Friday, September 14, 2007

Weekend Book Review - Rich Dad Poor Dad

I usually don't read much of finance advice centric books but this guy Bob Kiyosaki's book had been mentioned by many people who aim to think forward and think big. Usuually so most of the "Self help" "How to" series that I come across, I marginally see it with one eye open and hope not to see the book again, but this one is quite different in a sense that it highly talks about financial freedom and how to do it the wise way. Recently one of my family members too made a mention of this book which set me thinking I should read this book. Oh however, I was quite fascinated by this whole thing that I did a bit of research on this author and seems like there are quite a number of folks who seem to be against this thought - visit this "Site" for details.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad is Robert Kiyosaki's first best-selling book. In it, he advocates financial independence by means of investing, real estate, owning businesses, and the use of finance protection tactics.Rich Dad, Poor Dad is written in what is meant to be an entertaining anecdotal manner to make finances interesting. The most central element stressed by Kiyosaki is the advocacy of owning the system or means of production, rather than being an employee of someone else.

The book takes the form of a story. It is largely based on Kiyosaki's own upbringing and education in Hawaii, although the degree of fictionalization is disputed. Because of the heavy use of allegory, some readers believe that Kiyosaki created Rich Dad as an author surrogate (a literary device), discussed further in the criticism section below. I did a bit of "Googling" to find that many believe that the "Rich Dad" in the book, is actually the founder of the "ABC convenient stores" which is found in the most populated areas of a number of the islands of Hawaii.

The Poor Dad in the story is based on Kiyosaki's real father, a PhD holder and graduate of Stanford, Chicago, and Northwestern University, all on full scholarship, who was the head of the Education department of the state of Hawaii. In the book, he is greatly respected until he decides, late in his career, to take a stand on principle against the governor of Hawaii. This leads directly to Poor Dad losing his job, and his inability to find comparable work ever again. Because he has never learned to handle money, instead depending on the government (his employer) for support, he dies in severe debt.

In contrast to this character is Rich Dad, his best friend Michael's father. Rich Dad dropped out in 8th grade, but became a self-made multi-millionaire regardless. He teaches Kiyosaki and Michael a variety of financial lessons, and insists that the boys learn to make money work for them to avoid spending their whole lives working for money, like Rich Dad's employees, as well as Poor Dad, and indeed most of the people in the world.Anthony Robbins holds a seminar called 'Wealth Mastery'. Some have claimed that Rich Dad was a person named Richard Kimi, the deceased founder of Sand and Seaside Hawaiian Hotels.The book highlights the different attitudes to money, work and life of these two men, and how they in turn influenced key decisions in Kiyosaki's life.

Among some of the book's topics are:the value of financial intelligence that corporations spend first, then pay taxes, while individuals must pay taxes first that corporations are artificial entities that anyone can use, but the poor usually don't know how Kiyosaki says the rich think differently in how they define simple words like assets and wealth, and how they fund their luxuries. He explains that he defines an asset as any item which produces income (such as rental property,stocks or bonds), and a liability as anything which produces expense (such as one's own home, new widescreen TV, exercise machine, new garden tractor, motorcycle, computers, processed foods, swing sets, barbecue grill, tools, letting your property rundown and a new car every two years).No one disputes that the rich buy "income-producing assets". Kiyosaki argues that the poor buy worthless items that they think are assets, which clearly do not earn anything, and may have no market value.According to Kiyosaki, wealth is measured as the number of days the income from your assets will sustain you, and financial independence is achieved when your monthly income from assets exceeds your monthly expenses. Each dad had a different way of teaching their sons.

In the end, I strongly recommend anyone who has an interest to read to just do a light reading without thinking much to it. This book is a wonderful book, critically acclaimed and I think the guy has done good. I give it a 4 star on 5.

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Weekday Movie Review - Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a french cuisine in true sense. However, this animated movie is one of the best creations of Disney's Pixar and just goes to show that there are not "many" around to really compete with these guys when it comes to Animations and Toons.

The story is such a wonderful web of the animal world and humans, passion against survival, love against possessive feelings. All this happens in the heart of France, in Paris. Let's see how well I remember the characters in the film, there are a bunch of rats - Rémy, Émile , Django and humans in - Gusteau, Skinner , Linguini , the lady love -Colette. The main ones actually speaking and such a light hearted one too.

I am so tempted to run through the story line as well. So here we go, Rémy lives in a rat colony in the attic of a French country home with his brother Émile and father Django. Inspired by France's recently deceased top chef, Auguste Gusteau, Rémy tries to live the life of a gourmet. Not appreciating his talents, his clan puts him to work sniffing for rat poison in their food.

