Annus Horribilis 2020: Superlatives


Between the COVID pandemic and the intense political climate (US elections, China versus US, China versus Australia, China saber-rattling in Taiwan, China trying to position itself as the most altruistic anti-COVID hero of the world, hoping against hope that everyone will forget the virus’ origin, China encroaching on other countries’ territories and claiming them as its own, China buying up Sri Lanka and Africa, China behaving like a world-class fuck-face diabolical dick, etc) many have experienced a very trying, bruising, agonizing and exhausting 2020 – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I looked back. If I say “took stock” it would be too serious a term, and not angry and curmudgeonly enough for this blog. This blog – especially this post – must be packed with incandescent rage and vim and vigor! I blog for catharsis. I want this post to be an exorcism of my repressed emotions. Leave now and forever bite your tongue if you can’t take this rant.

Best trip: It was my only trip anyway; 2020 being a shit year of the worst kind. It was in January when I flew to Berlin, Cologne and Munich. Helmut and Ernst traveled to Cologne to meet me. As always, had a great time with Joerg. (Joerg is all about what money can do. He has built, on his property, the best Japanese garden outside Japan.) But unlike other ultra-wealthy individuals who strut around thinking they are big shots, Joerg is also extremely generous, generous to a fault indeed.) After visiting with Joerg, Heinz traveled with me to Munich, where we fellowshipped with the two Bodos and the rest of the pipe enthusiasts there. January was also the last time I met with the late Heinz Schwarzkopf, whom the good and loving God snatched home in August, depriving the world of a great gentleman.

Greatest surprise: the over 500 emails I received in response to this blog. The majority are from people I do not know, yet they managed to reach me. (So much for anonymity.) All emails expressed support for my rage-infused, expletive-laden rants. “You put into words what I struggle to express” is a common theme of those emails. I’ve always been receiving feedback, but 2020 would hold the record for the most emails received in response to my posts.

Weirdest gift received: candies made with gelatin from donkey hide. But the stories perpetuated by shit-stirrers like PETA, Greenpeace and their ilk about donkeys being stolen – how do you steal a donkey? – and then bashed to death for their hide make me feel guilt-ridden about eating this Chinese medicinal candy.

Strangest deed: actually went to a dance studio to look at the premises and to enquire about their dance courses. Seriously contemplated signing up for lessons. Er, no, eventually I did not take up dancing when I realized that I struggle with even basic things like keeping my balance. Plus, how do you dance while wincing from back pain? Nope, not going to happen any time soon!

Best books read: The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai, (I contacted the author and told her that parts of her book brought me to tears and she replied “I cried a lot writing it and I am thankful for your tears.”) Second Sister by Chan Ho-Kei, The Seed and the Sower by Laurens van der Post and The Girl in Room 105 by Chetan Bhagat. (I still voraciously consume Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connelly, Faye Kellerman, Ian Hamilton, Linwood Barclay and John Grisham whenever their books come out. Pulp fiction, guilty pleasure.)

Worst book read: The Discomfort of the Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. Rijneveld identifies as both male and female, and insists that she be referred to as “they/them.” Among other nauseating crap, her book talks about how her father shafted soap into her anus, etc. This should give you an idea of what to expect. It would also give you an idea that the retards who made this Booker Prize winner for 2020 are even more deranged than her. If I have money, I will buy up every single copy of this crap out there and pulp the whole lot or burn them in a bonfire. Come on, crap is crap. It’s time people become more discerning.

Utterly bewildering books: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk. Some literary agents and publishers ought to go to the gallows for plugging incomprehensible tomes. I have two earned PhDs and have authored and co-authored at least eight books myself, and I still can’t enjoy these two books. So, sure, go ahead and call me a retard. Knock yourself out.

Books that didn’t do shit for me: De-Escalate: How to Calm an ANGRY Person in 90 Seconds or Less by Douglas E Noll – guaranteed NOT to work if Chan Chun Sing, enraged over the fact that he is not going to be the next prime minister, comes charging towards me with a machete because it’ll take more than 90 seconds to dig the damn book out from my immense library. Next, Managing Chronic Pain by Siang-Yang Tan, PhD and Pain Free by Pete Egoscue, obviously written by retards with good intentions but who have never experienced real pain, chronic pain. These books, though relatively well written, will never pass the sniff test for anyone truly in pain. Their authors are as good as unmarried marriage counselors. Reminded me of retards who expect a demi-god in Rome (who walks around in a white dress) to admonish child-molesting priests. What’s worse than a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Answer: a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.

Best non-fiction book: A Promised Land by a pensive Barack Obama – lots of introspection and humility, no trumpet-blowing and chest-beating plus great writing to boot. Not an attempt at excuse-making or rewriting of history. Obama was a fly on the wall unto himself. Also, there is a genius to his use of garden-variety language. Write more, Mr Obama, I’m looking forward to volume two! (A Promised Land covers only the first two years of his presidency. Syria, red line and drone strikes will be in volume two.) One more: The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre, insightful peep into the murky world of Kim Philby’s Russian equivalent.

A book that didn’t need to see the light of day: When Cooking was a Crime by Sheere Ng. Illustrates how prisoners used funny stuff like pee pots to cook – and blankets as fuel – after lights out. Why? However, I must give Ng credit for creativity and balls though – her book was deliberately done in French fold to “hide” some of the contents, as the inmates did with the dishes they cooked.

A book I can’t wait to see: the memoirs of Orange Man, if it ever gets published. Would make a good standby when toilet papers run out.

Most boring movie watched: Seven Samurais, Japanese black and white Akira Kurosawa epic, three hours 27 minutes of pinching myself to stay awake. Critics may hail it as a masterpiece, gaining cult status, etc. I call it “large Japanese sleeping pill.” Well, at least one more item on my Bucket List got re-ticked.

Most anticlimactic movie watched: Das Boot, old German flick about a submarine; fucking long too (three hours 29 minutes); apparently the Japs and the Krauts are still collaborating to make people keel over. And trying to outdo each other in the cruelty department.

