Home Insurance – Don’t Defeat Your Primary Purpose

Let’s face it, almost every insurance article you have read till date is boring, overflowing with statistics and calculations, simply put, a pain to read. I am going to try to keep it light, and, coupled with some anecdotes; this article should be an entertaining read for you.

Home insurance is the protective cover or insurance provided under the category of general insurance against unforeseen disasters and mishaps. Which means, in case you insure your property, you can rest assured that if a burglar visits in your absence, the insurance company shall pay for all damages. The insurance firm shall also pay, if a tornado decides to whisk your home away, leaving you without a roof over your head.

While a lot of people would like to talk about the technical aspects of buying an insurance cover, the types of insurance covers available, coverage provided by different policies, applicable exclusions and procedures for claims settlements, I would like to talk about a different aspect. Insurance fraud is something that has been an intricate part of the insurance debate.

Once a lawyer, fishing in the Caribbean happened to meet a compatriot engineer who was also enjoying his holidays at the same resort. In order to show off, the lawyer bragged, “All this was paid by my insurance company as I lost my house and belongings recently in a fire.” The oblivious engineer replied, “Tough break mate, I too lost everything in a flood recently.” Trying not to appear curious, the lawyer asked nonetheless, “How can you make a flood happen?”

Not funny. Especially when you come to know that every time the insurance company loses a case, the cost is almost always passed on the remaining clients and consequently the premiums shoot up.  To avoid such frauds, insurance companies usually employ investigators to look into seemingly shady claims.

In another remarkable incident, a couple happened to lose their home and all their belongings in a domestic fire. The couple claimed ignorance when questioned over the origin of the fire. Sensing something amiss, the insurance company launched an investigation and soon something intriguing came to light. A neighbor seemed to remember the woman leaving in her car, just minutes before the smoke of the fire start billowing out of the windows. On further investigation, it turned out that the couple had paid a visit to their insurance agent to ensure that their policy was intact and would cover any fire damage. Needless to say, the claim was denied, and the couple was indicted in an insurance fraud case.

The insurance companies are often seen as a ‘soft target’ by people trying to make a quick extra buck. Exaggeration of insurance claims or outright frauds is something which is a common occurrence. What such people fail to understand is that apart from losing your entire life’s investment and getting the claim rejected, you can also face a jail term or hefty fines if caught for insurance frauds.

The motive of buying an insurance policy is to be safe and secure in the first place. There is no need to go ahead and try to defraud the insurance company, for that will only defeat your primary purpose.

Arendt’s Notion of Freedom and American Declaration of Independence

In principle, all modern constitutions begin with ‘We the People’. From Arendt’s reflections on modernity an ambiguous account of the relationship between freedom and modern law emerges. On the one hand, the revolutionary events in America and France in the late eighteenth century mark the appearance of a strong sense of ‘political freedom’ in the world, with the novelty that subjects now consider themselves rulers. ‘We, the people’ are the new foundations of political and constitutional authority. Exemplified in those modern revolutionary moments on either side of the Atlantic, Arendt suggests, is a radical sense of freedom as collective action in the circumstances of plurality. This signals a break with ‘the great tradition’3 of philosophy that had prioritized isolated contemplation over the plurality of politics and divorced freedom from the experience of action. And since our conception of law is a reflection of our self-understanding as social and political animals, the new sense of political freedom that emerges with the birth of our constitutional potentia also implies a shift in the modern juridical consciousness.

In the urge to rescue politics from philosophy by recovering a conception of political freedom, Arendt therefore takes aim at the entire Western tradition. The category of freedom has been lost to us because the tradition prioritized a dialogue with the self (the ‘dialogue’ between ‘me and myself’ in the course of contemplation) over the dialogue with others (participation and speech in the course of action). The first ‘dialogue’, the inward experience of freedom, in as much as its significance cannot be denied, is derivative. It is only in the second dialogue, which comprises the field of human affairs and politics, that freedom can properly be recovered:  [A]ction and politics, among all the capabilities and potentialities of human life, are the only things of which we could not even conceive without at least assuming that freedom exists, and we can hardly touch a single political issue without, implicitly or explicitly, touching upon an issue of man’s liberty […] The raison d’être of politics is freedom, and its field of experience is action.

