Malaysia’s Past State of Emergencies

With rumors swirling around on how Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is set to declare a “State of Emergency” in reaction to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, maybe it’s time that we look back at our country’s history and how each state emergencies came into effect.

Malaysia has actually experienced four state of emergency calls after 1963 – two that was nationwide and two more in Sarawak and Kelantan during 1966 and 1977 respectively.

The Indonesia-Malaysia Conflict

The breakdown in political, economic and social relations at that time eventually led to armed conflicts, bomb attacks and even acts of subversion and destabilization.

Indonesian President at that time, President Sukarno had thoughts that the Federation of Malaysia was an absurd attempt by the British to maintain colonial rule behind what was a “cloak of independence”.

The belief that Britain would have military bases in Malaya and Singapore cemented the thought and led to a series of cross-border raids by Indonesians into Malaysia in 1963. Starting in Sabah and Sarawak, it eventually reached Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia in 1964.

After a wave of casualties and bombings, Act No. 30 of 1964, Emergency (Essential Powers) Act was proclaimed on 3 September 1964, with the Royal Assent on 17 September 1964, whereas the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may make any changes he considered necessary for: 

  • Securing public safety
  • Defending of the Federation
  • Maintaining of public order
  • Supplies and services essential to the life of the community.

Other special powers granted in the act include:

  • Apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the regulations

creation of offences and prescribe penalties if necessary

  • Home Minister getting to decide what is necessary to protect the interests of public safety and defence of the country
  • Authorisation of possession or control, on behalf of the Government of the Federation, of any property or undertaking, including any property other than land
  • Allow the entering and search of any premises
  • Existing laws can be suspended or applied only in portion

The confrontation came to an end with a peace treaty in 1966 while the emergency act was never actually revoked until ceasing to have effect on 1969 after the proclamation of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969.

May 13th Race Riots of 1969

The events of May 13th 1969 are well inscribed inside the minds of all Malaysians who lived through it and also for those who learned about it later on from tales of their parents and so on.

Widely agreed as the darkest day in Malaysian history, racial riots broke out in Kuala Lumpur after the 1969 General Election saw opposition parties have major gains over the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

Official reports put the number of deaths due to the riots at 196, while Western news sources at the time suggested it closer to be 600.

In response to the political and nationwide turmoil, a state of emergency – via the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 1969 – was declared by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on 15 May 1969 which led to the Parliament being suspended.

With no official elected government at that time, the National Operations Council – or Majlis Gerakan Negara (MAGERAN) was established as a caretaker government to temporarily govern the country for 18 months between 1969 to 1971. 

Malaysia was placed under the charge of the Director of Operations, who was then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.

Among the many regulations in place: 

  • Immediate curfew was implemented in Selangor
  • A curfew was later declared throughout the country
  • Parts of the constitution were suspended, hence the suspension of Parliament
  • State and District Operations Councils took over state and local governments
  • Newspaper publications were suspended on 15 May until 17 May. Censorship was applied on 21 May.
  • Constitutional government was restored and Parliament reconvened on February 1971.

Even though things were stable again later, the Proclamation of Emergency and the Emergency Ordinance 1969 were not revoked up until 2013, a mere six years ago.

Its last use was in June 2011 to detain 6 members of Parti Sosialis Malaysia for their support during the Bersih 2.0 rally for an electoral reform.

State of Emergency for Covid-19?

Although talks are still in the happenings, Malaysians have been agreeing on one thing – a state of emergency may not even come to good effect when going against an invisible enemy and especially when the people are already abiding by CMCO rules of the popularised term of “duduk rumah”.

Will we see a call for it anytime soon? Time is yet to tell as the public are still to wait for an official announcement about it.

With many crying foul about the actual need for a state of emergency, hope is that the government will come to the senses of the people and not overdo a political outcry when the nation is already dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, a bigger problem all by itself.

Proper Temperature Checks Don’t Involve Your Hands

Ever since false claims of how thermal scanning on the forehead may somehow cause side-effects towards the brains of those scanned, the public has taken an abnormal approach to it by placing their arms and hands instead on thermal scanning machines.

The Ministry of Health has again and again advised the public to not do so as they should rely solely on their forehead to get their temperatures checked. 

According to Harian Metro, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the ministry discouraged people from recording their body temperatures by pointing the ‘temperature gun’ at the wrist, which he noted many have been doing lately.

He emphasized also on how the most accurate body temperature readings are obtained from the forehead and not anywhere else. 

“The temperature reading from body parts other than the forehead is doubtful, so in relation to that, the public is advised to stop using their hands or other body parts,” he explained.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations – (FOMCA) wrote that the Seattle Children’s Hospital, a person’s clinical body temperature is normally measured at the forehead, ears, mouth, armpit, or rectum.