Crooks of the year: Terence and Nelson Loh; disgraced the “Loh” (“Luo” in Hanyu Pinyin) surname. One is on the run, accused by the other of stealing millions (what irony!) while the other is left to perform fellatio on himself. Both deserved to be caned, jailed and hanged upside down permanently. Their uncle, the late Luo Haochai, a senior Chinese Communist Party leader who had been vice chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top political advisory group, must be turning in his grave. (Luo, born in Singapore, was deported to China by the British in 1952 for being involved in the anti-colonial movement.)

Best medical moment: my ophthalmologist telling me my eyes have not deteriorated, that my next appointment won’t be till year-end of 2021. By the way, I don’t believe him. I now only read large-print books. (Gave up on the Kindle, as it sucks in quite a number of ways.)

Best medical news: no new ailment, unlike 2019 when I had to repair a retina tear, undergo surgery for hernia and got conned into going for a laminectomy (which didn’t work). No new ailment means excruciating back pain (with increasing intensity, I might add) continues to rile and rule me.

Memorable accident: slipped in the toilet and sprained my ankle. For a moment I thought the wife was trying to commit the perfect murder. This led to a frenzied replacement of bathmats that won’t slip when stepped on.

Significant “parent” moment: my elder son was officially engaged to a great girl he loves dearly. They are both Catholics and we can expect lots of grandkids after they get married later this year.

Most gratifying “grandpa” moment: solo piano recital (three songs) by my seven-year-old granddaughter. Had this proud grandpa grinning from molar to molar.

A sad moment: my dear mother-in-law asking me “How do I address you?” when I went to visit her and asking my wife “Who is this man?” Poor woman is a year older than my own father but while my dad is still as sharp as a tack, my mum-in-law suffers from dementia.

Watched a lot of: cowboy movies, all the spaghetti westerns with music by Ennio Morricone. Re-living a childhood love. These movies are definitely for lowbrows like me.

Most nauseous moment: when I found out that some absolute retards are now associate or even full professors, my puke meter shot sky high! What the blazes is going on here? Everyone is a professor now.

Most amazing: my 90-year-old dad acquiring and using a smartphone with aplomb; me teaching him how to use WhatsApp; then, him using WhatsApp – complete with emoticons – to admonish me for being rude to my wife. What?!

Grossest behavior seen: a woman using a chopstick as toothpick. Nutty as a fruitcake. Go see a dentist, cow! For all you know, she’s on the Peak Power List [of Retards], (lots of unsavory characters there) a list as useless as a condom on an eunuch, as irrelevant as the increasingly senile Tommy Koh in this day and age.

Bought a lot of: baseball caps, after books and movies on blu-rays, that is. Why baseball caps? Stopped shaving my head (too lazy to) so needed something to manage my glorious locks/crowning glory. Baseball caps in different colors – to match my shirts – and spouting different messages are perfect for the job. Favorite message: “Don’t be a Richard.” Will wear that next time that pundaa mavanea crawls from his shithole in Brickfields to snag another expensive free dinner off me.

Worst online merchant: Only You Gifts – took my money, never received the goods. No reply whatsoever to email. Scammers, please die!

Worst products bought online: Amazing Graze peanut butter, utter rubbish, nothing amazing. Some people are so brave as to believe that people will actually buy their shit. Next, Wanting Kimchi; not kimchi at all, (trust me, I know kimchi, I spent a year in Korea before) and no, I don’t want it no more. A warning to all: beware sellers who advertise on social media. Any retard with a low budget can go on Instagram to plug their crap and to ply their trade. Problem is suckers bite.

Bargain of the year: a 65” smart 4K UHD HDR Android TV for less than 900 bucks. The one that conked was smaller and set me back couple thousand bucks when I bought it some years back.

Worst customer service: Dimbulah Coffee staff at South Beach Tower. Not happy to work go and get fucked lah. Show a shit face to customers for what? Don’t you know that we pay your salary? Consider yourselves lucky you still have a job; you’re not just retards but spastics too.

Totally brainless customer service team: the team from Shopee. Prepare to vomit buckets of blood when dealing with them.

Non-existent customer service: Grab; they don’t care about your feedback. All indications are that they don’t even read feedback sent to them.

Worst customer care: Philips – they don’t stock spares of the products they sell. Even had to write to the CEO – some fat cow who obviously considered it beneath her dignity to respond. Never buy Philips again. Ever. Only after much pressure was persistently pressures applied did I get a call from some angmoh-sounding (Dutch?) guy. Took six months to get a replacement filter for my coffee machine. And they call it customer care. Care my ass! Okay, to be fair, they sent two free eventually as a peace offering, but it was too late, I’ve dumped the coffee machine to some garang guni man already.

Longest wait before one can get any attention: Canton Paradise at JEM – you stand in line but the spastics who work there pretend they don’t see you and when you finally get seated, the food takes an eternity to arrive. I’m boycotting it. All my friends are boycotting it. Hope the restaurant bites the dust. That’ll be paradise for all of us.

Unfortunate: my last conversation with Patrick Star – whom I’ve known for at least four decades – didn’t go well. In December 2018, he wanted to meet and asked me to suggest a restaurant which I did. He then disagreed with my choice. I counter proposed and he suddenly threw a temper tantrum and called me names. (He’s probably related to Trump.) Then on the last day of 2018, when I was in the middle of a client year-end dinner, he again pressed me to name an eatery which he “may” agree to. I told him I was in the middle of an important dinner and would get back to him later. He threw another angry tantrum and called me more names. Extremely irritated, I then told him to fuck off. He died about a year later due to cancer or some shit. No one cared to tell me. Yup, some friends I have indeed, one of the worst being the basket case of a scumbag, Sammo Hung. (He hides his house number from the postman. Sick, right?) Heard about Patrick’s demise from another friend, who lives in Chiang Rai.

Happy meeting: A re-union dinner I organized with my team members who worked with me for a year on the telco project in Korea decades ago.

Best new discovery: a private private secret secret lounge that will remain private private and secret secret. Pricey place; a bottle of Yamazaki 12-year-old sells for S$900/-. The place is priced high to keep out the riff-raff. I can only afford Coke Light here. And I don’t invite anyone there. No exceptions. Not for hoi polloi. And definitely not for burpers and farters who talk rot.

