Idle Thoughts: Spending Wasteful Time By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

spending timeI am going for a major surgery tomorrow (written on August 4, 2019). I had the same surgery done on me fifteen years ago. So, what has changed? I am retired now while after my first surgery, I went to work. Now I have more goofy time to waste everywhere. One thing for sure, I am not planning to plant trees every day or attend non-value-added office meetings anymore.

Another major difference between the two surgeries is that this time I have less time left on this earth. I read everywhere that this should give me a different perspective on life. I don’t exactly understand what does that mean. Should I spend less time on the Internet and social media? Should I read more than I already do? That will be quite boring I believe. Should I renounce all attachments and join Dalai Lama and convert to Buddhism? I am confused.

I enjoy leading a life that is completely kind of random, silly and uneventful. That’s about, how much I can think of doing until I get some better idea. The fact is that life is like our favorite movie that we have seen many times. Similarly, no matter what happens, we repeat the same cycle in life just like the New Year resolution which generally expires on February 28.

Whether I have a little bit of time or a lot of time, the only thing that really matters is how much of my time I can give to other people. That’s what I think I can do best without breaking a sweat or missing my favorite chair in the house. Plus, it’s free!

I know a lot of folks who live in isolation which is one of the under-reported miseries of humanity. I am pretty sure that I can make them happier with my company. I can start by helping someone in my family (say, my wife) in a small way – do the dishes, pick up after her, listen more and be extra kind.

I’ll indulge in the pleasure of doing small things instead of trying to reinvent the Internet or redesigning a better light bulb. I’ll live in the moment and be what I really am. Simplicity and honesty are like horse and buggy that keep the wheels in motion until we reach the last stop.

If I start giving my time with intention, every day, it can make a real difference in my life too. May be people will start to treat me differently because I will treat them differently. I’ll start to ask “how” can I do this, rather than “why.” Hey! That’s a nice idea. With that good thought, talk to you when I wake up after surgery. Good Night!

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“I Am Not A Sinner and You May Not be Virtuous”​ by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’​

If you follow me around, you may find me using the Internet or social media most of the time when I am not driving, taking shower, eating meals, socializing, running errands, talking to my wife and children, doing chores, visiting doctors, exercising, watching movies, reading, writing or sleeping. One reason why you’ll find me on the internet is my paperless way of life. I read books, newspapers and magazines on digital platforms. I don’t carry voluminous dictionary or thesaurus, I check the words on line. I do my banking and bill payments digitally. I find that more convenient.

You will also find me on the Internet because I keep in touch with my readers, friends and relatives through email and social media. I don’t find anything wrong in that. People complain that the Internet and social media have made us impersonal and detached with the rest of the world. On the contrary, before the advent of the Internet and social media, I hardly kept in touch with my long lost friends and relatives. I am more connected to them now than I was ever before.  We’ll soon be entering the third decade of the twenty-first century. If we don’t adopt to the new ways soon, we will be fossils.

Yes, I am completely dependent on the internet. I use the internet for learning, for entertainment and for working. I am learning new crafts, meeting fellow authors, business partners and clients through the new innovation. I am also learning new languages without any expense or hassle.

If you are one of the people on the planet who has the privilege of being able to access the network of networks, you must know that you have access to a tool that can bring about a great improvement in your life; provide  health tips and instant knowledge on any topic under the stars. That is, of course, as long as we apply common sense when using it.

I know many folks who are getting online degrees. I taught online for the University of Phoenix for years. My students were soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, air hostesses who logged in from wherever they were at the time and handicapped (yes, I prefer handicap instead of physically challenged) folks who were not privy to continued education before. Besides that, many universities including MIT have their courses online for anyone to peruse.

I also love the way the Internet users are enriching the English language. Remember, language is dynamic. Those who do not adopt to changes die. English is a dynamic language. It has changed from Chaucer to Shakespeare to the modern day. I feel that writing or saying ‘LOL’ is more expressive than stating, “I am breaking into laughter.” I have no qualms about using ‘B2B’ instead of “business to business.” As a matter of fact, that sounds more slick and business like.  For the same reason I don’t say, “Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit” anymore (Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet). I prefer to say, “You’ll lay on your back when you grow up.” (A sexual innuendo to baby Juliet).