Rémy and the rats flee the house when the resident, an old woman, discovers the colony. Rémy, separated from the others, floats in the storm drains to Paris on a cookbook by Gusteau, following the chef's image to his namesake restaurant, now run by former sous-chef Skinner. As Rémy watches from a skylight a young man with no culinary talent, Alfredo Linguini, arrives with a letter of introduction from his recently deceased mother, and is hired on to do janitorial duties. Linguini spills a pot of soup and attempts to cover up his mistake by adding random ingredients. Upset, Rémy falls into the kitchen and attempts to fix the ruined soup rather than trying to escape. Linguini catches Rémy in the act, just as Skinner catches Linguini. In the confusion some of the soup has been served. To everyone's surprise, the soup is a success.
Rémy discovers that he can control Linguini's movements by pulling on his hair.

The kitchen's sole woman cook, Colette, convinces Skinner not to fire Linguini provided he can recreate the soup. Skinner orders him to take Rémy away, but he begins an alliance by which Rémy secretly directs Linguini in return for his protection. The two perfect a marionette-like arrangement by which Rémy tugs at Linguini's hair to control his movements and stays hidden under Linguini's toque blanche.

Skinner plies Linguini with vintage Château Latour in an unsuccessful attempt to discover the secret of his unexpected talents. The next morning, hung over and disheveled, Linguini nearly confides his secret to Colette. Desperately trying to stop Linguini, Rémy pulls his hair, making him fall on Colette, leading the two to kiss. They begin dating, leaving Rémy feeling abandoned. Meanwhile, Skinner learns after some sleuthing that, unknown to everyone, Linguini is in fact Gusteau's son and stands to inherit the restaurant. This would thwart Skinner's ambition to exploit Gusteau's image to market prepared frozen foods.

One night Rémy and his colony are reunited. While scrounging food Rémy discovers Gusteau's will which, after a chase by Skinner, he presents to Linguini. Linguini now owns the restaurant, fires Skinner, and becomes a rising star in the culinary world. After a falling out, Linguini decides he no longer needs Rémy, and Rémy retaliates by leading a kitchen raid for his rat colony. Linguini attempts to apologize to Rémy, only to discover and kick out his whole colony. Rémy feels guilty about hurting his friend, and refuses to join them in resuming the raid.

Things come to a head the night of a planned review by jaded food critic Anton Ego. Linguini, unable to cook without the rat's guidance, admits his ruse to the staff when Rémy shows up, leading them all to walk out. Colette returns after thinking through Gusteau's motto, "Anyone can cook!" Django, inspired by his son's courage, returns with the entire rat colony to cook under Rémy's direction, while Linguini, discovering his true talent, waits tables on roller skates. Colette helps Rémy prepare ratatouille; Rémy's new recipe produces a dish so good that, in the climax of the film, a bite of it leads Ego to relive childhood memories of his mother. Ego asks to meet the chef but Colette insists he must wait until the rest of the diners have left. At the end of the service, Rémy and the rats are revealed. A changed man, Ego writes a glowing review, declaring that the chef at Gusteau's is the greatest chef in all of France.

In the denouement Gusteau's is closed by a health inspector, who finds the rats after being tipped off by Skinner. Ego loses his credibility and job when the public discovers he has praised a rat-infested restaurant. Everything is for the best, however; with Ego as investor and regular patron, Linguini, Colette, and Rémy open a successful new bistro called "La Ratatouille," which includes a kitchen and dining facilities for both rats and humans.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Who's afraid of Google?

I just flipped hurriedly through several pages about Google in my Internet trust-site - Economist and it was rather a very interesting dissection of the corporation and the run down of what the corporation intends to do over the period of time. I have had always given two thumbs-up to this corporation and I strongly feel this and Apple are the two interestingly competitive ones on the face of the planet.

Before I go into a mode and start blowing the trumpets hard for Google, I found a few interesting remarks over the period of time on how the 'my shit does not stink' attitude of Google might make it to bite the dust soon if not later. Most of the corporation like Yahoo were humbled before but it is all matter of time, the experts say.

What I felt interesting was the amount of privacy infringement in social networking sites like Orkut, for starters is mind blowing. What happened as a result is couple of murders and folks were linked up as Orkut users and acquaintances blah blah. What has Google done to avoid such events again? Nothing. I was quite surprised that this happened in India because the user group that control the site is mostly from the Latin countries predominantly Brazil, Portugal etc. Wonder what is happening there. I mean on the retract, Facebook seems to be more secured to an extent than Orkut. Anyway, if this was one way of wrong usage. The other one being the infamous Google Maps. In America a phenomenon might claim to have entered mainstream culture only after it has been satirised on “The Simpsons”. Google has had that honor. The Simpson series had a dig at this and I found this way funny. Read this sequence on what happened in the episode -
"Marge Simpson types her name into Google's search engine and is amazed to get 629,000 results. (“And all this time I thought ‘googling yourself' meant the other thing.”) She then looks up her house on Google Maps, goes to “satellite view” and zooms in. To her horror, she sees Homer lying naked in a hammock outside. “Everyone can see you; get inside,” she yells out of the window, and the fumbling proceeds from there."