Timely reminder: free-loaders still proliferate, they know where the free whiskies, free cigars, free oysters, free pussies, free steaks, free whatever are. These shitbags flock there. I refuse to continue to be a sucker providing “cigar buffets” for the ungrateful, who, after benefitting from my largesse, then turned around and sleep with my nemeses.

Greatest pain-in-the-ass: Ariba. I did a couple of lectures, and the Uni uses Ariba to deal with “suppliers” when it comes to invoicing, billing and payment. Ariba is a platform that sucks. Period. Those retards behind Ariba ought to be machine-gunned or sent to the ovens in Dachau.

Most ridiculous: the authorities continue to build miles and miles of covered walkways because Singaporeans, all being so fragile, tend to melt in the sun, or faint from the heat, yeah, right! Some covered walkways lead to nowhere, literally. Example: the one at block 661A, Pasir-Ris Punggol. It was two years before anyone noticed the screw-up. And then the excuses and blame started.

Most time-wasting: Barney Rubble requested for a list of pipe tobacco suppliers and also asked for an inventory of pipe tobacco he could purchase from me to get a kickstart in his soon-to-be-launched pipe tobacco business. Tobacco in my cellar are strictly not for sale, they are for my own consumption but he almost went down on his knees and begged me to sell him some so that he could start his business without much delay. I spent hours on it, then he changed his mind. Decided to sell roasted peanuts instead. Losers and deadbeats like that should get a lobotomy, courtesy of yours truly, I’ll be happy to pay for it. If possible, I’ll perform the surgery myself.

Most audacious: that someone regrets falling out with me but thought perhaps I should make the first move to reconcile. Go fuck yourself already, meathead! Better still, pack your bags and fuck off.

Most thick-skinned: Invited a spastic for dinner and he suggested I invite a friend of his along, someone I haven’t met. What the fuck! You’ll be pleased to know that this time, I was wise enough to make sure that my dinner invitation to him was rescinded. He’ll never get another invitation from me again. Ever.

Sudden realization: that I had to pay to make this blog display “Connection is secure, blah, blah, blah” at the top left of your browser. What a rip-off!

Finally done: a first-aid kit and a tool kit, assembled with great care. Delegated the task to someone over a year ago but it was not done. Finally, yours truly had to do it himself. Story of my life. Years ago, I delegated the task of cataloging my library of books and movies and till today, I’m still waiting for the job to be done.

The hardest fall: World-famous Christian apologist, the super-articulate, hyper-eloquent Ravi Zacharias turned out to be another devious sex fiend whose entire life was a lie. Made me want to burn away the last copy of my Bible. The higher up they are, the most perverted and depraved they are. On hearing the torrid details, my first reaction was shock, then it quickly became “Why am I not surprised?” Asking to be masturbated because serving God was stressful? Come on!!! Burn in hell, frauds and parasites like you.

Worst bullshit: Ministry of Manpower bragging about job numbers like “There are more than 12,000 available roles in ICT…” Then, why is the unemployment number so high? Why are there so many Grab drivers? Why are there so many poor souls working in food delivery? These people like the freedom, they like the exercise, they like not having CPF?

MOM brags on a frequent basis, throwing big numbers but who are they kidding? Questions: what is MOM doing to make sure that employers are hiring? What is MOM doing to make sure that the unemployed are hireable?

One organization that must wake the fuck up: M1, four outages in a year. Twice in the month of December. Inexcusable for a telco. Heads must roll! Yeah, fat hope, I know. Cronyism is the name of the game among government-related organizations in Singapore where incestuous relationships flourish and assholes at the top are protected with Teflon coatings and bullet-proof vests. No head honcho is ever known to apologize and resign for his failings. We are not baying for blood. You don’t need to commit hara-kiri; just don’t hide in your ivory towers with not a pip squeak from you. Yet the powers-that-be preach about accountability and governance and sprinkle their speeches with all the right buzz words, basically spewing forth textbook phrases to placate doormats they think most Singaporeans are.

Stupidest move: someone who paid thousands of US dollars to unscrupulous labor agents so that she could move to Singapore from an impoverished Southeast Asian country to work and get out of the poverty trap but decided to return home after about a year because of “homesickness.”

Most dangerous move: taking your family for a cruise. Expert medical opinion – including from the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – unambiguously warns against settings such as embarking on cruises. Ventilation system in ships interconnect all cabins, despite claims to the contrary; it’s the same in hotels, where all rooms share the same air, which renders staycations another dangerous idea.

More pointedly, the CDC categorically stated that cruise ships pose a greater risk of Covid-19 transmission than other settings. Yeah, I know a lot of people have a lot of money but what’s wrong with chilling at home?

Worst cigar of the year: Trinidad Reyes, July 2020 production. Might as well snort soiled tampons. Should have been sold after being aged for at least another year. Never trust commies, Cuban or otherwise. S$450/- for a box of unsmokeable shit.

Surprise of the year: Newton Food Center. Packed to the gills, but it was on a “wintry” and breezy, cool December night when I went and I was nicely surprised at how pleasant the experience turned out to be, though what I ate was nothing spectacular, after all, it’s still a tourist trap.

Most premature: the inscription of Singapore’s hawker culture on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Why? The Public Hygiene Council of Singapore “comprising representatives from multiple sectors” whose raison d’état is to “work to strengthen and coordinate community efforts to improve the cleanliness and hygiene standards in Singapore” has clearly failed, and failed miserably.

Among the council members is the chairman of the Foochow Coffee Restaurant and Bar Merchants Association. I wonder what’s the condition of the toilet in his own home? It staggers the imagination. (FYI, the Foochows used to operate most of the coffee shops in the country. Didn’t do shit for the toilets though. Pun not intended.)

The Council’s failure plus horrendous consumer behavior is the reason why I think we are not ready for this UNESCO honor. Read this.

Let’s also not forget that the hawkers whose food many rave about are users of the toilets at these places too. They are probably the most frequent and largest group of users. Still want your bak chor mee, with added spice?

Worse meal of the year: click to read about it here.

Best meals: Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener; similar to Peter Luger of New York. Zwiener worked at Peter Luger and knows the ropes. I visited several times this year (and last year) always excellent, always a winner. I like my beef the way it is done here – hearty steaks of US beef (US prime), not thin, oily, heavily-marbled Japanese wagyu slices. I eat like a man, not like a bird or a pondant. Eating pricey authentic Japanese A5 wagyu may win you bragging rights but to me, that’s not steak. So, please. Enough nonsense!