Unfortunately, it has become fashionable to blame social media for everything that ails our society. Do you know how the social media is helping people in rural India? Facebook, the famous social networking site has helped to make a difference in lives of rural people. It saved many farmers of Maharashtra from perishing due to oversupply of turmeric. Using social media, 25000 turmeric farmers boycotted the distributors of turmeric. The boycott served its purpose as the prices doubled. Farmers were quick to point out the advantages of social media.

Social media networks have played a pivotal role in improving the health of rural people and creating awareness among rural people. Also, media has played a role of whistle blower in case of poor quality of mid-day meals provided to children in rural schools in India. I rather like to see those villagers hooked to the Internet than rusticating in the dark world of ignorance and antiquity.

Fear of technology is nothing new. Before we became the digitally-driven society we are today, fear of new technology commonly served as one of the greatest threats to innovation. What we see as dated and relatively harmless inventions of the past were once the new technology that people freaked out about.

When the telegraph was first introduced, critics insisted the new technology would ruin the poetry of the English language. The widespread belief was that by encouraging people to communicate in short, incomplete sentences, the telegraph would eventually train people to always speak in sporadic, choppy thoughts.

There was a fear that radio would turn people away from reading or having intimate conversations with one another. Sounds familiar?

So, the next time you follow me around and find me using the Internet or social media when  I am not driving, taking shower, eating meals, socializing, running errands, talking to my wife and children, doing chores, visiting doctors, exercising, watching movies, reading, writing or sleeping, please don’t call me an addict.

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall”innovation

Friday Fun: “I’ll Survive Global Warning” -Musafir

global warming 1Whether you believe climate change is imminent or you’re a skeptic who thinks it’s a hoax, you’ll have to tolerate this till the 2020 election is over. It’s July and temperature is hitting 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If this continues this way, we’ll witness cremated leaves instead of fall colors. So, what have you done lately to save our planet?

Did you just ask what have I done about it? I lost all my hair so that I don’t spend all my time shampooing and rinsing them. It’s one of the many selfless acts that I perform every day to make our world a better place. I don’t have use for plastic combs, or hair dryers either so that I can save on electricity. I think we all ought to go bald. Walking around with a full head of hair is like driving an SUV. It’s irresponsible. Hey, you hair people, shame on you!

Men, do you need motivation to do that? How ‘bout impressing women? When you meet a woman, start talking about global warming and then show her your resolve by pointing to your bald head. It’s a real icebreaker.

The politicians motivated by Al Gore, who won a Nobel, an Oscar and an Emmy by showing slide shows on global warming, are warning that global warming outlook is much worse than what Al Gore originally projected. Well. Al Gore predicted that global warming will destroy our planet. What could be worse than that? It’s a real challenge for our politicians to come up with worse cataclysm.

A Congressman from Alaska answered that his people lived in igloos. Once the igloos melt, they’d lose their privacy.

The Congressman from Iowa warned that if the global warming was not checked, the corn crops would turn into popcorn. That may starve the Iowans who live on corn and drive on ethanol.

A Congressman from Georgia lamented that the poultry farmers in his state were already losing their livelihoods as the chickens were laying hard boiled eggs.

Joe Biden took the reporters in his chamber and asked them to feel the heat. Unfortunately, as the fuddled VP was making his point, Kamala Harris pointed to him that the thermostat in his chamber was set too high.

President Trump twitted that all Sleepy Joe had to do was switch to the Celsius system while he was still in power. That could have dramatically lower the temperature from 90 degrees to 32.

I personally support saving the earth from disastrous global warming though, personally speaking, it’s not going to be an inconvenient truth for me. I grew up in India. I didn’t have a car. I used to either walk or ride a bike everywhere. We hardly used to get an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Our home was lighted by sunlight during the day and lantern during the night. We cooked over fire. So, I’ll survive global warming. Not sure about you!

