Sunday, January 25, 2009

My New Car!

As a finance major, there are two things that I was taught by a professor I had a great deal of respect for:

  • Never buy a new car, always buy a used car. Used cars don't have the "lot depreciation", are usually better these days because of services like Carfax and Certified Pre-Owned programs.
  • Never finance for longer than four years. If you can't afford it in four years, then you can't afford it!
With that said, I bought a "new" car yesterday. Because I bought used, I was able to get all the features I wanted, and not pay a hefty price tag. Take a look at my new baby! 2006 Honda Accord EX.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Middle East Situation

Hidden behind the scenes of the rocket fire in Gaza is over fifty years of conflict and struggle over the boundaries of Israel and Palestine. The underlying issue here is over the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and whether it was the right thing to do. Overturning centuries of Palestinian rule and inserting Israel in a narrow strip of land surrounded by enemies was certainly a risky maneuver and may take hundreds of years to achieve success with.

From an American perspective, imagine the U.N. stepping in and giving the Taliban (or other U.S. enemy) an entire U.S. state to create their own homeland with. Then imagine Russia immediately supplying this new nation with arms and the capability to defend itself. Although this is an extreme example, it more than likely provoked a reaction in you as soon as you read it. To Palestinians, Israelis are in some cases hated and despised and viewed as an American would view the Taliban. From a Palestinian perspective, you can replace "Taliban" with Israelis, "U.S. state" with Palestinian territory and "Russia" with the United States.

Will a solution ever be reached? Probably not if history is any indication of how things will play out. It would be naive to think western powers such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia will remain powers forever. Rising countries such as China, India and Pakistan will more than likely have a say in how things play out. Without western support, Israel would have surely fallen by now, and its fate will lie in the hands of whomever the greatest power is.
As a caveat to this, I think the ultimate downfall of the western powers will be over the struggle for water and natural resources. As third-world nations grow, they will have an increasing demand for water, energy, land and etc. It is not inconceivable to think they could rise up to overthrow other nations.

So where does that leave us? Well after my rambling statements here, I do not know. I, as most other people, worry about the future of the middle east and even the future of my own country. I think as the planet warms and resources become more scarce, things will definitely change in my lifetime and spheres of power will definitely shift. The only question is when.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Around The Horn: Inauguration Blunders!

Sorry I've been a little lax on doing Around the Horn, it's hard fitting it into my schedule to blog anymore, feels like I have so many activities!

1. Hoboken411 has an uplifting and inspirational post about an Employer's letter to his employees. I really felt good about the world until I hit the second sentence or so. If you're in a really good mood and you don't should be...then hit up this post!

2. BaristaNet has the visit from Susan Werner all covered. My only question is...who the @*%# is Susan Werner and why do we want to see her?

3. Dan Cirucci is taking a moral high road again, he's using his expert psychological and relationship experience to dissect the marriage of Caroline Kennedy. Well I guess the silver lining is that we got him off his favorite topic of abortion for all of two seconds.

4. Cleary's Note Book is all over the saving of a 68 year old woman's life by a Houston-Metro police officer. I guess that is why they tell you to say away from the yellow line! There aren't treats and goodies on those tracks...

5. Channel Surfing wants to vote on the person to replace a resigning senator. Sheesh that is just crazy talk, we can't vote for the people that will be representing us, no democracies up in this house.

6. Obama the next Reagan? Jersey Attitude seems to think so, as he compares the one-liners of Obama and Reagan.

7. Thinking about going glove side? Don't do it against the kid featured in Bayonne Now, what a trapper this guy has!

8. Capitol Quickies is applauding Jon Corzine for his restraint. He only spent $90,000 in personal campaign contributions in November. At least he hasn't been caught with his pants down...yet.

9. MoreMonmouthingMusings is not a fan of Rush...Holt that is. Rep. Rush Holt gets the blame for some kind of Navy low-income public housing. As a Monmouth County resident, I guess I should be concerned about this?

10. The Cranford Pundit is all about abbreviations as he thinks NJ is really short for "No Jobs". Can't it also stand for No (Propety Tax/Income Tax Relief, Congested Roadways, Polluted Water Supplies, Inept Politicians) Jobs.


