1) Given his age, 42 and a limited education, he's none too hopeful of a decent job.
He was not very hopeful of finding a good job.
2) In Malaysia, phones at a government bureau rang off the hook at news that it planned to hire 28 workers.
'hook': early telephones, and stlll in public telephone booths today, rest on cradles attached to the wall ( a bit like hanging up a coat on a hook); and the cradle was so called. Now, they usually rest in a cradle on a desk.
'at a government bureau rang off the hook at news' mean?
It is as if all the phone calls coming through about the jobs were causing the phone to ring and vibrate and jump in its cradle so wildly, that it might literally jump out of the cradle - 'off the hook'.
3) During the current economic recession, it seems a lack of cash is no bar to passion.
'no bar to passion'
The Beatles sang money can't buy you love, but in the current economic recession it seems a lack of cash is no bar to passion.
When times get tough it is natural to seek solace in the arms of a loved one, so from Kowloon Tong - think Bruce Lee's former house - to the suburbs of Tokyo, the love hotel business is booming.
So much so that one hotel chain in Japan has maintained an occupancy rate above 250 percent. The love hotel industry provides discreet hideaways for couples, often for short stays, meaning rooms can be used several times a day, explaining the enviable occupancy rate.
However else people may be economising/tightening their belts, not having as much ready cash to spend has not been an obstacle/has not stopped them from paying for a hotel room, for the purposes of an hour or two of love-making.