Monthly Archives: May 2008

amazing feat

 The homeless in Japan are an orderly lot.  Those in Tokyo set up neat shelters of a uniform shade of blue along peripherals of green patches that dot the city.   You won’t even realise they are what they are unless you are local.

 

Some of these unfortunate people are quite imaginative, too.  They beg to differ.

 

One such woman in the southern town of Kasuya housed herself in the top compartment of a closet in someone else’s home.

 

It is baffling how she could sneak in and out of an occupied house, climb up and down from an upper cabinet, and remain unnoticed. 

 

And, doesn’t she need toilet breaks at all throughout the hours the owner was at home? I suspect she made provisions for that up there.  Perhaps the owner should thoroughly, thoroughly, check the cabinet out.

 

She sustained her routine for an entire year.  It was not until she started helping herself with food in the kitchen that she gave the game away.

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the rose

 I like Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’, but did not pay attention to the lyrics until recently. 

 

These lyrics are worth pondering over..

 

The heart that’s afraid of trying never learns to dance

The dream that’s afraid of waking never takes a chance

The one who’s afraid of being taken never learns to give

The soul afraid of dying never learns to live

the myth

 Why was the world outraged at Myanmar government’s refusal to accept outside aid to relieve Nargis’ victims?  They (ie the world) could have conveniently shrugged the rejection off.  After all, they had done their part by offering to help.

 

And why did the world warm up to Beijing’s request for assistance in the wake of the Sichuan quake?

 

These contrasting reactions are a manifestation of the human being’s propensity to want to reach out to others in distress.

 

The popular belief is that everyone minds his own business.  That, along with pride, causes people in distress to feel completely isolated and overwhelmed.  Sometimes, they decide to end it all. 

 

The reality, however, is more like the Myanmar scenario:  There are many around who would gladly help, if only they were given the opportunity. 

bold move

 For a newly sworn-in government, Taiwan’s Kuomintang is very gutsy indeed. 

 

Barely a month into office, it raises fuel price by 13%.  It takes effect today, a week ahead of public anticipation, to beat panic buying and hoarding.

 

The action looks even more unpopular when compared to rival Democratic Progressive Party’s shrewd election manoeuvre of freezing domestic fuel prices last November.

 

But Ma Yong-jeou is only being realistic given soaring crude oil prices. 

 

Fuel is a politically sensitive commodity in many countries, especially in Asia:

 

President Yudhoyono is seriosly weighing the need to reduce subsidies, which eat into Indonesia’s budget, against lessons in history.  Such an action had not only toppled Suharto’s government in 1998, it had also sparked violence and rioting across the nation.

 

Malaysia, too, is preparing the public mentally for eventual subsidy reduction.  For now, it has taken the step in banning Singapore and Thailand vehicles from pumping at stations within 50km of the borders.

 

 

 

things you never say to your wife

 Don’t you pass any such remark to your wife:

 

“Did you put on just a little weight?”  Don’t even imply this.

 

“Is the weighing machine working right?  It says I am lighter these days.”  Not unless you want to trigger her disproportionate concern on the correctness of the scale’s report about her.

 

“Carol still looks good, doesn’t she?”  Especially if Carol was your ex.  Even if she wasn’t,  refrain from uttering anything like this anyway.

 

And the ultimate one: 

 

“These can’t be my kids.”  Never ever say this, even when your kids are performing way better than you did.  Or even when you mean it as a compliment to her family.

 

Of course, it is perfectly OK for your wife to say the same.  That’s the way life is.

 

 

birds are made for men

 I spent a quiet moment by my window this morning, enjoying the birds’ chirpings.  There were a rich variety of tunes, all of them sweet.

 

As I indulged, it occurred to me how the singing comes across at just the right level of decibels.  Like Goldilocks would say, “not too loud (that it becomes noise), and not too soft (that we miss it altogether) – it was just nice”.

 

It cannot be by chance that birds communicate at a volume that is pleasing to men. 

 

Scientific suggestions that birds and men evolved into what they are by chance, are not supported by the mathematical probability that both creatures should possess every organ they carry, functioning in exactly the way they do.

 

Multiply that now by the probability that the sounds exuded by one creature should invoke delight in another.

 

So if evolution did make any scientific sense at all, it certainly is not mathematically viable.

 

That birds singing should bring happiness to men must have been meticulously designed.  And guess what? This hypothesis is supported by Moses’ account in Genesis that God created all things for the benefit of mankind.

 

 

 

karoshi

 The Cantonese are fond of emphasizing adverbs and adjectives with the word ‘die’ – ‘hungry till you die’, ‘gruesome till you die’, even ‘happy till you die’.

 

In Japan, they quite literally work till they die.  Overworking is believed to be second leading cause of death after cancer.

 

Participation after office hours is a given.  Employees are expected to stay voluntarily even if only to mingle for rapport building.

 

The spotlight is now on carmaker Toyota. 

 

It’s response to pressure to make employees’ lives more bearable is to ‘more fully compensate workers for such meetings’ – referring to QC meetings that are held after office hours in which workers contribute ideas – up from the current cap at two hours a month.

 

But Toyota is missing the point.  When it should be addressing the much needed change in work culture, it is bribing its workers into silence instead: “Keep quiet.  Didn’t we pay you for it?”

Compensation with money does not ease work stress.  If anything, it makes workers feel indebted to put in more.