The Obnoxious Guest

Sharing a meal with friends, family, or colleagues is a cherished social experience that should be marked by joy, connection, and appreciation.

However, there are times when the behavior of a guest can turn the atmosphere sour. One such obnoxious behavior is constantly comparing the dishes served to those of another restaurant, undermining the efforts of the host and dampening the enjoyment of everyone present.

Together with four others, I was invited by a gracious host to dinner in June, but one guest compared each dish served with that served at another restaurant, saying that all the dishes served in the restaurant we were in were inferior to the other restaurant’s. Yet he emptied his plate, ate everything in gusto and was obviously enjoying his food. What a fucking retard!

The jerk didn’t know how to be a grateful dinner guest and had zero idea on how to foster gratitude and respect.

This post is for him and others like him, of which, I regret to say, are many in Singapore.

1. Approach each dinner invitation with a positive mindset. Remember that your host has put in effort to create a memorable experience. Acknowledge the time, thought, and resources invested in planning and preparing the meal.

2. Embrace gratitude. By embracing gratitude, you can set a positive tone for the entire evening. Express your gratitude by offering genuine compliments to your host. Take a moment to appreciate the aesthetics of the table setting, the ambiance, or the efforts made in selecting the menu. Kind words and appreciation go a long way in creating a warm and welcoming environment.

3. Focus on the Present. Resist the urge to constantly compare the dishes served with those from other establishments. Remember that each dining experience is unique, and it is unfair to draw comparisons. Instead, savor the flavors, textures, and aromas of the meal that has been thoughtfully prepared for you.

4. Engage in Positive Conversation. This is not the time to be a namedropper and brag about who you know. Engage in uplifting and enjoyable conversations that enhance the dining experience for everyone. Share interesting anecdotes, discuss common interests, or explore new topics. This will contribute to a pleasant atmosphere and create lasting memories.

5. Offer Constructive Feedback. No matter how bad the food, I do what Queen Elizabeth used to do – she was an expert in projecting the impression that she enjoyed her food and was eating like everyone else. You could do the same, if you really can’t stomach the food served. But if you compare and complain yet ate your fill, then you should jolly well shut the fuck up.

If you really have to open your fucking mouth to criticize, deliver your feedback constructively and at an appropriate time, not when your mouth is full of the very food you were criticizing. Always avoid making comparisons during the dinner itself, as it may dampen the mood and cause discomfort to the host and other guests. Instead, wait for a suitable moment to provide feedback privately and respectfully.

6. Be Respectful of Cultural Differences. If you are invited to a dinner that features cuisine from a different culture, embrace the opportunity to expand your culinary horizons. Be open-minded and respectful of the traditions and flavors presented. Avoid making disparaging remarks or comparisons that may offend your host or fellow guests.

7. Participate and Offer Assistance. Be an active participant in the dinner experience. Offer to pour tea, etc. Contributing to the smooth flow of the evening demonstrates your gratitude and appreciation for the efforts made by the host.

8. Express Appreciation. Before leaving, take a moment to express your sincere appreciation to the host for the wonderful evening. A simple thank-you message can also go a long way in showing your gratitude for their hospitality.

Being a grateful dinner guest is an art that requires empathy, respect, and a genuine appreciation for the efforts of the host. By cultivating a mindset of gratitude, offering compliments, engaging in positive conversation, and avoiding unnecessary comparisons, you can contribute to a harmonious and enjoyable dining experience.

Remember, every meal shared is an opportunity to foster connection, create lasting memories, and strengthen relationships. Let us cherish these moments and be grateful for the generosity of our hosts.

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The Crooks at PwC

Corporate scandals involving big accounting firms seem to be a recurring theme.

The latest example is PwC, one of the world’s largest financial services firms. PwC has been accused of using information received during its work with the Australian government to win business by advising corporate clients on new anti-tax-avoidance rules.

The scandal has led to the resignation of PwC Australia’s chief executive and the suspension of nine partners. To me this is just a slap on the wrists, those crooks should be jailed for life.

The Australian Tax Office has also accused PwC of being behind a series of schemes designed to help multinationals sidestep tax laws. These schemes would have threatened about A$180 million in annual tax revenue.

