Saturday, August 31, 2019


In all honesty I do not know what my readers are like, as I haven't met more than a handful. Other than the obvious tobacco fiends who read the blather about briar pipes and what to put in them, or the folks deeply and narrowly interested in peculiar subjects (how to cure herring or make fermented shrimp paste), there are no unifying themes here.

They cannot be much interested in me, because I am fundamentally not interesting, and lead a fairly pedestrian existence. I accumulate pipes and dictionaries, consider myself fairly decently educated in politics, history, odd bits of literature, as well as Asian languages, (Cantonese, Indonesian, Malayo Polynesian in general) and hang out at some places because the people watching is good.

I've done mechanical drafting, Chinese seal carving, credit and collections accounting, and briar pipe restoration. My drawing and painting skills are mediocre, much like my ability to get along with other people outside of a structured environment.

My quarters are filled with books, pipe tobacco, and stuffed animals.
My apartment mate likes two of those three things.
Neither of us have a pet.

Almost always I eat by myself. Hot sauce with nearly everything. A single man, verging on monastic. Flawed. Slight hearing defect. Grey eyes.

Not the most social of creatures.

Frequent Wikipedia reader.

The following posts on this blog are as good an introduction to my style or genre, if it can be called that, as any. Bear in mind that these are the most often visited essays, for reasons I cannot fathom.

The lyrics to the song 胭脂扣 ('yin ji kau') from the movie of the same name ('Rouge' in English), which starred Anita Mui (梅艷芳 'mui yim fong') and Leslie Cheung (張國榮 'jeung kwok wing')

Obviously food-related, specifically a Cantonese good luck dish. Though not Chinese myself, my food environment is mostly Cantonese, as on my days off I head over the hill into Chinatown for Hong Kong Milk Tea and meals, and I speak passable Cantonese as well as read pretty well. When I cook at home, it's mostly Dutch Indonesian Chinese mixed.

A happy discovery five years ago. Abalone sauce is now more common than then, but it's still a relatively new ingredient, well worth experimenting with.

One way of cooking frog.

An extensive reference list of dim sum.

With the exception of the first item in this list, they're all about food.
I haven't cooked for other people in years.

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Facebook will suggest "people you may know". With the intent of getting you to "friend" them. Which is sometimes worthwhile, sometimes not. A good rule of thumb is to scope out their friends and their profiles before clicking. If the friends you have in common are all sane individuals whom you respect, and their profile suggests that the person in question is also a balanced (and rational person) you could respect, then maybe yes. If there are symbols or posts that show a philosophical affiliation which is dubious or less than that, no.

[And obviously, a curvy scantily clad profile picture is a warning.]

[To the best of my knowledge, none of my friends are curvy scantily clad persons, of either gender. Appropriate people are NOT scantily clad on their Facebook Profile. 
Whatever their apparent gender might be.]

A shared interest is marginal at best. One pipemaker whom I unfriended months ago does stellar work, but seems to be a raving Trumpite nutball living in the great American outback. After putting him on mute several times I finally took the plunge, because I was sick of his nonsense.
Still, a superior craftsman.

Very nice pipes.

But a reprehensible human being.

Almost all members of a local grass-roots political action group are also on the "no more contact in this life list". Which they probably never realized, given that their social media posts turned increasingly anti-Obama several years ago.
There were ever diminishing chances to interact.
Given how FB algorithms work.

Several of the people I keep in contact with are non-gluten phobic pro-vaccination liberal humanists.

Quite a fair number of them are rabbis or rabbinical students.

That should not surprise anyone.

To the best of my knowledge there is only ONE Christian minister among my FB friends. Who, if she were not a Christian minister, would have been born as a modern-orthodox rabbi.

Most of my FB friends are neither rabbis nor pipe smokers.
A few are food mavens. The Venn diagram is messy.

Only two of them are Goths.
Out of 300-plus.

Facebook friend suggestions are only barely useful.

Most of my FB crowd are younger than myself.

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Friday, August 30, 2019


Judge Sarang Kotwal is an idiot. That is to say, he may likely be an idiot. Possibly. The honourable judge (Sarang Kotwal) might be just dense and ignorant, but I hold that he is, in all likelihood, an idiot. Big steaming idiot.

The judge, Sarang Kotwal, later clarified that he knows War and Peace is a "classic" and that his comment did not refer to Tolstoy's book, according to legal journal, Bar and Bench.

[SOURCE: War and Peace lands India activist in trouble - BBC.]