New discovery: Ho Kee Seafood, a mom-and-pop stall at Hong Lim Food Center, steamed squid a clear winner. Other dishes bleh. The mom is generous with her portions, the pop can never remember what you have ordered. The very reasonable prices make up for the exasperation.

Stopped going: Kyoaji at 111 Somerset. Seriously cannot make it, in my humble opinion. Local posers cooking Japanese food should seriously do a re-think and self-proclaimed Japan cognoscenti should know better. I have friends who think the world of this place but I beg to disagree. In stentorian tones, they promote this place aggressively but I don’t like the place and the food. Yeah, the chef is a nice fellow and all, not like crude and vulgar Ah Beng sushi chefs (think Gary Ng of Hakumai and Edwin Tan of Yoyogi), but seriously, this place falls short of any standard of Japanese cuisine. Tip: avoid Japanese restaurants where the Japanese avoid like the plague. Kyoaji is as overrated as that eatery at Robertson Quay touting itself as “Singapore’s only authentic Texas barbecue, boasting the only A N Bewley smoker in Asia.” But if you have a Lexus and your driver only knows how to ride a bicycle, what’s the use? Also, worth mentioning as a fail is an eatery at The Grandstand, a wannabe Peter Luger. The joker who started this eatery visited Peter Luger in 2015 and now he tries to do a Peter Luger here, even has a dish called “The PL – 800g Non-Aged.” Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? But non-aged? The tragedy is that it is such a terribly poor imitation. The good news is that Peter Luger hasn’t sued yet. Come on, becoming a chef is not about watching YouTube and thinking you can be one.

Greatest pity: news received in late December, due to COVID-19’s fourth wave, a survey says about 70% of restaurants in Hong Kong face closure in the next quarter. I know a few of my favorite restaurants there have already closed.

Reconciliation: reconnected with the alcoholic-in-denial Kwan Tak Hin and hence, heralding the return of incredibly ridiculous and ludicrous tales. Example: A sticker on your shirt that creates an anti-COVID shield. Me thinks our friend probably watches too many Star Trek re-runs. Borg shields huh? I’ve known this comedian since he was in his 20’s and he’s now in his late 50’s. Same old bullshitter. His post-graduate degree from The University of Hyperbole with a major in Bovine Scatology has no expiration date, obviously.

Bane of my life: year after year, retards who can’t wait to pounce on me and accuse me of not doing things right – “you’re making coffee the wrong way” or “you’ve posted in the wrong chat group” or “if I were you, I would say this” and worse; these spastics should join the Gestapo. Why does everyone assume he is better at doing shit than others? Why does everyone relish in playing parent – parent-child transactional analysis ala Eric Berne, remember? – and acting like wiseasses? Fucking control freaks, that’s what they are. Read this.

Made my hair stand, again and again: heavily-botoxed wrinkled socialites/tai-tais, mothers of adult children, prancing around in tasteless, gaudy clothes, using Instagram and even LinkedIn to show off photos taken with celebrities. Puke-inducing. My nausea meter hits the roof whenever I see those pictures. Grow up, bitches, get a life! Those in Hong Kong are among the worse of the lot. Posing with a pink Rolls Royce? Oh my! Disgusting! Bet the Rolls Royce was made in Shenzhen.

No headspace for: B Chai and P Ng. Ingrates! Have vowed never to entertain these two. Ever. May they never ever need my shoulder to cry on.

Most uncomfortable, cringe-worthy moments: Not once, but throughout the year – people cursing at other drivers, as if they themselves are the best drivers in the world (I had to absorb all their angst while I was in their cars), people talking about Buddhism – Lama this and Rinpoche that, (hey, I’m a card-carrying Methodist, for Christ’s sake! Please REMEMBER!!!) people telling nobody who was interested what a nice movie they have watched the night before on Netflix or YouTube, (the movie is about Buddhism, of course, and please, the TV programs you watched the night before shouldn’t be your conversational topic the next day), people discussing their truffle purchases, about buying fancy watches and verbalizing their thoughts about renovating their houses, meeting interior designers, etc. Each time you sit down with these retards, the same shit comes up. All this incessant bragging all the time when I was struggling with decisions like which is the cheapest cup noodle to eat for my meals. Point: not that I have to subsist on cup noodles, but the zero conversational skills of some retards in my life.

New Year Resolution for 2021: not to make any and to continue – and if possible – to increase social distancing. The world is still a great place, but not all its’ inhabitants.

Posted in Places in the Heart | Comments Off on Annus Horribilis 2020: Superlatives

2020’s Last Post

I developed an aversion to Tsuge pipes since my friend Kyozaburo Tsuge was elected as a vice president for the Asian region of CIPC (Comite International des Pipe Club). No, it’s not jealousy. It’s just that I believe it is a blatant conflict of interest, something that the honchos at CIPC have deliberately chosen to ignore. The Tsuge Pipe Company had a large war chest. It is an influential oligarchy. The election for the position was on “home ground” and the company’s largesse enabled it to enjoy numerous unfair advantages. Financial prowess enabled hobnobbing, influence-peddling and ingratiation with the right people. Nothing wrong with that, the company being a commercial behemoth, after all. Yup, it’s a commercial enterprise, it exists to make money, it is not a charity or a pipe collectors’ interest group. But surely, it’s not easy to resist the need to do one’s job and maximize company profits when you have an arena like CIPC? I therefore expressed my views accordingly to the appropriate people. In any case, it has been over a year since Tsuge assumed the position but, predictably, nothing seems to have come out of it.

