41st All Japan Pipe Smoking Championship

Asakusa

A handful of us from the Singapore Pipe & Cigar Smokers group attended this event in Asakusa on September 14th.

The Pipe Club of Japan was established with 16 clubs in 1974.

Today, there are 33 active clubs and several non-active clubs and total number of members is about 500. Each club holds their own regular meetings monthly or bi-monthly. Each year in autumn there is All Japan Pipe Smoking Championship held in various parts of Japan.

This year there were 227 contestants.

Each was given a pipe (made by Fukashiro), a tamper, 2 matches and 3 gms of tobacco – this year’s champion lasted over two hours.

For the record, the reigning world champion is an Italian who lasted more than three hours!

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Let Them eat Mooncakes

Over the moon.

Over the moon.

Today, day 15th of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Eating of mooncakes, (made largely of lotus seed paste), is one of the hallmark traditions of this festival, along with moon gazing, the carrying of lanterns and the telling and re-telling of the many folklore associated with the festival. Baby yams, water caltrops, pomelos and Chinese tea are the other foodstuff consumed during this period. But mooncakes take the cake.

My favorites are those from Hong Kong, especially Mei-Xin mooncakes. (I like those with salted egg yolks inside.) The bakery that produces Mei-Xin mooncakes says it makes 45 million of them a year. Kee Wah in Hong Kong also has nice mooncakes but if it’s the good old-fashioned traditional ones that you’re after, then Lin Heung in Hong Kong is where you want to go. In Singapore check out Chop Tai Chong Kok at Sago Street, or Chinatown Tai Chong Kok Confectionery (Hue Kee) at Banda Street.

Younger people prefer those fancy, uber expensive ones made by hotels. Some are even stuffed with durians and what not. Even Starbucks has gotten in to the act and sell their own versions of mooncakes. In 1986, Spring Moon restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong created the custard mooncakes and Tai Pan, a Hong Kong bakery chain, invented snowy mooncakes, a frozen mochi-like concoction in 1989. They were the pioneer creators of these new generation mooncakes.

How popular are these new-fangled mooncakes? Well, this August, in Hong Kong, Spring Moon’s custard mooncakes completely sold out in five days!

China’s crackdown on corruption might mean that mooncake sales will drop this year – traditionally the Chinese add other extra gifts like Rolex watches inside mooncake boxes as gifts to officials – but still, industry groups estimate that mooncakes bring in US$2 billion worth of annual sales in greater China.

It’s big business.

But with at least a thousand calories per mooncake, waistlines are going to get bigger too this time of the year.

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Dumbed-down Academics and the 177 Prostitutes

Freelancers

Beauty waiting for beasts.

Three academics from Nanyang Technological University, Boston University and Fudan University spent two years interviewing 177 freelance prostitutes plying their trade in Singapore and came up with “findings” which to me is just glorified common knowledge.

First, these hookers are freelancers who do their business while here on social visit passes. They hail from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

What a revelation!

That’s been happening since God knows when.

Next, clients pay a different price depending on who they are. The angmohs pay more as they are expected to be able to afford it and are somewhat generous. The locals pay a somewhat more competitive price – all Singaporeans love a bargain –  and those from the lowest strata of our society – the foreign laborers – are charged a lot less. (Ok if you need to know, the angmohs pay 81 bucks, locals pay 69 bucks – nice number – the Bangladeshis pay only 44 bucks for their heavily discounted mercy fucks.)

But many hookers won’t accept these foreign laborers as clients, especially the Indians and the Bangladeshis – darker skin tones have negative connotations, the study says.

Again, what else is new? Tell us something we don’t know!

The professor from NTU who was one of those who cooked up the study sounded defensive about it. He told journalists that the project is “an important contribution to the field of labor economics in general” and justified it by adding that “many prominent economists, like Professor Steve Levitt [of Freaknomics fame] from the University of Chicago, have worked with data on prostitutes to analyze issues.”

Er, what important contribution? Would someone pray enlighten?

What issues? Analyze what issues?

His counterpart from Fudan told the press that “data” gathered “gives us a broader understanding of how discrimination operates and policymakers can use it to tackle discrimination in other markets and contexts.”

Yeah, sure. How does a freelance prostitute giving a hefty discount to a Bangladeshi worker help policymakers tackle discrimination?

I think I would need a third PhD to understand all that mumbo-jumbo. Obfuscation personified, these scholars are. A case of “if you can’t convince them, confuse them”?

Unless you were born last night, you ought to know that here in Singapore, racial stereotyping and discrimination exist big time, let’s not deny that. No need to spend two years talking face-to-face with 177 prostitutes to confirm that fact.

I hope the taxes I pay through my nose didn’t go into funding this stupid project. All tax payers want more bang for their bucks. Pardon the pun.

