My Absolute Crap

Not worth the papers they are printed on.

I just dumped My Absolute Darling, literally trashed it into the bin. I gave up reading after a couple hundred pages despite universal critical acclamation – “must-read book of the year” and all that crap, accolades probably planted by the publishing company and its incentivized reviewers. First off, a story of a nut-case of a gun-obsessed father sexually and physically abusing his 14-year-old daughter is not a subject matter I am fascinated with. Of course, fans will say this story is more about the daughter’s growing independence etc. To me it is a crock of disgusting crap that should have never seen the light of day. That’s saying a lot for someone who has read some of the best books of the world in several languages and who is the owner of several hundred thousand books, including some rare, limited first-editions.

When I buy books, I usually buy two copies – a hardcover for my library and a paperback to read and pass around.

Both have been thrown into my trash bin, or as they say, in England, more accurately, my wastepaper basket.

Yes, some publishers tend to churn out crap, and these scumbags, like the local firm Graham Brash, who have nothing but money – instead of readers’ interests and edification – in their minds, would eventually go the way of the dinosaurs.

I have been trying to purchase a book from Graham Brash but repeated phone calls and emails have gone unanswered.

Maybe one copy is not good enough money for them to be bothered?

Maybe they have gone fart?

 

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Texting

While the first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992, it was Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen who first conceived of the idea eight years earlier.

Since then texting has taken off in a big way.

The country that sends the most text messages is the Philippines.

The Philippines is known as the text-messaging capital of the world.

Already in 2007, Filipinos sent 1 billion text messages daily.

Even the central bank governor sends monetary policy statements via mobile phone and an increasing number of consumers use their handsets for banking and bill payments.

For the estimated 8 million plus Filipinos who work overseas, texting is the main method of staying in touch with family back home. Text messages are also an important political tool in the Philippines and were instrumental in the overthrow of President Joseph Estrada in 2001 by alerting people to rallies. (Cellular or mobile phones were also instrumental for the Arab Spring uprisings.)

Texting through SMS and all other platforms like WhatsApp, WeChat, etc is now very common, especially more so in Asia, where lots of business communications are done through such chat programs and apps. With WeChat for example, even financial transactions can be made.

WeChat was first released in China in 2011, and by 2017 it was one of the largest standalone messaging apps by monthly active users, with over 980 million monthly active users (902 million daily active users). It has been called China’s “App For Everything” because of its many functions and platforms, and lauded as one of the world’s most powerful apps.

In China, users who have provided bank account information may use the app to pay bills, order goods and services, transfer money to other users, and pay in stores if the stores have WeChat payment option.

WeChat Pay is a digital wallet service incorporated into WeChat, which allows users to perform mobile payments and send money between contacts.

As of March 2016, WeChat Pay had over 300 million users.

In Asia, texting using apps like WhatsApp and WeChat appears to be the preferred way of electronic communications – unlike SMS, it is free (all you need is Wi-Fi or have access to mobile data), it takes away the hassle of having to pen emails, and apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are interactive (with chats incorporating live video) occurring in real time. There are entire months when I don’t make or receive a single phone call, but texting happens very frequently every single day.

Does it encourage sloppiness (which in turn promotes poor communication and sometimes bad behavior)? Not at all, if you have a good smartphone and become adept at texting as you do it more frequently.

With Singapore’s drive towards a cashless society, texting programs and chat apps as well as other mobile phone apps will be utilized for payments of basic necessities as well as major purchases. Such payment methods are being rolled out right now.

Interestingly enough, The Guinness World Records accept SMS records, and the message it provides is: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

The SMS message has to be accurately typed for any attempt to be recognized by the Guinness World Records. To qualify for the Guinness record, no autocorrect or predictive text features are allowed to remain switched on.

In Singapore in 2011, Jeffrey Teo succeeded to type all that in 23.40 seconds. Teo is the fourth Singaporean to have achieved an SMS Guinness world record. Using a keypad phone in 2008, Jeramy Sng Gim, clocked 41.40 seconds typing the same message. In 2006, Ang Chuan Yang broke the world record in 41.52 seconds and in 2004, Kimberly Yeo set the world record in 43.2 seconds.

If I am not wrong, some of the phones used were those old-fashioned button or keypad phones, not smartphones.

