his was not a good week for U.S.-China relations. On Tuesday, the White House ordered China to close its consulate in Houston. By Friday, China had retaliated by ordering the closure of the American consulate in Chengdu. The U.S. Justice Department also recently accused Chinese hackers of trying to steal data on a coronavirus vaccine, the latest in a long line of allegations of Chinese espionage.
Meanwhile, the number of cases in the United States passed a grim milestone: 4 million. A bright spot on the horizon is that four of the 165 vaccines currently in development are in Phase 3 trials, according to New York Times data. Two of them are made by Chinese companies, state-owned Sinopharm and the private company Sinovac Biotech. There’s only one vaccine already approved for limited use, and it’s been developed by China’s CanSino Biologics. The Chinese military approved it on June 25 as a “specially needed drug.”
But the deteriorating relationship between the two superpowers doesn’t bode well for the potential of the U.S. to do so. And it generally doesn’t look good for vaccine development, or for either country’s response to Covid-19. “People’s health on both sides could become collateral damage,” Yanzhong Huang, PhD, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells the Medium Coronavirus Blog. Trump says he will work with China, he notes, “but there’s no plan, or I don’t think there’s any conversation happening with the Chinese.”
Acknowledging that relations between the two superpowers were already straining in recent months, Huang says that “Covid-19 only accelerated that process” on multiple fronts. Including, he notes, “this issue of vaccine development and distribution.” China not only has vaccines in development but plays a critical role in the global pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s not just the way vaccines become available,” he says. “You need to consider the parallel support, including bottles, not to mention those ingredients used to make those vaccines. China traditionally has played an important role in supplying those things.”
Between China and the U.S., he says, “there’s no state-level cooperation, information sharing — there is no talking between the two.”
This isn’t, of course, the first time this relationship has soured. What happened in the past can inform what to expect as the current situation plays out, says Zuoyue Wang, PhD, professor of history at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Historically, he says, “bilateral scientific exchanges would often be negatively affected, especially in terms of the movements of scientists and technological transfers.” This happened, for example, during the Korean War. Chinese scientists working or studying in the U.S. weren’t allowed to return home, and the U.S. led a broad Western technological embargo against China. Exchanges started up again during the Cold War for a number of reasons; the U.S. wanted to counter the Soviet Union and capitalize on the huge Chinese market, for example, and China wanted to catch up to “American-led world standards in science and technology.” Now, as the prioritization and urgency of those motivations has faded away, the U.S. has tightened the scope of bilateral scientific exchange and collaboration: Chinese scientists are being denied visas; Huawei phones won’t run Google apps.
The present-day tension has already shaped public health exchanges during the pandemic. In March and April, the U.S. struggled to get personal protective equipment from China. Wang says this demonstrates how a “usually mundane technology,” like mask-making, “could suddenly become essential in certain circumstances and play a prominent part in geopolitical dynamics.”
Though there doesn’t seem to be much conversation at the state level between President Trump and President Xi at the moment, there’s still hope for cooperation at the industry or individual level, says Huang. He points to the moment, in the 1990s, when the American pharmaceutical company Merck supplied China with the technology for making a hepatitis B vaccine shortly after the Tiananmen crackdown. This, he says, is an example of how public health collaboration between the two countries can “sustain its own dynamic.”
“I think this actually highlights the importance of nonstate level collaboration and cooperation,” he says. This could happen between firms, like U.S. and Chinese pharmaceutical companies or the researchers themselves, or between U.S. NGOs and Chinese individuals. Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, he notes, sent a million masks to the U.S., and Bill Gates donated millions to the international effort against Covid-19.
None of the vaccines being produced around the world are likely to be a “magic bullet” that single-handedly solves Covid-19, says Wang. That’s why it’s important not to forget that “global problems such as pandemics and climate change require international collaboration.” When political tensions limit that collaboration, “the U.S. along with the rest of the world suffers from the consequences.”
“No one is truly safe until the world community can work together in dealing with these threats,” says Wang.
Since Taco Bell is opening its first outlet in Malaysia, I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at their marketing prowess. It’s rare that I come across a hugely successful campaign that I have such a strong personal aversion to. But one must give respect where respect is due. They’ve had the balls do to some very ambitious campaigns, including this one.
In 2019, they opened a Taco Bell Hotel, dubbed “The Bell.” They said it’d only be open for a very limited time which, for starters, was total B.S. because it’s still open today with no plans of closing.
The entire premise is gross. When I think of a weekend getaway, I imagine those beautiful magazines, with people playing in pools and happy, smiling couples walking on a beautiful beach together.
But fast food? Fast food is like porn. People enjoy it. Then they feel guilty and hide the evidence.
So imagine waking up totally surrounded, by Taco bell.
Some beds have giant pictures of tacos (with wet meat) hanging near them. There is Taco Bell memorabilia everywhere in the place, Taco bell wallpaper, Taco Bell paintings, furniture, ceilings, buttons. Even your room card has a Taco Bell theme.
There’s an unlimited menu of Taco Bell made by their resident “chef.”
The Lobby is literally a Taco Bell.
If I were stranded on an island, I don’t know that my body could sustain itself on that food. I might need to snort some sand.
Taco Bell isn’t exactly a paragon of exquisite hygiene either — it’s not the sort of place I’d want to sleep at. It brings to mind that perpetually wet gas station bathroom floor with neon lights, cockroaches, and that rusty vending machine full of $1.25 glowing condoms.
The Bell also has one of the most overpriced guest stores I’ve ever seen.
I guess I understand their “no returns” policy. Buyers’ remorse would be real for a $30 charger (they are $5 at Walmart).
Perhaps the most redeeming quality of the hotel from my view is the nice swimming pool.
But don’t expect to maintain a pool bod if you eat at the hotel for more than half a day.
I certainly wouldn’t plan a trip to The Bell with a significant other. I tested the idea out with my girlfriend, who is a super healthy eater.
