The Meaning of “Irony”

Something for your teeth, from the Singapore Dental Association, no less:

SDA

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Honey, Look! (40 Years Later)

Honey,Look!

Awed by what they saw 40 years ago, they stayed.

Fast forward to 2014:

She: Honey, look! It’s flooding!
He: Nah, floods happen only once in 50 years here. In this country full of surprises, they call it “ponding.”

She: Honey, look! Pioneer Package!
He: What rubbish? They give you one dollar, they take back five dollars. Hardly surprisingly huh?

She: Honey, look! Lots of budget hotels everywhere!
He: Really? There’s a surprisingly cheaper option – many Singaporeans seem to prefer staircase landings.

She: Honey, look! So nice to see politicians united and working in harmony, unlike those in the Philippines.
He: You kidding? Lim Wee Kiak was reamed for speaking the truth! And I’m not surprised.

She: Honey, look! People here seem to like the ruling party, they win every election!
He: Heard of gerrymandering? And ridiculous setups like GRCs where weak newbies hang onto the coattails of some of the better veterans? This way they are swept into the government. On their own I’ll be surprised if they get elected as class monitors!

She: Honey, look! It’s so peaceful here, no cops anywhere! Surprised?
She: Well, it’s bad planning. They didn’t hire enough. They need a thousand more at least!

She: Honey, look! Power sockets every where! We can charge our mobile phones!
He: Sure, if you want to be surprised by a 400-buck fine!

She: Honey, look! Why are people covering their noses? What’s that stench?
He: Oh, what a surprise! Is Amy Cheong and Anton Casey back from Perth?

She: Honey, look! A train in every 90 seconds!
He: Yeah, and pigs can fly.

She: Honey, Look! Eight-dollar bypasses!
He: Yeah and I suppose you can pay using SingTel m Rare-Meat, er I mean mRemit.

Inspired by two recent puke-inducing, cringe-worthy, government-backed promotional videos targeting our Pinoy neighbors.

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Simplified!

ThunderTeaRice

You either hate it or love it – the Hakka dish “Thunder Tea Rice.”

Said to originate from General Zhang Fei’s time when a herbalist concocted a mixture of tea, basil and herbs to go with rice to cure the General’s soldiers who were down from an epidemic. That’s the glamorized version. I suspect the truth is that in ancient times, those poor Hakka buggers – who were wondering nomads (“Hakka” literally means “guest people” with no fixed homes) – couldn’t find any meat to eat, so they just chopped up all the vegetables they could forage, dumped them into rice and poured in tea and voilà, a dish was invented. In Hakka it is called Lei Cha rice. “Lei” meaning “to grind” or to render all the ingredients into small little edible bits and the herbs that get ground into a paste that goes into the potion. “Lei” also sounds like “thunder” and “Cha” is “tea” hence the name “Thunder Tea Rice.”

Today a green-tea-based concoction is poured into a bowl of rice filled with tiny cubes of bean curd, dried shrimps, pickled radishes, finely-chopped long beans, peanuts and God knows what else.

It looks simple but takes hours to prepare because so many ingredients are needed. If you opt for brown rice, the faint nutty aroma of the rice plus all those stuff you’ll end up chewing makes the dish a very interesting experience for the person who eats it. It gives the jaws a good workout and has a nice “mouth-feel” to it and since no meat is involved, it’s a guilt-free treat.

I overhead two ladies at Food Republic talking about this one-dish meal. One obviously loves it and had just introduced her friend to it. Her friend, tasting it for the first time, was actually somewhat offended that she was being treated to such a simple meal that tasted so weird. “This rubbish must be like food they dish out to prisoners, or something they throw to stray dogs!” she harrumphed in disgust.

It reminded me of that time when I served 25-year-old Macallan single malt to a Neanderthal only to have that human train wreck complain that it “tastes like cockroach.”

Well, I don’t know about that. I have never eaten a cockroach before.

Often the difference between what is sublime and what is crass is a thin line, like the line between genius and insanity.

Psychophysicist Ernst Heinrich Weber’s theory about just noticeable difference (Weber’s Law) applies.

The naked girl gyrating on stage in some sleazy third-world lap dance bar or strip club is not the same as the nude in Le déjeuner sur l’herbe but I don’t expect Neanderthals to know that.

Sometimes, things that appear simple are not that simple after all.

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Fêted!