If these guys are really serious they should perhaps work on issues like human trafficking and all the tragic complexities related to that evil; but then they told journalists they didn’t even dare ask if the women were forced into prostitution because that’s a “sensitive” subject.

What the fuck?!

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Durians with Caviar?

Sun being herself.

Sun being herself.

After speaking on camera about the recent beheading of a freelance American journalist, US president Obama went to play golf. The following day he played golf yet again.

Critics went into a frenzy.

They called him insensitive, tone-deaf, etc and those were the printable words.

In Japan prime minister Abe played golf too, just after the recent landslide disaster in Hiroshima.

Here in Singapore, artiste Stephanie Sun was pilloried for being seen standing in line at a fast-food joint dressed just like most Singaporeans at fast-food joints – in T-shirt, shorts and sandals.

I read an advice that regardless of who we are we have to wall off our feelings and compartmentalize our lives. We need to be detached, and unemotional at times; we must guard against being consumed by emotions of the situations we confront.

Remember we are not babysitters. And people also resent us for babysitting them!

For Obama, if he wanted to show by his golfing that no enemy can hijack his schedule, he was also trying to show the world that he disdains the politics of appearances.

Ditto Abe.

Ditto Stephanie Sun.

Too many today are obsessed with showing off.

Facebook and Twitter are full of retards and losers – and generally very insecure people – showing off their latest purchases, visits to vacation spots, expensive clothes they wear, rare single malts they quaff, how they stuff their faces with gourmet cuisine and how they are decadent – meaning “idiotic” – enough to eat expensive durians together with caviar.

Gimme a break.

Been there, done that. (Except juvenile stunts like stuffing my face with durians and caviar at the same time.)

I’m not shy. I’m just holding back my bragging because I don’t want to make you feel small and stupid.

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Ok, You Win. Happy Now?

Beaten

Persona non grata.

How callous people kick a man while he’s down:

1. Tell him he’s jealous of other’s inheritance.

2. Ignore him when discussing foreign investment. Behave as if he doesn’t even exist.

3. Tell him to borrow books from the library instead of spending money buying them.

4. Give him a condescending lecture on how IPOs are done.

5. Explain to him what Bugatti is.

6. Run off to rendezvous with others the moment he’s out of your sight.

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Dunhill Durbar

Wolsdorff

My daughter bought me several tins of Dunhill Durbar when she visited Wolsdorff Tobacco in Cologne last week.

Durbar is considered as one of Alfred Dunhill’s finest creations but this is a new remake of the reputable Durbar which was last produced by Murray & Sons for Dunhill. It has just been introduced in Germany, imported by Kohlhase, Kopp & Co. It varies both in cut and content from the original but still, the blend contains a high proportion of Oriental Leaf, Virginia and Latakia.  Rich body, but has a slow rate of burn and is medium in strength, mild in flavor with floral and subtly smoky notes.

On the tin it says it is for the more experienced and mature pipe tobacco smoker.

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The Case of the Fishball Stick

Southwest

The Prime Minister in last night’s National Day Rally mentioned that Southwest District mayor Low Yen Ling, while investigating why a walkway in Bukit Gombak had not been cleaned, found out that three different agencies managed three different parts of the walkway.

A fishball stick had fallen on the roadside to the right, which was cleaned every two days.

The stick was left there for two days and the poor mayor was driven from pillar to post trying to fix the problem!

So to prevent similar type occurrences, a Municipal Services Office will be set up to get different public agencies to work more closely together, the Prime Minister said last night.

He welcomed the setting up of such a central office, which he saw as a “cockpit” from which to ensure that nothing falls through the gaps.

All well and good.

My question, however, is “Since the fishball stick fell on a busy thoroughfare, and though just a little stick, it was obviously noticed by passerbys – at least one had actually bothered to contact the authorities to have it removed – why didn’t somebody just pick it up and throw it into the rubbish bin?”

It is important to have interagency efficiency but the most important thing is to make the most important thing the most important thing and the most important thing now is NOT necessarily to create yet another bureaucracy but to educate citizens so that they will develop a sense of civic-mindedness.

Isn’t picking up the stick and throwing it away a whole lot easier than picking up the phone and trying to get the mayor to contact various government bodies to request them to remove the stick?

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The Talking Heads Amongst Us

BS

The media has a habit of going to the same media whores for their opinions.

The way it works, it looks like Singapore has only one (Jabba the Hutt-looking) psychiatrist, one cartoonish stock broker with a penchant for cheap, ugly hats, one property agent who can’t seem to talk without projectile-spitting saliva, one (pondant-looking) plastic surgeon and one nominated MP who is famous now for repeating the obvious. (Christ, is that how that idiot makes a living?)