“Sign me up” is our code sarcasm.
But here’s the thing — the campaign wasn’t targeting us. Yes, I think the hotel is stupid, desperate, and unappetizing. But — it’s brilliant too. They’ve won several awards with the idea.
One could see how staying there would be a funny and interesting novelty. Today, people are constantly posting pictures on social media from the hotel. It’s near impossible to take a selfie in that building without some sort of Taco Bell symbol being captured, and I suspect that is by design.
I got nauseous when I read Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg’s press statement, “The Bell stands to be the biggest expression of the Taco Bell lifestyle to date.”
Because I realized Taco Bell is a lifestyle. It’s a testament to their brand. But I still have to swallow the fact that that’s a thing.
In a country with a growing obesity rate, the last thing we need is a “<insert fast food name> lifestyle.”
But, hey, she knows her audience. There are indeed many Taco Bell Enthusiasts who stay at this hotel. There’s even a Taco Bell Reddit group with 70,000+ members.
I suppose there are worse hobbies one could have.
When they did the grand opening for The Bell, they invited a bunch of social media influencers to stay for free.
Sure enough, those influencers began doing video logs of their stay. The numbers they put up were quite impressive.
Experiential marketing is one of those advertising fads that goes in and out of favor with time. If one big brand does it and has even a whiff of success, you can expect a slew of campaigns to copycat
With The Bell, that was certainly the case. So if tacos aren’t your thing…
…go enjoy a stay at Hotella Nutella.
Taco Bell — I hate your hotel. But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant. And for that, I salute you.
Here’s a list of 5 of Malaysia’s most notorious criminals throughout history, these people were monsters who used violence to their benefit, it should be noted that all of them were either caught and tried, or riddled with bullets in the end.
5. Mat Komando
Ahmad Mohd Arshad, who was better known as Mat Komando, had spent 2 years as a member of an elite commando unit in the Malaysian Army before dropping out for reasons unknown. After dropping out, Mat Komando got into a series of low skill jobs. He became a lorry driver and also tried driving taxis and buses for awhile, but it seems like that wasn’t the life he was interested in.
Mat Komando’s Gang 13 burst onto the Malaysian crime scene in the early 2000s. They started by robbing palm oil plantations for the cash stashes they had. Mat Komando then started looking at other areas to expand into, he then went on to mastermind 52 armed robberies throughout the country. The gang’s military style operations helped them make off with RM2.5 million in cash between 2001 and 2002.
In response to the crimes, the police launched “Ops Api Sawit” (Operation Palm Fire), who’s sole objective was to put an end to Gang 13. The identities of Mat Komando and his gang were released to the media, which triggered a nationwide manhunt for the gang. This was made easier thanks to the fact that the gang often operated without masks, which made identifying them that much easier.
Faced with so much “heat”, Mat Komando decided to lay low and took his family and close friends to a popular resort at Pedu Lake, Kedah. However, they were quickly identified by the resort management via their ICs. The resort management then contacted the authorities, the police then secretly assembled an ambush at the resort. The police stormed in and a firefight broke out between them, however, Mat Komando somehow evaded the police and managed to escape towards a jungle.
He managed to keep this up for 255 days, constantly evading the authorities as his gang starting shrinking in numbers. A man by the name of Shukri Husain finally tipped the police off about Mat’s whereabouts, after he was brutally beaten by him, on suspicions that Shukri was working with the police, when in fact, he wasn’t.
In the early hours of 12 September 2002, in Baling Kedah, 10 officers from the VAT69 anti-terror unit, supported by the paramilitary police, stormed a hut in the village where Mat Komando was hiding. Mat was confident that he’d rather die than surrendering, and with 2 pistols in hand John Wick-style, he faced the police, and thus, his reign of terror came to an end.
4. Bentong Kali
Born in Bentong, Pahang, Kalimuthu, also known as Bentong Kali, terrorized people with his maniacal rages. In those fits of anger, he would pull out his Sig Sauer and would randomly fire whenever, and at whoever he wanted.
He started his career by joining the infamous “Gang 04” when he was only 14, their crimes often involved extortion, robberies, and drugs. Between 1985-1991, he was already in and out of the prison system, at the age of 19.
By 1991, he decided to move to KL and join a different gang, which happened to be another notorious gang by the name of “Gang 08”. After only a few months, he decided to form his own gang instead, going by the name of “Gang 08 Jalan Klang Lama”.
Bentong Kali rise to infamy happened in KL between 1991 and 1993. Besides being involved crimes such as drugs, extortion and robbery, he killed at least 16 people in this time, most of them being just for his own entertainment.
Some examples includes shooting a mamak stall worker for no apparent reason, gunning down a guy who was upset that Kali had peed in front of his house. He gate-crashed a birthday party, and randomly shot at guests, killing 4 people. Bentong Kali’s murderous rampage quickly made him Malaysia’s most wanted criminal. A special task force comprising over 200 cops from Kuala Lumpur, Pahang and Selangor was formed in 1993 to bring a stop to him.
In the early hours of 29 Jun 1993, in Medan Damansara, an elite team of police officers and the Special Forces Unit surrounded the house. Not taking any chances, the police also had snipers and a bomb squad on standby. As the cops burst into the house, a short gun battle erupted. Two of Bentong Kali’s gang members were quickly disposed of.
Bentong Kali himself tried to escape from the second floor balcony but snipers were ready for him. The most notorious killer in Malaysian history was put down with a bullet to the head.
3. Sunny Chai
In the early 2000’s, a group began robbing goldsmith shops, they had a style that was similar to precision military-style operations, and they left no clues behind. As more and more goldsmiths were hit, the police were left scratching their heads. They knew it was the same gang because their signature weapon was an M16 machine gun, but the cops could not identify who the members were.