Rectal thermometers are considered to be too invasive and is rarely utilised by health personnel unless absolutely necessary.

Rectal temperatures are the most accurate but are the most invasive by far, which is why health personnel have always adopted the forehead as a second best thermal screening area.

Arms are not considered in temperature checks as they are the peripheral parts of the body, and extremities would have temperatures at the arms vary depending on environmental conditions.

The normal human body temperature varies from 36.5°C to 37.5°C, any temperature higher would be considered a fever.

Dr Noor Hisham also assured to the public on how there have been no reported side effects of scanning the forehead with infrared light

“We do not deny that many people are worried about side effects if they use the thermometer on their foreheads, but as far as we know, there is no scientific data that states it will cause illness,” he said.

6 Ways to Spot Fake News

Fake news isnt something new, but it’s been increasing much more lately expecially due to the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the public to want to know more and read more.

Fake news comes from anyone who wishes to share their thoughts or stories to the world and there is no regulation pretty much on whatever that is being circled around people’s own social media platforms.

Misinformation and fake news doesn’t only spread unnecessary fear and confusion but also harm those who are part of the message that is travelling around. Invented reviews of your products or inaccurate financial updates, for example, can do serious reputational damage.

Here six ways to differentiate fake news from news:

1) Be critical

Much of fake news is written with a shock value that is purposed to surprise readers on sight. Think critically and ask yourself “Why has this story been written? Is it to persuade me of a certain viewpoint? Is it selling me a particular product? Or is it trying to get me to click through to another website? Am I being triggered?”.

2) Check the source of the story

Every story has a source and if you have doubts, do some digging! Research about the author or publisher and decide if it’s trustworthy. Be aware that much of the credibility can be a false; so, if you see a suspicious post that looks like it’s from the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, check the WHO’s own site to verify that it’s really there.

3) Who else is reporting on the story

If the story is in fact true, some other news agency is bound to pick up on it. Follow professional news agencies and check if the story is up there in order to filter out what is and what is not.

4) Examine the statements

If it’s credible, there should be a lot of facts included in the story such as quotes from experts, data, surveys and statistics. Does the evidence prove that something definitely happened? Or, have the facts been selected or “twisted” to back up a particular viewpoint?

5) Don’t take images at face value

Images can be altered in many ways to show another story these days; even if it’s 100% correct, it can be altered to represent something else. You can use tools such as Google Reverse Image Search to check where an image originated and whether it has been altered.

6) Check if it sounds right

Use common sense and read the story to yourself. Does it sound true? If it doesn’t sound true to you, the story probably isn’t as you choose what you believe.

Anxiety Levels to Rise amid Imposing of CMCO

As Malaysia’s Covid-19 numbers continue to rise towards worrying levels, members of the public have been thrusted into a gust of fear and anxiety over the return of movement restriction orders yet again.

Ismail Sabri announced on Monday that Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Sabah will be placed under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) and it will begin at 12:01am on October 14th until October 27th.

Citing the current situation, occupational health expert Dr Shawaludin Husin said it will not be unusual to have the anxiety graph show upward trajectories in these times.

At the start of the pandemic, people were more worried about their health and risk of being exposed to the virus. Their main source of stress also came from needing to adapt to the work-from-home environment and learning of digital applications to stay in touch with the office.

“But the MCO’s greatest impact is its effect on the economy when many workers were terminated or asked to go on leave without pay. Many employers on their part were forced to suspend their operations temporarily while others had to fold up their businesses due to financial constraints,” he said.

Losing a job and source of income all of a sudden can have an immediate impact on one’s mental health, especially if there’s a family depending on them to provide.

If left unchecked, stress levels can lead to extreme psychological hazards and it gives employers that much of a reason to refrain from termination without a proper warning.

“The employees too have to be considerate and think of the burden borne by their employers. They (workers) should remember the contributions of their employers and try their best to help their company to recover,” Nasrullah Zainal Abidin, a psychology officer at Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Negeri Sembilan branch campus in Rembau said.

It is also time that we recognize mental health professionals for their work as they play a vital role during times like this. 

“The health and safety of workers should not just cover their physical aspect but their psychological aspect as well as it contributes to their overall well-being.

“If all two aspects are not cared for, it will affect the productivity of an organisation,” said Nasrullah, adding that issues such as burnout and uncontrolled stress can lead to high levels of absenteeism.

Although organizations around have taken the step towards setting up mental health facilities for their employees, it is essential that employee to employer communication be maintained at a heathy standard to avoid contributing to mental health issues among workers.

McDonald’s Most Expensive Burger That Has Wagyu Beef in It!

If there’s one thing that burger pioneers would agree on, it’s that great meat often leads to great burger.

