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It's so refreshing to be home for three consequtive days. I can't recall the last time I enjoyed such a break. I find myself very fresh the whole day, even at night, as opposed to being fatigued. I find I eat a whole lot better, because I am preparing my own meals, as opposed to eating the crap which passes for food. I do not eat like most of you BTW. What I eat would not really look like wholesome food to most of you.

Both my employees, and also my previous intern are down with fevers really often. I think my intern, during her two months here, was sick 3X. One of my employees who has been with me 7 months, has been ill 3X. Throughout the same period, I was ill with food poisining once. No sore throat, no runny nose, no fevers. In fact, I simply do not get the flu. For the last 8 years. 

I'm not surprised at their frequency of illnesses. I look at their food choices during lunch, and it's appalling. We have lost our wisdom of what to eat and what not to eat. 

We have even forgotten that we evolved under sunshine. We are not creatures of the dark. The other day, I asked a particularly pale girlfriend of a customer if she has trouble getting good, restful sleep. She tells me she can't sleep at all. I asked her if she gets body aches throughout the day. She says yes. These are symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, but are not widely understood by doctors, who know very little about nutrition. People actively avoid the sun nowadays. This is so bizarre. We would not be here without the sun. To avoid it is lunacy and very damaging to your health. 

I went through a bout of Vitamin D deficiency myself. It obliterates your REM sleep, which you need to repair your body. So your body never really recovers. The day I discovered this might be the cause of my shallow sleep, I went to a pharmacy and swallowed 6000 IU of the thing. That night, I slept ridiculously well. Since then, I've been supplementing with Vit D and have at least 1.5 hours of deep sleep each night, according to my Fitbit. I now go into noon-time sun without a shirt for about 20 minutes each day in lieu of the supplementation, and it seems to work well. I sleep so well each night. I wake up like a new person. Every single night, with no exception. 

Then I go to work, and have to direct my attention to dozens of things with such rapidity and intensity that I come home quite fatigued. 

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I just watched a briefing by the Robert-Koch-Institut about the virus, and have more clarity about this pandemic. Let me summarize the totality of what I know. 

The No. 1 symptom you have the virus is a "dry cough". For a large percentage of those infected, this is the only symptom they exhibit. A couple days later, they are back to normal. This is because they have an adequate immune system that fought back the virus. 

In 40% of those infected by the virus, it goes a bit futher. They get a fever, which they recover from. 

It is safe to assume that everybody will be infected sooner or later. The whole idea of a lock down or stay home advisory is merely to slow down the rate at which the virus spreads. This is simply to avoid the hospitals being congested, or more specifically, because there is a finite number of ventilators. The way most people die through covid-19 is pneumonia. The ventilators are a way to force oxygen into their bodies. Nobody anticipated this many ventilators would be required. Without a ventilator, those who develop pneumonia as a result of the virus would likely die. This may be the case in Italy. The death rate is high because they haven't enough ventilators to keep people alive. 

Since there is no cure to the virus, all they do is keep you oxygenated and fed. Your immune system has to fight back the virus as you lie there in the hospital bed. 

You should assume you will be infected, because most people will be. The best solution is to cultivate a remarkable immune system. That way, you get a dry cough for a few days and that's all there is to it. 

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I suppose the virus hit at a reasonably good time. Most businesses in Malaysia at least have been in a time of austerity since about 2016. There was very little corporate excess when the virus hit us. Companies have been seeing revenue contractions for more than a year, and were not optimistic for the future even before the virus. Companies are very lean nowadays. This is different from 1997, when companies were bloated and expanded in every direction.

For instance, The Hour Glass owned the brands Gerald Genta and Daniel Roth in 1997. You don't see retailers doing such reckless things anymore, not in a long time. 

I don't think the courts will agree with the government that employees continue to be paid in full during the lockdown. This is probably something the government will lose. It may go all the way to the Federal Court. 

Before the lockdown, I wanted to gradually take every function in-house and on-premise. The goal was to make every task be performed by a salaried employee. The lockdown shows just how risky that is. We're not talking about low sales. It's zero point zero (0. 0) sales and I'm not even allowed to go to the shop from my home. I positioned JT so that even if revenues halved, we can continue ticking. But zero revenues? 

There are others for whom the times are even more ridiculous. Look at Tony I-fully-support-whichever-sitting-goverment Fernandes. Not only does he have so many employees to pay, just last year he sold and leased-back all his planes. His liabilities are incredible yet his planes are not flying. But, Tony knows it's all about relationships. He will be fine. 

