Aaah…are we approaching economic downturn again?


1. Are we again at the economic downturn?

2. Whether the Greek problem would hit Asia as hard as Europe, I think nobody can predict clearly. Giving current conditions, the clear advice is people should act more prudently. But does the government act on the similar note? It seems to spend lavishly as GE is coming very soon.

3. People are advised to spend less on luxury items to ensure that they have enough in the bank as a buffer if they are thrown out of work in the time of economic crisis. Banker has told us to determine the debts and assess the varied interest rates we paid.

4. The principle is to cut on the amount of expensive money, hold on to cheap money and maximize free money. High-interest credit cards are the most expensive money in most people budget. The most cost-efficient way to use them is to pay off the balance each month.

5. Resist the urge to double your mortgage payments. Mortgages are cheap money assuming that your interest rate is relatively low and the interest is tax deductible.

6. Invest in the mutual fund if you don’t know which stock to buy since most of us are not real investors.

7. The bottom line is we need to stay resilience in tough times. Even by taking a slow and steady approach, I think, we are reaping the benefits for years to come.

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Update: 8/10/11

What Tun Mahathir Says?

Dr. M warns of long financial crisis

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad warned the ongoing global economic crisis will continue long into the future as the West continues spending in a “state of denial.”

The former prime minister said in his blog yesterday that Western countries continue “believing that they can somehow continue to remain rich. They are unable to behave like poor people.”

On the same day Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled a budget that aims to rein in the deficit to 4.7 percent, Dr. Mahathir said the West “will not recover because they are still in a state of denial.

“They still believe they are rich, as rich as before they plunged into the crisis. They must keep up the big power wealthy country image even if their people have no jobs, riot, and protest.

“The great financial crisis will be with us for a long time. Even when it is resolved the aftermath will see a slow recovery for the giants of the West,” he wrote.

“How nice it would be if our pocket is picked, we are allowed to print some money to replace what is lost,” he said, mocking the United States’ quantitative easing measures which has seen its federal reserve print US$3 trillion (RM9.5 billion) since the start of the financial crisis in 2008.

“Now Britain is following in the footsteps of the elder brother,” he added, referring to the United Kingdom’s recent move to print £75 billion (RM370 billion) to help distressed banks.

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Me: – in the similar principle?

Sannomiya


1. Japanese cities offer a wide range of services like any other cities across the world. Urban life is affluent and convenient. But housing is a problem. The apartment in Kobe cost an average of RM2m. The residential land would cost more. Not many people can own a home in the city.

2. Japanese housewives go shopping either to the local supermarket or fishmonger’s shop. Modern career women living in the inner city shop in SOGO and other megamalls.

3. Sannomiya Centre Street is made to be like a modern shopping bazaar where shops are located within a large area and they are interconnected with a single large pedestrian lane.

Central street near SOGO, Kobe, Japan

The largest mall with many different shops. Unlike Malaysian, Japanese don’t eat much while they do shopping. Hardly any food court!

…fast food outlet only.

Value Changes of Hard Working Japanese


1. As the Japanese economy has grown stronger, the Japanese people have come to be known worldwide as hard workers. However, this perception of Japan often includes negative elements, including the view that Japanese are simply economic animals pursuing profit above all else. Yet, for their part, the Japanese feel that Western perceptions are distorted by the misunderstanding about a number of aspects of life in Japan.

2. To begin with, the zeal with which Japanese pursue their work is based not so much on the profit motive. It’s based on Japan’s strong Buddhist tradition. The act of working is subconsciously accepted as a spiritual discipline. Even today, this orientation lives on in Japanese companies, and this is a major reason why Japanese work so hard.

3. As such, the Japanese work ethic differs radically from the modern European attitude that work is basically an exchange of labor for money and that neither the work nor the act of working has any inherent value.

4. However, the Japanese work ethic has been undergoing significant change in recent years. While work is still held in high esteem, there has been considerable erosion on the motivational side. This is partly because the goals have become more elusive. In today’s slow-growth climate, extra work is not always rewarded by a higher income.

5. In addition, as the Japanese have attained relative affluence, their values have become more individualized and many people now place a greater emphasis on personal interest activities outside of their work.

A group of youngsters performing in the middle of Kobe City

Spectators taking their own sweet time enjoying the performance

Hedonic Adaptation


1. Hedonic Adaptation is a tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

2. Knowing that happiness can temporarily depart from one’s given hedonic set point, determining when dips are occurring can be extremely helpful in treating conditions such as depression.

3. When a dip occurs, psychologists work with patients to recover from the depressive spell and return to their hedonic set point more quickly. In doing this, psychologists are helping to equip patients with the tools to combat any potential depressive spells that may arise in the future.

4. Since approximately 40% of our level of subjective happiness is determined by intentional activities, one’s proactive and deliberative action can drastically improve his or her overall happiness.