Unbeknownst to them, they actually knew the gang’s leader very well. Sum Wing Chang (Sunny Chai) was a well-known businessman who regularly mingled with society’s elite, including community leaders, politicians and even senior police officers. When the police finally busted the gang, they revealed that at 6pm, Sunny could be robbing a goldsmith shop with his M16. But by 8pm, he would be attending a dinner function with dignitaries.
Sunny Chai’s partner in crime was Elvis Keh, a decorated Singaporean sharpshooter and explosives expert. Together, they recruited seven other members and the gang pulled off 16 armed robberies throughout the country. Elvis trained the gang in weapons and military tactics, giving them the skills to steal more than RM21 million in loot between 2000 and 2002.
Hooked on the wealthy lifestyle and getting cocky with success, Sunny started to get a little reckless. He wanted to diversify into kidnapping and extorting his tycoon buddies to make even more money. This rubbed other gang members the wrong way, who didn’t want to risk attracting attention and exposing themselves. With the success of their robberies, the gang also started arguing over how the millions in loot was being shared.
The gang’s breakdown caused them to start making mistakes, dropping clues that gave the police all they needed to track them down. Armed with new information, cops started moving in on the gang members.
In December 2002, the law finally caught up with Sunny Chai. Trying to escape from the cops, Sunny Chai rammed his Proton Waja into a police car chasing him. But he lost control and crashed. A short gun battle later, Sunny Chai and another gang member were killed by police. A third member of the gang was killed in another fire fight with police at his Johor house. Two others were nabbed in the Klang Valley. Elvis and a few other members left the gang before this ordeal, and is still out there to this day.
2. Mona Fandey
All Maznah Ismail wanted was to be a famous pop star. She tried everything to boost her image, she wore flashy clothes and even adopted the stage name “Mona Fandey”. When nobody wanted to give her a contract, she decided to produce and release her own album entitled “Diana”. She even got herself a few TV appearances but ultimately, her career never took off.
After her music career ended, Mona Fandey and her husband, Affandi, felt they needed a career change. So they turned to the black arts and made their living as bomohs. Somehow, they were able to attract an elite upper-class clientele. They were so successful in this venture that they could afford to buy a mansion and several luxury cars.
What made Mona Fandey infamous was the horrifying murder of a rising UMNO politician, Mazlan Idris. The ambitious Mazlan was eyeing the Pahang MB post and wanted some supernatural help to boost his political career.
Mazlan had asked Mona and her husband for help, and they had convinced Mazlan to buy a magic tongkat and songkok that would make him “invincible”. All that for RM2.5 million. Mazlan agreed to pay the couple RM500,000 cash as deposit. He also gave them 10 land titles as a guarantee for the remaining RM2 million.
On July 2, 1993, Mazlan withdrew RM300,000 from a bank in KL. Returning to Pahang that same day, he met with Mona and her husband at the Raub UMNO division office at about 10pm and was never seen again. 2 weeks after his disappearance, the police decided to launch a search for Mazlan.
Luckily, the police had earlier arrested the couple’s assistant, Juraimi, on an unrelated drug offence. After questioning, Juraimi led the police to an unfinished house in the middle of a plantation, about 45km from Raub. There they found Mazlan’s body buried in a store room. As they fished piece after piece of what used to be Mazlan out of the hole, the full horror of the crime hit home. Mona and Affandi was quickly arrested and charged for the murder.
Mona and her husband had convinced Mazlan to undergo a ritual to multiply his money. He had been taken to the house and told to lie on the floor face up. They told Mazlan to wait for the money to “fall from above”. Instead, what fell was the heavy blade of an axe.
In three strokes, Juraimi had completely chopped off Mazlan’s head. He then cut up the rest of the body into 18 pieces, before burying them. Pieces of skin and flesh were also removed from the arms and legs. Those pieces were never recovered and to this day no one knows what happened to them. Some think that they were eaten.
The trio was led to the execution chambers at Kajang Prison on November 2, 2001. It was reported that during her execution, Mona Fandey was still calm and smiling, telling the wardens, “Aku takkan mati” (“I won’t die”)
1. Botak Chin
Wong Swee Chin, aka Botak Chin, was one of the most dangerous criminals in Malaysia during the 1970s, leading his gang to commit a string of violent armed robberies that netted them close to a million ringgit in cash.
Botak Chin was most famous for his love of guns, building up a personal collection of 19 firearms, 5 grenades and 1000 bullets. Once during a robbery, he even challenged his victims to a bizarre cowboy-style shootout.
Despite his violent streak, Botak Chin likened himself to Robin Hood. There’s a story of Botak Chin handing an old ice-cream seller a few thousand ringgit in cash on the street and basically telling him to “go home and chillax la, so old already still want to work meh?” But his Robin Hood reputation could not make up for his “shoot anything that moves” reputation.
At the age of 18, Botak Chin committed his first armed robbery with his gang. Amazed at the respect that guns got him, Botak Chin quickly bought his own revolver. Soon, he abandoned his old gang to form his own. Within a month, the new Botak Chin crew had committed 8 armed robberies.
Botak Chin was quickly caught and sentenced to 7 years in jail. But he was released early for good behaviour. Following his release Botak Chin immediately formed a new gang, now operating with experienced robbers, Botak Chin hit the big time. Within a year, the gang had hit several banks, clubs, illegal gambling dens, armored trucks and even temples, leaving a trail of bullet-riddled bodies behind.
The cops nearly caught Botak Chin once, after a high-speed car chase / gun battle through the streets of Segambut, KL. Botak Chin’s beloved Datsun was shot to pieces by the cops, but Botak Chin somehow managed to escaped.
In early 1976, Botak Chin’s gang began to fall apart. 7 of his gang members had been killed in gang wars and gun battles with the police. Several others had been arrested. Police had also managed to snag 15 of the gang’s guns. But that didn’t stop Botak Chin, he continued his robberies, gang wars and gang recruitment drives.