I’m not one to mince my words but many people are unable to accept feedback, no matter how constructive. Not unexpected, since these are the ones who are no paragons of probity anyway. I once helped a retard set up shop, even equipped his store, donated stocks for him to sell, and connected him with suppliers who – given his reputation – would otherwise not touch him with a ten-foot-pole, but when I told him that it would be a conflict of interest for a retailer like him to stay in a particular WhatsApp group, his lunch invitation to me for later that week was abruptly withdrawn and I – and my friends – were subsequently fucked by him on a level we had never experienced before. I was eviscerated. Talk about ingrates! Those who give you feedback are those who care, others will just pretend like nothing is wrong and let you fuck yourself up. People who correct you are not harming you – they are helping you. The only thing to be ashamed of is lacking the courage to acknowledge a mistake, to hold fast in error when you know better. Worse when it is a foreigner who has forgotten that he can be sent packing back to his home country in a matter of hours if the authorities here determine that he is an undesirable element. It behooves every foreigner not to forget this, at this point in time when anti-foreigner sentiment is at an all-time high.

“Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue,” Aristotle said in The Nicomachean Ethics. It’s a great quote to remember.

In any case, I now constantly remind myself to continue a good habit, that is: never to offer unsolicited advice. Why become a clay pigeon for the ungrateful to try their marksmanship, right? Why become a Nathan to the Davids of the world? Just leave them alone, and let them rot. That’s the path they have chosen. Nathans are not always appreciated. See this.

There is a difference between those who retail pipes for a living versus those who bring you world-class masterpieces by world famous pipe-makers like Lee von Erck, Jerry Zenn, etc because they want to promote pipe collecting, and study kapnismology, not gouge customers for unreasonably high profits by committing daylight robbery or by pressing their thumb on the weighing scale when selling tobacco by weight.

So, best to let things be.

Amazing! Two contrasting reactions to essentially the same type of feedback. The way Tsuge responded to my advice about conflict of interest was significantly different from the response of the second person. Tsuge was amicable and appreciative, the other person upped his douchebaggery to the max.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve personally purchased a Tsuge pipe, this gigantic one – see picture above – is a Christmas gift from a dear friend.

It was made to commemorate the company’s 80th anniversary in 2016. It’s a limited-edition Rhodesian that’s a blend of aesthetics and practicality. According to a gushing copywriter bullshitting, er, I mean embellishing for the site that sold the pipe: “Bright metal adorns the rim, providing protection against any darkening or charring and is easily removable. Additional metal graces the shank-end, offering flashy contrast against the rest of the piece’s jet-black color palette. The muscular shank continues the bowl’s heartiness and contains reverse calabash engineering within, offering an expansive cooling chamber within. The sandblasted finish is impressive as well, displaying a fascinating array of ring grain that radiates from the heel and creeps up the bowl’s flanks before meeting the metal rim.”

I am thankful for the gift but have decided to keep this pipe out of my sight.

NOTE: I’ve been blogging long before Jack Dorsey shared the first tweet ever.

And I have lots more to say.

But if international travel ever drops her pretty panties in 2021, I’ll hightail out of Singapore, though no amount of international living and traveling experience in the past can protect me from the anxiety of having a Chinese face in an era that has seen a surge in hate crimes against Asians.

So, Happy New Year! A much better year than this one, hopefully.

And I’ll see you on this blog some time in 2021. (Hint: check back mid-January.)

This is just au revoir, not adieu.

Posted in Thank You for Smoking | Comments Off on 2020’s Last Post

Be Sensitive!


Splurging at Christmas? Spending a couple thousand bucks on a staycation? Pigging out at a Michelin-starred restaurant? Talking incessantly about buying fancy watches or another yacht or re-doing your house? Boasting about the number of bottles of rare whisky you’ve just drank? Bragging about lavish family feasts? Showing off your shopping? A-5 grade Kobe beef airflown in from Japan? Truffles at 500 bucks for 50gms? (“Oh but it was on offer, cheap!”) Meantime, others around you have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay their mortgages and subsisting on cup noodles…

The level of your morality can be judged by how you treat those who are poor.

Last month, I came across this article in TODAY, a brilliant, timely article by Zulhaqem Zulkifli (that’s his picture above) that is worth reproducing in full:

Let’s have “seeing eyes” when interacting with the less well-off

The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind of eye couldn’t detect. — Mark Twain

Inequity and social mobility have been hot topics of national discussion in recent years, and it is clear that the realities of those living in poverty are removed from idealized visions of a first-world utopia some of us hold.

Mark Twain talks about the “seeing eyes”, a sight that is able to read “the heart and the soul.” In this essay, I want to focus on how we can foster compassion by adopting Twain’s formulation of sight-as-interaction.

In particular, I wish to discuss a subtle variety of compassion in interactions with those who are less well-off.

Through this act of “seeing” I hope that we can cultivate an understanding of the underprivileged “other.” To me, this is integral to not just the cultivation of a more compassionate society, but to the notion of seeing how we relate with one another with clarity.

Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a group with others who may not share the same level of privilege. You might unintentionally slide into a discussion about a luxury which others do not have the chance to enjoy.

Perhaps it’s the trip you had or some delicious food at that new cafe in town. It could also be complaints — how your salary is not enough for you to get that handbag, or how your parents should be increasing your allowance.

Be aware of the silent one, or the one who smiles awkwardly, or the one who brushes it off by saying “oh it is alright!” or “I am fine, please don’t worry about it.”

The lack of access to these experiences due to their unaffordability can exclude someone from the conversation itself.

And these are not necessarily limited to material pleasures. It could be having parents who are still married to one another, or family members who care for you, or a place to return to at the end of a long and difficult day.

We should always be mindful that others may not come from the same background as ourselves.

This may seem like common sense, but common sense may not be so common when we fall into the habits of the everyday cultures in which we find ourselves.

This cannot be an excuse to be complacent or to dismiss it. Rather, we can cultivate this awareness, which will only grow in strength.

If you realized you have entered a conversation that is not inclusive, what can you do to rectify the situation?

Change the topic. Change it to something which everyone can participate in. It is not so difficult.

But don’t make the situation awkward, especially for the individual. This might happen if you give others looks or abruptly stop the conversation.

Instead, opt to turn the conversation away and enter a new realm of discussion as naturally as possible — sometimes, the kindest acts of conversations simply begin with “Can we talk about something else?”

Don’t apologize to the individual. This just makes things worse because you indirectly single them out as a “problem.” Ironically, it contributes to a sense of alienation for those individuals.

There is a place for apologies, but this immediate situation is not one of them. Rather, a more gracious thing to do is to apologize personally after the whole thing.

You might also know a person who is not well-off, to whom you would love to give a treat.