5. Hedonic adaptation is an advantage in difficult situations but can be a disadvantage when it means that we cease to appreciate pleasant circumstances.

6. One way to combat hedonic adaptation is to cut back on a luxurious enjoyment. Another way is to make the effort to savor the luxurious enjoyment.

7. If you get a nice coffee or cappuccino twice a week instead of every morning, it will feel like a real treat. Don’t just grab your cappuccino and run. Anticipate how good it will taste, tell other people how much you enjoy it, mindfully enter into the experience of drinking it, instead of gulping it down without a thought.

Revenge: Jebat vs. Garnett


1. Why Hang Tuah is considered a hero instead of Hang Jebat? Except for Kassim Ahmad, who recognized Hang Jebat heroship for his revenge against Tuah’s death sentence, many of us still worship Tuah instead of Jebat.

2. The reason is that our society rejects revenge solely which involve the act of rebellion (durhaka) against Sultan. I would like to leave the ‘durhaka’ issue behind.

3. Is revenge a good motivation for success?

4. Terry Garnett, A former Oracle Corp. (ORCL ) senior vice-president, spent the early 1990s traveling around the world with Ellison, Oracle’s CEO. They hobnobbed with the likes of media moguls David Geffen and Barry Diller as the company tried to become a player in the interactive-TV business. Garnett and the software billionaire were so tight that Ellison even invited him and his wife to go along on a vacation to Kyoto in 1994.

5. That year marked the 1,200th anniversary of the founding of Japan’s former imperial capital, a meaningful occasion for Ellison, a passionate Japanophile. Together, he, Garnett, and four others made the pilgrimage along the cherry-blossom-lined Philosopher’s Walk to the famed Ginkakuji Temple.

6. But what came next led to the bad blood that Garnett still tastes more than 12 years later. Within weeks of their return from Japan, Ellison summoned Garnett to his office. He scrapped the interactive-TV startup the two were planning and, Garnett claims, fired him without giving a clear reason. “It was pretty clinical,” he recalls. “I tried to keep composed.”

7. Feeling numb, Garnett returned to his office, not more than 30 feet away, and packed up. Afterward, he spent weeks trying to understand why he had been fired. Garnett later sued Ellison, accusing him of unfairly firing him, but then he dropped the claims. (Oracle officials declined to comment, but their reply to Garnett’s suit cites his “declining productivity.”) Brimming with anger, Garnett made a vow to himself: “There will be a day of reckoning.”

8. Today he is acting CEO of Ingres Corp., a software upstart that’s gunning to grab market share from Oracle.

9. Ask CEOs what drives them, and they’ll talk about success, personal fulfillment—a few will even admit being driven by the desire for money and power. But Garnett’s professed appetite for payback is a motivation rarely leaked from executives’ on-message lips. It’s one of the great undiscussable. Just as you don’t talk about lust in the executive suite, you don’t talk about revenge as a significant motivator for success. But it clearly is.

10. The question is how long you would be able to keep the power of revenge in you? And don’t you think your revenge wouldn’t turn up to form psychosomatic illness in you? You answer…

IKEA effect


1. My wife likes IKEA stuff. Every time we walk into IKEA, I have to check her priority. I like ultramodern Swedish furniture compare to Balinese style furniture. However, buying Swedish furniture means I have to assemble parts myself. I don’t like assembling parts. Either I outsource to my kids or buying en bloc.

2. However, psychologists have shown that investing in some labor or putting effort on either getting the object, assembling it or modifying it can result in an increase in attachment value to it.

3. I have a friend who loves to modify his car, Proton Satria. He is willing to buy another car for his wife with a condition that his wife will not share his personalize modified car.

4. I suppose he might have said to himself: Having spent so much money on this car, I really love it and will never give it to anyone even my wife to drive it. I am attached to it.

5. That attachment after so much effort is what psychologist called IKEA effect. Orr, look when I put down my signature: mohdjamil@photogallery into my photo, it is an effort, right? That makes me attach to my photo and love it so much…that too is an IKEA effect…haha..

Bang Man


1. Bang Man was a great companion when I was in primary school as he was few years my senior. After completing his secondary education he worked with my dad. Outside working hours, he helped to accompany my elderly grandmother who was living alone.

2. When we met last Raya, he has related a story, he shared with my grandmother during Ramadhan month.  Those years, in the 60s, we lived without electricity. It was a routine, my grandmother woke up at early hours to cook for their ‘sahur’ (early morning breakfast). One day, my grandma assumed it was 4.00 something in the morning. So, they were enjoying their ‘sahur’, suddenly to realized later that the roaster started crowing and the day brightened as Bang Man opened the window and found that it was already post-dawn. Unlike today when azan can be heard aloud, those days there was no loudspeaker. What’s the use of loudspeaker without electricity?