Freedom, for Arendt, is emphatically not a phenomenon of the ‘will’, a question of one’s personal freedom to choose from a set of already existing alternatives, ‘x, y or z’. It is not about being able to manage our own strategic choices, selecting the most efficient means to ends that are predetermined. It is not even about being able to choose our ultimate goals or the absence of interference (or domination) by others in this choice and the means to pursue it. It is the freedom to ‘call something into being which did not exist before’, something that is not given ‘even as an object of cognition’. This conception of freedom, which depends upon man’s faculty to begin something new, reflects the centrality of the event of ‘natality’ for the human condition. ‘The new beginning inherent in birth,’ Arendt notes, ‘can make itself felt in the world only because the newcomer possesses the capacity of beginning something anew, that is, of acting,’ and in so doing of performing the unexpected and even the ‘infinitely improbable’. It is only in the course of acting and speaking in the public realm that men reveal this potential to the world by revealing who they are, exercising their freedom by disclosing their ‘unique personal identities’.

Political freedom, which must transcend both our motives and our intended goals, is not, as the analogy with the unexpected might suggest, wholly arbitrary. It springs from what Arendt somewhat enigmatically calls ‘principle’, and as she will later note in reference to the new beginning that is the American revolution, ‘beginning’ and ‘principle’ have the same etymological root. Principle, in contrast to the judgment of the intellect and to the command of the will, is fully manifested only in action itself. But whatever the nature of the principle that inspires action – whether it is the love of equality, which Montesquieu called virtue, or fear and distrust – it is only in action that men can experience freedom and only through action with others that political power is generated. This experience of action in the public realm, whether it is the creation and maintenance of political and social institutions or the promises that men make to each other in their daily lives, has no independent life outside of the continued conservation of those institutions or promises by those through whose action they were constituted and might be maintained. Although it is, to be sure, both unpredictable in nature and fragile in its existence, the idea of political freedom, which can be resurrected from our neglected traditions and historical experiences, still looms large in our imagination.

The French and American revolutions bring us closer to this conception of political freedom as it makes its appearance (or reappearance) in the world and in doing so reveal its implications for our juridical consciousness. But it bears reiteration that the period from the late eighteenth century up to the middle of the ‘American century’ in which Arendt was writing are those of the triumph of a liberal worldview in which ‘negative liberty’ looms large, and ‘political freedom’ has largely disappeared. These revolutionary events that Arendt recovers therefore present us with something of the exceptional. And yet although political freedom as experienced in the course of modern revolutions is in tension with the liberal tradition as well as the Christian tradition and the great tradition of Philosophy which preceded it, at the same time it appears (in hindsight) to be an inevitable part of our modern juridical consciousness manifested most apparently in the concept of constituent power: ‘we, the people’ are the foundations of the modern constitutional settlement. The recovery of political freedom therefore trades both on the exceptional part of the revolutionary moment and on its unavoidable aspect in hindsight; it remains with us in the way we conceive of constitutionalism in modernity – namely in accordance with an ideology of popular sovereignty, irrespective of the extent to which it is fulfilled or betrayed in practice. ‘Crucial to any understanding of revolutions in the modern age,’ Arendt suggests, ‘is that the idea of freedom and the experience of a new beginning should coincide.’ Unique about modern revolution is that freedom is conceived not as a mental category of thought, judgment, and will, but as a category of action and, furthermore, in a manner that supersedes the weak sense of mere ‘liberation’ from the oppression of the ancien régime and the constraints of the traditions that it embodied. It emerges in the strong sense of revealing our constitutional potentia, the capacity to create a ‘new beginning’ for political freedom, as well as institutions to preserve a space in which freedom can be exercised for posterity (freedom as the experience of the ‘We can’ rather than the ‘I will’). Of the self-conception of the American founders, the record of the American Revolution speaks an entirely clear, unambiguous language: it was not constitutionalism in the sense of ‘limited’, lawful government that preoccupied their minds. The main question for them, ‘was not how to limit power but how to establish it, not how to limit government but how to found a new one’.