This is a major embarrassment for PwC, which has placed the concept of “trust” at the heart of its image since a 2021 rebrand. It is also a reminder of the need for greater transparency and accountability in the accounting and auditing industry.

The same can be said of consulting firms. Crooks like those at the helm of McKinsey some to mind. Some have been to jail.

Oh yeah, don’t get me started on McKinsey!

Serious questions should be raised about the role of big accounting and consulting firms in the global economy.

Even more serious questions should be raised about headhunters who continue to work for PwC to recruit candidates to join the organization.

Moral turpitude knows no limits.

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Tsundoku, or it’s Opposite

This is a 990 sq ft (92 sq m) four-room apartment in Bedok. S$120,000/- was spent to refurbish it.

But what’s wrong with it?

Not a book in sight.

No bookshelves can be seen.

If your TV is bigger than your bookshelf, it says something about you. In this case, there’s not a single book in sight, not to mention a bookshelf.

That people are reading less seems to be the current trend.

TikTok allows video up to 10 minutes, but says surveys show almost half its users are stressed by anything longer than a minute. An Instagram video can be up to 90 seconds, but experts reckon the ideal time to maximise engagement is less than 15 seconds. Twitter doubled the length of tweets in 2017 to 280 characters, but the typical length is more like 33 characters. With people’s attention span very much shortened nowadays, who is reading anymore? Books fight hard against the short-term dopamine rush that social media provides. I know many retards who would spend hours scrolling through feeds of people they dislike pretending to live lifestyles that are fake!

Social media is infantilizing human beings, people read less, making them less literate.

I, on the other hand, can’t live without books.

In my house, books are everywhere, books line the walls of my living room and books can be found in every room, in every nook and cranny, on top of the piano, on the coffee table, even in the toilets and kitchens. There are piles of books on my bedroom floor, and there are bookshelves next to my bed, chocked full of books.

Books are just about everywhere in the House of Lohcifer. Our family members are voracious readers.

Also, I like nothing more than looking at the books people have in their homes.

People’s libraries tell me a lot about themselves.

Due to space constraints, I once had to give away lots of books, to make way for new ones.

A friend came with two ginormous suitcases and helped himself.

I was impressed by his eclectic taste in books but my jaw dropped when he told me he wanted those books to decorate his apartment, not to read.

Yup, there are those who engage in tsundoku, a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread books.

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How 5 Pairs of Balls were Lost in One Weekend

Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate once said in an interview “At some point safety just is pure waste. If you just want to be safe, don’t get out of bed. Don’t get in your car. Don’t do anything. At some point, you’re going to take some risk…I can do this just as safely by breaking the rules.”

He was wrong.

Dead wrong.

He killed himself plus four others when his tin can of a submersible imploded on Father’s Day.

Each of the four paid US$250,000/- per head for the dive to view the wreck of the Titanic.

The vessel lost contact less than two hours after it’s dive. It was steered by a video game controller, worth between US$1/- and US$30/-, with US$15/- a rough average.

That same week, 750 asylum seekers drowned when a fishing boat they were in sank into the Mediterranean ocean.

But no, people cared more for the five idiots in the submersible.

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How a Pair of Balls were Lost in One Weekend

If you’ve been hiding away in a cozy cave, you simply must catch up on the latest twist in the tale of Mr. Rasputin! It appears he faced a most harrowing 24 hours, the kind that would make even the bravest politician tremble.

Heard of Yevgeny Viktorovich Prigozhin? Well, he was an ex-convict turned sausage hawker, and now the head of the Wagner Group, a motley band of bloodthirsty mercenaries – many recruited from prisons – used by Rasputin for his attacks on the Ukrainians. Well, just last Friday, this temerarious prick decided to challenge Rasputin’s authority by embarking on a daring march from Ukraine to Moscow, all in an attempt to stage a coup. Can you believe it?

But hold on tight, for the plot took an unexpected twist! Late on Saturday – just a day after – in a turn worthy of a captivating tale, Prigozhin suddenly changed his tune. It seemed he struck a deal, of all things, brokered by the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko (who some might call a clown, but I’ll leave that for you to decide). And what was the deal, you ask? Well, it involved Prigozhin being whisked away into exile, under Lukashenko’s care. Oh, the intrigue!