This is a nice thing to do. But even in such interactions, there has to be a degree of grace, subtlety and consideration.

Here’s a useful rule I call the Rule of Self-inclusion.

Whenever you want to treat someone to something, be it a nice meal or an activity, include yourself in every aspect of it. What do I mean by this?

I think it is useful to illustrate this by way of treating someone to food (yes, that Singaporean passion).

I was out with a group of friends and amongst us was a particular friend from an underprivileged background whom we wanted to treat to seafood.

We knew that he would decline the treat, mainly because he did not want to feel indebted, but also, to not be made to feel different at the dinner table.

Before we could even spiral into this conundrum, a more perceptive friend of ours started ordering for everyone, asking those present to choose a dish they liked and ordering them in quantities to be shared.

He told the friend who was to be treated that yes, this was a treat for him, but we were sharing it.

Our friend smiled and said that he could do that. Later on, he decided to return the treat and told us that it feels good to be able to give.

There are some things we can learn from this.

Instead of buying specific portions of food, you can order a variety of different food items and share them with everyone.

In this way, you “include” yourself into the treat and shift the attention away from the individual you are treating.

Not only do you avert any feelings of discomfort or indebtedness (“make people feel paiseh”) but you also enrich the experience by sharing and partaking in a meal with them and blur the social lines at the dining table.

As far as possible, do not deny the opportunity for the other party to treat you in return. You may feel that they need the money more, but accepting the treat can actually be the kinder gesture.

It is in your receiving that a bit of self-dignity is restored for them. Your receiving is your giving.

When we engage in discussions on poverty, we should not assume to know better than the underprivileged about their circumstances.

We do not presume to tell doctors how to do their jobs. In that vein, we should not prescribe solutions or pass value judgments on those not as fortunate as ourselves, especially if we have not undergone such experiences.

And even if we have, not all poverty is the same; it has different complexities and considerations. Do not cite statistics, figures, numbers, citations, studies, surveys and technical jargon; nobody cares. Doing so trivializes the narratives of the individuals and denies them of their lived experiences.

Ultimately, human experiences cannot be quantified.

Figures tell us quantities, but they do not tell us stories.

A better approach is to listen to each individual sincerely. Instead of trying to justify our notions of the nature of poverty, we should instead learn to talk less, and to listen more, to the not well-off.

Only by listening can we cultivate “seeing eyes.” When our ears and hearts are attuned with compassion, we can have a sight that bridges souls.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Zulhaqem Zulkifli is currently pursuing his Masters in Buddhist Studies at the University of Oxford. He is a founder of Project Hills, a charitable ground-up initiative that focuses on the provision of essential household items and funds to defray everyday living expenses for the underprivileged and elderly residents in rented public housing flats. This is adapted from a piece that first appeared in The Birthday Book (2020), a collection of 55 essays on the theme “Seeing Clearly.”

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A Dunhill ODA

Some people like large pipes, it could be an ego thing. An American lawyer I know, who’s a windbag with a penchant for dominating newsletters devoted to pipe smoking with pages of his rambling drivel is one such person.

Well, live and let live is my attitude towards that blabbermouth. People have egos that need to rear their ugly heads every so often. Just like that retard I met the other day who referred to a cognac I drink as “piss.” Sigh, some idiots are so far behind they think they are ahead. Pathetic! I have been brought up to be kind and magnanimous and was more forgiving than ever in this particular case as the comment originated from a midget with an overly-inflated sense of his own greatness, due – in no small measure – to his diminutive size and to his being “vertically challenged.” Indeed, how to argue with someone suffering from “short man syndrome”? Yes, never fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.

Back to large pipes. I like them because there’s no need to refill them. Just one full bowl and I can sit for hours puffing away, accompanied by a good book, without even having to leave my seat.

“ODA” is the name Dunhill gives to its exceptionally large pipes.

Word has it that Dunhill has stopped producing them, so when I saw a brand-new one made in 2019 being sold, I immediately grabbed it, though it did cost me a pretty penny.

It’s a huge Shell Briar 840, an emboldened bent Billiard with over two inches of chamber depth, yet all in a form that has scaled quite well proportionally, with the same clean lines and elegant curves of the traditional pipe chart standard well-maintained throughout.

Have you bought a Christmas present for the man in your life yet?

If not, click here.

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Aftermath

I’m not a rich man – I live in public housing, remember? – but I will not have the local, cowering newspapers dictate to me, a news junkie, and voracious reader, what to read, so I spend heaps and heaps of money consuming news and information from outside Singapore.

I subscribe to both the hard and soft copies of several newspapers and they are pricey:

Business Times S$1.30 an issue, every day except Sunday
Financial Times S$5.80 an issue, every day except Sunday
New York Times S$6.30 an issue, every day except Sunday
Straits Times S$1.10 a day, every day; 20 cents more on Saturdays (yes, those retards are so desperate indeed!)
LianheZaobao S$1 a day.

I also read for free those newspapers without a paywall.

I also subscribe to many magazines including The Economist, The Spectator, The Atlantic, Fortune, Wired, Harvard Business Review, The New Yorker, Private Eye, Eye Spy, Foreign Affairs, Professional Wealth Management, Foreign Policy, ArtAsiaPacific, Skeptical Inquirer, Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, etc.

Unlike newspapers, magazine subscriptions are, fortunately, discounted, if you pay in advance.

Then there see the private newsletters, they cost a bomb.

I’m hoping that with the US election being over, the good money I pay will buy me some good, quality stuff; information I can use in my work, and not the usual bitching and moaning about Trump. Not only do I find it grating but I feel cheated of my money. I pay for news, not for self-righteous journalists who have been – for the last several years – making a living by raging about how fucked-up Trump was and dumping their angst on readers. There is no doubt that Trump’s character is in question. When I last counted, he has so far survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Moreover, he is crass, boorish, in-your-face, crude and comical. He tarnishes the dignity of the office of the president of the United States. But to be fair, as president, he has indeed accomplish some achievements no other US president before him has managed to come close. Trump’s undoing is that he is his own worst enemy. I mean, there were times when my excruciating back pain and personal struggles cause me to blurt out unkind words, but when I came to my senses I would say “Oh shit! What a prick I was!” And I always apologize and offer an olive branch to those I have pissed off; it may take a while, but I never shirk away from saying “sorry” and offering to make up for being a dick. (I never consider it beneath my dignity to say “sorry” because come on, when you are wrong, you are wrong so own up to it and ask for forgiveness! Of course, some retards still show me a shit face when I do that, but that’s their problem, not mine and that’s another blog post for another time.) The problem with Trump was – and is – that he never seems to wake up to those “Oh shit! What a prick I was!” moments. And he is not known to apologize for any transgressions, ever. He has clearly lost the election but he has still not conceded, and any idiot can predict that Mr Orange Man would eventually probably be dragged off stage from the White House, kicking and screaming like a petulant child (that he is) denied another lollipop.