The 4th Chapitre of the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or, Singapour, was held on March 28th.

The Committee.

The Committee.

It was a multi-course dinner featuring the cuisine of guest international masterchef Philippe Mille, an award-winning two-Michelin-star chef from France and executive chef Bobby Saravanan Krishnan of St Regis Singapore as well as the creations of some other chefs.

I will list some of the more memorable dishes here.

First, the Amuse-Bouche by Sous-Chef Edmund Cheah:

Amuse-Bouche

Chef Bobby’s Sri Lankan Crab Meat & Prawns (Crab Meat & Prawn Salad, Green Pea Pate, Avruga Pearls, Sweet Pea Sprouts, Sauvignon Blanc Reduction, Tomato Powder) was accompanied by Brut, Champagne Vieille France Blanc de Blanc, and Champagne Besserat de Bellefon:

CrabandPrawns

After that dish we had Double Boiled Lobster Consommé (Raviolo with Ragout of Chicken, Porcini Mushrooms & Tarragon Lobster Tail, Tarragon Oil) prepared by Executive Sous Chef Fabio Granata; it was accompanied by Brut Réserve, Champagne Pol Roger, Espirit De Diraud Brut, Champagne Henri Giraud.

Next came Philippe Mille’s Braised Cod of Quiberon in Wild Mushrooms, (Iodinated Kohlrabi with Shellfish flavored with Mountain Lovage) paired with Brut Nature, Penet-Chardonnet Grand Cru Grande Réserve and Brut Rosé, Champagne HATT et Söner:

Cod

2010 AOC Bordeaux and Bernard Magrez L’Egregore accompanied the following main courses, Chef de Cuisine Pabrice Passicos’ Grilled Beef Tenderloin (Sautéed Savoy Cabbage, Smoked Foie Gras, Chick Pea Pancake, Truffle & Madeira Sauce):

Tenderloin

and Chef de Cuisine Stefano Arrigoni’s Duo of Lamb (Rack of Lamb in Mustard & Herb Crust, Sautéed Green Vegetables with Parma Ham, Braised Lamb Shoulder in Red Wine with Traditional Polenta):

Lamb

The evening ended with Chef Bobby’s Amadei Chocolate (Toscano White – Freeze Dried Strawberry Parfait, Latte e Noccile – Chilled Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Foam and ’9′ Extra Dark – Fondant with Dried Apricot Coulis) with the following to accompany: Brut Rosé, Champagne Mansard and of course coffee and tea, Mignardises.

Photographs by Thomas Choong were furnished by Maître des Caveaux & Maître de la Communication (Interne) Dr David Jen, to whom I hereby thank whole-heartedly.

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Steamed!

If you like steamed fish, head out to Zai Shun at 253 Jurong East Street 24 #01-205.

No, the fishes are not live ones swimming in a tank but they are extremely fresh nevertheless. Zai Shun even sells the Empurau from Sarawak, reputed to be the most expensive fish in the region because of its diet of the Engkabang (butter fruit) flowers and fruits. There are reports of tycoons flying into Malaysia on their private jets to taste the fish at prices as much as MR10,000/- a kilo. That’s about S$3,800/-. Here in Zai Shun, the price is only S$180/- a kilo. But do phone the owner Mr Ong at 65608594 to check for availability before you go. And do it only if you are dead serious. Please don’t inundate the super-busy owner with mindless phone calls. Zai Shun is my all time go-to stall for steamed fish and I was there again recently, this time with international jet-setting gourmet Charles, who has never been to Zai Shun before.

Fish galore in ice-boxes:

IceboxPlates of fish waiting to be steamed:

WaitingI was there with Charles last Friday and we decided to try something unusual – collagen-packed shark cartilage:

CartilageAnd of course, a must-have: my favorite garoupa:

GaroupaZai Shun is open every day, except Wednesdays, from 7am to 3pm including public holidays. Go early to avoid the crowds. Other dishes are also available including the more exotic ones like sea cucumber, fish maw and pork tendons.

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Skewered!

At New Bridge Road, on the same row where Lim Chee Guan bak kwa is located, is Dong Bei restaurant, operated by mainland Chinese and their grilled meal on skewers is to die for:

DongBei

On the second floor of Bukit Timah Market and Food Center at 116 Upper Bukit Timah Road is stall number 123, Yong Seng, a traditional satay stall operated by local Chinese; pork, mutton and chicken satays are available. It’s one of the few Chinese satay stalls around and it has the traditional pineapple sauce in additional to the usual peanut sauce:

Satay

 

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EQ? No, More Likely MQ!