And that, in a nutshell, sums up Google today: it dominates the internet and guides people everywhere, such as Marge, to the information they want. But it also increasingly frightens some users by making them feel that their privacy has been intruded upon (though Marge, technically, could not have seen Homer in real time, since Google's satellite pictures are not live). And it is making enemies in its own and adjacent industries. The grand moment of Marge googling herself, for example, was instantly available not only through Fox, the firm that created the animated television show, but also on YouTube, a video site owned by Google, after fans uploaded it in violation of copyright !!!

I read an article about the futuristic thoughts in Google. This is exactly what was written - "Google evokes ambivalent feelings. Some users now keep their photos, blogs, videos, calendars, e-mail, news feeds, maps, contacts, social networks, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and credit-card information—in short, much of their lives—on Google's computers. And Google has plans to add medical records, location-aware services and much else. It may even buy radio spectrum in America so that it can offer all these services over wireless-internet connections." SCARY is all I felt when I saw this at first. I mean getting the information on the common plate is one good thing and to know that Google is not the best when it comes to saving the privacy rights and because of this they were ranked at the bottom by privacy intl? Chk this out.. So yea it is SCARY to have every thing in Google and to lose your identity all in one go. Think about it. But Google claims that the risk is minimal because only a “tiny” number of engineers have access to the databases and everything they do is recorded.

But the privacy problem is much subtler than that. As Google compiles more information about individuals, it faces numerous trade-offs. At one extreme it could use a person's search history and advertising responses in combination with, say, his location and the itinerary in his calendar, to serve increasingly useful and welcome search results and ads. This would also allow Google to make money from its many new services. But it could scare users away. Call this innovation and the highlight of this corporation.

Take a look at this. I was stunned to see this and Google has committed itself to “anonymising” the search logs on its servers after 18 months—roughly as banks cross out parts of a credit-card number, say. This would mean that search histories cannot be traced to any specific computer. Second, Google says that the bits of software called “cookies”, which store individual preferences on users' own computers, will expire every two years !

With Google's cashflow and infrastructure, the freedom to do anything it fancies gives rise to constant rumors. Often, these are outrageous. It used to be conventional wisdom that Google would build cheap personal computers for poor countries. This turned out to be nonsense, because Google does not want to make hardware. Now there is talk of a “Gphone” handset. This is also unlikely because Google is more interested in software and services, and does not want to alienate allies in the handset industry—including Apple, which shares board directors with Google and uses Google software on its iPhone.

As things stand today, Google has little to worry about. Most users continue to google with carefree abandon. The company faces lawsuits, but those are more of a nuisance than a threat. It dominates its rivals in the areas that matter, the server cloud is ready for new tasks and the cash keeps flowing. In such a situation, anybody can claim to be holier than money. The test comes when the good times end. At that point, shareholders will demand trade-offs in their favour and consumers might stop believing that Google only ever means well.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh thy shall die another day in America...!

AMERICANS' support for the death penalty is waning, one state at a time. States have had jurisdiction over the issue since 1976 and so differences abound. Texas has executed most people; California has most death-row inmates but has executed only a small number. Since 2000, 12 states have suspended the death penalty, including New Jersey, which is moving towards formal abolition. Three have reversed the suspension this year. It seems last year two-thirds of states executed no one. Public opinion is also changing: a slim plurality of people said they would prefer to see prisoners locked up for life rather than executed, according to a recent poll.

The ever trusted, Economist has a good write up on this. The article is "here".

But around the world there may be so many atrocities committed and people may remain rude and arrogant for what they did and finally when law catches up with them and issues "Death Sentence" would you be sad for the person who committed it or would you as a person advocate for a life sentence instead? I mean to come back to the more recent news in India, Sanjay Dutt, I call him a terrorist and Salman Khan, a lewd bastardized crook, the BMW payment murderer, the Muslim terrorists blasting the country and the world, and many more people of such abilities if found guilty, would you sympathize with them and say, " You should get a lifer and no death" or go with the flow by going for the harsher treatment to let the public in the society know that a crime is a crime, no matter how you see and where you talk.

On a completely unrelated note, just to let you know, I read the strange or rather bizarre news in the Outlook this time that "Salman may get about a year or tops two for murdering the payment dwellers and can obviously snuffle in the money in the pockets that yearn and can even go scout free by not serving even a day in the prison for the gruesome murder!"

My take on the capital punishment is that it should be more of situational. I mean, you can bend the arms of the law depending on the crime. If it is a terrorist under question, then it obviously does not make sense to have him behind the bars . He gets to visit hell and death is the only means. For every bestial crimes, like a several years back in one of the failed states of India, Bihar, two men raped a women and now to ensure the "evidence" is flushed, they tried to pull the uterus out to flush the stuff-that-matters. All this happening when the lady was alive and shouting. They were never arrested. I mean such people don't deserve to live a second life when they take the right to run over other people's life. Such people should get the DEATH. The rest should get the lifer.

What is your take on this?

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What travel type are you?

I chanced upon this site and this is who I am. Want to know which place suits your interest more, check out the site.

Not sure where to go next? Amsterdam, Tokyo or hiking the Darien Gap? Take the travel test and find out what kind of traveler you are and where you should go - and where you shouldn't...

Get your own travel profile

Labels: ,