Ong Eng Huat, President of Singapore Book of Records, said “SMS texting at that kind of speed requires discipline and training and Singaporeans have been so consistently best in the world.”

So, you see, it’s not that difficult at all. If you avoid old-fashioned button phones and use WhatsApp or WeChat on a smartphone, it’s rather easy, quick and not so tedious.

By the way, today, the fastest time attained is 17.00 seconds and was achieved by Marcel Fernandes Filho of Brazil.

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Moretti Axe Effect Pipe

The quest for Moretti pipes continues! Here’s what Marco, the famous carver, refers to as an “axe effect” pipe – a real beauty – and is my latest acquisition:

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A Rare Seven-Day Longchamp Set

In 1948, Jean Cassegrain inherited a small shop selling pens and smoking accessories near the French Theater on the Boulevard Poissonnière in Paris.

Cassegrain found some poor-quality pipes in the inventory and so he took some of these pipes to a leather worker who clad them in leather.

The rest they say, is history.

Since the name Cassegrain was already registered as a trade name by one of his relatives, Cassegrain, a big fan of horse races, named his newly acquired firm after his favorite race course Longchamp in Bois de Boulogne, near Paris. Hence an outlined galloping race horse with jockey was chosen as logo.

Cassegrain expanded his range to cover pipes clad in pony fur, suede and even alligator skins.

All his pipes were very much coveted and collectors worldwide sought them out. Even Elvis was a fan.

But gradually, the Cassegrain family all but abandoned pipe-making, to the disappointment of pipe collectors everywhere, and has been focusing on leather products like handbags.

Since the last Longchamp pipe was sold in 1978, other pipe makers, like Savinelli, have copied the concept and have been making leather-clad pipes, but the original is still Longchamp and it is my good fortune to acquire this unsmoked set recently.

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A Pre-stained Meershaum

At my age, I will long expire before I aspire to inspire someone to smoke a brand-new white meerschaum pipe until it looks like this one smoked by master meerschaum pipe carver from Turkey, Fikri Baki himself:

So I cheated. I leave all my brand-new meerschaum pipes unsmoked, in the hope that some lucky members of the future generation will have the time and the long life required to smoke them until they turn golden. As for myself, I just purchased a pre-stained block meerschaum pipe carved by the late Fevzi Yunar. (See picture below.) The pipe is from a prime quality meerschaum block from the village of Kozlubel (known as Margi in the olden days.) This village in Turkey is known to have the best meerschaum deposits. The pipe doesn’t look too bad, right? It looks as if some old fogey has been smoking it for years!

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Ivory Pipe by Tsuge

Kyoichiro Tsuge, the founder of Tsuge Pipe Company, was born on February 25th 1911. The genesis of Tsuge Pipe Company began back in 1924, when the young Tsuge became an apprentice under a master ivory carver. Here is an early Tsuge invory pipe in my possession:

Antique (pre-embargo) Tsuge ivory pipe.

Do a search on this blog for posts on Tsuge pipes.

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Second Singapore Pipe Collectors’ Show on October 7th 2017

Time to follow up with a second show. It’s been a long time since 2011.

This time, millions of dollars’ worth of pipes were exhibited and pipe makers who flew in to exhibit their masterpieces included Lee Von Erck, Satoshi Kosaka, Li Zhesong, Jerry Zenn and Peter Hemmer.

Yes, our first show was in 2011. Click to see pictures here.

This time it was held on a Mississippi river boat.

Opening was by two of the greatest names in pipes and cigars – Kyozaburo Tsuge and Carlito Fuente, Jr.

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My Relationship with the Lord is Great!

Christianity’s worst enemies are its own leaders and its believers.

I cannot understand how anyone can sit in the pew and listen to someone who belongs to a fraternity that rapes thousands of altar boys.

I cannot imagine being part of a congregation of worshipers who are hypocrites, cheats, and liars; who behave like Goody Two-shoes in church but after church, abuse their maids, cold-shoulder their parents and behave in an un-filial manner.

I cannot understand how some church-goers denigrate other churches that their friends worship at. Why the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude? Is one church better than another?

I cannot understand why people insist on “serving” in church committees (only to play politics) and attend prayer meetings, and go for Bible study classes, and read nothing but religious books and listen only to religious music. Cramming for their finals or what? All this overloading and hot-housing will give you a seat next to Christ or what? Nine women cannot make a baby in one month. No amount of over-dosing will bring you faster or closer to God.