"I was reading the list of all books and CDs seized, even then, didn't mean that all material was incriminating," it quoted him as saying.

Police raided and searched the homes of the arrested activists last year and submitted a list of books, documents and other belongings to the court.

The public prosecutor told the court that police had found "incriminating evidence" in Mr Gonsalves' home, including "books and CDs with objectionable titles".

"Why were you having these books and CDs at your home? You will have to explain this to the court," the judge told Mr Gonsalves.

He also pointed out a CD titled Rajya Daman Virodhi or "in protest against state oppression" saying, "The title itself suggests it has something against the state."

End cite.

"War and Peace is about a war in another country"

This bogger has an abridged translation of the Mahabharata on his bookshelves. Two abridged translations. It is about a war in another country. The Bible contains many incidents of war in other countries. Sun Tzu is about waging war. The Marine Watch Officer's Guide is, arguably and tangentially, useful in that regard. Heck, the list of objectionable literature in my library is endless. Books about European and Chinese history, the Afghans, Indochina, the Middle East .... all problematic!

I must be some kind of kommunis' or sumpin'.
Just like Mr. Vernon Gonsalves.

Who had War and Peace.

Tolstoy: incendiarist.

"The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens"

------Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Tolstoy influenced Mahatma Gandhi, a notorious Marxist-anarchist freethinker who sought to overthrow the divinely sanctioned British Empire and usher in an age of permanent revolution, for which he was justly excoriated by all right-thinking people. Including many in India.

Both men proved that education is dangerous.

Unlike Judge Sarang Kotwal.

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Thursday, August 29, 2019


It is only now, at the crack of dawn on Thursday, that I realize that of the four food places where I spent time during my weekend (Tuesday and Wednesday), not a single one of them contained any white people besides myself. Not that I missed them, but it's weird. The only reason for this I can think of is the absence of Sweet'n Sour Pork, as well as the fact that it was obvious, and deliberate.
If there is no Sweet'n Sour Pork, it frightens white people.
Something fundamental is "wrong".

"Oh look honey, let's go in, it's filled with Chinese people eating stuff".

"No dear, we can't. It's filled with Chinese people. Eating. Stuff."

Can't identify what it is that they are eating, but that's NOT Sweet'n Sour Pork, so it isn't food. That, I imagine, is the operative set of principles here.

A lunch counter with a selection of good things to eat. A bakery with scrumptious egg tarts, mooncakes, charsiu turnovers, lo po beng, and milk tea. A chachanteng on Pacific with noodles, porkchops, and black bean fish. And milk tea. A sweets place, with really very good milk tea. Only three of those places had milk tea, so it can't be that that's frightening them away.

None of the four places has Sweet'n Sour Pork. Quod erat demonstrandum.

The fourth place did have French Fries. Chinese women are voracious French Fry eaters, my eyes tell me. Every table with female customers had French Fries, in addition to whatever else. I also like French Fries, but I was there for tea.
I've never had their French Fries.

If men loved French Fries the way those women loved French Fries, we'd all be big as elephants. The female metabolism runs at a higher speed than ours.

What most men need, obviously, is Sweet'n Sour Pork.

Sweet'n Sour Pork, Pizza, Fries

If, hypothetically, a restaurant wanted to do fabulous business and make its owners rich beyond the dreams of mortal men, a large neon sign saying "Sweet'n Sour Pork, Pizza, Fries" would pull them in like fire ants on a cadaver. The pizza is for children, frat boys, and old people watching their diet.

Sweet'n Sour Pork, Pizza, Fries.

I think I'm on to something.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019


An odd thing to notice: the nastier the personality, the more elaborate the hairdo. In soap operas set during the Tang Dynasty, when hair was already overdone. Second Young Mistress (二少奶奶 'yi siu naai naai') first raided the kitchen for steamed goodies, then got into a fight with one of the other ladies of the house, which necessitated the intervention of the old master, which meant that one of the servant girls got reamed another one (which is very common in Chinese dramas), then was unmasked as using poison and voodoo to bring harm to the young master. Women acting unbelievably horrible is a beloved regular feature of such shows, in all senses.
Tune in next week for more startling plot twists.

We now turn to "Love. Come Home" (愛·回家 'oi'.'wui gaa'). An ongoing series set in modern Hong Kong. During this episode the polished smarmy guy "generously" gets all of his friends wasted on imported wine.

The Tang period soap actually looks more interesting. More possibilities for weeping, wailing, histrionics, and heart-wrenching bathos.
And I have no clue what it's called. Sad.