Finally, the police got a tip that Botak Chin was hiding out in a sawmill in Jalan Ipoh, KL. After days of staking out the place, dozens of police moved in and an epic gunfight erupted. An estimated 500 shots were fired in the battle. Cops lobbed smoke grenades into the sawmill. The gangsters replied with hand grenades. Eventually, Botak Chin’s lieutenants were killed in the shootout and the man himself took six shots in his body before surrendering.
In 1980, Botak Chin was charged for firearms possession and sentenced to death. But he wasn’t going to go quietly. While in jail, he attacked two prison wardens, seriously injuring one of them. On New Year’s Day 1981, he tried to escape from Pudu Jail. He stabbed three wardens in the process and only surrendered after being seriously injured himself.
Botak Chin was finally executed in June 1981. When the prison guards came to take Botak Chin to the gallows, he was finally calm, saying to them, “Sudah sampai, ah? Saya rasa macam lari 100m, sudah sampai garisan penamat.” (Here already? I feel like I ran 100m and am now at the finish line.)
Like a lot of people, I have a long track record of sucking at rejection. Whenever someone said no to me, it was always THEIR fault that they didn’t see the best in me. I was great. They were foolish.
Back in the late ’90s, I spent a couple of months as a table runner at a restaurant to make money for college. I was, charitably speaking, an underwhelming employee. I took a lot of bathroom breaks to avoid the dish pile. I was too loud in the kitchen. I wore the same black pants and white shirt every day to fit the dress code for staff, and both garments grew filthier and more ragged as the months crept along. I say all this with the benefit of hindsight. Live on for another couple of decades and you become much more objective in evaluating your younger self. But at the time, of course, I thought I was the BEST table runner who ever lived. I thought I deserved to be promoted to waiter. To OWNER, even.
I was not. The following year, I called the actual owner to see if my old job would be waiting for me once finals were over. She said to me, in a disturbingly cheery voice, “No!”
“Really?” I asked. I was floored.
“Really!” Again, she sounded pleased to deliver this news to me, but didn’t bother to say why.
“Oh, okay. Well then, see ya.”
And I hung up. I got a table running job at a different restaurant that summer, but I still stewed over the rejection from my old boss. I told my mom I got turned down for a return gig and SHE stewed about it, to the point where she didn’t patronize that restaurant again until roughly two years ago. Even now, whenever I think about that lady (like right now!), I’m like man, she really sucked.
But she didn’t suck, of course. She was running a business, needed capable staff, and already had ample evidence that I was not capable at my job. I was the one who sucked.
I’m better at rejection now. Experience tends to thicken your hide. I shouldn’t have needed 43 years to take this in stride, but I’m glad I at least made it out of that gauntlet without doing any lasting harm to myself or to others (I hope). I don’t think the same can be said for a lot of other people out there.
The damage these people have done to the world has been staggering. You’re familiar with incels by now. They’re but one horrible manifestation of this phenomenon. It turns out that being terrible at handling rejection doesn’t stop people from becoming extremely powerful leaders and bosses. On the contrary: Harvey Weinstein obliterated the careers of any actress who dared to politely decline his advances. And Donald Trump’s entire reason for being is to exact vengeance upon anyone who has rejected him (it’s a long list). His presidency, and the culture surrounding it, is the culmination of Americans’ collective inability to handle being dismissed.
Rejection is an inevitable and NECESSARY part of human existence. This isn’t heaven. It’s Earth. Not everyone here wants what you have to offer. And if you can’t learn to accept that fact, not only will you be rejected more often, but you’ll handle it worse every successive time. So here’s a guide to understanding rejection more fully so that you can handle it in the moment, learn from it, and move on quickly.
Every rejection is a learning experience
Instead of blaming the other person for rejecting you, ask yourself WHY they did. You don’t have to venture into the land of self-hatred to do this. Just try to step outside of yourself for a second and put yourself in the shoes of someone who’s ever had to deal with you. Take a clinical look at what they see, and CORRECT what they found lacking.
I fumed when that lady didn’t give me another few months of paid work. But at the next job I scored, you better believe I kept my uniform cleaner, took fewer bathroom breaks, and stopped singing out loud while running the dishwasher. I fixed my shit. Grudgingly, but I did it all the same.
Validation is usually not helpful
This is so, so easy to do online, to the point where Asshole Validation has become its own pandemic. Bad people see friends as yes-men rather than valued sounding boards. I used to cry to my friends all the time, quite literally, about getting the consolation trophy from this girl or that. And they lent me a sympathetic ear, but that sympathy only does you so much good.
When a stranger rejects you, they have no obligation to let you down easy or to say yes to you for pity’s sake. In certain ways, their assessment is more accurate than anything your buddy John is gonna offer. So please, do not use your friends’ encouragement as an excuse to miss the point.
You’re in charge of how difficult the moment is
I’m a freelance writer, so I’ve had my fair share of pitches and job asks turned down. When that happens, I’m not like YOU WILL RUE THE DAY YOU WRONGED ME, BUDDY. I say, “All right, thanks for getting back to me on this,” and then I get on with my life.
There’s no sense in leaving a bad taste in anyone’s mouth after you hear a no. All you’re doing is validating their rejection of you. You’re closing every door and burning every bridge. People will talk. They’ll know you’re a defensive prick. And where will you be then? Still alone, and still unwilling to understand rejection as an opportunity to sort out where you belong, where your talents lie, and where you fit in the world.
It’s probably not about you
“It’s not you, it’s me” has been around for so long that it’s become stale even as a parody of rejection. But when people reject you, it IS of course about them. They’re looking for certain things in an employee or an actor or a MacArthur Grant recipient, and you don’t happen to possess those qualities at the moment. You are, innocently, superfluous to the enterprise. I’ve been turned down for work because I’ve been told, point blank, “We have no money.”
Sometimes that’s a lie, but you’ve met the 2020 economy. It’s not YOUR fault some places have no money. Rejection is often the result of forces far, far beyond your control. There is a good time to rebel against those forces, especially in terms of politics. But on a personal level, you do need to accept certain outside forces as fact.