They couldn't stop this 64-year-old retard from crashing through the immigration barrier and they want a thousand more of such policemen?

They couldn’t stop this 64-year-old joker from crashing through the immigration barrier and they want a thousand more of such policemen?

Some people bring happiness wherever they go, some WHENEVER they go.

When Mrs XX passed away, some of us seriously thought of popping our vintage champagne to celebrate.

Yeah, it’s a cruel thing to say, but Mrs XX was a super obnoxious bitch and gave everyone a hard time with her high and mighty attitude, her self-righteousness, her sanctimonious smirk, her complete lack of interpersonal skills, her insufferable arrogance, her sense of entitlement and her belief that everyone else was stupid except her.

We thought that the worse of Mrs XX would die with her.

Not so.

Her son who is rather high profile – being the head (at one time) of a particular government-backed campaign here in Singapore – is not much better.

This jerk is said to lack EQ. In fact, he’s known for that.

Imagine, having a reputation for not having EQ.

Yeah, really deep shit right?

But I beg to differ.

I think he’s simply immature. He lacks the Maturity Quotient – MQ.

Despite all that BS impression that Mrs XX was trying to project, the fact of the matter was that she didn’t bring her kids up well.

Well, you can tell by her son’s immaturity. Zero MQ.

And the difference between EQ and MQ?

The idiot throwing a tantrum because a restaurant has changed its menu lacks EQ. Another example of someone who lacks EQ is someone who uses what little intellect he has to judge and criticize others without realizing he is projecting a superior and judgmental attitude, and without awareness of how his actions impact others’ feelings. (Like Mrs XX above. She’s the one without EQ, not her son.)

On the other hand, two recent examples of people who lack MQ would be the person who ignores my existence and all my communications but who will not hesitate to reach out to me when I am needed; or the retard meeting me for the very first time yet would not bat an eyelid to tell me in my face that my solid gold Rolex is nothing but a mass-produced watch.

The difference is subtle. Bottom line: they are all douche bags.

Why do so many so-called “leaders” and those in senior positions exhibit such characteristics?

I know of another person who’s on this board and that board. Yet this prick doesn’t even know how to maintain eye contact when he’s having a conversation with you.

The recent BOI on the Little India riots, and the conduct of Malaysian Airlines’ officials at press conferences over the missing flight MH370 opened up and exposed the vulnerabilities of so-called “leaders” in our midst.

It has always been a tradition to pluck the brightest and smartest of the land and place them in key leadership positions. Even in ancient China, the ruling elite came from the scholar class. The warriors were regarded as “barbarians” – the brawn, versus the brain.

Singapore seemed determined to change that, however, by placing scholars into the armed forces and the police force, much to our dismay. Then these mollycoddled, fragile, precious, untested princelings are moved to run state-owned or government-linked enterprises. Just look at them! Just look at SMRT!

Singapore’s modus operandi almost guarantees that when men – and women – schooled in academic, textbookish theories are placed in decision-making situations, there is no guarantee they will be effective.

“Oh, let me check the operating manual first. There must be a chapter on this somewhere.” You can’t say that when a riot erupts or when people wait for four trains to come by and still can’t get onboard.

Look at those high-flying top officials at the BOI. Just listen to the asinine crap they uttered. Those sitting on that board weren’t too bright either. Gosh, was this the best our nation could come up with?

And last Friday, news reports said the police have arrested a man suspected of stealing two copies of newspapers from a shopping mall in Commonwealth Avenue West with the help of three members of the public on Friday.

Wow, instead of stopping the big crimes, these clowns are now chasing after old men stealing newspapers and even for such an idiotic act, they needed members of the public to help?! No wonder they need another thousand more of those Keystone Cops. If found guilty of theft in dwelling, the poor bastard faces up to seven years’ imprisonment and a fine, while crooks behind huge corporations who rob people blind are allowed to go free. Our casinos rake in US$6 billion in revenue yearly and those devils behind them are allowed to bask in their greed and luxuriate in their gains. What’s our leadership doing? “Something’s wrong,” as that other bumbling retard Dr Henry Lee (of the OJ Simpson trial) would have said. This little country of ours is now the second largest gambling hub in Asia. At what social costs? Are our scholar-rulers doing anything about it?