I cannot understand why some people can still worship in places where the leaders have caused their family members harm by their words and actions.

When some church leader or member betrays you or causes you grief or stabs you in the back, you aren’t just robbed of your sanctity and safety. (Surely the church should be a safe place, you say, free of shenanigans. Oh how naive can you get?) You are also robbed of your faith. How can you carry on believing when the church is a cesspit of immorality?

Some say don’t look at the people, look at God for solace. People change, even priests and pastors are human but God is the same all the time.

Yeah? I agree. Totally.

This is why I denounce institutional worship and organized religion.

Me and my God get along just fine, without the bullshit that comes with human beings.

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He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best

Kim Jong-Un’s uncle Jang Song-Thaek, being dragged away from a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party in Pyongyang. He was later executed with an anti-aircraft gun.

Just as Trump-bashing is the latest in thing, Kim-bashing is a favorite hobby of many today. On October 29th The Straits Times ran a couple of pages written by Rahul Pathak and Desmond Foo, showing off photographs of North Korea and the tone accompanying the pictures was one of mockery and sarcasm.

“…people stand perfectly still for fear of falling…” – they wrote of North Koreans on an escalator to the metro. I have been to North Korea, and I have rode on its metro, and no sir, people on the escalators had no fear of falling. I bet those who ran the metro do fear for their lives should the metro fails, a reasonable fear that is utterly absent here. Don’t believe me? Well, the clowns who run our SMRT still walk around wearing a smug expression on their shitfaces.

Desperate in the face of declining revenue, the paper is milking North Korea for what it’s worth (in addition to running a wine club, promoting restaurants and giving away useless  tchotchkes to attract new subscribers). The Straits Times is organizing a public seminar entitled Pounding the streets of Pyongyang and the blurb says “The Straits Times spent seven days in North Korea last month. Hear from Associate Editor Rahul Pathak how people there see the ongoing crisis.” I’m sure North Korean agents sitting in will be interested to hear what Pathak has to say. Seven days in North Korea and their associate editor is now an expert. I spent more than seven days in North Korea, does that now make me a world-class authority on North Korea?

Why bash North Korea?

First, a bit of historical background on North Korea is in order.

Japan seized the Korean peninsula in 1910, and the country spent the next 35 years under Japanese military rule. With Japan’s defeat in World War II, US troops landed in the southern part of the peninsula, while Soviet forces secured the area north of the 38th parallel. In 1948, Kim Il-Sung (Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather) was installed by Stalin as the leader of the newly established DPRK – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Meanwhile, championed by the US, the United Nations “inaugurated” ROC – the Republic of Korea, in the south.

Long story short: North Korea was created by the USSR and the USA.

Tensions between the two Koreas and their powerful allies erupted into war in 1950, when Soviet-backed North Korean troops invaded the South. Fighting in the Korean War (with China and the USSR supporting the North and America supporting the south) cost at least 2.5 million lives and ended in July 1953, with the peninsula still divided into two hostile states.

The USSR’s collapse in the early 1990s left China as North Korea’s most important and only ally. What choice has the country got other than to desperately fend for itself?

Net net: North Korea believes that going nuclear is the only way to ensure its’ survival.

Kim Jong-Un cannot be blind to the existence of about 600,000 well-equipped South Korean fighting men and women and 25,000 American troops, all combat ready, just 60km south of his border – and, more ominously, hawkish politicians in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington itching to effect a regime change in North Korea.

Kim will hang on to his nuclear ambitions at all costs. Isolated and ostracized by the rest of the world, what choice has he got? His behavior is to say to the rest of the world, including the leaders of the neighboring countries “Don’t fuck with me!”

Kim has only to look at what the US did to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, under the pretext of preventing them from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and what it is trying to do to Bashar al-Assad in Syria today.

Sanctions? The North Koreans will tough it out. They remember what Mao Zedong said – that the Chinese people must have the atomic bomb even if that meant they had no pants to wear.

Instead of understanding why the North Koreans behave the way they behave, the world instead mocks them, ridicules them, makes satirical movies about them, creates insulting Internet memes about them and consider them pariahs in the international community. Yes, even I myself once called Kim “retarded.” (But then, I use that label on just about anybody.) But please note that I am NOT a fan of chubby and I am NOT defending him.