Most of these clowns just spew crap, or at best, glorified commonsense re-packaged as profound, analytical statements. Period. I would venture to suggest that some are actually not being very professional by making comments they are not supposed to be making on matters whose details they really know very little about.

Sunday’s papers carried news about a boy from Hong Kong who was dumped here by his father. The boy has refused to talk to anyone. One supposed mental healthcare professional interviewed opined that the boy remained silent because he could not trust anyone.

He was quoted as saying “The fact that he has refused to talk or give any details may be a sign that he has long given up or doesn’t trust people anymore. If a trusted person can do such a thing to you, then nobody else can be trusted.”

What baloney! Has this person met the boy and interviewed him? What has he done to diagnose the boy professionally in order for him to make a statement like this? Is the boy autistic? Or suffering from PTSD? What the talking head said are the kinds of rubbish uneducated, misinformed uncles in kopi tiams conjecture about while binging on cheap beer while ogling at beer promoters’ tits.

The Sunday Times claimed that he is a psychologist. Well when I read that my bullshit meter immediately went off the charts. Shame on the media for running to so-called go-to “experts” for such nonsensical and unqualified “professional” opinions.

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A Masterpiece by Yanik

 

Skull

Sadik Yanik is famous for his skull meerschaum pipes. They are made of the highest quality block meerschaum from the Karatepe village in Eskisehir, Turkey. All Yanik pipes undergo three phases of different special beeswax varnish and Yanik claims “there is no one else who has the knowledge of this special beeswax because my knowledge of special varnish is the result of years of experience and information collecting.”

For the stems of his pipes, Yanik uses ox horns, ebonite, acrylic, vulcanite or amber. For the screws, he uses a strong material called Teflon-Delrin Connector. Yanik drills into the pipes to make a hole inside it for the stem; the hole is adapted to the size and shape of the pipes.

This pipe is 19.5 inches long and its height is 3.5 inches.

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It’s Finally Over, Phew!

Plebeian

Not allowed to watch.

So the World Cup is over.

What a sigh of relief it must have been for bosses.

Enough of bleary-eyed workers showing up in the morning half comatose and pretending to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Some of my lotus-eating friends are already talking about the next World Cup.

They lament about how they ought to have gone to Brazil in person this time. Brazil, the spiritual home of football, a nation that many view as guardians of football’s soul.

They are planning to be there physically at the next World Cup.

Wherever that is.

Russia? Qatar?

I’m not sure where.

I’m not a fan and I don’t really care.

These friends of mine remind me of those few in any population who got lucky, made their money, descended into banality but are now beyond wealthy. They have nothing much to keep themselves busy so they can hop onto a private jet at a moment’s notice to be anywhere in the world.

Some people are like that. Not a care in the world. The sheer prosaicness of their lives chills me to the bones. Imagine a life devoid of challenges.

Others have to exercise judgment – like the referees at the matches. Who to show the yellow card, when to reward a penalty kick, who to send off the field. When to consider eating at a restaurant, when to eat at the food court instead. When to feast on Kumamoto oysters, when to settle for cockles.

Some are key players – paid millions to kick a stupid round ball. Lucky bastards, but I don’t envy them. I mean if you’ve got what it takes, sure, cash in on it, not everyone can be a soccer star and life is short, isn’t it? In a world blinded by success and wired only to recognize superstars, goals and achievements matter. But I could do without the pressure that these demi-gods must feel. Imagine living with all those expectations and having only your brains and legs to ensure that you deliver.

Some are merely the plebeians, and always will be. There was a group of people who were right there in every match, right in the thick of the action but they were instructed to face inwards staring at the spectators instead of at the match. These were the security guys, who could not enjoy a single match but had to stand and stare at those enjoying the game. They were assigned to maintain order inside the throbbing stadiums by keeping their eyes firmly locked on the stands, not the field.

Clad in neon orange vests, these guards stood sentry by the field at every match, arms clasped behind their backs, eyes locked 180 degrees away from the grounds where the likes of Gotze, Messi, Xavi and Neymar were capturing the world’s attention.

Aren’t some of us like that?

While others quaff vintage Lafites in front of romantic fireplaces while enjoying their ski vacations at St Mortiz, or boast about their GTRs, or brag about their incomes or crow about their supermodel girlfriends with their superlative fellatio techniques, the rest of us can only listen, become envious and salivate and then trudge home and masturbate ourselves to sleep.

And talking about spectators, aren’t we all spectators? We can’t all be doing something all the time, sometimes we all have no choice but to sit back and watch life go by helplessly.

Not all of us can be players.

The sad thing is sometimes, life does pass us by rather quickly.

And before you know it, it’s curtains.

Football.

Life indeed.

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