I watched all of President Obama's inauguration at work, as we were able to watch a live-feed over our network at our workstations. The inauguration and events were amazing as it seemed everybody in Washington, D.C. was having a grand 'ole time. Aside of John Roberts making the worst botch in presidential history, it seemed like everything went on without a snag.

I thought the "first-dance" between Barack and Michelle Obama was probably the most interesting part of the evening as it gave some interesting insights into their personal relationship. They seem to be genuinely in love and not afraid of personal displays of affection, which would contrast with the stiff relationships of Mr/Mrs Bush 41/43 and the obvious lack of love of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

One thing I am a little disappointed about is the lack of hot twins in the White House. Sasha and Malia, while very cute and adorable children, are much too young for such pining by the likes of me. They are also not twins, which you may have noticed on your own. On a related note, I think one of the twins is getting married or is at least engaged. So much for that...

I am excited about Obama's presidency, although he does have a lot to live up to, some things unfairly placed upon his shoulders by popular culture and media and other things self-afflicted. I am interested to see how he handles the pressure of being such a historic person and having the entire fate of a nation in his hands.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bloggin' Hazzards

Apparently, a South Korean blogger was arrested for spreading "false economic information" over the internet. This incident raises serious concerns over internet freedom of speech and if there is such a thing. If this was China, we would be able to attribute it to the totalitarian press-control of the Chinese Government. However, this happened in South Korea, a supposed democratic bastion.

Should someone be charged with a crime because of something they write on a blog? I am inclined to think not, as I am a blogger myself and shiver at the thought of being arrested for my opinions. The government might try to get around this by calling his actions "treason" and detrimental to the country.

I'm hoping the man gets released or it will have serious implications on bloggers around the world who might refrain from spreading information as they would fear the backlash against them. An additional thought...shouldn't the U.N. get involved in this?

Monday, January 5, 2009

An American Idol Experience: Part II

When people watch American Idol (and other shows) on TV they see little of what goes on in the "background" of the production. Many of TV's viewers will never see the strange people I encountered, the grueling dedication contestants had to give to the show or the sheer size of how massive the auditions were.

I left my apartment at 4:00 in the morning for the Idol Auditions which were in East Rutherford, NJ at the Izod Center. After an hour of driving I arrived to find a massive car line for people who did not have E-Z Pass. Luckily for me, I had E-Z pass and was able to escape the massive car line from people who had come from all over. After waiting in line from 5:00 am to 8:30 am we were finally let into the actual stadium itself. I had pre-registered the day before and thought I had made a smart decision and would be at the front of the line. Turns out everyone had pre-registered and I was very close to the end of the 18,000+ contestants.

So for the rest of the day I walked around past teenage divas who had dragged their parents along for the misery, misunderstood "superstars" who had yet to become discovered, thug types who "thought" they could sing and various other interesting groups. I did not get auditioned till 10:00 pm. For those counting, that was 18 hours from the time I left my apartment till I was seen. Even though I had brought a backpack full of food, I battled hunger, insanity and off-key singing all day. Would I do it again? Probably, the experience was something I was glad I had, so I could know exactly the struggle and dedication it takes to become a "star".

An American Idol Experience: Part I

I have always been fascinated by Reality TV shows in the sense that I wonder what really goes on behind the scenes when the show is being filmed. In August I made the decision I would try out for American Idol in New York City. I knew I was probably setting myself up for an intense adventure in America's greatest city but I was suprised at how undaunted I was in pursuing it.

The first thing I was made aware of is the fact that the auditions were in New Jersey and not in New York although they claim to be in New York. The reasoning for this is that the audition is actually split up into multiple days. The first day is held in a stadium or arena and can feature as many as 20,000 applicants. Simon, Randy and Paula are not at this first event. People trying out audition with producers from the show and the producers themselves select the people who will advance to the "next" round.

This next round involves a contestant who has progressed to this point to audition in front of several A.I. producers instead of just one. The contestant must also change their song selection and may be asked to sing a certain song by the producers. If the contestant makes it past this stage they will be asked to return to a new location at a different date to audition in front of Simon, Randy and Paula.