Might have to do some research. Second Young Mistress will undoubtedly get punished for her evil actions, maybe expelled or sold to a farmer.

Love.Come home. Over eight hundred episodes. As well as a spin-off series. Ninety three characters, every single one of whom has a distinct personality and an important backstory connecting them to the tale of a retired pater familias, his household, and the law firm where his youngest son works. No, I can't tell all these people apart. I'm not Chinese. One has to habitually think in Chinese to keep track of so many different people.
As everyone who has read "The Scholars" (儒林外史 'yiu lam ngoi si', written by 吳敬梓 'ng king ji') or "Dream of the Red Chamber" (紅樓夢 'hong lau mong', very yprobably written by 曹雪芹 'chou suet kan') has undoubtedly, and with enormous regret realized.
A cast of hundreds.


Whenever I go there I get a table with a good view of the teevee. Today's repast was Thai-style porkchops and rice, with veggies on the side, soup, and garlic bread. Plus a cup of Hong Kong milk tea. It's one of three luncheon sets, different every day.

They also do dumplings, including the chive and pork kind (韭菜餃 'gau choi gaau'), which I haven't had there because those are a breakfast thing, and I am seldom shaved and showered by that time on my days off. I would need an incentive. Or company. But I'm keen to try them, I've seen them made.
I trust their food skills.

Lunch was good. And the drama was excellent.
I go there two or three times per month.

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Yesterday I mentioned various frog dishes, with translations of their names: 姜葱田雞 ('geung-tsung tin kai': ginger scallion frog), 宫保田雞 ('gong-po tin kai': kung pao frog), 豆豉田雞 ('dau-si tin kai': black bean sauce frog).
And I know that the names alone will tell you how to cook them.

One dish I forgot to translate: 爆炒田雞 ('baau chaau tin kai'); "explode-fry paddy chicken". Chopped fresh frog sautéed on a high flame.

Paddy chicken is the affectionate culinary nickname for frogs.
Explode-fry (爆炒) is to sauté over very high heat.

What you will need is a chopped onion, two or three bell peppers, and about a pound of trimmed frog (freshly killed and skinned), along with oil, salt and pepper, and of course garlic and ginger in suitable quantity. Sliver the ginger, chop the garlic, and have two tablespoons or so of siu-heng rice wine (紹興酒) or sherry handy. Hot douban sauce (辣豆瓣醬 'laat dau baan jeung'; spicy bean paste) and a pinch of sugar too.

And some large cut scallion.

So. Remove the hands and feet, chop the legs at the knee, quarter the torso. Put into a bowl, splash with a little soy sauce, add a teaspoon or so of cornstarch and a generous pinch of sugar. Mix. When the cornstarch is well-distributed splash in some siu-heng rice wine or sherry, add a bit of slivered ginger and a drizzle of oil, and let it marinate for a while.

Chop the bell pepper into irregular chunks.

Heat up oil in a fry-pan, sauté (煸 'pin', 煸炒 'pin chaau') ginger, chopped onion, and garlic briefly, dump in the marinated frog, and do the same. When the meat has changed colour drizzle in some rice wine, and decant everything to a bowl. Pour some more oil into the pan, add two or three tablespoons of douban sauce and the green onion. Throw in the coarsely chopped bell peppers, sauté briskly, then add the frog mixture and stirfry a bit. Sizzle with a splash water, add salt and pepper to taste.
Decant to a serving plate.

Personally, I prefer it with no onion, and less bell pepper.
But there has to be enough for everybody.
There's only one of me.

Maybe serve Fried Tofu Chunks Simmered With Fatty Pork (豆卜炆五花腩 'dau puk man ng faa naam') alongside, for a memorable meal.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019


So some western reporters noticed a Pepe the Frog graffito in Hong Kong, and are now flipping out because Pepe is a symbol of rightwing attitudes. Surely this shows that the protesters are recalcitrant fascists or sumpin'?
The authorities cannot have failed to notice? Actually, that was just an opportunistic attempt to get attention.

Anything that will get the world media to pay attention is good. It's self-protection. If raping an effigy of Melania would have that effect, fine, we'll use that too. Mickey Mouse impaled on a stick? Good, good. Unless the world media pay attention, it did not happen. Hong Kong, because of distance, language, strangeness, is mostly invisible. If four months ago the army had rolled in, or the police had actually shot protesters, it would not have been noticed for several days. Without that international attention nothing would have happened. I know, let's show a live crucifixion of Bugs Bunny! Westerners sit up when Christians are offended!