“I’ll get up, 8 AM
Every day just like any other day
Won’t erase who I am

You’ll be surprised” –B C Jean

“Landslide Victory for Trump – If Elections Were Held Today” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

October 19 editorialOctober 19 editorial 2

Fortunes do change; improbabilities do happen. No one knows for sure what would happen down the road in November 2020, but this much I know that if the elections were held today, Donald Trump would win by a landslide.

Out of the twenty Democratic hopefuls, eighteen (with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard and John Hickenlooper) have been singing the gloom and doom of America. Their fear tactics and self-deprecation won’t get them into the White House. People are not fools. History repeats itself. Not too long away, President Clinton won overwhelmingly against Republican Bob Dole despite Republicans’ scream and obsession over Lewinsky affair and Whitewater. Mr. Obama defeated Mitt Romney, winning a majority of both the popular vote and the Electoral College to earn a second term while the Republicans wasted nation’s energy and air time over Benghazi Mission and Obamacare.

Similarly, the Democratic candidates are preoccupied with open border, free health care and schooling of illegal immigrants, federally funded abortion for women and transsexuals and abolition of private insurance. They are so fixated on Trump that Biden even said that the first thing he’d do after entering the White House is that he’d defeat Trump. They are losing their bearing and intellect. Who are they trying to impress? We are not ignorant nincompoops.

Their supporters, the liberal police has terrorized the ordinary citizens of the nation and have virtually shut them up from expressing their opinion. Columnist Peggy Noonan put it the best in Wall Street Journal, “Every day, Americans are told of the endless ways they are falling short. If we don’t show the ‘proper’ level of understanding according to a talking head, then we are surely racist. If we don’t embrace every sanitized PC talking point, then we must be heartless. If we have the audacity to speak our mind, then we are most definitely a bigot.” We, the ordinary people are fed up with this kind of social engineering and terrorism.

Whether you like Trump or hate him, we cannot sweep some of his achievements under the rug:

·       Almost 4 million jobs created since election

·       More than 400,000 manufacturing jobs created since election

·       Economic growth hit in the range of 3 to 4 percent

·       Median household income hit highest level ever recorded

·       African-American and Hispanic unemployment hit the lowest rate ever recorded

·       Almost 3.9 million Americans lifted off food stamps since the election

·       Record number of regulations eliminated

·       United States is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957

·       NATO allies are spending $69 billion more on defense since 2016

·       Concluded a historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal to replace unfair NAFTA

·       Reached an agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. export

·       Got rid of ISIS

·       Stopped Syria from using chemical weapons against its citizens

·       Despite prediction of jingoism, he is the only president to make personal friendship with major world leaders – both foes and friend

·       North Korea stopped testing nuclear weapons and ICBMs

·       He is fighting tooth and nail for immigration reform, border security and trade equality

Reminds you of Regan’s landslide victory during his second term?  Again, whether you like Trump or hate him, that’s what he will talk about in his campaign while the Democrats will while away their time on rhetoric, shenanigans and symbolism. Unfortunately people sublimate more about bread and butter, national security and infrastructure issues than absurdities. As I said in the beginning of this article, “Fortunes do change; improbabilities do happen.”

Maybe, the Democrats will wake up before it’s too late.

 

 

 

 

 