Everyone’s a misfit
Ever talk to an actor? A singer? An unemployed person? A divorcée? You’re not the only one who’s been stung. The whole of modern pop culture now is rife with stories of rejects made good. Your ultimate comfort lies not in eventual success but in understanding that you’re experiencing a universal part of the human condition. It’s THAT knowledge that will not only help you feel better (if you feel like you need therapy to glean this knowledge, by all means, get it), but it’ll make you into a more assured person who is LESS likely to be turned away by the rest of society. Your status as a misfit isn’t unique, nor is it what makes you charming. It’s what you do with that time lost that will make you you. Swear off rejection and you won’t be human at all. Look at Trump. I’m not even sure Trump bleeds.
Rejecting people isn’t easy.
You think it’s fun making other people feel like shit? I feel bad shooting down TELEMARKETERS. One time I got laid off by my boss and he felt so terrible about it that I had to console him.
One day you may be on the other side. You may find yourself desired, personally and/or professionally. People are gonna want what you have, and you’ll have to learn not only who doesn’t deserve your consideration, but how to deliver that news to them. Think of all the people who rejected you. Did they do it politely? Did they give you a chance to listen to their rejection?
Courtesy works both ways. So remember that. Otherwise, you’ll just be passing on a strain of resentment.
As the restrictions on travelling loosens, Malaysians have been looking for short getaways from the stressful and hectic period over the last few months. Here are a few suggestions on places in Malaysia you should be visiting.
1. Taman Negara
What better way to escape the bustling city life than our own Taman Negara? Malaysia’s National Park is one of the most ancient tropical rain forest in the world, coming in at over 130million years old! Experience walking on the world’s longest canopy walkway, visiting the aborigine village, trekking under rainforest canopy, climbing the highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia, caving, fishing, camping, observing wildlife, and many more.
2. Broga Hill
Conveniently located on the outskirts of Broga, Selangor, is the popular Broga Hill. It happens to be one the most popular hiking and trekking spots, many are willing to travel all the way to the top just to see the breathtaking view from above. Early morning hikes to catch the sunrise is recommended. Unfortunately, Broga Hill was recently sealed off by the Health Ministry, so look out for it when they do decide to reopen.
3. Cameron Highlands
If you know, you know. There’s nothing Malaysians love more than to escape the searing heat, and Cameron Highlands is the perfect location to do so. It is located high in the hills with rolling tea plantations, strawberry farms, places of worship, museums and more. It’s also home to the highest point in Malaysia – Gunung Brinchang, as well as many beautiful hiking trails. There are also plenty of places to eat, drink, and stay, that can accommodate all kinds of budgets.
4. Port Dickson
If beaches and resorts are more of your style, then look no further than Port Dickson. Just a short drive from, Kuala Lumpur, Port Dickson is a popular getaway location for Malaysians who enjoy beaches. There’s not a huge range of Malaysia attractions in Port Dickson, but there is the Tanjung Tuan lookout. Time is best spent here at one of the great resorts or the beach. This is the pick for Malaysians if you want some great priced resort time.
Now let’s talk business, and by business I mean FOOD. I’m sorry Malaccans, but the food is just too hard to resist! Apart from being home to famous historical landmarks such as A Famosa Fort and Christ Church, the state of Melaka also boasts being the go-to place for delicious Malaysian delicacies such as satay celup, chicken rice balls and Nyonya cuisine. Places to visit include the Portugese Settlement, Dutch Heritage Trail, and the Jonker Street Night Market.
That caps off the short list of places you should visit, although many will feel like these are familiar locations, there’s no harm in experiencing them again, plus, what better way to show you love our beautiful country than to support local businesses and travel locally? It’s time to remind ourselves how beautiful our country really is.
Born in Serbia, Vesna Vulovic discovered a love for travelling after studying in London to enhance her English speaking abilities. This would however to be a catalyst for a series of events which would eventually lead her to tumble over ten kilometres down to Earth into the Czech countryside. Her survival would eventually lead her to become a “Soviet Heroine” renowned across the Soviet Union.
However, like many in a similar situation, she would suffer from survivors’ guilt due to her being the only survivor of a terrorist attack that downed an aircraft. Her amazing feat of endurance and luck would land her in the Guinness book of world records, setting a record still not beaten to this day.
Getting into the air
Once Vesna returned to her home in Belgrade she saw her friend in a flight attendant’s uniform and remarked: “She looked so nice and had just been to London for the day”. Considering her love of travel and the possibilities this presented her was enamoured by the opportunity to be a flight attendant.
In 1971 an opportunity came up for her to join Yugoslavia national flag carrier “JAT Airways” and she went for it. The probability of her passing the medical exam was low considering her lifelong struggles with low blood pressure, however with a substantial amount of coffee and clear enthusiasm she was hired.
26th of January 1972
After only about 8 months of service and travelling the world, she would be assigned to JAT Flight 367 flying from Stockholm to Belgrade. She was part of a secondary crew ready to take over from a previous crew but it quickly became apparent she wasn’t even meant to be there. She was mixed up with another stewardess also called Vesna but decided to take the flight anyway.
Vesna later recalled the atmosphere amongst the crew as being tense remarking “Everybody wanted to buy something for his or her family… so I had to go shopping with them. They seemed to know they would die” from her recollections following the fall. The state of the pilot was also mentioned as “the captain was locked in his room for 24 hours” almost eerily awaiting what was to come next.
At 2:30 pm a delayed McDonnell Douglas DC-9 landed at Copenhagen Airport to refuel and change crews. The passengers were also allowed to leave the aircraft and shop around the airport, to then board the aircraft to continue their journey, it is reported one man never did.
Flight 367 took off from Copenhagen at 3:15 pm and 45 minutes later at 4:01, a luggage bomb went off in the hold. The aircraft was instantly ripped apart the pilots not able to do anything as the plane was in literal pieces from the moment the bomb went off.