Then, on Monday, Prigozhin declared, “We had no intention of overthrowing the existing regime, which, mind you, was lawfully elected. We’ve said it many times before!” Quite the surprising revelation, wouldn’t you agree? Bastard must have lost his balls overnight haha!

In a display of sheer audacity, Prigozhin went on to claim that if the Russian army had possessed the same training and morale as his Wagner warriors, the war in Ukraine, which commenced in February 2022, would have been resolved in a mere day. Yes, a single day! One fucking day! According to him, his forces gallantly traversed a whopping 780 kilometers, coming to a halt just 200 kilometers shy of Moscow. It was, in his words, a “masterclass” in how things should’ve unfolded in February, 2022. Remarkable!

Now, my dear reader, this entire spectacle bears a striking resemblance to a fantastically complex Dostoevsky novel, does it not? Prigozhin’s sudden change of heart is utterly perplexing, and one can’t help but wonder if Lukashenko’s role in all this is either greatly exaggerated or simply a figment of imagination.

But mark my words, there is more to this saga. By the time you lay your eyes upon these whimsical lines, Prigozhin – like many who opposed Rasputin – might find himself hurtling out of some window, losing more than just his balls (but his life), courtesy of the FSB, that is, The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the successor to the diabolical KGB. Oh, the suspense!

So, my dear reader, buckle up and stay tuned for the next thrilling chapter in this ever-unfolding tale. Even the stupidest retard knows that no one who opposed Rasputin had gone unpunished. Suffice it for me to say “You ain’t seen nothing yet” for in the realm of Russian politics, truth is often stranger than fiction!

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Aleppo Soap

Aleppo soap is a hard soap made from olive oil and lye plus an extra-special ingredient that takes it to another level – oil of bay laurel. This precious oil is known for its excellent anti- inflammatory, antiseptic and disinfectant properties. It works as a gentle cleanser and is well-tolerated by even the most sensitive skin.

This unique soap originates from the ancient city of Aleppo, the main city in Syria’s Levant region.

It is seldom packed in fancy packaging and each piece looks very hand-made, which it is.

It is also not infused with artificial fragrance, like most soaps being sold today.

It is the most ancient among solid soaps. The first evidence of its existence was found in Babylon about 2500 BC.

The French learned soapmaking techniques from Aleppo at the time of the Crusades.

Historically, Aleppo was a central trade hub, thanks to its location at one end of the famous Silk Road.

Myths abound that Cleopatra of Egypt was a fan.

The soap can be used on the face, body and hair.

How to tell if it’s the real McCoy?

Genuine Aleppo soap floats.

Also, on the outside, it has a beautiful brown color, while on the inside, its heart is green and the green becomes more translucently visible as you use it. The soap also exudes a subtle scent of olive oil and laurel.

Watch out for imitation from China! Yes, that same China that can even make fake powdered milk, fake eggs, fake rice and even fake virgins.

Vive la différence!

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Caviar and Champagne

Members of Confrerie du Sabre d’Or Singapore converged for a champagne and caviar event last Wednesday at Douraku.

We hosted the CEO of a major champagne house: Stephen Leroux of Champagne Charles Heidsieck, and we were pampered with a multi-course Kaiseki Japanese dinner curated by Ogiwara Tentoku, a new master chef from Japan, who will soon helm the premier Sushi Mieda’s eight-seater counter in Singapore.

As if this wasn’t enough, we savored a combination made in heaven – the perfect umami balance between Sturgeon caviar which countervails the flavors of Japanese cuisine, especially Kaiseki, Japan’s most traditional and highest culinary art.

We were even offered caviar from two different suppliers – Mottra of Latvia and Caviar Giaveri of Italy to enjoy and compare.

Each member consumed at least 100gm of caviar! What decadence!


Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Kuzu Yosei Manjyu with lady’s finger, delicious Dashi, Yuzu Zest and White Sturgeon caviar
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Five kinds of Japanese starters:
1. Water shield sprout shooter
2. Eggplant jelly
3. Edamame tofu
4. Ginger flower sushi
5. Firefly squids with sui miso
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Rosé

Japanese Suzuki Fish Ball, with Plum Sauce, Yuzu slice, Prawn Mousse. Malossol caviar
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Rosé

Bluefin Tuna, Flounder, Botan Ebi , Malossol caviar
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Rosé

Simmered Summer Red Sea Bream with Shiitake, Radish, Carrot, Daikon Ankake
Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc

Sea Salt Grilled Japanese Isaki Fish
Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc

Hiyashi Takigome Gohan, Ikura, and two kinds of caviar
Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime 2012

Japanese A5 Wagyu Slice, Mushroom and Bamboo Shoot Rice, Japanese Tea Consommé
Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime 2012

Japanese Seasonal Fruits with Chef’s Red Bean Yokan

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Ginseng Cognac

It is believed that cognac, being a spirit distilled from red wine, if consumed daily in moderation, has a variety of health benefits.