I am a nobody, I’m just a big mouth and have no solutions to the North Korean issue, but those who mock Kim do so at their own peril. Kim is not stupid, I mean, the guy studied in Switzerland, and today, at age 33, one of the youngest leaders of a country, he is in firm control of his hermit kingdom. (Sebastain Kurz of Australia is younger by two years.) He is also extremely ruthless and exhibited no hesitation killing his own uncle and half-brother. So please don’t treat him like he’s a brainless clown because he clearly is not.

One country to watch out for is Japan – Japan is using North Korea as an excuse to expand militarily. Mark my words, we ain’t seen nothing of Japanese expansionist ambitions yet. Unlike Germany, Japan has never apologized for World War II.

“We will strengthen Japanese defense power, including missile defense capabilities, in order to protect the people’s lives and peace,” Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said last week. Abe and evil Japs like him say the current Japanese constitution is a humiliating relic imposed by US occupiers after Japan’s defeat in World War II. Abe wants to change the wording of the document to affirm Japan’s right to have a full-fledged military.

Japan is even taking advantage of natural calamities worldwide as excuses to beef up its army and to venture overseas. As my grandfather used to say “When you stumble upon a Jap and a cobra in the jungle, kill the Jap first.” He ought to know, he and my dad were almost slaughtered by the Japanese when they conquered Singapore.

If the West and the rest of the noise-making world – including tiny Singapore – adopt a much less hostile stance towards North Korea, one can reasonably conclude that the peace of the Korean peninsula is all but assured. Nobody wants a war. What the world needs to worry about is Japan. North Korea provides a convenient excuse for Japan. (By the way, I have been cautioned that the word “Japs” is derogatory. Yeah, like I care two fucks about insulting this nation of buck-tooth, bow-legged yellow perverts.)

In this day and age, nobody knows who’ll laugh last, but it won’t be the idiots making fun of Kim, that’s for sure. And that includes those jokers behind The Straits Times.

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Fatal Affectation

If you dislike someone, nothing he does is right. I see that in the global obsession to be politically-correct by participating in Trump-bashing.

Yes, isn’t nearly everyone on that bandwagon?

When Donald Trump talked tough about North Korea, the entire world condemned him for risking a war; I bet if he behaves in a conciliatory manner, he will be condemned for being too soft.

The American press is the worst; entire issues of Wall Street Journal and New York Times seem devoted to Trump-bashing. I have since cancelled my subscriptions. I’ve decided not to pay good money to read journalists hurling insults at their president day in and day out.

The so-called Fourth Estate overestimates its own importance. Thumping Trump seems to its latest calling.

It seems that nowadays, most media coverage on US matters is no longer about reporting and analyzing significant events, unless they fulfill one messianic mission: to unearth any transgression, real, alleged or imagined, of Donald Trump.

Indeed, much of the current mainstream reporting on Trump boils down to a self-feeding loop in which new stories are published or picked up not because they are significant or even newsworthy but because they may strengthen the fashionably-held view among most US mainstream journalists that Trump ended up as President by mistake, and must be removed.

The real risk of such gutter journalism is that this one-side media coverage reduces America’s global standing, making the country a laughing stock.

I am no supporter of tough talkers, and I am no worshiper of Trump, who’s a douche in my opinion, but I think it’s good that Trump has put a little swagger back to America again.

America cannot have a wimp for a president.

Look at Obama – what an eloquent and polished orator, suave and all, but what has he done?

In any case, man-child or not, mad man or not, Trump is the president Americans deserve. And for those who argue about popular votes versus electoral votes, well, for such a smart people, surely Americans could have come up with a more effective system for electing their presidents, right?

Americans should let the man do his job, unless they prefer that evil witch Hillary instead. If you dig at what the Clintons did in the past to get to where they are today, you’ll be shocked at how diabolical they are.

Remember the torrid Lewinsky affair? Remember that US$145 million deposited by the Russians into the Clinton Foundation? Remember Gennifer Flowers? Remember the Whitewater deaths?

By the way, Hillary is going to guest-edit December issue of Teen Vogue magazine.

Yup, a 70-year-old editing a magazine for teenage girls.

Has anyone watched the movie Notes on a Scandal?

Jesus, the things people do just to get attention.

Hillary thinks she knows everything.

Being a know-it-all – that’s an affectation that is so disgusting it makes me sick to the bones.

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