In times like these, I am reminded of a business I called the "cockroach that survives the nuclear holocaust". This business came to my attention when I tried on a Tudor Black Bay 36 at One Utama. The sales lady was a Filipino auntie. Instead of a fat, prosperous male Malaysian Chinese salesman (the highest paid demographic in Malaysia), you get a female foreign worker in a customer-facing position. I thought: how cheap of Watatime and how incongruous with the image cultivated by the brands they sell. I then looked closer at Watatime's operations and discovered an amazing structure. It is a structure that enables them to survive in the extremely cyclical business of luxury goods retailing. Watatime avoids every mistake by The Hour Glass. 

I may write about Watatime next. 

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I'm almost 100% in vacation mode, which is to say I'm mostly just enjoying the moment, instead of planning and scheming (for world dominion). This MCO is one of the best things ever. My life is so idyllic, so beautiful. So peaceful. 

So when Muhyiddin unveiled the Prihatin Nasional aid package yesterday, I only took a superficial look at it. Yada yada yada he went. So and so many billion here, so and so many billion there. 

Today, I thought I'd take a closer look at it to see if there is some money for me. 

This is a gov that taxes you on a level that is not too dissimilar to developed countries, and definitely higher than Singapore taxes it's people. It is a government that owns oil. 

There is nothing for me. Not even one sen. 

Worse, the government wants to use my money as the social safety net for my employees. And what if I have no cash to perform that role? We'll loan you the money, the government says. 

Wow, what a useless government. If you look at the responses of other governments around the world to this crisis, none has tried to bluster businesses into keeping their full payroll despite zero revenues. Only Malaysia. 

For those who earn less than me, the situation is the following. So your company dutifully deducts PCB from your pay each month. You pay tax each time you buy something, though this tax is hidden as SST and customs duty and all kinds of other taxes. In return, when the shit hits the fan as is the situation now, the government will pay you RM1000 to maintain your entire family. What? That's RM1000 for an indefinite period. A one-off payment. It's not even a monthly aid. 

This Malaysian government is a fucking disappointment. Thankfully, I don't need its stupidly trivial money. 

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It's the kind of assistance that I can only imagine a mediaeval robber baron would announce when his village (which he preys upon, in exchange for "protection") is hit by a plague. 

Basically, if you have no money to eat, it's you punya hal. 

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Now, it is possible to have a more charitable view of the government. Such a view would go like this:

Muhyiddin: Fuck me, we are both broke and heavily indebted. The civil servants refuse to borrow more to tide us over. So what we're gonna do is, we pay the people through their employers. These employers then are encouraged to borrow the money from the banks. We make the criteria super lax, and the interest rates super low. We guarantee these loans, so that the banks would even entertain such loans.

That way, our aid package is financed not with sovereign debt, but with corporate debt. 

Smart or not? 

Jeremy: Why don't you go fuck yourself. 

Muhyiddin: It's our only solution! The government can't take on more debt! 

Jeremy: Be gone, you leprous dog! Shoo! 

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On 3/29/2020 at 5:50 PM, Cyborg said:

He’s my idol. The vast bulk of the “stimulus” package is funded by Other People’s Money. Imagine forking out $25bn and being able to show a headline figure of $250bn. Best ROI ever

Classic 10% down. Saving the country the right way, The leveraged way.

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe even that direct handout of MYR 25 billion is mostly funded by deficit.
We have oil reserves, but not national reserve fund. 

Oh, by the way, the Special Relief Fund which is backed by BNM, was already set up and announced by the interim PM on the end of February. All they did during this 250 billion announcement was just increasing the cap and reducing the interest rates. Feels like they are on a vacation mood too. It feels somewhat touch and go, like "nah, we also got aid package".

All of the "aid" for businesses are to delay payments. ALL not some. 100 cents on the dollar. Its more like a policy than an aid/stimulus.
The best part is, the banks get free profits, guaranteed by BNM. Now, that looks more like an aid.

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Well it has been said the rm25b is not through additional borrowings, but from reappropriations. Either because they just won't borrow anymore, or they need to go back to parliament to approve an increased budget, which Muhyiddin really, really doesn't want to do.

I like what I see in the courage to implement the MCO at a time when very few countries were doing it. Of course, subsequently, most countries did it too. But when Muhyiddin did it, it must have required great courage, because of how damaging it is to the economy, and how unpopular it will be. I'm pretty glad it is a Muhyiddin who is PM in these times, instead of a Mahathir. Mahathir and Wan Azizah appeared to me useless at dealing with covid. They dragged their feet the whole time. 

The aid package is a curious joke. If you're a civil servant, it is a real "stimulus" package, because you get extra money on top of your regular salary AND you haven't the expenses of going to work. But, right now, you can't buy anything other than groceries unless you do online shopping. So I'm not sure what the government is trying to" stimulate". You can't stimulate an economy that has been ordered to shut down. All you can do is make sure people are fed. So, it is an aid package. 

You cannot "rangsang" an economy that was "diarah tutup". 