The quality of meat used in burgers often determines the quality of the burger itself; franchises like McDonalds may not be associated often with a high quality burger at most, but it is set to change that with its new venture, with a type of meat that is particularly known for its unique marbling and taste.

First released in 2018 and currently limited in McDonald’s Australia, testing of a new Wagyu beef burger were sold at a price of AU$10.75 (US$7.67 or MYR31.88), this makes it the most expensive item ever sold at McDonald’s locations anywhere in the world.

Similar to a cheeseburger but a tad bit gourmet, it starts with a 100 percent Australian-breed Wagyu beef patty nestled between a gourmet bun along with special sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce and a slice of cheddar cheese.

However, the burger has received mixed reviews from Australian customers at McDonald’s as they are either falling head over heels for it or said that the “wagyu is dry” and the burger tastes like “cardboard”. Another social media user added that he was “having this really strange feeling of disappointment”.

Those who fell for it were quoted saying “Just had one for lunch…not bad at all,” and “The meat is divine”.

“The Wagyu beef burger was a world first for McDonald’s when it first appeared on our menu last year (2018), and it was a definite hit with our customers,” said McDonald’s Australia marketing director Jo Feeney.

“My advice would be to get in quick while stocks last,” Ms Feeney said.

Job hunting during a pandemic

Job searching in the midst of a pandemic

Universities going fully online, countless Zoom meetings, graduation ceremonies where a robot replaces the actual graduate, and a whole new norm of social distancing guidelines. 

5 months ago, we wouldn’t have ever imagined that we would be where we are today and with what is being in place as our reality today, job hunting has become that much more complicating as we’re forced to being in front of a screen 24/7.

The pandemic has slowed down the economy heavily and more people are eventually going into unemployment as of today. 2020 graduates are walking into a job market that may be grimmer than any we’ve seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

So what does this mean for our university graduates who are beaming with hope of landing that first job? Thankfully, we live in an ever so connected world and information on multiple social platforms that are available right at our fingertips.

Here are a few ways that fresh graduates could master the hunt for a job during this mayhem of a year.

1) Have a plan

Firstly, you should know your goals. This doesn’t at all mean to have a plan in place immediately though; use the time at home to your advantage, set a specific time on your calendar to fully focus on certain aspects of job hunting such as networking or updating your resume.


2) Bulk up on connections and professional networking

Building a career network doesn’t necessarily mean to ask for a job, it can be about seeking information from peers or seniors that could offer advice for you and your current situation. Being able to build rapport and a professional connection is an opportunity that comes with asking for help. By doing so, you’ll realise that there are always people out there that are willing to aid you.


3) Build and maintain a digital image

What would employers see when they look you up online? Do you maintain a professional image on Twitter and Instagram? If it’s up online, there are possibilities that somebody would come across it someday. Maintain what is being published in your name, and be mindful of your content and message.


4) Reflect and recreate

With almost all the time in the world, what else can you do? Now is a time better than any for a moment of reflection. Understand what you’re good at and what you might need to improve on. Take a moment to reflect on your past achievements or even small successes that you feel should be noticeable by an employer. Now that you’ve done all that, create content for your resume or recreate content to fit the current circumstances.


5) Pivot

Pivot means to turn or to swing; in terms of finding a job, it means to go with the punches and venturing into career paths that you never thought you will. The pandemic and economy is beyond our control, we can however control what we choose to do. By pivoting, more career paths can be discovered and you’d never know how something you never thought you’ll be capable of doing be the one thing that keeps you going in the next year or so. The job market is limited and you may have to settle for a position that is not what they’ve trained ideally for. On top of that, income isn’t what you expected; don’t be too picky as things aren’t always going to be stay bad forever.


6) Consider a side-gig

When times are hard, it’s always safe to pick up a means of income on the side just to be safe. The opportunities are endless, do your research of the ones that are available in your area. Have a car? Consider providing a ridesharing service. Speak more than one language? Try your hand at teaching or translating. Have too much time to spare? Consider being a waiter or waitress at that nearby café. Take initiative to get yourself out there as you’ll never know if one thing can lead to another.


7) Patience, patience, patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, be patient and go at your own pace. What’s important is that you have plan in place and to tick off one checkpoint one at a time.

What other ways do you use to navigate the current job market? Share them in the comment section below!

How Hooter’s Shady Marketing Tactic Backfired Hard

A Hooters in Tokyo is dishing up more than just wings – it's also ...

Hooters is a popular chain restaurant that was founded in Tampa Bay, Florida.

They have 400+ locations and have inspired several copycat brands such as Twin Peaks.

The business model is pretty basic: hot girls, scanty clothes, bar food.

