Should Japan accept more immigrants?

“The current system is cleverer than it seems. The thinking underlying the system is: “We don’t give a lot of work permits, so foreigners work illegally, and if they get in trouble we can send them home very easily.” So foreigners come over as students — fairly smart people come in — and they work illegally. They probably get lower pay because they are illegal; and if they do anything wrong, they get sent home. It’s unfair, and it’s illegal, but it’s a better system than people will acknowledge openly because they don’t like to admit that they are doing things illegally. Some say Japan must admit many more immigrants. I’m not persuaded that’s absolutely necessary.”

Ezra Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan

 

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JK that’s not Japan. Construction in most places (outside of Singapore and maybe Dubai) is still done by locals mostly. 

 

The problem of illegal immigrants is like prostitution — something that is outwardly deplorable, but something that law enforcement has to turn a blind eye to because they serve a need. Sometimes, the two overlap.

Wealth as a multiplier

Since wealth is a personality multiplier, it is also an experience multiplier. If you are miserable when you are middle class, you will likely be even more miserable when you are wealthy because all the mental states that cause you to be miserable, such as greed, cruelty, paranoia, and inner turmoil, get multiplied. Similarly, if you’re happy when you’re middle class, you’re likely to be even happier wealthy, for the same reason; mental states that brought you happiness – such as generosity, kindness, and inner peace – multiply, thereby multiplying happiness.

Chade Meng Tan, Joy on Demand

 

In other words, having a lot of money wouldn’t change your life — not the direction of it at least.

The difference between genius and idiocy

Creationists crowd cyberspace every bit as effectively as evolutionists, and extend their minds just as fully. Our trouble is not the overall absence of smartness but the intractable power of pure stupidity.

Daniel Levitin, The organized mind

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Funnily, that’s how I pictured a creationist would look like.

…is that genius has limits.

Has social media stunted our ability to be social?

Social networking provides breadth but rarely depth, and in-person contact is what we crave, even if online contact seems to take away some of that craving. In the end, the online interaction works best as a supplement, not a replacement for in-person contact. The cost of all of our electronic connectedness appears to be that it limits our biological capacity to connect with other people.

Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind

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(Actually this might have been from Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, I am not sure. Poor record keeping sorry)

The fundamental problem of Japan

“To me the fundamental problem Japan faces now is not the aging population or anything like that; the country needs a political system with the capacity to respond to effectively to problems in a long-term way. I think there was an elite community of talented people who, through the 70s provided coherence in planning for the future. This coherence ended in the 90s, when there was a collapse of parties. Japan hasn’t built the right political system to put things back together again.”

Ezra F. Vogel, “What happened to number one?” in Reimagining Japan

 

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Ezra Vogel is a professor emiritus in Sociology at Harvard.

Reimagining Japan is a thick book (mainly because of its good quality glossy paper) edited by McKinsey, compiling articles from various influential figures.

I would also add that books written by huge consulting firms need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as they are often written with the intention of profiling their own clients and companies (and we often do not know who these clients are!). But since this is a compilation, I think each piece should be somewhat more credible.

Straits Jacket

I flipped through the pages of Singapore’s biggest daily newspaper, the Straits Times – which I soon discovered was mockingly called the “Straits Jacket” on account of its skill at repressing all ideas other than those approved by the ruling –

Alan Shadrake, Once a jolly hangman

 

The quote got cut short to decrease the risk of me getting into trouble.

The dangers of a safety and perfection

“I think we need some kind of adversity in our lives. We need the threat of falling off a cliff, physically. Like how people go on holidays where the main idea isn’t relaxation, but the feeling of life being threatened, by say, malaria, or a tiger attack, food poisoning, robbing. You know, thrill seeking.”

Andrew Cheah, “Anaesthesia” in Best New Singaporean Short Stories Volume Two

 

We weren’t made for the office cubicle. Maybe that’s why depression is an urban disease. We lack adversity — and even more so now.