Friday, December 23, 2011

BOO - The life of the world's cutest dog - J. H. Lee.

In Malaysia, we will start by exclaiming 'wah lao eh'.  What does it mean?  It's a phrase you use to display extremity of feelings towards something.  In this case, it is what else but cuteness overload.  Seriously, what. on. earth. is. this. thing. with. a. funny. haircut. and. such. chewable. fluffy. puffs. as. paws?

Boo, if you don't already know is the (yes, as titled) the world's cutest dog.  He rose to fame on social media because people just couldn't stand not telling someone else how cute this thing is and/or the fact that they are going through strong resistance to wanna bite something.  Just take a look at him and you will know what I mean.  Cause I seriously can't help but wanna just... squeeze something every time I look at him.

Anyway, the book is really a pictorial diary of Boo which you could finish in 5 minutes browsing, or 50 minutes if every page you stop to go 'eeek!'.  The photos are extremely well composed (well, Boo is well composed and seems to love the camera) but I wish the captions were more endearing.  Right now, it's a narration of Boo's voice but I thought he wasn't such a straightforward dog.  I feel that he's funnier and the captions should reflect that ;) then it would really have been perfect.

I have a Cat too.  And someday, I hope Cat has his book too.  I wish I was a more... gung-ho owner like Lee.  Sorry Cat :( I promise to be better next year!

Join Boo's Facebook fan page here.  2.6 million fans yo, beat that ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mickey Mouse Flies the Christmas Mail - Annie North Bedford.

Originally printed in the 50s, this is a precious find from the recent Big Bad Wolf books sale.  I used to own a lot of these 'little golden book' series when I was young and have no idea where it all went to and I'm so happy to find one that's so vintage!

This book, needless to say takes only 2 minutes to finish.  It's not so much about the story for me, but it's really the illustrations by Walt Disney retro-style that really brings a warm fuzzy feeling to the heart.  Really brings me back to my childhood days :)

Love this.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tate Artist Timeline - Sara Fanelli for Tate.

A very comprehensive yet simple pointer of what's what and who's who in which year starting from the 1900s in the art world.  Names of artists are strategically placed to give you an idea of how the periods are engaging and overlapping one another.  This is truly a great reference (and collectible) to those who have an appreciation of art.

Unfortunately, you can only purchase this at Tate's museum shop but I do have a copy here if you wanna borrow.  Just make sure you cross your heart to take extremely good care of it.  Always remember to enjoy the history behind every piece of art :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Economic Naturalist: In search of explanations for everyday enigmas - Robert H. Frank.

Robert is a lecturer every college grad wish he or she had. His thoughts are simple yet provoking and his style is engaging. Imagine not needing to plough through tonnes and tonnes of formal economic mathematics to try understand what exactly is economics.

This book is about questions that we ask or even those that escape us every day about why things happen the way they do. Next time, your children bug you with those 'why' questions, try answering in an economic point-of-view and that would stop it :) But to an adult mind, it is a fantastic tool to be able to see beyond the obvious and really probe the normalities of everyday life. It helps give you a peripheral sense of things and how everything makes perfect economic sense if you understand how the cost-benefit structure works. Even the most difficult question, why people marry some people and not others to a certain extent... difficult, but still hypothetically possible, be answered via economics. Wow. I've always thought matters of the heart are fuzzy, grey and unexplainable. Well, I suppose that magnetic buzz is more of a scientific answer but why we are attracted to certain people - that definitely is in the book.

Go out, get your mind out of the way and explore what the book can offer you. Which is pretty amazing and a lot of fun. Makes your mind topsy-turvy if you're not accustomed to this sort of thinking. Nevertheless, c'mon... let it go once in awhile will ya? Highly recommended :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Matsushita Leadership - John P. Kotter.

The last book I read which really made me reflect upon my own management skills and life goals was 'The Honda Myth' by Masaaki Sato. See, there's something about Japanese management (or related) books that implore you to reflect. At least, working in a Japanese environment has taught me that it is not uncommon for the culture to do so especially when something goes awry.