“In Praise of Splurging” By Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

october 2019 spendingRecently a friend of mine sent me a message on WhatsApp. It read something like the following:
“A cyclist is a disaster for the country’s economy because he does not buy the car and does not take car loan; does not buy car insurance; does not buy Fuel; does not send his car for servicing & repairs; does not use paid parking; does not become Obese. So, he does not have to buy drugs and he does not have to go to hospital and doctors. He does not  add anything to country’s GDP.”
Though it was supposed to be a slapstick, it made me think deeper about splurging both by individuals and nations at large. While growing up, our generation was told, “You spend as little as you need to, and then save everything else.” So, we hated spending money and thought that it was unwise or maybe immoral to do so.
Now I realize that the economy of a nation only grows when people spend their wealth. In plain terms spending is the key to economic growth. Personal consumption drives almost 71% of economic output of the United States, the most affluent major economy in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). More people spend, more employment they create in terms of manufacturing and service jobs.
This works on personal level too. Our spending creates wealth. Well-to-do people tend to hire outside help with gardening, repair, cleaning and sundry other work. Thus they provide more opportunities for others to earn money. That is one reason why crime is not as prevalent in affluent neighborhoods as it is in poor neighborhoods where the needy have to steal or rob due to lack of any opportunity to earn money.
You don’t want to come to the  end with $3 million saved, but having sacrificed your whole life along the way. Many of my acquaintances amassed a vast saving by sacrificing any material or epicurean experiences of life. They were brain washed by the old school that saving money is a virtue. Now most of them are old and effete. They didn’t enjoy their wealth and can’t carry the same with them after death.
However, that’s my opinion. It is an individual choice between being an ascetic and leading an aesthete lifestyle. But if you are one who is interested in the greater good of the society— then maybe you should think about splurging.

 

Two Nations Divided by Democracy: Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Although I am not in favor of impeaching president Trump nor is there any possibility of his impeachment, he would have certainly been removed from the office by now under the British parliamentary system. Though both UK and USA are democracies, yet they have wide fundamental differences as the latter follows a presidential form of government. In the presidential system, once elected, the incumbent escapes the public grilling and day to day accountability as happens in a Parliamentary System.

The House of Commons is an arena where the strength or the weakness of a leader gets quickly exposed with many a stalwart having had to resign on the floor of the house.
The list of Prime Ministers who had to resign despite having a majority in the house, is a fairly lengthy one, indicating the strength of a parliamentary democracy. Tony Blair despite winning three consecutive elections for the Labor Party faced criticism for his support to the US for the invasion of Iraq. In the face of mounting criticism, he had to resign midway through his third term, while President George W Bush went on to complete his second term virtually unscathed.

Following Mr. Blair, David Cameron resigned because the British people voted for Brexit despite his opposition to it. Cameron said, “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”

While almost a dozen of British prime ministers had to resign because they lost no-confidence motion in the parliament including the stalwart like Benjamin Disraeli, in contrast, except in case of Richard Nixon, there have been virtually no resignations from the top office. Nixon had to go for criminal obstruction of justice in the Watergate affair, several of his staffers having been already jailed.

Bill Clinton went on to serve two full terms despite being only the second U.S president to be ever impeached. He went on to complete his second term despite the impeachment. He won’t have survived the House of Commons, had he been in UK, facing a similar situation.

Despite serious foreign policy issues, Jimmy Carter went on to complete his first term, albeit with difficulty and failed to get reelected. US Presidents thus have a certain degree of insularity.

A strong political party system with emphasis on discussion and debate and even occasional dissent, has been the strength of the House of Commons in Britain.

It is difficult to say which system is better. The British parliamentary system threatens the stability of the government without giving a chance to the prime minister to show the long-term benefits of his or her policies. At the same token, a misguided president may paralyze a nation without much fear of removal from the office causing dire consequences to the nation.

Analysis: “Modi Government Wins Another Term in India” -Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

Analysis: “Modi Government Wins Another Term in India” -Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

If you have been living in the dungeon of cable and network crap, you, probably, don’t know that the people of India elected a new parliament on May 23, 2019 for the seventeenth time since India became a democratic republic on January 26, 1950 (not to be confused with Indian independence on August 15, 1947). Narendra Modi’s party, BJP (India’s People’s Party) won the majority for a second consecutive term for another five years. Thus Narendra Modi will retain his position as the prime minister of India since he is the undisputed leader of his party.

Held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May, 2019 Lok Sabha (lower house) elections saw a galaxy of opposition leaders shed their personal differences to take on Modi. It was probably for the first time that an entire election was fought either in support of or against one man – Narendra Damodardas Modi.

The election was a referendum on Mr. Modi’s policy of strong India. BJP (Mr. Modi’s party) will attempt to fulfil everything it promised in the party manifesto, including the contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC). Though the opposition, especially West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been most vocal against the implementation of the NRC in the states, the BJP will remain undaunted in its goal of identifying illegal immigrants from Bangladesh across the country.