If you are a low income household, it is also supposed to be stimulatory, because it is extra money too, except many won't actually be paid by their employers. For them, it is too little to survive on. It is a disaster for them. They will feel betrayed by the government. 

And then there are those old people who were never registered with Hasil. They have no EPF. They don't know how to register online to receive the free money.  They are illiterate. There are many such people; more than most people would imagine. Even the government doesn't know how to help these low IQ idiots. 

For business owners, the aid package is almost none at all. They are the clear losers. Unless there is a revision to the package relatively soon, they will see even the BN government as socialistic, not just PH. I'm not sure what ramifications this will have. 

It is entirely possible thi is just the first aid package. Depending on how things develop, there may be a second one. 

Once businesses are allowed to open again, you will see a new group of affected people---those who were VSS'd because their companies have to "rightsize". 

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The first package was announced by Tun M when he was interim PM. The one which includes BNM's SRF and reduction of employee's EPF contribution to 7%, and other stuffs. 

This is already a second package, which adds on top of the first. 

What I am seeing is, they have problems raising funds. 
There are 2 ways:
Debt/deficit spending. In such emergency situation, the government can do a "spend first ask later" budget, but in the end it has to be tabled in the parliament, likely in the form of a supplementary budget. However, it seems this government is reluctant to do so.
GLCs. But then again, they have their own problems right now, lots of mouths to feed. Or state owned investment vehicles/funds, if any (not sure if any of them sit on a large sums of cash).
Therefore, I think they are between a rock and a hard place.

One thing is for sure, this is turning into a global recession, and governments around the world are trying their best to prevent it from going into a depression. Deflation is extremely ugly.

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My theory is Muhyiddin is afraid of vote of no confidence in parliament. The last couple of weeks, who knows what UMNO has been up to. He feels vulnerable, and wants to delay the parliament sitting until he has clarity of the political situation, or until he has secured rock solid support behind himself. Lots of senior UMNO guys are disgruntled at his policies since becoming PM. Not sufficient minister posts for them, no compromises at pursuing litigation against them, etc. Since these people are fighting for survival, you can be sure they have been doing everything they can to replace Muhyiddin with someone more sympathetic to them. 

So, whatever aid package now cannot involve parliament.

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I've had the best two weeks of my life. I was stuck in a place I like very much---Bukit Tinggi. I like this place so much that I would commute between here and PJ every day, six days a week. I've done this for 8 years. If I'm going to have to be stuck somewhere, this is where I want it to be.

Also, I live 5 minutes from waterfalls and jungle trails and a vacant golf course, so I get to bring my dogs out to these places everyday if I wish. Lately, I have to watch out for the police if I do, but this place is so rural that the police have much more promising places to patrol than here. 

I get to let my natural circadian rhythm express itself. Almost invariably, I go to sleep between 2am-3am. I wake up at 10am-11am. Yes, some of us are born this way. I've always been this way. This is the main reason I had to be self employed. I simply cannot fit into normal office hours. I've had to learn that the world has no sympathy for this.

I feel so happy and fresh the whole day. Largely, this has to do with the lack of contact with stupidity. Something like 6 full-time equivalents work for JT not counting myself. The whole working day, I have to solve problems caused by the stupidity of others. Even after working for me for years, they are still stupid. I think people who are not promising will never become adequate. But then, most of you have the same experience. We are surrounded by stupid people, and we have to achieve results through them.

I find I am a very good companion to myself. I am totally not lonely, though I live alone. I find I am intrinsically happier than my neighbours, or most of the people I meet.

Some people may have noticed that I seem to not want to look them in the eye when I talk to them. I find that when I look at people too closely, there is a transfer of emotions from them to me. I start to feel what they feel. Most of the time, their emotional state is much inferior to mine. I do not want to feel what they feel. So I minimise exposure to their emotional state by not looking at their faces too much. I remind myself to have eye contact every now and then to avoid them feeling I am distant. 

The main problem most people have is a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety. 

Occasionally, someone sits across the table from me whose emotional state is pretty good. I find that I have almost constant eye contact when talking to them. I have no problem feeling what they're feeling.

It may be time to do something productive. I can't do much from home except write. I just discovered I have an old Bluetooth keyboard that I can connect to my phone. So I may write some blog posts in the coming weeks. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

What a surprise video I received in my WhatsApp today.

Because all the roadside greengrocer stalls are not allowed to operate, I've been forced to buy my vegetables from the farm next to my house. Even the people who live here do not generally buy direct from the farmer because a farm, at any one time, might have only two kinds of vegetables growing on it. If you go to a stall, you have maybe 10 kinds of vegetables. Also, the size of the bundles of vegetables sold in a stall is perfect for the end consumer, whereas when you go to a farmer, he's thinking how many "bakul" you want. But, these are extraordinary times. 