Pepe in the Hong Kong context is absolutely irrelevant. The protestors don't even consider Pepe, nor does the HK government, or the Mainland government.
It's a minor, infinitisimally minute, blip. If you really want to confuse a Chinese person who isn't fluently up-to-date on weird whiteness, ask them who or what 青蛙佩佩 is. A far better way to piss off the mainlanders is to scrawl 廣州人講廣州話,聽唔明就翻鄉下 on walls in expensive shopping areas. Or even 反兩復英。

Pepe equals Hello Kitty equals middle finger equals love.

The Maoist slogan 造反有理 ('chou faan yau lei'; "to revolt is justified"), while impeccably leftist, is almost directly from Mencius, who, two and a half millenia ago, stated that overthrowing an oppressor was the right thing to do. That, much more than silly American cartoon characters (except Mickey Mouse) has relevance to a Chinese mind.

Regarding the death of the ruler of Chau (紂): 孟曰:賊仁者,謂之賊,賊義者,謂之殘。殘賊之人,謂之一夫。聞誅一夫紂矣,未聞弒君也。賊仁者謂之賊,賊義者謂之殘。殘賊之人謂之一夫。聞誅一夫紂矣,未聞弒君也。Mencius said: "Someone who violates his benevolent nature is called a criminal, someone who goes against righteousness a mere fellow; I have heard that a mere fellow was whacked, but not of the killing of a prince." Second volume of King Hui of Liang (梁惠王下), para 15.]

More of the protesters know Lin Piao On Tactics than passé American internet memes. Second Brother Kwan (關二哥) is also more relevant.

Not to ignore globalization, but it's only superficial. Hong Kong young people have spent their entire lives with Hong Kong television, movies, books, newspapers, graphic novels, as well as the regular very Canto-Chinese environment all around them. They've probably read Japanese manga in Hong Kong translation (themes from East Asian culture).
Textbooks? Chinese. Letters from friends? All in Chinese.
Bank statements? Office memos? Chinese.
Bills of lading? Maybe not.

Their internet is in Chinese, hardly ever English. Thinking in English is not natural, and most of the time not important. The United States (Pepe and Seinfeld) are as far away as England (horrid food and weather), Australia (buggery kangaroos!), New Zealand (what are "hobbits" anyhow?) and Canada (ah, Vancouver, where an auntie lives).

Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are mentally much closer. Even Singapore and Malaysia. The most important 'American' thing in their lives is 7-eleven, of which there are a huge number of locations in HK. That is where they purchase their shrimp-flavoured snacks, Pocky Stix, Japanese cheesy poofs, Korean instant noodles, and magazines or newspapers, in Chinese. Globalization? That's Gucci, man, and Prada. Maybe Marlboro ciggies too, but more likely Double Happiness brand smokes. And regarding McDonalds (the most important international representative of the English world), they consider all "edible" food to be fundamentally Cantonese.
So the Americans for once got it right.

And, while we're speaking of frogs, Let's not forget 姜葱田雞 ('geung-tsung tin kai': ginger scallion frog), 宫保田雞 ('gong-po tin kai': kung pao frog), 豆豉田雞 ('dau-si tin kai': black bean sauce frog) ..... nom nom nom.

Also 爆炒田雞 ('baau chaau tin kai'), which is delicious.

Home cooking, there's nothing like it.

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Today this blogger plans to have a quick bite at a lunch counter along Stockton Street, then a smoke his pipe, after which milk-tea and a pastry along Stockton Street at the bakery with the cheerful old folks at the tables in the back, followed, of course, by another bowlful of tobacco, because dawdling over a cup of milk tea takes more than an hour, which gives a sufficient interval between smokes.

Plus puttering around the neighborhood and doing a bit of grocery shopping. Noodles, and replenishing the larder with Indonesian ingredients like kemiri, and, if they can be found, kluwak ('keluak'; pangium edule nuts), which are used in Indonesian, Dutch Indo, and Peranakan cuisine.

Kecap manis, no. That can be made at home. Easily.

It's because of kecap manis that many people in Holland are, initially, confused by American ketchup. I can remember "ketjap" being in the house long before "ketchup" (from the 'International foods aisle'). Along with two or three jars of sambal (hot chili paste), which I didn't start liking till I was seven or eight. Here in the U.S. sweet soy sauce is hard to find. Sambals are fairly widely available ..... versions imported from Holland, locally made versions, and also, of course, easy to make at home because chilies are in every supermarket. Trassi, blacang, petis, buah kemiri, keluak, serai, and lengkuwas, dan lain lain all still take a bit of searching.