Freedom needed, in addition to mere liberation, the company of other men who were in the same state, and it needed a common public space to meet them – a politically organised world, in other words, into which each of the free men could insert himself by word and deed. To capture the modernity of revolution is to capture the sense that more than merely liberation (from monarchy, despotism, or oppression) is at stake, which generally trades on a negative conception of liberty as freedom from interference or domination. The constitution of political freedom is at stake, and this requires the establishment of political equality among citizens in a republic who are responsible for their own laws. In other words, it is about experiencing and constituting the freedom to govern in concert with others rather than the freedom from oppressive government by those in power. The revolutions thereby arouse passions that have been dormant for man outside of classical antiquity, absent in the centuries between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the modern age. Of the sheer extraordinary perspective of this experience, the startling recognition of man’s capacity for beginning anew, Arendt is in little doubt. It is at the root of the enormous pathos we find in both the American and the French ‘revolutionary spirit’, a spirit which consists, she says, in ‘the eagerness to liberate and to build a new house where freedom can dwell’, and is ‘unprecedented and unequaled in all prior history’.

The event of modern revolution connects political freedom to a legal theoretical inquiry with the emergence of this constitutional potentia, an idea with real juridical significance because it suggests the ultimate foundations of constitutional authority lie with the collective power of the people to constitute their own basic laws. From a juridical perspective, whilst the original political meaning of the revolutions, was, as Arendt explains, that of demanding a return to the limited government of the past – the restoration of ancient liberties that had been slowly eroded by the monarchies in England and France – the outcome was far more radical, leading spectacularly to a whole new social imaginary, based on constituent power and popular sovereignty.

Intellectual history is not our prime concern. It is only when the phenomenon of revolution makes its actual appearance in the world that newness is no longer considered merely the ‘gift of Providence’ but is ‘endowed with a reality peculiar to the political realm’. The historical examples of revolution – whether it is the American or the French, the later experience of the Paris Commune of 1871, the creation of Soviets during the Russian revolution, the French Resistance during World War II, or the Hungarian revolt in 1956 – show that individual men and women could ‘step forward from their private lives in order to create a public space where freedom could appear’. In doing so, it is claimed, ‘they rediscovered the truth known to the ancient Greeks that action is the supreme blessing of human life’. ‘Only in such revolutions’, Arendt notes, ‘was there a direct link between the idea of participating in government and the idea of being free.’

The very fact that the men of the American revolution thought of themselves as founders indicated the extent to which they must have known that it would be the act of foundation itself, rather than an Immortal Legislator […] or self-evident truth or any other transcendent […] source, which eventually would become the fountain of authority in the new body politic […] It is futile to search for an absolute to break the vicious circle in which all beginning is inevitably caught, because this absolute lies in the very act of beginning itself. The vicious circle of the legality of the new law and the legitimacy of the new power is tamed not by positing an absolute, but by developing a principle from the act of beginning, which, Arendt notes, for the first time in history occurs in the US ‘in broad daylight’. This event, breaking into the continuous sequence of historical time, manifests the constitutional potentia and reveals the possibility of political freedom without the absolutism of a creatio ex nihilo. What saves the act of beginning from arbitrariness ‘is that it carries its own principle with itself, or to be more precise, that beginning and principle are not only related to each other but are coeval’.119 The political relevance of these insights, Arendt argues, is that they stand in opposition to the claim that violence is necessary for all foundations and unavoidable in all revolutions, a claim that she (misleadingly) suggests is refuted by the American revolutionary experience. What the experience does genuinely point to is the possibility of a distinction between the beginning as ‘absolute’ – as in the case of fabrication in accordance with a fixed ideal – and the beginning as a ‘principle’ of joint political action, which is always dynamic, temporal, and contingent: [A] terminological distinction between the word ‘principium’ (beginning of the world) and ‘initium’ (the beginning which is a man), underlin[es] that, by contrast with the absolute beginning (principium) that can only be the work of God, the human beginning (initium) is always inserted within the continuum of time and thus necessarily amounts to a re-beginning. And yet what is distinctive about the escape from tradition is not only the novelty and exhilaration of political freedom but the fact that the revolutionary events ‘concern the many and not the few’. In this sense, modern revolution is not only about freedom but also about equality as a ‘birthright’, which ‘was utterly unknown prior to the modern age’. Newness, as Arendt puts it, ‘reaches the market place’ in the wake of modern revolution. It is, in other words, although Arendt  fails to develop the point, the birth (or rebirth) of democratic political freedom that is signaled by the late eighteenth century revolutions. Constitutional potentia must be understood as a democratic potentia if it is to remain faithful to the promise of modernity.