It’s tacky, but they own it. And they apparently have amazing wings.

However.

Most managers are men and a majority of the employees are scantily clad women. So it probably won’t surprise you that they have “employee relations” issues from time to time.

Hooters managers have a lot of leeway in how they run their operations. They are empowered to build a profitable enterprise. Tangent to this, they can run promos and deals with both customers and employees.

Back in 2002, in Panama City, Florida, a local store manager did an internal promotion. He announced that the waitress who sold the most beer by the end of April would win a free Toyota. It was your basic sales contest, a generous one at that.

One employee, Jodee Berry, needed the money badly and worked her tail off that month. She worked long hours and lots of tables. In the end, she won the competition by a large margin.

Her day came to win her new Toyota. While she was in the restaurant, the manager blindfolded her. All of the employees gathered around to watch the unveiling.

The manager then escorted her outside and into the parking lot. He then took her blindfold off, and presented her with:

Image for post
Source: Flickr pic by Haro.MX (CC 2.0 Royalty Free)

A “Toy Yoda.”

She was then surrounded by laughing employees and had to face the reality that she’d been duped.

Jodee wasn’t amused. Nor was she about to roll over.

A Story About A Waitress Who Sued Hooters For Giving Her A Toy ...
Jodee with her “Toyota”

She hired a lawyer and went on to sue Gulf Coast Wings (the holding company), claiming a breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation.

They went to court where the manager claimed it had all been an April Fools’ joke. The defense was weak, at best.

The prank might have seemed cutsie-funny to some people. But the executives at Hooters HQ weren’t amused with their manager. It was terrible public relations. This court case drew substantial attention from local and national news media.

Jodee succeeded in winning her lawsuit. It was settled out of court where, per her attorney, she was given the right to choose a Toyota of her choice.


Humor and marketing are actually quite compatible — when used correctly.

However, any decent sales promotion needs to be aligned with the best interests of both parties. Even if your promo is absolutely hilarious, lying about the reward will rarely end well.

The Hooters manager in question no longer works for the company.

The Story of How a Sleep Tracker Became the Hottest Device of the Pandemic

Build a sleep tracking app using Oura. Part 1: Interface the Oura ...

The Oura ring is suddenly everywhere. The $299 sleep tracking device has adorned the digits of Prince Harry, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and, since July 9, 1,000 employees at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas, and most of the NBA players entering the Walt Disney World “bubble” in Florida. The reason for the hype? The ring’s sensors monitor users’ health data, including heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. Oura crunches this data into a daily “readiness” score, which their connected app serves up to users each morning — the score indicates how hard to push yourself that day; for example, if you’ve slept badly, and your score is low, maybe skip the workout that day. Early studies also suggest the ring’s a useful early detection tool for signs of Covid-19.

Why Harry's new ring has an Oura of desperation about it | Life ...

With no vaccine in sight, wearable tech is having a field day in the time of Covid-19. PGA golfer Nick Watney credits his Whoop watch as the reason he got tested. Duke University launched CovIdentify, asking people with a Fitbit, Garmin watch, or iPhone to download their app in order to analyze if their data can predict infection or severity. Scripps Research Institute put out similar asks for their DETECT study, which aims to speed up identification of areas with outbreaks. And Fitbit, which Google intends to acquire, announced they’d built Ready for Work, a connected app that allows bosses to monitor their employees’ health. Some startups are even floating the idea of wearable smart patches.

It’s no wonder why employers are flocking to wearables like the Oura ring right now; doing something, anything that might potentially prevent or diagnose the disease is very alluring, especially for businesses that have been crushed by the contagion or by reopening restrictions. No one wearable has emerged as “the best” so far, and all studies, while encouraging, only have early-stage results, and aren’t peer reviewed. So how has a sleep-tracking gizmo that’s sold approximately 150,000 rings since early 2018, compared to Fitbit’s estimated 16 million in 2019 alone, become the post-Covid prerequisite?


From the beginning, Oura, which launched version one of their ring in 2015, billed itself as a health and lifestyle company, with a focus on sleep. “Sense. Understand. Inspire.” was splashed across its 2015 homepage. “We’ve always wanted to empower people to understand their full potential,” says Harpreet Singh Rai, Oura’s CEO, who joined Oura in 2017, after a decade managing investments at a global asset management firm. “We started with sleep because that’s an important area of health that’s underlooked. By understanding your own health, you can improve yourself.”

Oura, which is based in Oulu, Finland, and has operations in San Francisco and Helsinki, was founded in 2013 by a group of three friends who were searching for a wearable device to make their lives healthier. They believed that by tracking their data, they’d learn how lifestyle choices influenced their lives. Frustrated by the accuracy, style, and durability of current wrist wearables, they built their own — opting for a ring form factor, as their research showed that fingers were a good place to capture physiological data. In 2015, Oura raised a $2.3 million seed round and launched its first Oura ring to the public, a chunky, Goth-looking gizmo.