There are two alleys I'm thinking of dawdling in: Trenton, which runs from the hospital (東華醫院 'tung waa yi yuen') to Ping Yuen (西平園 'sai ping yuen'), and Commercial from Grant Avenue to Kearney. The awnings of the shuttered grocery stores directly opposite the entrance to the emergency room are convenient, especially during inclement weather, and after the shops on Stockton Street close there won't be too many pedestrians.

Commercial street (襟美慎街 'kam mei san kaai') is within hearing distance of musicians, and might have tourist snapping photos. I do not wish to be a background to some dingo's selfie. "Here I am in SF Chinatown, with some dude smoking a pipe in the background..., the dreadful old fossil was just standing there. So inconsiderate!"

Trenton Street (登頓街 'dang deun kaai') may have a cat or two near the projects, and will undoubtedly be quieter; too far away for the tourists.
It's also where I encountered a raccoon raiding the garbage cans years ago, so there are fond memories. The animal did not object to my pipe.
Unlike some of the fastidious out-of-towners.

If I see any of the staff I know from the hospital while I'm smoking, I shall of course hide my pipe while saying "hi". Out of a weird sense of politness and discretion. They've mentioned so many times that smoking is bad that I would feel like a degenerate otherwise.

Fine matured Virginia tobacco with a faint whiskey-like top-dressing probably counts as the worst perversion. Mmmm!
Delicious perfume.

I'll be channeling for Ratty or Mr. Badger from Wind in the Willows.

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Monday, August 26, 2019


On a whim I spent all evening rereading the history of the Cultural Revolution. The semi-rehabilitation of Lin Piao (林彪 'lam piu') since his peculiar death in 1971 is particularly interesting, since he was the man primarily responsible for the downfall of many of the important people who have subsequently been rehabilitated, some of them posthumously.

The Lin Piao faction also created the mythology of Lei Feng (雷鋒 'leui fung'), whose selfless and absolutely correct example we are supposed to follow, much like the church holds up Christian martyrs as paragons.
Regarding Lei Feng, I rather wish Edward Gorey had illustrated his life and death, sort of a version of "The Insect God", or "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" with sickening heroes as the deserving decedents.

Like Jesus, if there was no real Lei Feng his worshippers would surely have to invent him. And there are too few non-hagiographic sources to accept that he really existed.

One of the key slogans from fifty years ago was 造反有理 ('chou faan yau lei'; "to revolt is justified"), which clever cynics use to defend their actions, in light of the corrolary 不造反就是百分之一百的修正主義 ('pat chou faan jau si baak fan ji yat baak dik sau jeng jyu yi'; "if there is no rebellion, there is one hundred percent revisionism"). Rebell, overturn, destroy with fire.

One naturally suspects that the 紅衛兵 ('hung wai bing'; Red Guards) were largely China's incels, disaffected young white males, and dank basement dwelling Trump supporters, more or less. But made potent by the madness of that place and time. The similarities between the Chaiman and our own Orange-haired Dingo are rather striking. No wonder his fanclub comes across as seriously unhinged.

Similar thought processes and psychological defects, differing ideologies.

Egomanias and personality cults.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019


The woman in the seat behind me on the bus was discussing her bra-buying expedition with her boyfriend on her cellphone. Which, of course, was the wrong thing to do. In this world there is only ONE person you should consult regarding the purchase of a new brassiere. Me.
I haven't been near an unprotected breast since Obama's first term, and consequently can be completely dispassionate, as well as analytical.

It's kind of like buying a car.

There are FIVE considerations.

1) Cup size.
2) Nipple room.
3) Chest circumference.
4) Adjustability.
5) Materials.

Obviously the cup size must be right for the mammaries in question, rather than causing that pile-out effect you see on women who have chosen thoughtlessly. A comfortable snug fit, rather than too loose or too small. Nipple room is also important, because one doesn't want chafing, squashing, or unnecessary friction, nor eye-popping protuberance.
Chest circumference, often entirely overlooked, is another key factor. Too tight -- a common problem -- leads to unsightly pads bulging on the back, circulatory issues, bruising, and red marks deep in the skin. The flesh will protest. Make sure it's the right size for your figure. Which, inevitably, brings up adjustability: can both the vertical and horizontal fit be made accurate? If the cups are the right distance apart, are they at the right height? Or vice versa. And lastly, material. Is it soft to the touch? Will it breathe? Or will it, during summer, cause heat rash? A sweaty odour? Or itch?