3. Bang Man was such a sweet, sweet man, jovial, funny and full of great stories. He has two wives. Bang Man himself appears bemused that he has gained the status of an operation manager for a shoe company, Clark.

4. He related a story when he had to solve many of his customers’ problem. They were mostly professionals like engineers, lawyers, and doctors.  But when it came to shoe, he insisted, he was a professional too.

5. His carefree attitude makes me wonder how he manages two families. His son with the first wife is a pious religious Ustaz and the second daughter is a teacher.

6. In the younger days, he told me that, he used to cycle to school more than 10 km. His favorite past times then was watching movies in the only, dilapidated cinema in town. In the 60s, the cinema was in bad shape. Not uncommon, Hindustani movies like, Sangam and Bobby were very popular and he was among those who repeatedly watching four times in a row to the extent that he can memorize the plot and storyline very well.

7. Not infrequent, after he came back he would recount the story to me and as a young boy, I was amazed by his storytelling skill.

8. It was during the last Raya, that we met again rekindling our fond memories of the good old days and patching up relations as friend and buddy.

The Unseen Villa


1. I am staying in this place at least once or twice a year. This villa is located down the hillside surrounded by durian and rambutan trees in the flood-free zone. When I am here, the life becomes cliche as everything is so predictable. The morning starts late as the sun needs to climb over the hill before the rays could penetrate the surroundings. The water is amazingly cold.

2. This villa sees how amazing humans work together to move it from one part of the kampung to the current location. A big feast was held and all kampung fellas came out to lift and move bit by bit in gradual compromising forces and accelerations. I was in my pre-school years and never in my life I had that experience again watching people moved the house in toto demonstrating the real experience of gotong-royong and solidarity among kampung folks.

 

 

3. Years later, the main hall (rumah ibu) was constructed by a single carpenter (tukang). The late, Arwah Wa Sin used to tease me when I returned from school calling me fattie but I know he was kind and gentle. The wage for building this villa in the 60s was RM6K only. No proper plan from pseudo-architect and proto-surveyor was needed but lunch and evening tea was on the host side. Like it or not, I was the one who used to bring foodies to Wa Sin.

4. It was in this place that we hung our graduation pictures and diplomas. The decor was unpretentious with the picture of Kaabah from sejadah was hung on the wall mirror. The ambiance was typically kampung where hidden desire was suppressed and visitors were welcome without an appointment. Arwah Pak Hussin used to make a surprise visit every time he found my car parked in the porch and started shouting:..  “Men, bila balik?” Then his wife would come for a free consultation on ways of coping with the life of extreme asceticism for two octogenarians.

5. Finally, we decided this unseen villa has to undergo some modification leaving behind nostalgic moments of esprit de corps in the 60s, the charismatic aura of Wa Sin and the memory of surprise visit by Pak Hussin.

After The Years..


1. When I was young, I used to learn al-Quran from To’ Njang, a wife of well-respected Imam who led daily prayers in the kampung mosque. Learning Quran those days was free-of-charge. The only fee that we, students, have to pay was to obey whatever commands from her.

2. Before the real session started, it wasn’t uncommon that we will be told to pick up water from the well, cut fire-woods or pick-up dried clothes from the hanger (ampaian). Feeling tired, we jumped into the nearby river, refreshed ourselves, before starting the mengaji. During the rainy season, the river has overflown causing flash flood up to the knee level every time rain starts pouring continuously for more than 2 days.

3. The session began with a tadarus in which all of us had to synchronously read the verses together in an orchestrated manner for almost an hour producing a buzzing sound yielded from a group of honey bees. To’ Njang was nowhere to be seen. Then each of us had to be facing her and read the previous page in order to be promoted a new page.

4. When I was small, I was suffering from sinusitis and allergic rhinitis. On most days, I was sniffing mucous to and fro the nasal passage that made, my reading difficult and I was gasping for air. To’ Njang never seemed to bother about my agony. To her, my tajwid, pronunciation, and dengung must be right.

5. I still remember when she corrected my tajwid and pronunciation instantly while doing some household chores. Now I realize, it was probably encoded as procedural memory and stored somewhere in her cerebellum or striatum.

6. Quranic mind helps her restoring good memory and as a result, she has never forgotten her students. Her knowledge of the genealogy of her students was still robust.

7. At the age of 80, she has never failed to remember the order of my children and their levels of education. Even, I was reminded that I had forgotten to visit her last year. In fact, I was too busy with other commitments, attending school reunion with my newly founded FB friends.

8. Some of my friends, her former students are scared to return, thinking of her overzealous critical comments as if we are still her former students, years back during mengaji times.

9. When I met her last week, she had just fallen down in her bathroom and I immediately recognized she had fractured her femoral neck. She was in pain, immobile and her left leg was shorten. She was advised to be admitted to the nearest hospital.