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 ivory 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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Bullied? Fret Not!

Things have changed. Those days we were told never get into a stranger’s car and never meet anyone from the Internet. Today we use the Internet to summon strangers to our house so that we can ride in their cars!

The Internet changes behavior. Not all good.

Impulsivity and aggression are traits enabled by the internet. Accountability is not required when you bang away with a keyboard, separated by millions of physical miles from the subject of your ire (imagined or otherwise).

With eye-contact deemed unnecessary, the net elevates the stupid, the rude and the demagogues; it unleashes behavior that culture, religion and civilization contain; it pushes morons to extreme positions through hostile, impossible-to-forgive denigrations. How one’s personality shifts online is worrisome as such disregard for civilities cannot be rebottled once released.  The question is will such obnoxious online traits be transposed offline.

I hope not.

A friend was recently recalling to me her horrible experience of being the victim of cyberbullying.

I am sure if that people who attack her online were to meet her face-to-face, they would not have used the words they used in their online attacks. They wouldn’t dare. Only cowards hide behind keyboards and hammer away.

Revenge is a dish best served cold; I told my friend. We can go about it six ways from Sunday.

In the meantime, ponder on these words by Lois Mcmaster Bujold and be inspired by them: “Have you ever heard that phrase, ‘Living well is the best revenge’? Where I come from, someone’s head in a bag is generally considered the best revenge.”

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12,045 days Together

Yup, 33 years together. My wife has the patience of a saint. Only God is able to adequately reward her.

So, I’ll just stand aside and let God do his job.

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A Truly Moretti Collectible

I couldn’t resist this gorgeous Moretti, so the best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it; meaning, I bought it:

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Endowment Insurance Plans

Thanks dad for dying.

I don’t believe in paying for years into an endowment insurance plan only to benefit your descendants after you have died.

Nobody should sit around all day waiting for their parents to croak so that they can inherit.

Everyone should find a source of income to sustain himself and if he can find some job satisfaction while doing it, then good for him.

There are many people chained to boring jobs and I’m not saying you too must do that, but idling around, doing nothing and expecting cash to drop from the sky, that’s not very realistic, is it?

Generally, I don’t think much of insurance policies though I think those that cover accidents, and hospitalization can be helpful in times of need.

And if you have policies which allow you to take out cash for emergencies, those can be useful too.

But to pay big premium amounts year in and year out until you die, so that those freeloaders in your life (who won’t lift a finger to help themselves), will end up with a shitload of cash after you are dead and gone – that is stupidity on your part.

A watch advert says you don’t buy that watch, but you look after it for the next generation.

Why the fuck should I?

Indeed, why the fuck should I worry about the well-being of the next generation when these rude, disrespectful, self-absorbed narcissists won’t even give me the time of day now.

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