Basically, it's all about engineering.

Unfortunately, I can't give you any pointers on where to buy the bra, as I've never actually been in a bra emporium. But do your research on line, and have a good idea of what you want before you make your move.

Personally I favour thin material, a bit of lace or brocade, and, if necessary, underwire. Push-up bras are often problematic on several counts, and sexy lingerie-style is often made of unbreathable synthetic fabric.
Bold colours show through lightweight clothing.
Discretion on that note is better.

Your significant other and your kinfolks may have skewed perspectives, so ab initio they cannot be relied upon for advice in this matter. Either your sister, possibly, or me, for a dispassionate and clinical approach.
And my perspective is, necessarily going to be limited.

A station wagon. That's what you need.
Or a Volkswagen beetle.

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Yesterday evening I mentioned that egg tarts can keep young ladies contented. Which, of course, is valuable information. Knowing this could prevent natural disasters and bombing campaigns. Egg tarts. So, given that I am experienced in these matters, and have had years in which to observe things, it is perhaps a good idea to share my knowledge about what else keeps young ladies contented.

These are:

Pork chops.
Charsiu noodles.
Fresh steamed fish.
Kailan with oyster sauce.
Sauteed fresh Shrimp.
A huge slice of cake.
Steamed oysters.
Fried chicken.

A large container of boba tea, some kind of fruit flavour, is only a shallow substitute for any of the above. She bought that for herself because a whole cooked lobster is not so portable, and it is generally considered gauche to walk around on the public street gnawing on a bouquet of juicy pork chops.

Women are more complicated than men. Most men will be quite happy with something that can be covered with cheese and sliced jalapeños. Add a rasher or two of bacon, and he'll be happy for hours. Doesn't matter what.
Pizza. Dogs. Carboard. A pigskin.

An egg tart, or three or four egg tarts, go a long way toward establishing Universal Harmony. It's a good beginning.

蛋撻 ('daan taat').
Egg tart.

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Saturday, August 24, 2019


Do you want a grumpy old coot sitting in the corner of your living room smoking his pipe and being rather anti-social? Of course you don't!
You'll be happy to know that I am not grumpy, and not old.
On the social bit there may be a slight problem.
But I probably won't frighten your dog.

A chachanteng (Hong Kong style restaurant with milk-tea and quick convenient food) is rather like a living room, the major difference being that there are no ashtrays on little tables next to comfy chairs.
In fact, no ashtrays at all.

But it's comfortable environment, good for people watching.
If I tried that in your living room it would disconcert you.

"Why", you might think, "is that weirdo staring at me?"

A sweet and adorable little girl having fried noodles with her grandparents. Her grand dad kept the conversation going, she happily responded, chirping her answers to his questions. An elderly lady enjoying a pork cutlet sandwich with French fries. A business man hurriedly late-lunching on Hai Nan chicken before scarpering. Extremely cheerful party of Toishanese ladies in the other section, whose food I could not see but whose animated conversation came through clearly.

And a young couple enjoying egg tarts.

Young ladies with egg tart crumbs on their face are cute as the dickens.

I wonder if her suitor thought the same and had ordered them especially for that effect? If so, he's a smart man. Even besides the urge to keep her contented.

While there I had a discussion with Ah Ping about foods that are either good for you or harmful. Something about cucumbers and eggplants, which I cannot remember but would ignore anyway, because I have my own goofy unscientific beliefs about such things.

A cucumber looks like a hot dog in bun; therefore it's best with mustard.

Same goes for eggplants, but more so.

Would I lie?

Normally people don't go to a chachanteng for a hamburger (漢堡包 'hon bou baau'), but perhaps they should. It was quite good, and the fries (薯條 'syu tiu') were excellent. Plus they have Sriracha hot sauce.

Homemade pickles for the burger.

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Friday, August 23, 2019


At around seven forty five this blogger was standing on the front steps with cigarillo and coffee, because while a certain person with whom he shares the apartment has not yet left for work, one shall not smoke indoors, watching a young person running down the street.

Who accidentally dropped a folded sheet of paper.

I also noticed a raggedy individual negotiating with a pigeon, but paid it no mind; that's normal. Properly dressed trotting people aren't.