One half-baked academic and self-styled elder statesman recently pronounced that the zeitgeist of the world is infused by the character of the man who occupies the Oval Office. (Tell me something I don’t know, fakir wannabe!) So, I hope, with Biden, despite all his flaws, (plagiarism, the shenanigans with the Chinese involving his son, his gaffes, his disturbing and perverted habit of touching and hugging people, including sniffing little girls’ hair, ewwww, what a sicko!!! etc) will bring some civility to world politics from now on. Hopefully, the cacophony of bovine scatology will subside, and the world will once again realize that silence is golden.

I’m not getting my hopes up though. For the next God knows how many years, self-proclaimed experts will be “analyzing” the Trump years and talking about lessons learned etc.

It is what it is.

Everyone needs to make a living off something, I suppose.

Was browsing around when I saw this writeup below on several sites; a contrary view/food for thought?

The clown, buffoon, imbecile, moron, idiot in the White House

The clown in the White House just brokered four Middle East Peace Accords, something that 71 years of political intervention and endless war failed to produce.

The buffoon in the White House is the first president that has not engaged us in a foreign war since Eisenhower.

The imbecile in the White House has wiped out ISIS and has brokered fairer trade agreements with Mexico, Canada and the European Union. Oh, he also made us energy independent and an exporter for the first time in over 75 years.

The clown in the White House has had the greatest impact on the economy, bringing jobs, and lowering unemployment to the Black and Latino population of ANY other president. Ever.

The buffoon in the White House has exposed the deep, widespread, and long-standing corruption in the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the Republican and Democratic parties.

The buffoon in the White House turned NATO around and had them start paying their dues.

The clown in the White House neutralized the North Koreans, stopped them from developing a further nuclear capability, sending missiles toward Japan, and threatening the West Coast of the US.

The clown in the White House turned our relationship with the Chinese around, brought hundreds of businesses back to the US, and revived the economy. Hello!!!!!!!

The clown in the White House has accomplished the appointing of three Supreme Court Justices and close to 300 Federal Judges.

This same clown in the White House lowered your taxes, increased the standard deduction on your IRS return from $12,500 for Married Filing Joint to $24,400 and caused your stock market to move to record levels over 100 times, positively impacting the retirements of tens of millions of citizens.

The clown in the White House fast-tracked the development of a COVID Vaccine – it will be available within weeks – we still don’t have a vaccine for SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, or a host of diseases that arose during previous administration.

The moron in the White House has kept prescription drugs costs from increasing during his first term. That is unprecedented.

The clown in the White House rebuilt our military which the Obama administration had crippled and had fired 214 key generals and admirals in his first year of office.

The idiot in the White House has drastically reduced the volume of illegal border crossings during his term in office.

I got it; you don’t like him. Many of you utterly hate and despise him. How special of you. He is serving you and ALL the American people. What are you doing besides calling him names and laughing about him catching the China virus?????

And please educate me again as to what Biden has accomplished for America in his 47 years in office?

I’ll take a “clown” any day versus a fork tongued, smooth talking hypocritical corrupt liar. Please let it be known, I am not sure I would want to have a beer with him (if he drank, which he doesn’t) or even be his friend. I don’t care if I even like him. I want a strong leader who isn’t afraid to kick some ass when needed. I don’t need a fatherly figure – I already have one. I don’t need a liar – that’s what Hollywood and CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS and the New York Times are for.

I don’t need someone to help me, but I also don’t want an obstacle or a demented, senile washed-up Swamp Monster.

The world is a dangerous place – history has proven that. If the ‘world’ loves our President- it’s probably since he and our country is a chump for admiration.

Donald Trump – the most unappreciated President in history.

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Holy Shit!

In February 1957, a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, triggering a pandemic (“Asian Flu”). This H2N2 virus was comprised of three different genes from an H2N2 virus that originated from an avian influenza A virus, including the H2 hemagglutinin and the N2 neuraminidase genes. It was first reported in Singapore in February 1957, Hong Kong in April 1957, and in coastal cities in the United States in summer 1957. The estimated number of deaths was 1.1 million worldwide and 116,000 in the United States. – from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

February 1957 was the month and year in which I was born.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I’d experience another pandemic in my lifetime.

On Sunday, the papers reported that some restaurants have been fully booked all the way till March next year. Highlighted was one eatery where minimum spend is 500 bucks per person. That place is fully booked! 500 bucks to eat raw fish? Other places where people go to stuff their faces with foie gras and other expensive and exquisite food are also all booked up.

Yup, with too much money and nowhere to travel to, revenge spending is in vogue and vulnerable Singaporeans are sucking it up. Like lemmings, they follow food trends. Everyone seems to be eating the same expensive food these days. No one wants to be left out.

Has anyone given a thought to those who eat instant noodles for dinner?

Does anyone know what happens to lemmings?

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Told Ya!

Like humans, chimps prioritize positive relationships as they age, according to a new study published in Science October 23rd.

The work – led by researchers at the University of Michigan, Tufts University, Harvard University and the University of New Mexico – used data from the Kanyawara chimpanzee community living in Kibale National Park in Uganda. The animals have been studied for decades, and the scientists concluded that chimps, like people, shift their social behavior from a focus on forming new friends in young adulthood, to maintaining a smaller network of close, fulfilling relationships in old age.

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Oh No!

Someone by the name of Chin Kee Thou wrote a letter to the Forum page of The Straits Times last Wednesday.

