of society, not just by one person. In addition, littering makes an area look trashy and dirty. Sometimes it can even make a place smelly. A trashy, dirty, and smelly environment is not a harmonious and well-off one.  

I have witnessed the following situation on buses: Some people throw some garbage on the ground, and the ticket seller admonishes them, telling them to open the window and throw the trash outside! So I guess the trash bags that often hang near the doors of the buses are just for decoration.

I have also seen car drivers when driving, open their windows and throw empty cups or garbage outside. Why not just keep the trash in your car and dispose of it later? Most of the time when you buy some food or drink, it comes with a bag. Use the bag to store your garbage until you can properly dispose of it.. I have also seen people open the doors of their restaurants and just throw out dirty napkins. Basically, the thinking is as long as its not in my house, its not my problem.

When you throw something you want onto the ground, you are behaving like a baby or a spoiled brat. That is what a baby does: throw things it doesn’t want onto the ground. Because it doesn’t know any better. Now spoiled brats just do whatever they want, whether they know better or not. When they don’t want something, they just throw it on the ground, and let others do the work. Now I am sure that most of the people who litter in China are neither a baby nor a spoiled brat. So why act like one? 

Recent reports have shown that the waterways of China are extremely polluted. Regardless of the number of people picking up trash, some of the trash will end up in the waterways. The government should attempt to enforce those who just throw trash on the ground to keep it clean. Besides, China is all about having face and impressing foreigners. The World Expo is around the corner. With all the foreigners coming into Shanghai, they should start "teaching" the citizens not to throw trash on the ground.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Welcome to fascism

Mussolini  said that fascism was "rule by corporations". It seems that the United States is headed towards that direction as well. The Supreme Court struck down some key provisions of landmark campaign finance legislation in a move experts agree paves the way for more corporate money to enter the political system.

In a 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Court's majority threw out sections of the legislation that bans corporations and labor unions from funding some political advertisements. Corporations and unions may fund those communications out of their general treasuries, overturning earlier rulings that had divided individual and corporate expenditures into different categories. The politicians are already basically making decisions on behalf of these huge corporations who give them huge donations and now they are not limiting the amounts that can be contributed. With that it seems like our country will be run with the interests of the corporations. and possibly a country heading towards fascism.

Shown in the right we have some "warning signs". Notice how we already have some of the "early warning signs of fascism". Corporate power is protected and obsession with national security. The citizens of the United States need to take back the government and make our opinions heard to our congressmen so they are acting for the people instead of allowing corporations to run the country.

Saints are going to Disney World

Congratulations to the Saints in winning the Super Bowl. The team that has never won a Super Bowl just added one to its history. It is a storybook ending considering that New Orleans has not had much to cheer about since Hurricane Katrina. The victory gives the people some excitement and pride for their own city.

Even in misery and sadness, sports is an important way of keeping spirits up. Professional baseball lifted spirits after 9-11 as well helping us temporarily forget reality. It gave people a sense of normalcy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Its the end of the world as we know it

I remember seeing this little sketch back in 2003 but I still find it hilarious. Also, I find it funny that they put a Japanese flag when they mention China. I don't know if it was on purpose but I'm sure a lot of the Chinese would be pissed off since they hate Japan after the whole Nanjing incident.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

China the place to go for opportunity?

Jim Rogers recently said, “In 1807, if you were smart you went to Paris. In 1907, if you were smart, you went to New York. And, in 2007, if you were smart you went to China.”

It used to be that the US was called the land of opportunity. However, with the US in such a huge deficit and still trying to recover after the financial wreck arrived, opportunities may be in China. However, I think before that happens, the income of the Chinese people needs to increase either through an increase in the valuation of the RMB or the actual salaries that they receive.

I only say that because many people from China still try to come to the United States in their hopes of striking it big. These people are able to live off a meager salary in the States and still have money leftover to send back to China. Many people here would think $200 USD to $300 USD is a drop in the bucket but in China that would be about 1400 to 2000 RMB which could be used to fully sustain an entire family in the 2nd tier cities of China. Also, the living standards are much higher in the United States since the laws to protect against dumping and ruining the air quality is much more stringent here which may be the reason why many Chinese citizens still want to migrate to the States.

I doubt that salaries in China would increase quickly enough since many companies would be unwilling to raise the salaries. This would affect the bottom lines of the companies. However, salaries in 1st tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou) will probably see increases in salaries more quickly as living standards are much high compared. Other cities would most likely have to wait much longer to see increases in salaries.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington has estimated that the yuan is undervalued by about 30 percent against all world currencies and about 40 percent against the dollar. I'm not sure when that would occur though since the Chinese government is trying to hold the existing exchange rates in order to A) allow China to have a price advantage in the manufacturing area B) recoup the loan that it provided to the US. It seems that if the Chinese government allowed the RMB to attain a value based on the predicted market rates of the Peterson Institute, China would lose the pricing advantage and it would lose a lot of money due to the money it lent to the United States. In doing so, this would cause internal issues for the billions of people in its country as many manufacturing plants would probably close causing hundreds of riots. Riots have already occurred due to the global recession which closed many plants in 2009.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog's Day

After enduring this frigid winter, we put our hopes that the groundhog would predict that spring would be arriving. As tradition says in Western cultures, if a groundhog sees its shadow, it will become spooked and head back into its hole; thus giving us a prediction of 6 more weeks of winter. On the other hand, if there is no shadow, it will mean that spring is arriving. Unfortunately, he saw his shadow and we will have more cold weather. He also predicted 10 more years of deficit for the US. :(

Euro in trouble?

There have been rumors that the Euro was going to take over the US Dollar as the global currency. However, with the entire issues that Greece is going through, I'm not sure if it can be dependable as a global currency. I think this squashes any ideas of people wanting one world currency or even seeing an Asia currency.

Even though the euro is wondrously convenient for travelers and international businesses, there's one catch: Fiscal discipline is up to each participating country, and Greece has not been disciplined. It is running a deficit of nearly 13 percent of total output, more than four times the nominal limit for countries using the euro. Its national debt is almost double the permitted limit. With its credit rating sharply downgraded, Greece must pay a stiff premium to finance that deficit. Since the Euro is shared across countries, Greece does not have the control to print more currency as it wishes, which is what other countries such as what occurs in the U.S. and China. Also other countries such as Germany seem to be ignoring Greece and acting as if it is not their problem.

If there is one world currency or an Asian currency, we would most likely have many issues similar to what is mentioned. From a world economic standpoint, I hope that this all gets resolved since another economic fiasco would cause a huge effect on the world economy.