When she had passed beyond sight I started wondering about something. And realized I should have hollered at her. "Wei, siu jeh, sat jo sau laa", or "Miss, you dropped sumpin' ". Or even "ooh arg, ya lost yer sheets!"
What if it was important? That pigeon disputant might see it.
A doctor's appointment? Bank statement?
Valuable information?

After a minute or so I went over to pick it up.

Gallileo HS Student Schedule

Student information: 趙小姐 ('Miss Chew'; shan't give her first name, because it's nobody else's business).
Student No.: xxx. Grade: 9.

During first period, she has "home room", last class of the day is art-related. Algebra and Biology are in-between.

I find this strangely fascinating. When I was fifteen I too had Algebra and Biology, but "home room" is a brand new concept.

From Wikipedia: "In the Netherlands, the students are put in a group which more or less stays the same during their high school career. Those groups are sorted in levels, depending on a test children take at the end of primary school and their teachers' advice. Those levels determine how long you stay in high school and what kind of school you can attend after high school. Usually, the only reason to switch groups is when you go up a level or drop a level at the end of a year, based on your grades and performance. So students always take all classes with exactly the same group, have lunch breaks at the same time etcetera."

"Each group is assigned a mentor, which is a teacher who teaches a certain subject to multiple groups of all levels. In the meantime, those mentors are responsible for their students well-being, grades and performances, the group dynamics and more. They also are there to advice students regarding choices they have to make like what school to go to next or what career to pick, help them with personal issues and most of them plan a few fun activities or trips during the schoolyear. All of this has to happen during the mentor's own class. 
There is no homeroom. Some schools however schedule a mentor class once a week or once a month, and most mentors make room to talk to each student once or twice in private before or after school."
End cite.

An over-view of that entire Wikipedia article makes clear that it's basically gang-related and planning. Or some such. Preparation for a life of office drudgery. Or a stint in the Navy.

I fervently hope that little Miss Chew does well in Algebra, because she'll find a career as a Mathematician far more rewarding.
Or Biology. Lab research.

No, I cannot assay her chances as an Olympic runner. I was just amazed that she could run for over a block and a half with absolutely no signs of exhaustion or creeping old-age. I could not do that; I'm jealous.

Art-related stuff is important too. Develops the mind.

I don't think Dutch High Schools had "mentors" in my day, as per that Wikipedia article's information. The only docent whose name I actually remember is Fritz Staals, who taught French. He was good.
But he had some lousy students.

I still don't parlay la langue de la belle France worth merde.


The reason why she was running on the opposite side of the street is NOT because she was avoiding the smoker (me), but because that is the side where the bus stops on Van Ness Avenue. She probably is a non-smoker, because she cannot buy her first pipe and tin of tobacco in California until she reaches twenty one.

Or goes on the internet and purchases both from out of state.
Using her mom's credit card, with permission.


Sat sau (失手): Accidentally drop, Sat jo sau (失咗手): To have accidentally dropped, unintentionally lost something.
Jo (咗) marks a completed action.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019


You might think that after Greenland, the King of the Jews bit, the Second Coming, and the Medal of Honor, I'd have plenty to write about. So much material, how could I resist? But nope, those are matters that others can discuss. Suffice to say that I greeted all the regular backroom boys with a cheery shout of "Greenland", and endeavored to boost their spirits with the prospect of enormous expanses of cheap real estate, suitable for country cottages. And hunting. They seemed a bit glum.

I expansively predicted a great future for America's unemployable soybean farmers and Christians enslaving the natives and exploiting the rich soil of Greenland. Why, it would be America's Belgian Congo! Riches! Cinchona! Rubber! Ivory! La mission civilisatrice! The blessings of capitalism!
Plus stupendous corruption, theft and mismanagement.
Copper mines, and vast coffee plantations.

They were NOT enthused.


"President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world, the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God."

---Bone Spurs, quoting Wayne Allen Root (a certifiable loony)

Yeah, no, I ain't gonna write about that crap. Anyone who believes that "greatest president second coming" nonsense can go hump a camel.
Not even the back room takes that seriously.

Well, maybe two of them do.

For the first time that I can remember, the Irish outnumbered the Jews, and somehow the conversation turned to alcoholism and senility.
I have no idea how that happened.

Greenland, boys, think of Greenland.