Its antioxidants and polyphenol compounds, believed to suppress the activity of the NF-kappaB gene that plays a role in inflammation, makes cognac a health drink, or an excuse for boozers to binge-drink.

Korean ginseng is known to contain the most varieties of ginsenosides as compared to other ginseng species.

It has a slew of benefits like supporting immunity, and helping with fatigue and mental alertness,

So it’s a matter of time before some wise-ass puts the two together.

Hanju Brewery & Distillery in South Korea has done precisely that.


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Courses for Lifetime Employability

The Economist says that Stanford university’s Graduate School of Business prides itself on offering the world’s most selective MBA program. Its class of 420 students is less than half the size of that of its arch-rival, Harvard Business School – and represents just 6% of applicants, compared with 10% or so for HBS.

The school’s three most popular facultative courses are:

“Paths to Power” – designed for the budding Machiavellian. The opening line of the course syllabus laments that “insufficient sensitivity to, and skill in, coping with power dynamics” have cost many talented people promotions and even their jobs. The objective of the course is to make sure “you never have to leave a position involuntarily”.

If “Paths to Power” trains future leaders to conquer external opposition, “Touchy Feely” directs them to turn their gaze to their own public image. The course, perhaps the GSB’s most famous, has been running for half a century. Its aim is to help students assess whether the way they come across to others is the way they want to be perceived.

The third popular course, “Managing Growing Enterprises”, is not about small-business accounting. Rather, the focus is on how to deal tactfully in sensitive situations, when many aspiring managers are tripped up by an inability to find the right words. How do you lay someone off? How do you decline unsolicited and unhelpful advice from a big investor? How do you respond to a nosy journalist?

These courses are not just for MBA students!

I’ve seen enough assholes who fuck up their lives big time because they are not politically astute, are not self-aware and are insensitive.

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Sobering Thoughts

One statistic that is often used to demonstrate the challenge of aging populations is the OADR – Old Age Dependency Ratio.

It describes the relationship between the number of people who are “economically active” and the number who are not, and is usually calculated by dividing the total number of people aged under twenty plus those aged over sixty-five or more by the sum of the population aged between twenty and sixty-four.

It is a far from perfect metric, not least because it assumes that everyone in the latter age group is employed and paying taxes, ignores tax income derived through other means, such as wealth tax, and overlooks the role of monetary policy in public spending. But it can nonetheless give an indication of the scale of demographic change within a country.

In Sweden, the OADR has steadily climbed since the early 20008, with some estimates suggesting that due to the aging population, it is expected to rise to 0.92 by 2060. In other words, there will be almost as many people of working age as there are out of work. Compounding Sweden’s growing older population is the declining fertility rate in the country.

In Singapore, the number of centenarians doubled from 2010 to 2020. 1,500 people are above 100 years old. Two in three of these are women, as they generally live longer.

In 2021, the life expectancy at birth here was 81.1 years for men and 85.9 years for women, according to the Department of Statistics. Its data shows that there are currently also about 21,500 nonagenarians, or people in their 90s, in Singapore. Of these, around 14,900 are women and roughly 6,500 are men.

With government initiatives like Healthier SG, which aims to get people to live healthier for longer, there may be even more in the future who live full, rich 100-year-long lives.

The United Nations estimates that there are 573,000 centenarians globally. The United States has the most, at almost 97,000, and Japan has the highest proportion at 0.6 per cent of its population.

With higher life expectancy, it therefore becomes necessary to rethink our approach to education, work, and retirement. These three key stages in life will increasingly not be linear any more.

We must avoid becoming another Japan, where productivity and GDP have sagged as the elderly make up an ever larger share of the population, placing tremendous stress on the country’s coffers.

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