Doing something, anything that might potentially prevent or diagnose the disease is very alluring, especially for businesses that have been crushed by the contagion or by reopening restrictions.

In 2018, Oura upgraded the ring to a sleek titanium band that’s available in black, gray, and silver (plus a diamond-crusted $999 premium model). They added sensors, improved the fit, and added an inductive charging system. The ring, which resembles a utilitarian wedding band, weighs between four to six grams, depending on size, which for comparison, is on the lower end of engagement ring weight. Embedded in the band are the temperature and infrared LED sensors, plus a gyroscope and accelerometer, that track temperature, pulse rate, sleep data, and physical activity.

Prior to the pandemic, the ring was beloved by biohackers and techie types, but its price point kept it a niche product.

Enter Covid-19.

On March 5, Petri Hollmén, the 40-year-old founder of Lytti, a Finnish event management startup, flew from his home in Turku, Finland, to Zurich, Switzerland, then on to Tyrol, Austria, followed by an overnight stay at home, and then on to Stockholm, Sweden, for a day. Tyrol had become a coronavirus hotspot, so Hollmén self-quarantined, with his wife, three children, and dog, out of concern for his employees. He’d worn his Oura ring the entire time. On March 12, Oura gave him a readiness score of 54, around 30 points lower than normal. His Oura data indicated his temperature was elevated. He felt fine, but called his doctor anyways — he felt embarrassed about calling, he says. His doctor sent him for testing. He had the virus. Back to quarantining. His wife and eldest daughter also developed low-level symptoms, but his two other kids were unaffected. There wasn’t a lot of information about this in his community so he uploaded a selfie with his pup, Miisa, on Facebook, alongside a screed about his experience.

Hollmén’s post went viral, first in Finland and then worldwide. An Oura staffer noticed it, and slacked Rai the link. Hollmén’s elevated temperature didn’t surprise Rai. “Every year, around cold and flu season, users tell us that they saw [their] body temperature increasing,” he says. “This year, that data was obviously much more important.” Sensing a PR opportunity, Rai set up a call with Hollmén. “Thanks for posting that,” Rai told Hollmén. They discussed Hollmén’s recovery and his experience with Oura.

Harpreet Rai - CEO @ ŌURA | Crunchbase
Rai

Then Rai paused. “Would you be willing to talk to journalists in the U.S.?”


Since early 2020, researchers across America had started pivoting their work to coronavirus-centric studies; detection, prognosis, treatments, cures. In early March, Ashley Mason, a psychiatric sleep researcher at UCSF, was informed that her investigation of saunas as a treatment for depression was on hold; all non-essential research had been nixed until further notice, they said. Her sauna study, which had not been funded by Oura, had used the company’s rings to track patients’ temperatures.

When she saw an article about Hollmén and his Oura ring potentially detecting coronavirus, she called Rai. “Have you seen the story?” she asked. She wondered: Could the rings possibly act as an early-detection tool for high-risk health care professionals? They were an especially vulnerable group — CDC data estimates that 98,000 American health care workers have been infected so far. Being able to identify infection early could help mitigate spread, and hopefully save lives. “I said, come on board,” Rai says. “We have to collect research to learn more about this illness.” Oura put up some funding for the study (after grants and other funds UCSF received, Oura contributed less than 15% of the funds).How the Roomba Became the Pandemic’s Unlikeliest WinnerIn the midst of a recession, even the company was surprised by the increased demand for a $1,000 vacuummarker.medium.com

The result: The UCSF TemPredict study, announced in April. Oura supplied rings to 2,000 frontline workers, and UCSF encouraged any Oura-owning member of the public to enroll in the study online as well. (They must complete a screening survey, answer daily surveys, and allow Oura to share their data.) The end goal, Rai says, is for UCSF to build an algorithm from the data that can identify onset, progression, and recovery patterns. He stressed that any supported studies are independently assessed, and that Oura does not influence the outcomes.

Other researchers with ongoing Oura partnerships also switched up their focus. In West Virginia, the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) developed AI models to forecast symptoms using physiological and behavioral biometrics from Oura data. On May 28, RNI reported that their A.I. platform detected symptoms three days before they materialized, with a 90% accuracy rate. They’ve scaled their program to health care employees at universities across America.