The referendum bears bad news for the Congress Party (liberal and socialist) of India led by Rahul Gandhi, the great grandson of India’s first prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Rahul Gandhi’s Italian mother, Sonia Gandhi. The Congress party ruled India for 49 years directly or by proxy. The Congress Party favors illegal immigrants and wants to treat them as Indian citizens with the right to vote as they (illegal immigrants) constitute Congress Party’s vote bank.

The Modi government has achieved tremendous success to curb terrorism in the last five years. Thus, there will be no change in the security policy with regard to Kashmir and Left Wing Extremism. On the other hand, the government might come down even more heavily on terrorists. With 2016 surgical strikes and the 2019 Balakot air strike against terrorist camps in Pakistan, PM Modi proved that he was not averse to taking tough decisions when it came to national security.

Mr. Modi and his BJP party will do everything within their power to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and Article 35A, which give the state of Jammu and Kashmir (the only Muslim majority state of India) an autonomous status and prohibits citizens from other parts of India to settle there while there is no accountability for murdering and snatching properties of their Hindu citizens who have moved to another parts of India as refugees in their own country.

Under BJP-led government military buildup will continue to ensure that India’s military strength keeps increasing. New defense deals will be struck as India is still looking to meet the fast depleting numbers of fighter squadrons in the Air Force. Modern and more effective assault rifles for the Army and other equipment needed to guard the borders with Pakistan and China will be procured during Modi’s second term.

Hindu hardliners who support the BJP have the Ram Mandir as their demand. The BJP might do everything possible to make the temple a reality by 2024. Lord Rama was Hindu’s equivalent of Jesus. The Muslim rulers destroyed his temple and made a mosque in its place. The Hindus want their holy place back but previous governments and the Supreme Court of India have always deferred the decision due to the fear of Muslim retaliation.

A full majority might help the government implement the BJP’s push to make triple talaq by the Muslim men a criminal offence. Though passed in the Lok Sabha on multiple occasions, the Bill got stalled in the upper house due to the opposition. Many Muslim women have been sympathetic to the BJP for this very reason and have indicated a favorable inclination towards the BJP. The BJP will, therefore, try to maintain its goal of getting the Bill turned into a law.

Modi will learn from some failed moves such as demonetization and hefty promises of creating smart cities and eradicating all the ills of interstate trade through GST tax reform. The government this time will most likely, will try to steer clear from such policies.

Though India’s economy is the fastest growing in the world, the mounting unemployment and poverty in villages is a blemish on India. Mr. Modi will have to solve this dual problem otherwise people may get disillusioned with him.

How does this impact Indo-US relationship? Indo-American bilateral ties will be stronger. The objectives of both countries today are challenged primarily by China. Beijing threatens US hegemony both regionally within Asia and globally, and it threatens India’s security and influence along their common borders, in India’s near and extended neighborhood, and across Asia at large

Trump’s administration has always favored India over Pakistan and worked hard to declare Masood Azhar a terrorist. They will work more intensely against a common enemy, radical Islam.

july 19 modi

Friday Fun: Don’t Listen to Health Tips on Social Media

July 19 facebook

I am sick of health advice on social media Thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp, everyone and his uncle is sending me unsolicited advice every minute. The constant health tips that I receive on Facebook and WhatsApp are really wearing me down. Just this morning I received this great news from my long lost cousin on WhatsApp:

“VERY URGENT AND IMPORTANT NEWS! Please make it a point of FORWARDING this IMPORTANT NEWS after Reading like I am doing RIHT NOW. Medicine for all kinds of CANCER has been FOUND!! You can get it from Wangdyu, Bhutan. AGAIN PLEASE DON’T DELETE THIS without FORWARDING.”

Another health tip suggested that I should eat belleric myrobalan and the oily sap of the guggul for breakfast. I should add boswellia acid to my lunch and should eat Goto Kola with dinner to prevent aging related diseases such as heart attacks, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. The warriors of Afghanistan and the indigenous of Micronesia have been taking these herbs for ages. Those warriors never quit regardless of their age.