They call this "fu mak". 


Kailan. Kailan is peculiar in Bukit Tinggi because they harvest only the shoots when the plant is quite young. This results in a great deal of scrap. You're seeing the scrap. 


The farmer's house. 

It was uncomplicated. I went to the farm (basically next to the taman perumahan), looked at what he was planting, told him how much of what I wanted, and he went to pick it for me. The quantity will appear extremely minute to him, but he'll do it as a favour. 

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Momofuku is completely closed, and 800 employees have been laid off. 

Obviously, I've heard of Momofuku, but this is the first time I see the founder talking. I'm struck by how brilliant he is. The way he approaches thinking is remarkable. 

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About a week before this ridiculous lockdown which I never in my life could imagine would happen---all over a little flu-like virus---... Well, let's talk about this more. Before we get to the real point of this post. 

I have imagined economic collapse. In fact, most seasoned businesspeople were anticipating one. They got their balance sheets in order. Kept payroll lean. Hunkered down. Maybe revenues would go down 50%. They know how to ride one out. They've been through a few. 

I have always even entertained the idea of war. After all, after death and taxes, it is the one constant of human existence. I made the resolution that I will cabut, instead of staying put in the delusion that actual soldiers marching down the road can't be real. I heard that most people stay put because they're in disbelief. They only start to leave when there are bodies on the roadsides. 

But this? This came out of nowhere. I do now feel cooped up. This vacation is lasting longer than I am comfortable with. I need to DO something. 

Now to the point of this post. I bought a watch strap in 1U before the whole thing got shuttered. The sales guy was a twenty-something Chinese male, and DID HE show me my deficiencies as a salesman. The guy was amazing. I thought I should take down his contact number in case I need to hire a salesperson. In fact, I might do this still. 

He has this combination of restrained eagerness, joviality, and the complete lack of cynicism. Qualities I have never been in abundance of. He was very curious about the customer. A lot of you may think it is in your best interest to deal with the boss directly instead of a salesman. Having actually met HIS boss, I can tell you that buying from him makes for a better experience. The thing about bosses is that, they got there by being experts of organisation, not necessarily experts at tactical sales.

I have always had a low regard for retail sales people. But in the 15 minutes I dealt with him, we went through some "stress moments" --- moments when the sale might not be made. He managed to get us out of those situations. In a very good, nuanced way. He never showed any weakness by, say, pleading, but instead just came up with better solutions. The way you're supposed to. 

Now, most Chinese salespeople, especially in retail, have one crippling weakness: they don't actually speak English. This is a problem in my particular business because 99% of our customers THINK in English, even if they speak several other languages. This young sales guy was actually quite convincing even in this regard. 

I have to figure out how to afford a sales guy. Then, I'll hire him. 

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On 4/10/2020 at 3:16 PM, kotmj said:

Momofuku is completely closed, and 800 employees have been laid off. 

Obviously, I've heard of Momofuku, but this is the first time I see the founder talking. I'm struck by how brilliant he is. The way he approaches thinking is remarkable. 

He's quite intelligent. Has a show on Netflix, even.

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I've been asked many times over the years why I wouldn't just get myself an apartment in KL. What's so difficult about that, huh, Jeremy? People lead perfectly normal fulfilled lives like that, Jeremy. Why must you always be the odd one out.


I'm thinking either they don't value what I value, or they don't know how much better this can be. It probably never occurred to them that an apartment in a pathetic city like KL is as appetising to me as restaurant food (borderline inedible).


I wish I had the cash to buy land here. It's something like RM400k-500k per acre. Almost no parcel here is just one acre. More typically, they are between 5 and 10 acres.

Whenever one of my dogs has a problem, I take them to a vet in Batu Caves. As a small business owner, I can see that this vet does incredibly well financially. Operationally, it is very good. They quite simply solve your problem. At any one time, they have 2 doctors. There is always a queue. The doctors have always been very pleasant and professional. I understand their operational model. 

I discovered a while back that the owner of that vet owns land right here. Some 8 acres of it. His land is magnificent. Just such beautiful views. He has on it many fruit trees and lots of goats. He likes mutton curry very much, so he has someone raise his own goats. His farm caretaker, a young guy from Nepal, helped me move house. He was brutally effective at it. I couldn't pay him enough for his trouble.

The thing is, I've never met the owner of the vet. I meet the receptionists (all very effective at what they do), I meet the caretakers/nurses (all from India and brutally effective), and then you meet the doctors (all very young, but very well trained, even to me, which means I could detect no stupidity). I do discuss the technicalities of the problems my dogs have, and all the doctors, even one young Malay girl from UKM, were superb, not just technically, but also temperamentally.

I wonder how he goes about finding such people.

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