RNI’s preliminary findings caught the eye of the NBA Wearables Committee, who approve and validate players’ devices for use during gameplay. To keep their Disneyland social bubble well monitored, alongside regular Covid testing, they purchased 2,000 smart rings to monitor the players and staff (though wearing them is optional). Around the same time, Las Vegas Sands, which runs the Venetian and Palazzo casinos, also purchased 1,000 to pilot with their staff, and say they’ll purchase 9,300 more if the trial goes well. To aid companies in tracking possible infections in their workforce, Oura developed an enterprise management platform, which lets employers monitor ring-wearers’ health, and provides them with illness probabilities for every opted-in employee or NBA player.

Company of the week: Oura Health | PitchBook

The media hype around Oura — all savvily overseen by Rai — has been great for business. On March 17, Rai announced Oura had raised a $28 million Series B round. (To date, they’ve raised $75.5 million.) Since shelter-in-place took effect, numerous startups have folded, or furloughed to eke out their runway, but Oura’s team grew 20% between February and June, including new hires in social media and engineering. Just in the past month its social following grew by more than 100% on Twitter and Instagram, according to estimates from stat tracker Social Blade.

One of the company’s main challenges right now is keeping up with demand in the midst of supply chain issues created by coronavirus. The situation highlighted the inefficiencies of using Finland as the location for the company’s main fulfillment center. Shipping to the U.S. slowed, and many of the ring’s components that were sourced from China are taking longer to receive. And more and more research studies are asking to use Oura data. “We never imagined that in 2020 we’d be doing studies with nearly 50,000 enrollees,” says Rai. Oura can’t handle 50 new studies, he says, (their main focus is still consumer sleep tracking) so he has offered Oura’s open API share data with researchers. Despite building an app to let employers track employee biometrics, Rai is emphatic that the Oura ring “doesn’t diagnose or treat,” but says the data could be useful to people.

Meanwhile, researchers are going full speed ahead. In early March, Michael Snyder, PhD, a genetics professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, in conjunction with Fitbit turned his attention from researching wearables’ place in assessing risk for Lyme and Type 2 diabetes, to using wearables for Covid-19 detection. “We’re device agnostic,” Snyder says — any high-risk or exposed person who owns an Oura, Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung, or Apple watch can join his Covid-19 Wearables study, in which users link their wearable to an app and self-report additional symptoms. “We can detect Covid-19 with a smartwatch,” Snyder claims.

Whether or not the Oura ring is an effective Covid-19 alert system is still to be determined, and if research ends up discounting the device, that could become a major challenge for the company.

According to his preliminary data, algorithms detected elevated heart rates three of four days before symptoms appeared in around 80% of cases. “Heart rate is a better measure than skin temperature as a lot of people don’t get fever with Covid-19,” he says. However, so far, the data can’t differentiate between, say, Covid-19 and the common cold. And, at least according to Snyder, there’s no clear wearable winner. “We don’t know which wearable is best, as they all measure different things,” he says. “We’ll see which features turn out to be the most important.” Snyder believes that once the algorithms improve, most people will purchase wearables for early detection. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says.

Others wonder if Oura may be getting too much attention. “Without doubt Oura is the most successful smart ring company today,” says Mikko Nurmimaki, editor of Smart Ring News. “It is beautiful. But we are yet to see objective, medical evidence on the accuracy of detecting Covid-19.” Nurmimaki posits that Oura’s buzz has overshadowed smart rings like the CIRCUL, created by California startup Bodimetrics. Its SP02 sensors measure blood oxygen levels, which might be a better diagnostic.

Rishi Desai, the chief medical officer at Osmosis, a medical education platform, and former epidemic intelligence officer at the CDC, isn’t convinced. “Wearables aren’t a major part of the solution for the problem we have today,” he says. “Joe buying it today will not help Joe, today or tomorrow.” He does however see them as “increasingly important technology for problems that we have in the future” in that collected data from wearables will hopefully drive medical research that develops the cures of tomorrow. Desai, who objects to capturing temperature data from a finger because it’s not “a good measure of core temperature,” also says the high cost of Oura and most wearable tech makes it inaccessible to many, noting that “the people that are highest risk are living on the margins.”

Even so, William Haseltine, BA, PhD, an infectious disease expert at ACCESS Health International and author ofA Family Guide to Covid suggests it’s a “good idea” for people to purchase wearables because they make people more aware of social distancing and their symptoms. “There is variable accuracy,” he admits, “but the ask is to call their doctor — that’s not an onerous intervention.” They give people back some autonomy, he says, “where they’ve been left to their own devices as the government isn’t protecting them.” And of course, he adds, their data’s valuable for epidemiologists.

Whether or not the Oura ring is an effective Covid-19 alert system is still to be determined, and if research ends up discounting the device, that could become a major challenge for the company. In the next few weeks, its data is likely going to be under more scrutiny; at Stanford, Snyder’s rolling out a text message system to alert users of wearables — including Oura rings and Fitbits — if their metrics suggest they have the virus.