The bomb caused the cabin to instantly become depressurized pulling passages and crew out of the aircraft to fall to their deaths. Luckily for Vesna, she was pinned in the rear of the fuselage by a food cart as it ripped away from the rest of the craft. The fuselage along with Vesna plummeted from the cruising altitude of the jet towards the ground. The aircraft had broken up over the Czechoslovakian village of Srbska-Kamenice, crashing into a combination of trees and snow slightly cushioned the impact.
In an incredible twist of fate, a local villager called Bruno Honke found her after he witnessed the wreck slam into the ground. Not actually expecting to find any survivors he searched and found a blood-covered stewardess still breathing and in severe pain. He had been a medic in the German army during WW2 and managed to keep the stewardess alive till authorities got her to the hospital.
Hospitals and Recovery
Upon reaching the hospital doctors found out she had; fractured her skull, the skull had haemorrhaged, several ribs were broken, her pelvis was fractured, both legs were broken, three vertebrae were broken and one completely smashed. It was a miracle she managed to survive and doctors hypothesized this was due to her history of low blood pressure, she managed to pass out when the cabin depressurized, saving her heart from pumping upon impact preventing it from bursting due to the g-forces of impacting the ground.
Interviewed in 2008 she recounted “Nobody expected me to live this long” and she was correct as doctors were surprised she was even conscious. She regained the ability to walk only 10 months after her freefall. After undergoing several surgeries and over 16 months of recovery time she ended up with a permanent limp and permanently twisted spine, but at least she was alive.
A day after the crash a Croatian nationalist called a Swedish newspaper and claimed it was him who took down the aircraft. Unfortunately, no arrests were ever made but the Czechoslovak civil aviation authority latter supported the briefcase bomb theory.
Croatian nationalists had carried out over 128 terror attacks against Yugoslavian military and civilian personnel. Due to this Vesnas hospital room was under constant guard by police to ensure whoever was behind the attack didn’t attempt to finish the job.
Fortunately for Vesna, the fall didn’t scare her away from flying and in 1972 expressed her interest in resuming her role as a flight attendant. However, at this point, she had gained celebrity status within the Soviet Union and was even made an honorary citizen of Srbska Kamenice. Her fame made the airline uneasy about the consequences of placing her on a plane again and potentially scaring passengers, she would instead be given a desk job negotiating trade contracts.
She spent the last years of her life divorced living in a run-down apartment in Belgrade, on 300 Euro per month pension. In the senior years of her life, she expressed survivor guilt for surviving the accident. In her words:
“Whenever I think of the accident, I have a prevailing, grave feeling of guilt for surviving it and I cry… then I think maybe I should not have survived at all”
She decided to become a devout Orthodox Christian as a way of dealing with her declining mental health and declined therapy offers for her survivors’ guilt. She claimed that the whole event had even turned her into an outspoken optimist claiming if she can survive what she did, she could survive anything.
In December 2016 Vesnas friends became very worried about her as she had stopped answering phone calls. On the 23rd of December, locksmiths forced the Vesnas house door open and discovered her body. Her cause of death is unknown but her friends claim she struggled with heart ailments in the years leading up to her death.
To this day Vesna Vulovic is recognized by the Guinness book of world records as having the “Highest fall survived without a parachute” a record not broken since her fall in 1972.
Let me first apologize for getting that song stuck in your head. You should know that I was impaled upon that sword as well, now it’s ringin’ away inside my head. It’s always the intro that gets me. I’m going to grab a piece of gum and later on, I will tell you why.
First, let’s discuss the science.
There isn’t a whole lot known about this phenomenon, but I was inspired to figure it out after a particularly catchy bit of song literally kept me from sleeping one night recently. I found a few studies that shed a bit of light on how the music we love sometimes tortures us with repetition.
A fragment of a song stuck in your head is called Involuntary Musical Imagery, or INMI. Scientists also refer to this as an “earworm.” One study shows that things like singing along, tapping, or humming (called overt motorinvolvement) can induce INMI far more frequently than passive listening (listening to music you aren’t really paying much attention to) or imagining the rest of the song when it ceases to play.
Another study found that the frequency and duration of the earworm was directly related to how much you’re paying attention to what you’re doing after hearing the music in question. The less you have to concentrate on what you are doing, the more likely you are to experience INMI.
The last study I’m gonna throw at you is one that examined the link between “articulatory motor planning” and earworms. The “articula-whatever” jargon I just mentioned is the activity in your brain that happens just before words come out when you intend to say something. So, this study looks into the connection between that brain activity and earworms. There is indeed a link between the two. I found that particularly interesting, as those things aren’t obviously connected.
Now, I’d never tell you that you should stop enjoying a song by singing along or humming, lest it bombard you with unwanted repetitive memories later. That would just take the joy straight out of music, wouldn’t it? Instead, let’s discuss what can potentially be done after the fact.
In the second study, they found that the less you have to concentrate on the task at hand, the more likely you are to experience INMI. I have found this to be relatively true in my own life. I get earworms more or less every single day. Sometimes they can be relentless and frustrating. When reading a book I love or writing, which represents high concentration, there is never a song in my head. I mean, not once ever. I started noting when they happen to me, and it’s most commonly when my mind is relatively unfocused, like shopping or cleaning or walking my dog. So theoretically, when you get an earworm, you could try intentionally doing anything that requires more focus.
There you have it, 3 potential cures for an earworm. Next time Lady Gaga’s criminally catchy music threatens your mental well-being, try chewing gum, doing something else that requires more focus, or selecting an eraser song.
Maybe get weird and try all three at the same time. Perhaps the combination will effectively obliterate that pesky earworm. You never know!
About 65% of the world drives on the right side of the road. Everyone else drives on the left. What is the origin of driving on the left side of the road, and is it right or wrong?