Personally, I think that those tips are ridiculous. My most favorite health tips come from Dr. Fu Kim Wong. According to Dr. Wong, “save the parts of your body which are still working.” Don’t do wasteful cardio-vascular exercises. Like any machinery and equipment, our heart also has a limited life. Our heart is only good for so many beats. Don’t waste those beats on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up heart will not make you live longer. It’s like saying you extend life of a car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Similarly, sit-ups are bad for you. Think about it. When you exercise your muscles, they get bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want bigger stomach.

Another tip, don’t do swimming for exercise. You can do it as a hobby. If swimming were good for your figure, explain whale to me.

For those who enjoy alcohol, do not quit. No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine. That means they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness of fruits that way. Beer also is made from grain. We all know that grain is good for us.

Don’t get in the trap of worrying about your body mass ratio. That gives rise to obsessive compulsive Disorder (OCD). If God has given us body, we will have mass.

Don’t listen to folks who ask you to avoid fried food. These days food is mostly fried in vegetable oil. How could getting more vegetable be bad for you?

In the end here is a sweetener, eat more chocolate. Chocolate is cocoa bean –another vegetable. Eat more chocolate and feel good. You want to get in shape? Hey round is a shape too!

“Nothing Happens in This Town” by Anil Shrivastava ‘Musafir’

 

“…you will never right the wrongs of this world. The only thing your activity will accomplish is to make some of you feel better. Such activity makes powerless people feel useful, and provides them the illusion that they’re making a difference. But it doesn’t work. Nothing changes….” George Carlin

That’s very true. Nothing has changed in this town called America since World War II despite sanctions, threats, wars, embargoes, negotiations, bickering, investigations, or regime changes. The status quo remains and we return to the same place where we started from.

Take North Korea for instance. I have been keenly watching US-North Korea relationship since 1985.  North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons and missiles all those years. The United States has pursued a variety of policy responses to the proliferation challenge posed by North Korea including war threats, sanctions and negotiations. Nothing changed.

Iran has been a thorn by USA’s side for the last 40 years (since 1979). USA  threatened Iran, sent warships, placed sanctions against them. They are still bickering. The former keeps on testing missiles and enriching plutonium. Nothing changed.

China keeps on challenging USA militarily and economically. USA has been warning China; putting tariff on their exports and has been sending warships into the China Sea. China keeps increasing its influence in Asia. They are about to match USA in arms and in space capabilities. They may overtake USA as the biggest economic power in the coming decade. Nothing changed except the rise of China.

Both Russia (then the USSR) and USA fought wars against Afghanistan. USA is in the fourteenth year of war against the Taliban. They have bombed them, threatened them and have spent trillions of dollars in that god forsaken country. Taliban is still alive. USA soldiers are still being slaughtered there. Nothing changed.

USA has been negotiating peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians since the birth of Israel in 1948 (71 years ago). Israelis are still killing the Palestinians and the latter is still demanding a homeland. Nothing changed.

USA toppled Saddam Hussain in 2003 on the false pretense of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). After spending trillions of dollars there and rebuilding Iraq while neglecting our own country, the killing is still going on in Iraq involving the Kurds, the Sunnis and Shias. Other than spending trillions of dollars we lost thousands of young lives and crippled our youth mentally and physically. Despite all that nothing changed.

We have been trying to change regimes in Cuba and Venezuela for decades. All we got in return is defeat in Bay of Pigs and recent embarrassment in Venezuela. Nothing changed.

Back home, our elected members have been fighting each other in the name of health insurance reform, immigration policy, education reform, infrastructure improvement, and ways to save school children from random shooting. Nothing happens. Nothing changed.

All we do is get excited and increase our blood pressure watching and listening to the rhetoric of our politician and media gurus. We believe in what they say and quarrel about whether to praise Trump or burry him. In the meantime nothing changes. If we want real change, we should get the rascals out from Washington. Get rid of partisanship. Write to your Senators and Congressman to do real job for which you elected them. Be an independent thinker. May be that will bring the real change. Are you listening?