I used to think that Soichiro Honda was one of the most revered person in Japan and it was not just because he built cars. The man built dreams. But Kotter has given me another perspective of what it means to be admirable. In words, actions and thoughts, Konosuke Matsushita is no stranger to this group of islands from Far East.

Born in a comfortable environment, Matsushita went through hell (literally) when his family fell apart before he even reached his teenage years. In a family of 10, he was the last surviving one in his tender years. He had nothing but a savings of a hundred yen. And he created what today we would call, a start up. No one could have guessed that a global electronics giant called Panasonic was once upon a time, an entrepreneurial dream of a boy who literally gained his riches from rags.

Soichiro Honda taught us the challenging spirit - to trudge on, no matter how difficult the task is. Konosuke Matsushita propagated the same. The difference is, Honda probably had equal parts of ups and downs but Matsushita was most of the time, nose-diving to the bottom. Of course, the phoenix always rises from the ash, he overcame most of the challenges as what we witness the state of Panasonic today. But what was immortal was his spirit. His relentless spirit in his belief of humanity and that everything he does, encapsulates that belief. He built a company to serve society, so that everyone could prosper. So that customers could afford electrical goods to have a more comfortable life, so that his employees when trained to produce efficiently could afford more time to enjoy their prosperity. Such noble cause. Such humble spirit.

I'm not sure how much of that philosophy is translated into Panasonic's global working culture today. I certainly hope that that spirit itself has been immortalized even though Konosuke Matsushita is long gone. Here's a poem that the man himself took fancy and it kind of reminded me of some conversations between friends and associates. My peers were worried about hitting the big age 30. Why big age? I have no idea. 30 to me is where the fun starts because one is now in a position to put in use what one has learned for the past 8 working years and in the words of Matsushita, prosper. But they were worried because it's a sign of old age. If 30 was old, then what about 40? And what on earth would we do when we hit 60? Retire from life!? Then what happens to the rest of our lives? Why in our youth, we're so resigned and hurried to grow old? So to everyone who feels that way... here's Matsushita's favourite poem for you:


Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind, it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means the temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing childlike appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living.

In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young. When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty. But as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.


Cheers to you. To a life of infinite learning.

p/s: Sorry you can't borrow this from Sparks because it belongs to Dentsu :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Budget: How The Government Is Spending Our Money - Teh Chi-Ching.

This is a must have book for ALL citizens of Malaysia. Other than your I.C and driving license, this is the third ‘official’ documentation that you should have at all times. Not so much for flashing it to law enforcers but more like a ‘financial bible’ to understand what you have been contributing your taxes (current and future) to.

I am appalled by our government’s indifference and incapability to be accountable for the management of our country’s budget. Running in high deficit for the past 5 years isn’t a laughing matter for any tax-paying citizen. We have done our due, yet we’re not seeing better systems in education, transportation, health and even internal security looking at the soaring crime rates. I recall participating in a friend’s relative’s survey in researching ‘tax payers’ sentiment’ when it comes to paying what they rightfully owe the country. I completed the survey with utmost honesty and mind you, I AM a tax-payer and I did comment on my displeasure on how we’re contributing like good citizens yet whatever the government has planned, does not seem to benefit me nor my family nor my future generation. And from this book which is superbly and most eloquently put together by Teh Chi-Chang (he’s now my local financial hero), I finally could see the light. Well, I saw the light long ago, but now I could finally put it into words based on black and white.

Imagine 10% of us is supporting the country’s 90%. No wonder some of us just got fed up and ran away. I was also appalled to read that 2 million Malaysians who consist of at least 90% bumiputra are living in poverty! The people need to wake up and open their eyes. These pro-bumi policies that have been put together, protected and sworn sovereign by these dudes in UMNO are only benefiting the ex-Menteri Besars and the endless list of Datuks and Datins who need cheaper electricity to light up their multi-million dollar bungalow in Bukit Tunku. What is oblivious to people is the fact that these pro-bumi policies should be benefiting the 2 million bumiputras who are living way below the poverty line. They should be given due opportunities to upskill and earn better wages with subsidies for schooling and basic home necessities such as food, water and electricity. Don’t even talk about non-bumis!