Osmosis’ Desai is worried about this next step. “Can you imagine if everybody in New York City starts calling with a fast heart rate? It would completely overwhelm the system,” he says. The Oura might be the shiniest new tech toy right now, he says, but that shine could be a misdirection. “The most important wearable right now to be focusing on is masks,” he says. “Anything that’s not talking about masks as the wearable of choice is a distraction.”

How a Buddhist Monk Taught Me to Stop Overthinking

5 Buddhist Monk Habits For Ultimate Clarity In Your Life

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creating scenarios in my head, juggling between the past and the future. Trust me when I say it’s easy to lose yourself in a story for a good few minutes. Just grab your headphones and play a dramatic song that fits the screenplay. It almost feels real, doesn’t it?

The best thing about it is that you can do it anywhere. You don’t have to lay in bed or a hammock. No, no, no. If you are an experienced player, you can easily zone out in the middle of a conversation.

Does it sound familiar? I’m sure it does. But how do we put an end to it?

They say practicing meditation is the secret to a clear mind. And it is, to some extent. I’ve been doing it regularly for one and a half years and boy, oh boy, did it make a huge difference. However, until recently I was still finding myself overthinking. I’m a veteran after all.

My left foot was on a wooden boat, full of people who create scenarios in their heads. The right one was on a yacht where people manage to stay in the present moment. Van Damme and his epic split have nothing on me.

I should probably work more on my metaphors, though.

Back to our story, how about some good news too? You can use a simple hack to say goodbye to overthinking. Here’s how to do it.


How to Stop Overthinking According to a Hilarious Buddhist Monk

Laughter may be the most profound state of alignment that exists ...

The trick that I use to bring myself in the present moment is a two-word question. I’ve read it in The Art of Disappearing: Buddha’s Path to Lasting Joy, a book published by a Buddhist monk.

He is known as Phra Visuddhisamvarathera, Ajahn Brahmavaṃso, or simply Ajahn Brahm. We’ll stick with the shorter version, for everybody’s sanity.

When talking about overthinking, he says he used to do it a lot too. It was mostly about falling in love and starting a family.

Before he was a monk, of course. Now he’s probably flying on a magic carpet.

But let’s see what his method is, shall we?

Ajahn Brahm says that whenever he was engaging in imaginative conversations, he would ask himself “then what?” and repeat the question for as long as he needed to.

“When I was young I too used to have fantasies. I learned to stop them from grabbing hold of me by following them to their logical conclusion. I would think, “Then what? Then what?” and I wouldn’t stop until I had the full picture.”

— Ajahn Brahm

Now let’s say you start thinking about how people will react to a new project you are working on. Ask yourself “then what?”. Maybe you’ll continue the story and come up with how you are going to respond to their critiques, or thank them for their praise.

Ask yourself again what comes next. In just a few seconds, you’ll lose interest in your own story.

In his book, Ajahn Brahm explains how this method helped him and why it works:

“With fantasies such as falling in love, getting married, and riding off into the sunset, the “then what” took all the fun out of it, because the “then what” was just empty. There was no color, brightness, joy, or happiness anymore because the “then what” would be whatever everyone else experiences.”

So next time you feel like creating scenarios in your head, keep asking yourself “then what” until you realize you have better things to do. Or until you get really, really annoyed.

Either way, it works. You stop playing stories in your head in which you fight with people from your past or fantasize about happy endings you might never get.

After a while, the number of times you have to ask the question will decrease, and eventually, you’ll stop overthinking for good.


Who Is Ajahn Brahm?

ajahn-brahm - Buddhist Fellowship

I discovered this incredibly funny Buddhist monk in Myanmar, at a meditation center where I volunteered for two weeks. The nuns living there introduced me to his books and discourses and I was immediately hooked.

Mainly because he has a really good sense of humor. Even though he’s talking about deep, spiritual things, he does it in a laid-back way.

He’s a big supporter of same-sex marriages and often stresses that Buddhist teachings do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Talk about a cool monk, eh?

Born in England as Peter Betts,heordained in Thailand, at the age of 23. Today, he is the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia.

If you are interested in his teachings, you can find his discourses on Youtube. You can also read his books or listen to the Buddhist Society of Western Australia podcast.

Yep, podcast, you read that right. I told you this Buddhist monk takes things to the next level.


Final Thoughts

We are all guilty of overthinking. But simply because it’s a common thing doesn’t mean it’s a good one too. It can only harm us and affect our relationships. No matter how you look at it, there is no positive outcome.

We can’t stop overthinking in just a few days, especially if it’s a behavioral pattern that we’ve been feeding for years.