He included the picture above and he wrote:

Music in the park: Such a pleasure to be at MacRitchie

One morning, while on my way home from the Lornie Trail at MacRitchie Reservoir Park, I heard the sound of an erhu from afar. I sauntered over to a pavilion where I was serenaded by a man playing a familiar, popular Chinese tune, Love Without End, from my childhood days.

I was mesmerized by his performance and stayed on to enjoy the free music in the park.

His repertoire included Chinese oldies, more contemporary songs such as The Moon Represents My Heart, and many other familiar tunes whose titles I cannot recall.

Many Western pop songs were also on his playlist and I enjoyed the tune La Paloma.

It felt almost euphoric being close to nature, with the open space and greenery, the morning breeze and sunshine.

It was a pleasure to be in the park with free music.

I wish he has not done that.

Why?

Because some retarded heartless by-the-book civil servant will go after the old man for performing without an entertainment license.

Because some retarded heartless by-the-book civil servant will impose a hefty punitive fine on the old man for disturbing the peace.

Because some retarded heartless by-the-book civil servant will accuse the old man of racism, saying that the old man should not play just Chinese songs, but that he ought to play songs in Singapore’s four official languages.

Because some retarded brainless pseudo-cultured posers (whose only culture is the bacteria in their bodies) will condemn the old man for using a Chinese musical instrument for playing La Paloma.

Because some retarded brainless self-appointed custodians of our arts, hiding behind some Arts Council, will label the old man a busker and insist that he attends an audition before they issue him a permit for busking.

Because some retarded brainless “woke” morons will castigate the old man for using plastic bags and thus destroying mother earth.

Because some retarded brainless animal lovers – some of whom are known to adopt pets while dumping their own parents in old folks homes – will reprimand the old man for frightening away the wildlife in the area with his loud music.

Because some retarded brainless bird watchers will swear at the old man for competing with the birds and drowning out their chirps and tweets as well as for driving them away with the tunes emanating from his musical instrument.

Because some retarded brainless fashion police will ridicule the old man for his “poor” dress sense – what! a fancy shirt with just shorts and sandals!?

Given the circumstances, I am almost sure the old man won’t be there the next time I visit MacRitchie. In fact, I’m 99.9999% sure that the authorities and uptight Singaporeans who can’t wait to be the policemen of the world will cause the old man to disappear.

Come on, retards! Loosen up!

And be grateful that someone is generous enough to share his musical talent without charging anyone a cent!

Posted in Places in the Heart | Comments Off on Oh No!

Dying Broke

No kid of mine was born with a silver spoon.

(They are all adults now.)

However, none grew up deprived of any basic needs.

They had a roof over their heads, were never short of food and had their education fully financed.

I’ve done what I could – within my means – for them.

No, we don’t live in a Class A bungalow. Ours is a double-storey executive maisonette, built by HDB – about 1,600 sq ft of space. We never had a butler or a chauffeur but I’m sure my children did not feel we were poor and impoverished.

What is HDB? Click here.

A watch advertisement says you buy the watch to look after it for the next generation.

Horseshit!

What crappy advice!

Only a retard would do that.

I’m not a stinge and I don’t scrimp and save so that when I die, I will leave tons of money behind for my kids. Or a stupid watch that means nothing to them.

So I rather spend whatever I have now to ensure they and their loved ones are currently able to enjoy certain experiences with me while I am alive and kicking and not suffering from Alzheimer’s or eating dinner through a tube in my nose, or something.

A sous vide machine, a cast-iron skillet, a bow for archery, handmade by a world-renowned artisan, financial assistance with housing or post-graduate studies (in the form of interest-free loans – note I say “loans” not advance inheritance, mind you), books, books, and books (I never scrimp on books for family and friends) memorable birthday meals, a high-end coffee machine (from bean to brew type), family trips to exceptional destinations, etc are gratifying, positive experiences that can be enjoyed now and are better than an additional 150,000 bucks inherited from my estate when they turn 50.

In fact, leaving behind heaps of money for your kids is likely to metamorphose them into nasty, viperous assholes. Ownership of un-earned money changes behavior. Just look at those scammers who pastor churches.

Another thing I won’t leave for my kids will be debts.

I may die broke, but I will die debt-free.

The last cheque I write will be to my undertaker, and it won’t bounce. (I’ll send it before I croak.)

I came into this world empty-handed and I will leave the same way.

My kids are bright kids, not brain-damaged, half-dead, living vegetables kept semi-alive by machines while lying in bed in a comatose state; they know how to carve out a future for themselves and their families.

They’ll be fine.

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Uncivilized

The Jurassic Mile officially opened in October and is a part of the 3.5km Changi Airport Connector which links the heartlands to Changi Airport. Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who cycled along the route, posted about the event the day it opened: “Spot life-sized dinosaurs towering above, I counted more than 20 of them,” he said. “They are very playfully exhibited. You should see it for yourself.”

He added that the exhibit was a “labor of love” by the Changi Airport Group. “The airport is down, but the spirit roars!”

Then a retard sat on one of the dinosaurs, rocked vigorously on it for a TikTok video and damaged it, severing it from its foundation.

Later, the dinosaur’s teeth were found missing as well.

I’m at a loss for words.

For once.

Whoever posted those photos above, placed a black band over the retard’s eyes, I suppose to hide her identity.

Why?

Who this uncivilized creature is should be exposed for all to see.

And you know what the “best” part is?

Bitch probably lives in a condo, shops at Louis Vuitton, drives a BM, eats at fine dining establishments and go for skiing vacations in Hokkaido.

You can take an Ah Huay out of the gutter, but you cannot take the gutter out of an Ah Huay.

And you know what the scariest part is?

Retards like that walk among us, they breed, and they vote.

Retards would even steal from the poor.

The police have arrested about 55 retards believed to have stolen grocery vouchers issued by the Government to less well-off Singaporeans as part of Budget 2020.

The culprits broke into letter boxes to steal those vouchers.

What despicable behavior!

Anyone found guilty of theft could be jailed up to three years or fined, or both.

That’s insufficient punishment for stealing from the needy, if you ask me.

I say “Rotan those retards!”

A retard is escorted by police detectives to the crime scene, to identify the letterboxes from which he stole the grocery vouchers.

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