Although the revolutionaries still, unhappily, talked about ‘obedience’ to law, because of their inability to transcend the tradition, what they meant, according to Arendt, was rather the support of the laws through the consent of the citizen. This understanding of power based on consent recalls another aspect of Arendt’s distinction between power and violence. Whereas violence can manage without the many, power always stands in need of numbers. After the modern democratic revolutions, constitutionalism must therefore stand against the Platonic understanding of it as that part of theology which ‘taught the few how to rule the many’, as well the liberal understanding of it as a ‘counter-majoritarian’ device based on the ‘fear of the many’. It should instead approximate to the Greek isonomy (the notion of ‘no-rule’), which conceives equality not on any naturalistic basis or self-evident truths, but in virtue of the social and political equality of citizenship.

But how can ‘the many’ act in concert when it comes to constitutional politics? Or, to reverse the question, how can mere ‘consent’ be sufficient for the generation of political power and expression of political freedom? The choice we seem to be faced with is the following: Restrict political freedom to the freedom founding actions of those who actually engage in the constitutive activity associated with lex, thereby rendering freedom elusive and elitist, sporadic  and fleeting, or generalize and dilute political freedom and risk that it becomes little more than the pallid acquiescence in the structure of constitutional authority.

Arendt argues persuasively that the institutions of the post-revolutionary era that gave stability to the new polity, the Senate and the Supreme Court, and answered the early preoccupation with permanence and the ‘augmentation’ of the foundations of the republic, were precisely those same institutions which destroyed the spirit of revolution itself and undermined the possibility of maintaining political freedom in terms of the democratic constitutional potentia of ‘we, the people’. But how, if at all, can the political freedom of the many be reconciled with the constitutional authority of the few, without reintroducing a problematic foundation of constitutional origins?

Although this is a dilemma that Arendt never directly confronts, she does suggest an analogy that is more apposite to its resolution than that of ‘fabrication’ (or even of ‘promising’). More apt to capture the ‘immanence and plurality’ of democratic constitutionalism than the metaphor of building, housing, or erecting walls and structures is that of constitutional law as ‘political grammar or syntax’. Rather than suggesting a one-off activity or constitutional moment when the ‘house’ wherein freedom can dwell is constructed or reconstructed in one go, it suggests a dynamic and on-going narrative in the changing circumstances of plurality, and in which freedom is negotiated and renegotiated in the public realm. Constitutionalism as political grammar represents the idea that even our most fundamental law is relational and dynamic, developing symbiotically with politics and the exercise of political freedom rather than being fabricated or constructed ‘up front’ as a timeless container for the vicissitudes of political action.

Specs: Nerdy is The New Sexy

Tina Fey regularly dons them with a panache that is out of this world. Sarah Palin tried to do them justice, but failed miserably. Many women are skeptical of donning them while I am a die hard fan. What I am talking about is a pair of glasses.

Being a single woman can at times be annoying and indeed a few years ago, getting fed up of attracting all the wrong kind of guys, I thought of turning myself into the proverbial ugly duckling to avoid the dating scene altogether. Getting a non prescription glasses and wearing minimal make up, I started attending my office in business suits. And that is when I found out that whoever remarked that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder was an expert when it came to how men choose their mates.

Soon, I was being asked out by nice guys, the types you can take home to meet your parents, the kinds with whom you can sail into the sunset. Surprised at this sudden change in fortune, I decided to do some research into the matter. The results that came up can easily give the notion of beauty being skin deep a run for its money. I came up with some interesting things that men had to say about a woman wearing glasses.

  1.       Seem Smarter

A lady with spectacles seems to have an opinion. A guy can talk to his spectacled companion about ‘genes’ without her suspecting his intentions of getting into her ‘jeans’. Many women admit that wearing glasses makes them more self confident.

2.  Get him to focus on your eyes

Honestly, not many guys can tell the difference between ‘fritzer’ pink and cupid pink nor are the guys high on matching boots with accessories, but if you want a guy to notice your beautiful eyes and not just focus on your assets, glasses are the best accessory available.

3.   Intellectual to sexy in a blink

Every guy whether willingly or unwillingly admits that a few things turn them on like a girl taking off her glasses. It’s as if a guy is with a woman wearing glasses, and when she takes them off, viola; he is with an entirely different woman. Trust me ladies, that is something every guy will give an arm for.