Instead of trying to get rid of this bad habit overnight, start measuring your success by keeping track of the time you spend overthinking.

Let’s say you are doing it for two hours every day. If you manage to get it down to half an hour after a month of using this method, you are making tremendous progress.

And you’ll soon get both feet on the yacht.

Back view of a sweet couple standing on edge of luxury yacht ...

By Larisa Andras

What Happens When a Kamikaze Pilot Returns?

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Kamikaze pilots before their ‘final flight’

The Japanese use of Kamikaze pilots in the Pacific campaign against the United States was perhaps the most extreme tactic ever used by the Rising Sun Empire to gain an advantage over the enemy. This tactic was born out of the need to destroy the American aircraft carriers which defined American dominance across the Pacific theatre. American aircraft carriers were usually heavily guarded by both high-quality American fighters and anti-air guns mounted on the carrier itself.

During the later stages of the war, Japanese fighter aircraft could not hope to compete against the superior American variants and thus a new way to strike at the heart of the American fleet was required. These circumstances gave birth to the Kamikaze tactic. But what would happen if a pilot tasked with this vital task failed his mission and returned?

For the Emperor

Honour has always played a big part in Japanese society. Many who volunteered to the Kamikaze corp saw it as an honour to die for their country. It was also believed that the show of honour and selflessness shown by a Kamikaze pilot willingly sacrificing himself for this country would have massive psychological impacts on the invading forces.

Even more importantly Kamikaze attacks were much more accurate than bombing runs allowing the Japanese Air Force to target the weak points of American ships, making this tactic much more efficient than the traditional bombing run, something vital for the already weak and overextended Japanese armed forces.

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USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikazes piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa (photo below) and Lieutenant Junior Grade Seizō Yasunori on 11 May 1945. Out of a crew of 2,600 on Bunker Hill, 389 personnel were killed or officially listed as missing and 264 were wounded. Courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Many people in Japanese society looked up to the Kamikaze pilots as they were seen as the ultimate show of loyalty to the emperor. As such they received better rations during their training although this was outweighed by the harsh training and disciplining they were put through during the preparation for their final day. Even with all this preparation and nationalistic zeal some of the pilots were too scared to perform their task or experienced mechanical failures during their ‘last flight’ forcing them to return back to Japan.

Failure and dishonour

The Kamikaze pilots who returned fall into two distinct groups. Those who returned due to weather conditions or mechanical failures in their place and those who returned due to not being able to perform their task successfully due to psychological reasons. Each group received different treatment on their return.

The pilots who could prove that their return was caused by conditions outside of their control were neither punished nor looked down upon. During a stage of the war when even pilots were classed as a scarce resource the Japanese could not afford to lose a well trained Kamikaze pilot and thus their return was accepted and their ‘last flight’ was rescheduled although some still felt survivor’s guilt over if they were the only one in their squadron to survive.

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Kamikaze pilots with a puppy shwoing us the humanity of these unfortunate souls

For those pilots who couldn’t prove that their return was caused by factors outside of their control, their treatment would be a bit different. Although still not executed these pilots would receive some sort of punishment be it physical or mental. These punishments were not to be too severe as the pilot had to be ready for another flight at some point in the future so nothing that would damage that ability would be performed. Even so, this had a limit as seen with one pilot who returned 9 times from his Kamikaze mission. He would be executed on his 9th return for cowardice.

To combat these mental factors that would stop the Kamikaze pilots from completing their tasks a few measures were implemented. Kamikaze pilots would often fly in squadrons as to increase the peer pressure between colleagues leading to fewer pilots flaking off and not completing their task. Pilots also received alcohol before their ‘final flight’ giving them some ‘liquid courage’ to help them complete their task.

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Kamikaze pilot squadron having their final drink before their mission

Many think that the pilots were also given just enough fuel to make it to their target as another incentive but this wasn’t true as we now know that these pilots were such a scarce resource that this wouldn’t be a viable way of incentivising them to perform their task.

When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills. — Excerpt from a kamikaze pilots’ manual

Desperation

As always, war brings out the worst in humanity, something that cannot be more true of the Japanese. In a society, so where honour and subservience to the emperor means more than one’s life such tactics as using Kamikaze pilots or making infantry suicide bomb tanks could be justified and even celebrated by the general populace as they aided the war effort.

Japan would commit many despicable war crimes during the Second World War in a search to best their enemies stopping at nothing to do so. We see this with the experiments performed by Unit 731 and the atrocities committed in mainland China in a quest to placate the rebellious population.

Japan has always been an interesting case study in history and will remain as such due to the unique culture the hermit civilization developed over the centuries of isolation from influence outside of their island. I look forward to exploring the history of this country further someday.

By Calin Aneculaesei