Look at the officials at MAS’ shambolic press conferences.  They have made a series of contradictory statements that added to the confusion of the moment, including conflicting information on the number and ethnicities of passengers who boarded the flight with stolen passports.

There have also been about-turns regarding the crucial sequence of events in the plane’s cockpit before it veered off course.

China has been rather unfair and unreasonable in their criticism of Malaysia but their anger is not completely unjustified.

Scholar-leaders may have attended some of the best schools in the world, but the old adage that you can take a boy out of the village but can’t take the village out of the boy holds true still. Yup, you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig.

Is there a solution?

Paper qualifications count for shit and are not worth the papers they are printed on if those who possess them lack maturity and the requisite experience from the school of hard knocks.

Leaders, especially, young, freshly-graduated, newly-minted, recently-appointed, and still wet-behind-the-ears should adopt an attitude of teachability, be humble and seek the counsel of those who have gone before them.

And the public should have a say on their appointments and their tenures. We must trample out the vintage from which imperfect grapes were planted!

Let not the authorities forget that we pay tax plus didn’t they just say that the voices of the silent majority (beyond the loud and noisy minority) should be heard as well?

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In-nose Device to be Implanted in Each Citizen

Painless and hassle-free.

Painless and hassle-free.

The authorities have announced that starting from today, citizens will be fitted with in-nose devices that will measure air intake.

These devices, nano in size, are tiny enough to be implanted into the nostrils in a two-minute procedure. All men, women and children will be fitted.

Nanotech Micro Devices Inc, the company that created the devices in collaboration with Nanyang Institute of Technology, says that the implantation process is administered through a disposable sterile pneumatic syringe and is a quick, and relatively painless procedure.

“It’s just like going for a vaccination,” says Nanotech’s CEO, Dr I P Standing. “And it’s less painful than a flu jab,” he added.

A pilot will begin today at the Toa Payoh estate, but progressively, the implantation program is being rolled out in all housing estates. All citizens are expected to be fitted by December 31st. PRs and non-citizens are exempt for now.

Minister of the Environment Mr Bodoh Macam Terbantut and Health Minister Buay Chuan Kwee will be officiating the launch ceremony at the void deck of Block 164, Toa Payoh West Avenue 4 at 10am this morning. Channel NewsAsia will make available live streaming of the occasion. This unprecedented event is being watched by observers worldwide. At the time of this writing, it is understood that both the CNN and BBC news teams are already on-site at Toa Payoh.

A press release issued by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health clarifies that the exercise is intended to harvest data for analytics purposes (which will be stored via cloud computing powered by IBM) and that the main impetus for the project is the haze situation that does not seem to abate despite decades of complaints issued to Indonesia by the Singapore government.

“Air quality is of utmost importance to the health of our citizens,” Mr Buay told reporters last week at the sidelines of his ministry’s Mutton Curry Health Benefits Conference. “It is therefore imperative that we accurately measure and determine the quality of air we breathe in,” he emphasized.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has also weighed in. Mildew Weighsaton, Comptroller of Income Tax told the press last night that the device will pave the way for her department to determine how much tax to impose, in the future, on citizens for breathing.

“Air is now free,” says Ms Weighsaton. She elaborated: “Given that it’s a precious resource, it is my firm conviction that the government should start to seriously contemplate imposing duty on this prized commodity; after all, we are charged for water and electricity, so why not air?” she added.

The Prime Minister in his Facebook page lauds the launch of this program. In a statement on his Facebook he said “We in Singapore are never afraid of being game changers. We were the first to introduce the ERP system and the COE, both eminently successful undertakings, resulting in us being the envy of the world. A device to measure air-intake will, I foresee, become a step in the right direction that many other first-world nations would want to emulate. History will judge us kindly.”

Unconfirmed foreign press reports say that North Korea has already expressed great interest in this ground-breaking initiative. When contacted, the North Korean embassy declined comment, citing security reasons.

NOTE: The PMO later issued a statement expressing regret at the use of the word “undertakings” in the PM’s Facebook message.

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The Malaised versus The Yellow Peril

Chosen because his head will never roll.

Chosen because his head will never roll.