On the other hand, girls who ditched glasses for contact lenses noticed a considerable difference in the kinds of guys attracted to them. According to a sophomore at UCLA, on trading in her glasses for contacts, she found that the type of guys hitting on her changed almost overnight. It was as if, the brainy guys had taken a step back and the bird brained guys had a new thing for her. I am sure that many other women have similar incidents they can relate to. Pretty much the opposite of what I experienced.

Well, there you have it, be it for vision correction or accessorizing, spectacles have many uses. In my honest opinion, getting the right guy hitched is the best side effect that pair of glasses can have.

What Motivates Students to Get Good Grades?

Each academic institution has its own set of different types of students. Those who strive to get decent grades in college, those who are content being average and some others who tend to languish towards the bottom of the grades table. Students are motivated to achieve excellent grades by a lot of factors. From the choice of subjects to classmates to teachers, the factors influencing a student’s motivation are almost endless. Some students want a class of their peers with whom they share views while others want a more dynamic class room where discussions lead to an enhanced learning environment. The teacher and his/her style of teaching also influence a student’s motivation as do the ambitions of the students themselves. In case, a teacher makes the subject stimulating the student will learn a lot more and consequently achieve a better success rate as compared to a less conducive environment towards learning. Cases have been reported where students have been both adversely and positively influenced by parental pressure and peer performance.

However, it is not correct to term the motivation of the student to external factors only. Internal factors like personal ambitions and, more importantly, student’s ability play an extremely pivotal role in the grades achieved and the motivation to perform on the academic front.

There are times when a student, who has been an average or above average performer, starts performing brilliantly in college knowing that this is the last chance he/she will get to perform academically. On the other hand, there are students who having brilliantly performed all their lives, on the threshold to real application, tend to clamp up and their grades dip for no particular reason. The human psyche is indeed a varied and mysterious entity and trying to find a reason for such questions is certainly no cakewalk.

The Truth about Empower Network

Love it or loathe it, but if you have been a blogger or a member to any of the innumerable affiliate chains, chances are that you have heard the name of empower network more than once.

Empower network is a self-proclaimed Godsend for bloggers, around the world. Nothing could be farther away from truth.

When you take a look at the empower network website, it looks like a normal marketing setup which tries to draw your attention to the banner ad designed to lure in the unsuspecting customers. Clicking on the banner leads you invariably to a red background page with a yellow caution sticker lining the top of the page. The site itself begs you to be cautious with a disclaimer – You can enter only if you promise not to laugh.

Laugh I did, when I saw the one hour video, they show to people as a pre sign up marketing gimmick. I laughed harder when I signed up for their free program and found out the blog they give is a copy of the free WordPress blog that you can sign up for free. Boy oh boy, I thought to myself, these people are charging $25 to provide the free version of the WP blog. Impressive marketing gimmick I must say.

The laughter turned to seriousness when I saw their Products page. They started on October 31, 2011 and have earned $ 24 million till date. Better still they paid $ 1 million in commission in the first week of November 2012. Yeah right, and I am the President of the United States of America.

Two words for those who are thinking of joining this loser network, WATCH OUT!!!

And here is why.

The amount $ 24 million to be earned by a ‘start up’ within one year is a huge achievement. Ever wonder why these people were never featured in the credible magazines if their claims are really true? Simply because they are a bunch of lying and blabbering crooks who can make some great marketing videos.

However, some people will claim that Empower Network does not want to be in this race for ‘fame’. Well, I will accept that one excuse if some one can answer this one question of mine.

If they are so great, why do they save the credit/debit card information of those who enroll with them? Is it, as they claim, to prevent misuse of a single card or is there something more sinister lurking in the background? The only method of earning $24 million within one year of operations is to invent something awesome like the iPhone or Google or something similar.

Repackaging the free version of WP blog to lure unsuspecting customers seems hardly an innovation. Tracking their bank account information, seems an out right crime. There is no law which gives the Empower Network the right to record this information without the permission of the client and nowhere is the permission asked for while the payment is made (closely watched an affiliate sign up taking place).

It is easy for the Empower Network to just vanish into thin air in some months / years  with all the bank account information being used for nefarious purposes.

Not wanting to waste more time on this stupid ‘brilliant idea’ I would like to end this post here itself, though I will be back with more such revelations as and when they happen.