Countries that continue to drive on the left side of the road are mainly those places that used to be British colonies. In medieval days, most people used the left side of the road. It had to do with safety and security, and the avoidance of getting killed. Anyone with a sword preferred the left side of the road. This enabled the swordsman to keep their right arm close to an opponent and their sword away from them on the left side of their body.
In addition, a horse is easier to mount from the left side for a right-handed person. It just made good sense. A rider could mount their horse on the left side of the road instead of in the middle where they could clog up traffic and make the peasant folk angry. So how did it change to the right?
The shift can be traced back to the 1700s when teams would haul farm products to market pulled by several horses. The products were carried in large wagons, and the driver would ride the rear horse on the left. This allowed him to drive the team with his right arm while keeping an eye out as people passed on the left. It also allowed the driver of the team to make sure he didn’t run into other wagons.
In 1752, Empress Elizabeth of Russia officially declared that traffic must keep to the right, as was the custom for the country at the time. The practice became more widespread in 1789 during the French Revolution. An official rule for right-side driving was made in Paris in 1794.
There was an interesting reason for this change. Before the revolution, the aristocracy traveled on the left side of the road, forcing peasants to the right. Later on, the aristocracy began using the right side of the road to blend in with the peasants, thus cementing France’s drive to the right. Denmark was the next major country to follow and adopted the right-side rule in 1793.
Napoleon spread driving on the right further. As he conquered different countries, they were forced to adopt the right-side rule. Only the countries that had denied Napoleon’s attacks kept their left side of the road rules.
The United Kingdom persevered throughout it all and kept their left-side road driving. They made it official and mandatory in 1835. All the countries in the British Empire followed this same rule. After the breakup of the British Empire, all of the countries that had been former British colonies kept the left-side rule except for Egypt, which had been conquered by Napoleon before the British got there. Napoleon even got the Dutch to drive on the right when he conquered the Netherlands, but their colonies continued to drive on the left.
In early America, since it was a British colony, the driving custom was on the left. It wasn’t until the American Revolution when Americans wanted to cut all ties with Britain that they began driving on the right. Even in Canada, there was a divide. The French portion drove on the right, and the British areas drove on the left. It wasn’t until the 1920s before most of Canada agreed on the right side, with the exception of Newfoundland, which joined Canada in 1949.
Over the years, countries in Europe slowly began to change due to influences from World War II and the pervasiveness of the American car, which had the steering wheel on the left. Only four European countries remain with left-side driving; the United Kingdom, Malta, Cyprus, and Ireland. The United Kingdom even played around with the idea of switching to the right in the 1960s, but they discovered it would be cost prohibitive, and the political pressures to remain on the left were too great.
Some Great Facts About Driving on the Left
There have been only three places that have gone from right to left side driving. East Timor did it in 1975, Okinawa, Japan, converted in 1978 because it had been administered by the U.S. after World War II, and Somoa in 2009, mainly because they wanted to import cheaper cars from the left-side driving countries of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
In Myanmar, they drove on the left until 1970 when General Ne Win, the ruler at the time, ordered everyone to the right. What was interesting was that he supposedly got the advice to do so from a wizard. The problem was, almost every vehicle in the country had a right-sided steering wheel, and there are still old traffic lights in Rangoon that are on the wrong side of the road.
On September 3, 1967, at 5:00 AM, Sweden moved from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right on what they called H Day. The H stood for Högertrafikomläggningen, or the Right-Hand Traffic Diversion. Eighty-three percent of Swedes opposed the move in 1955, but in 1963, the Swedish Parliament voted for the switch since Sweden’s neighbors all drove on the right and because many cars in Sweden had the steering wheel on the left (which was believed to be the cause of more accidents).
If you plan to drive in the Bahamas, where they drive on the left, don’t be surprised if you get a rental car with a left-side steering wheel. Due to its location near the United States, many of the cars there are American made. It definitely makes for some interesting drives.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer, OnePlus, recently made an exciting move in India. They are now offering a service where anytime you need your phone to be fixed, an engineer will be sent to your house. The service is now only available in a number of Indian cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi.
This announcement was made early into March and has strengthened OnePlus as a major contender in the smartphone market in India. This comes on the back of a successful streak in 2019, where OnePlus successfully overtook Samsung to become the number 1 premium brand in India.
It seems that other smartphone makers are too busy trying to lead, with a majority of their time and resources going into the technology or design of their phones rather than the service aspect of it all. It would be interesting to see if any other major smartphone manufacturers are willing to follow their move.
Many of the technological advancements the Chinese phone-makers have made on their phones in recent times, often get (improved on and then) copied by other global brands. The most recent and obvious one being the multiple back cameras that we so commonly see on most flagship smartphones (iPhone/Samsung Galaxy). But this time around, they’ve come up with something that cannot be replicated as easily.
These are 7 marketing lessons from this move by OnePlus that can you can adopt and apply to any other form of business.
1.The 6-Month Pilot Program
Before OnePlus announced this service, they already decided to run a 6-month pilot program where they were doing exactly that. They sent their engineers to the address of their customers to fix their phone. It’s no wonder then, that they overtook Samsung as the premium brand for smartphones in India back in 2019. For most people, buying a premium product also means that you expect a premium service accompanying it.
The lesson here is to start practicing what you promise long before you announce it.
2. The Press Release
The headline says: OnePlus will now come to your house and fix your phone. Which is a great headline that highlights the important announcement in a short yet sweet way.
The headline triggers an immediate picture in the minds of the reader. That instant picture in the minds of the reader is the marketing message of OnePlus.
3. The News
If you are a student of marketing, you will understand that this announcement by OnePlus is not news. Instead, it is pure advertising. The best advertising is often news.
Assume you are someone in one of the cities in India trying to buy a new smartphone and you hear news like this, wouldn’t that sway your mind? It is the perfect excuse. “I am buying the OnePlus because their engineers will come to my address to fix it if it ever needs fixing”.
There are other Chinese phone-makers that do free pick-up and drop-off. But OnePlus appears to be the first to take home service to the next level by fixing the phone at the address of the owner.