Over thirty years of providing advice to corporate boards on the various aspects of change, I can confirm that the relatives of those on board flight MH370 are now undergoing the initial three stages of grief – and change – and these are: anger, denial and bargaining. Note that there is, however, no textbook process for grief since we all react to loss differently.

In any case, having suffered grief myself before, I can perfectly understand how heart-breaking, gut-wrenching and heart-rending it is to lose those whom you love and when you don’t even know what exactly happened to them it is even more tragic.

To the families of all on MH370, my heart grieves with you. I have experienced loss, and my heart aches for you. Trust me, I know how it is to never to see a loved one again. A part of me is no longer here. How can I be the same? Trauma of this magnitude changes you. I can’t ever go back to who I was.

It is therefore understandable why the Chinese are so angry. (The jet had 153 Chinese nationals on board.)

But let’s take a step back and ask: “Are certain agents provocateurs helping to stoke this flame of vitriol?”

Protests never allowed before in the streets of Beijing were permitted to proceed, obviously with tacit approval of the Chinese authorities who conveniently chose to look the other way this time. That professionally-printed t-shirts, banners and other paraphernalia were used can only mean that someone is the Eminence Grise pulling the strings behind the scene. To be objective, the Chinese have at times behaved rather unreasonably and unfairly, even demanding the Malaysian ambassador kneel in front of family members of those on the flight. Some have already collected insurance and other cash payouts while they continue to accuse the Malaysians of being “murderers.” Let’s be fair, Malaysian Airlines is no mickey mouse airline, it’s one of the only seven airlines worldwide awarded five stars by air consultancy Skytrax.

What made matters worse is the fact that Malaysian decision-makers and leaders operate in a cloistered environment, a cocoon that protects the complacent and inept elite, a closed-up setting completely lacking in transparency, openness, and accountability, a perverted, corrupted world where malaise has set in, where the ruler’s word is law and the powers-that-be cannot be questioned and tolerate no dissent; deploying seemingly legitimate vehicles of the state to silence and exterminate their critics so as to ensure the perpetuation of their reign.

Look at these officials at MAS’ press conferences. They are sons of prime ministers, cousins from the same village, peers, the “abang-adik” relationships, the old school tie, the old boys network. Yeah, everyone is insidiously and incestuously related. Under scrutiny by aggressive foreign media asking “in-your-face” questions versus the docile, ass-licking, brown-nosing domestic journalists they are used to control like puppets on a string, and under the glare of international spotlight they fumbled, contradicted themselves, backtracked on statements previously issued and they crumbled. To rub salt in the wound, they seemed to think they’ve done superbly well.

I almost lost my breakfast when the Malaysian Minister of Defence and Acting Minister of Transport Hishammuddin Hussein shamelessly declared with a straight face: “Anybody who has gone through this, what we have gone through has indicated to me that we have done quite an admirable job. History will judge us well. Not many countries in the world could get 26 countries to work together. Not many countries can get all the most sophisticated planes from countries from every corner of the world to come and assist.”

This from the words of the same Hishammuddin who famously brandished a keris – a Malay dagger and symbol of controversial Malay-supremacy policies imposed by the ruling Umno – at a party assembly in 2005.

The difference between stupidity and genius, according to Einstein, is that genius has its limits.

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Sahara Sandals

The wife and I each received a pair of basket weave clogs from the owner of Sahara Sandals:

BasketWeave

The Municipality of Sahuayo, Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico, has just certified Sahara Sandals as being the region’s finest artisans of handmade sandals.

I disagree.

I think they make the best sandals in the world, not just in that region. Yes, in the whole wide world!

You need to try on a pair to know what I’m talking about.

Thanks, mexsandalguy!

We’re still enjoying our first pair.

The Mexican authorities have declared that Sahara Sandals and its hand-crafted artisan products are of cultural significance to the region. This is an extraordinary, well-earned honor, and Sahara Sandals is the only footwear maker thus honored.

Read all about it here.

If you only want the best, ie, handmade sandals using Italian design aesthetic, crafted with the finest full grain leathers and double lock stitched onto soles made from virtually indestructible recycled airplane tires, you must get a pair. And I swear you won’t want to wear any other sandals from then on.

Yes, do yourself a favor, wean yourself off those mass-produced crap that come out of some assembly line in Shenzhen.

Your feet deserves better.

Sahara Sandals are also available here.

And no, I’ve not been asked to do this endorsement. I’m doing this out of my own free will because these truly are the best sandals in the world.

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