I beg of you, my dear reader. That if you carry a Malaysian ID, birth certificate and/or passport, then thou shalt know where your money is going to. Now that the can of worms is opened, I wish someone would do something to lead us out of this darkness. The careless handling of the country’s expenditure does not only affect you and I, but it will affect generations and generations of Malaysians thereafter. Therefore, I beg beg beg of you. If the government will not be accountable, you as a citizen can. And if there are a volume of us (regardless of ethnicity, religious and political views) that have had enough of this Monopoly child-play in this country, it will undoubtedly put enough pressure on them to at least, buck up and get smarter. Efficiency is one thing that we’re truly lacking and let’s not wait any longer.

Of course you can borrow the book from me. Or BETTER, buy it from here.

How To Rescue My Delirious Heart - b.wing.

I got this wonderful wonderful wonderful book for Christmas and the illustrations are nothing short of heartwarming and to a certain extent, they do steal your pity. The first ‘how do you do?’ that we exchanged was a slightly furry sensation. The book was wrapped with dark crimson velvet.

‘How to rescue my delirious heart’ by b.wing is another child narration of very serious heart-related matters faced by grown-ups. Although it’s difficult for me to compare this to the likes of Oliver Jeffers and legendary Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, but I must applaud the creator for at least bringing it close to home. The main character has a childlike demeanor that must be the representative of our inner being, metaphorically speaking. The child’s perspective sometimes bear strong nuances of how unbearable and cold our world can be but sometimes I feel that the linkage is so subtle that it’s hard to continue substantiating that emotional connection. During these ‘pauses’ in the narration, the words and their meaning somehow lose momentum, and I’m afraid this is the very reason why it is unable to thoroughly capture the audience’s heart as it would have been expected to. But having said that, the job of engagement is relentlessly carried through by pages and pages of visual expression brought to life by crayons, a highly imaginative mind and a delirious heart.

I haven’t got the answer to the rescue but I’ve certainly grown soft towards this gentle being and wanting to protect ‘her heart’ from whatever that may be threatening it. Perhaps you will. And when you do, won’t you rescue mine too?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Invisible Gorilla - Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.

The Invisible Gorilla checks and rechecks many myths that have been governing our minds. I won’t be as far fetch as to say that they’ve successfully debunked these myths, since the cases which are brought up in this kind of psychological thesis are isolated cases. Which means, you argue one way, it goes one way. You argue the other way, and you find that it could be a possibility too. But the interesting thought here is that their argument is pretty substantial when it comes to how our misconceptions of various truths about ourselves led us to perhaps make less than accurate decisions. It may not seem like very much of a big deal when it’s menial day-to-day business but take instances from the courtroom, sometimes it may cost a lot more than saying, “Oops, I guess I thought wrong”.

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons both received the Ig Nobel Prize for Psychology in September 2004 “for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else”. Sometimes we’re too quick to jump the gun, too eager to close the case that we forget about other perspectives and possibilities, and start drawing conclusions based on our own intuition, our own experience, confidence and even memory. But if you realize, take memory as an instance, it is written by ourselves with absolutely no details of how the outcome might be to someone else. When a situation happens, the track involves multiple ‘actors’ and almost always, we’re just one of them. When we record the situation through lenses which are tinted by our own expectations and previous experience, we cannot remain neutral in saving that piece of memory. Which really means that even if the same incident happened to both you and I, there could be a discrepancy between your story and mine simply because we processed the information in different ways which are entirely biased. If there was a shootout on the street, we would have captured totally different images that are sometimes drawn from our own biasness. You see a black guy shooting. I recall clearly it was a white guy. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Memories, like history is written by the winner and in our story, who else but us take the leading actor role? And this is just one of the many ‘illusions’ that we base our everyday decisions and judgments on.

In their words: The Invisible Gorilla is a book about six everyday illusions that profoundly influence our lives: the illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause and potential. These are distorted beliefs we hold about our minds that are not just wrong, but wrong in dangerous ways.

Pick this book up. It’s a must read if you, like me, like them, enjoy Malcolm Gladwell.

Here's a sneak peek on what to expect: