Category Archives: writing

The economics of happiness


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The economics of happiness
By Zan Azlee

Here’s an economic formula or algorithm for you to ponder on:

happiness_equation

Discovered by the Nobel prize-winning economists Gary Becker and Luis Rayo from the University of Chicago, it proves that humans can never make decisions that lead to happiness.

Here’s what the formula means:

Happiness = your success minus your expectations = your perceived social status. In Charles Montgomery’s book ‘Happy City’, he explains that people’s happiness is never constant and is constantly moving around. You and I will always make comparisons between what we have now to what we used to have in the past and what we potentially can have in the future. What that means is that if I buy a house now, I would compare it to the small apartment I had before, and this would cause me to be a very happy person. But then, my happiness level would change because I would be thinking that it would be just that much better to have a better and bigger house in the future.I would constantly need to get a bigger and better house in order to maintain and satisfy my ever-evolving standard of happiness. My thirst would never be quenched.

Some people might argue that this is what makes us continue to strive to improve ourselves and make our lives better. It’s what makes us move up in society. But is moving up in society this way really the key to happiness? Well, according to Becker and Rayo’s formula, it isn’t. We are just engineered to be constantly dissatisfied. In prehistoric times, that instinct is what kept humans alive. They had to hunt and gather food and the natural behaviour to always want more was a necessity to survive. But in a society that we live in now, our natural instincts as people is just going to cause us heartache and disappointment for the rest of our lives. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

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Are we mature enough for societal censorship?


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Are we mature enough for societal censorship?
By Zan Azlee

The Sedition Act is a law that can be used against people who happen to do or say something that can be a cause for disharmony in the country, or deemed seditious.

In many cases, through my personal observations, the investigating, questioning, detaining or charging of people under the Sedition Act has been quite questionable.

But, hey, I’m no lawyer or legal academic expert. I’m just an ordinary journalist who thinks he’s smarter than he really is. So don’t take me too seriously.

And as a journalist, I tend to be a little bit too idealistic and believe in freedom of speech. And I mean total freedom of speech (umm… except maybe defamation). Too idealistic and maybe even a bit naive.

I believe in societal censorship whereby its members will determine what is okay to be expressed or not. Someone can make hate speech and society will silence him by ignoring or condemning him through discourse.

So let this be a little social experiment here. Several people have said several things that may or may not be bothersome to society. Let me list them down here and see what happens in the comments section. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

Oh my MUET!


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Oh my MUET!
By Zan Azlee

So now the English speaking and writing level for Malaysians to enter universities has been increased, according to the prime minister during the tabling of Budget 2015.

I have to say that I agree because I have always been a big proponent of the English language and of how important it is for Malaysians to master the language.

However, just by increasing the required band or evaluation of the MUET (Malaysian University English Test) wouldn’t be a solution.

What that means is that the existing group of students who are trying to enter university in Malaysia are just going to have a much tougher time.

I spend a lot of my free time having sharing sessions with undergraduate students, and some of them gave me feedback regarding the recent developments.

Many are concerned that this will mean less Malaysians would actually be qualified to enter university and that would mean less opportunities for them.

One student told me that by not knowing English, a potentially brilliant student who isn’t bilingual could not further his or her studies. So, English shouldn’t be mandatory.

On one part, I agree. Not knowing English, or any other second language, doesn’t mean that one is not intelligent. You can be smart no matter what language (and how many) you speak.
[Click to read the full article at English.AstroAwani.Com]

Ben Affleck, the super hero


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Ben Affleck, the super hero
By Zan Azlee

It seems the Muslim world has a new hero in the form of a tall, handsome, charismatic Hollywood actor and celebrity by the name of Ben Affleck.

Just pay a visit to his Facebook fan page and you will see the hundreds of postings and messages expressing adulation for him and how he defended Islam.

Affleck appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher where he, along with several other panelists including Sam Harris and Nicholas Kristof, talked about Islam and the Islamic State (Isis).

From the discussion, it seems that Maher and Harris were berating the Muslim world and basically calling the entire global community a pool of stupid ideas and beliefs.

They called Islam a religion that kills and murders people and said that the entire Muslim population believed that was the right thing to do. Hence, it was a dangerous religion consisting of dangerous people.

Then action hero Affleck raised his voice in defence of all innocent Muslims by saying that the broad statements by Maher and Harris were racist and ignorant.

He said that Maher and Harris’s statements regarding Islam and Muslims were very stereotypical and an insult to the millions who weren’t jihadists or extremists. Occasionally, Kristof would put in a word of support.

Here’s the thing: Muslims in Malaysia (and around the world) are going head over heels expressing how Affleck succeeded in putting forth his support for Muslims against the “enemy”.

What they don’t realise is that a debate like this can only happen because it is allowed to happen. Different views are allowed to be expressed, discussed and debated. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

I’m now a public transport commuter


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I’m now a public transport commuter
By Zan Azlee

I may have lamented last week on how I should be taking public transport to save a bit of money and also to create a little bit of relaxation and stimulation for my mind.So guess what? I finally did it! I’ve been commuting regularly by train for almost two weeks now and now it’s been going relatively smoothly.

Here’s how a typical commuting day goes for me:

9:00am

I would drive from my house to the Shah Alam KTM Commuter station, which would take me around 10 minutes. I have to also go through a tolled highway and the cost one way is RM1.20. I would either park my car at the station’s car park (RM4.00) or slightly further away at the residential area (free!).

9:20am

The train arrives and I hop on. It’s early on its route so I always get a place to sit. This is when I would whip out a book to read or my iPad to either reply e-mails or to write articles. I can do quite a lot before it stops at KL Sentral because the ride takes about 45 minutes and a ticket price of RM2.50.

10:10am

Arriving at KL Sentral is when the serious action begins. The number of commuters can be overwhelming and I have to manoeuvre my way from the KTM platform to the MyRapid platform to catch another train that will bring me to Masjid Jamek. But that’s just a few minutes of manouvering. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]