4. The Transparency
Imagine the day that the engineer comes to your house, you can sit with the engineer and look at what exactly is being done to your phone. Any fears of your data being harvested are eradicated by this level of transparency.
This service also caters to privacy-loving people. Also, you get to see what you are being charged for. If a part is changed, you get to see it. You get to see whatever work is done on the phone. This is unprecedented in the telecoms industry.
5. The Convenience
OnePlus has a service care app with which customers will first interact with the company about the state of their phone. Then, they would choose a convenient time for the engineer to visit their address.
Now, the decision to buy a phone by OnePlus in any of those locations is not about the features of the phone. They have just created a blue ocean. They can already compete with others just based on the convenience of this feature, plus it helps them stand taller than their competition. It may be enough reasoning for many to buy OnePlus products over their competitors’.
6. Targeting the Top Tier Cities First
The cities they chose to unveil this service were carefully picked, it seems they’ve done their research and homework on this. They’ve picked a location that has a larger volume of premium buyers of their products, a location that the majority of them are situated in.
The service will be gradually expanded to all Tier-1 cities in India and several Tier-2 cities. In the off chance you prefer the option of pick-up and drop-off, the company also offers that option. The smartphone brand is planning on opening 100 new stores in 50 cities (by the end of 2020) in addition to the already existing 2,000 stores (plus partner stores) across the country.
7. The Boast
OnePlus claims to be the only global brand to offer doorstep repair service. While other companies can compete later, they will always be known as the first company in the industry that will send an engineer to your house and repair your phone on site, and in site.
This is a marketing tagline that can last for ages in the marketplace. And consumers will not forget that easily. Even if consumers forget, the brand can always remind them.
OnePlus is now focused on selling their product through an after-service in India. And I guess it won’t be long before they start rolling out these changes on a global scale. It is a gadget blue ocean that may send them to the top in global smartphone sales. And that would do wonders for a company that was founded in 2013.
Somehow, it seems Asian manufacturers take service delivery more seriously than their western counterparts. Not that service is poor in the West but it seems like Asians like to put in the extra personalized touch.
I don’t see this move as one any smartphone manufacturer in Europe or America would copy any time soon. Even if they do, they would be (at best) second to OnePlus. They would likely try to avoid the labor issues that this initiative would create and hence just stay away.
The marketing lesson summary here is that you can beat a company with a superior product by offering a personalized and convenient after-sale service.
Blanche Monnier was a gorgeous girl from France who ended up having one of the most tragic lives. She was born on the 1st of March, 1849 in Poitiers, France in what was thought to be a wonderful family at the time. Her beauty, physical appearance, and good nature attracted a lot of attention, and most importantly many potential suitors for marriage. Her parents were aristocrats and very reluctant when it came to their beautiful daughter getting married.
At the peak of her teenage years, she was attracting many suitors from the high-society as she was receiving many letters. This reached a point where it made Louise Monnier (her mother) very angry as she was with the idea of her daughter being too precious for marriage. Since that day Blanche just vanished from Paris, or did she?
Isolated from everything and everyone
Louise Monnier had locked her daughter in her room for good, boarding the windows so that no sunlight, and most importantly no one can see her. This left Blanche isolated from the whole world apart from her parents, brother, and servants around the house. She was not allowed to get off the bed in her room nor was she allowed any sort of basic hygiene. For half of her life, Blanche laid in bed where she ate, urinated, and defecated.
Blanche’s parents told her friends and relatives that she was sent to some sort of Boarding school in the United Kingdon and due to her schedule she was not able to come back home very soon. At the point where she was supposed to finish her study, the lies advanced to Blanche making a life of her own in Scotland, which separated her from any relatives in France.
The Horrific Discovery
After 25 years, on the 23rd of March, 1901, the attorney general from Paris received an anonymous letter stating that a well know family from Paris is hiding something behind closed doors. Even to this day, the author of the letter is still unknown, however, historians do believe it was one of the servants.
Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honor to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half-starved and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years — in a word, in her own filth.
The Monnier family was seen as highly regarded in the Parisian community which made the authorities reluctant about the claims made in the letter, but never the less, the authorities went to investigate the Monnier estate. At first glance, the property looked “clean”, until the investigators noticed a rotting smell coming from one of the rooms.
Upon reaching the room from which the rotting smell was coming from, the investigators noticed that the room has been locked for years as the padlock seemed rusty. The authorities smashed the padlocked and barged into a room full of horror. The authorities had written a grim report based on their findings, here is a paragraph from those reports, summarising their findings:
The women looked extremely malnourished whilst lying completely naked on a rotten mattress. All around her formed a crust made from excrement and fragments of food… We also saw bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier’s bed. The air inside the room was so unbearable, it was impossible for us to proceed with our investigation any longer.
The room was so dark the investigators broke the barricades from the window, that was the first time that Blanche has seen the sunlight after 25 years. She told the investigators that she was chained for 25 long years and offered the bare minimum to survive. Her health condition was so bad that she weighed only 25 kilograms and she did not have the power to stand up on her own feet.
Once she was transported to the hospital she mentioned how wonderful it is to smell the fresh mesmerizing air. The doctors have mentioned how incredible it is that she managed to survive in such an atrocious condition with no movement for so many years.
A big case took part where all of the Monnier family was interrogated. Louise Monnier was arrested but had died 15 days after her imprisonment from what the authorities think was a heart condition, but many assume she drugged herself. Marcel Monnier, Blanche’s brother tried to defend himself by saying his mother was in charge of this crime. Despite the evidence that was provided, Marcel was sentenced to 15 years by playing a role in Blanche’s mistreatment and imprisonment.
Even if now Blanche was free, life wasn’t easy for her. Because of the 25 years imprisonment, Blanche developed major mental issues and health problems such as coprophilia, exhibitionism, and schizophrenia. Due to all these problems, she was commissioned to a psychiatric hospital where she died in 1913.