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The president of the United States recently tweeted that Democrat-voting Jews are disloyal, and that he is king of the Jews and sent by god. Which is something the Evangelicals are telling him. Now, I should clarify that I am quite irreligious, though descended from a long line of Calvinists, with a number of Anglicans mixed into the woodpile at various points. It's my family history, although for three generations or more we've been missing in action, religion-wise. I myself am an atheist. Not a fanatic convert to atheism, not a fervent born-again atheist, not a proselytizing atheist. Just an atheist. This is important, because I largely despise Christians, and the Evangelicals in particular. I am not too hep on any other belief systems either, but appreciate the intellectual methodology of serious Talmud study. Can't convert to anything, because I'm too cynical, completely lacking in faith, and have no need to join a community.

Although if a group identity were to come into existence of mainly Anglo-Dutch American rationalist-humanists de-stressing belief in fairy tales and non-fact based ideologies (creationism, climate change denial, space alien pyramids, or similar ridiculous cultish crap), I would probably join.
Loose on ethnicity, tight on shared culture.

Dutch Calvinists don't care what your religion is if you are not a member of their group. It's immaterial, and you are wrong. That's all there is to that.

I am not ignorant of religion, but actually rather well informed. Respectful of some elements, while sneering venomously at most of it. It's a way of life.

I've always thought that Evangelicals were completely insane.
Not just missing screws, but nuts and bolts too.

One of the very worst mistakes we as a country have ever made is allowing the Evangelicals a voice in political discourse. It's like permitting your senile, severely defective, and in-bred idiot country cousins, to sell the family horse.

Religious tolerance does NOT mean that all groups are equally right and have valid points of view. They have equal rights, and can keep their damned points of view, preferably to themselves.

As a nation, we must transcend the batshit crazy element.

We've done a piss-poor job of that.

Now, channeling for four centuries of Calvinist ancestors for a moment, what the president tweeted was complete f*cking heresy! The Spaniards have gotten to him!

"They have abandoned the compassionate heat of Jesus and adopted the bastard, angry, gun-loving, immigrant-hating, racist religion of Fox News, the Republicans, and the preachers."

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019


This blogger needs someone to eat with. Reason being that I want a fish.
Specifically, "king flower fish" (王花魚 'wong faa yü'), also called "yellow flower fish" (黃花魚 'wong faa yü'), which sounds exactly the same in Cantonese. One of my favourite eateries has pan-seared king flower fish (封煎王花魚 'fung jin wong faa yü') listed on the wall as a special, for those who read Chinese. Which is probably the majority of their customers.
They probably had no idea how to translate it into English.
"Envelope-sealed pan-fry king flower fish"?
It's a yellow croaker.

Envelope-sealed pan-fried; a fairly transparent culinary term.

Enough for two people. Three or four with other dishes. They also have several vegetables on the wall which they haven't translated, very likely for the same reason. And their rendition of 封煎黃花魚 looks like a a variation on 蕃茄煎王花魚 ('faan ke jin wong faa yü'; "tomato panfry king flower fish"), which I saw a recent mother (judging by the Winston Churchill potato look of her infant) happily enjoying the other day. Chompity, chompity.

That women has an appetite.

It's too large for me to eat by myself. I am, therefore, hesitant about ordering it when dining alone. Though I might be forced to do precisely that.

I had grouper chunks and tofu (斑球豆腐 'paan kau dau fu'). It was delicious.
Note that 斑球 is often given as 魚片 ('yü pin'; fish slices).
It's not entirely clear what kind of fish it is.

But I want yellow croaker.

The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. I am at work Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. which leaves two days to explore their specials.
So, who do I know who eats with chopsticks (and therefore knows not to overturn the fish), also likes either hot sauce or Hong Kong milk tea (or both), and has no yen for sweet'n sour pork or kung pao tofu?
Someone who is NOT my ex.

[If she liked the place, she'd probably drag her beau "Wheelie Boy" there, and good gracious I do not want that at all. He'd probably hate it. Too Chinese.]

Lunch or dinner, Tuesday or Friday.

This is a quandary.

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An advert showed up on Facebook with a text I misread. And till I looked again, I was enchanted. Crispy Chicken Wrap; customize how you like. But Greasy Chicken Wrap sounds so much more appealing. Served in a warm tortilla; hot sauce, tomato, cilantro, and chive-garlic aioli, plus crumbled roast peanuts and thinly sliced jalapeño chilies, squeeze of lime over, for a yummy breakfast! Toothsome, visually appealing, and appetizing.
Crispy chicken? No, Tyson foods, just plain no.
Simmer it in coconut milk and spices.
Till the oil comes out.

The advertisement did not mention the hot sauce (Sriracha), tomato, cilantro, chive-garlic aioli, crumbled roast peanuts or thinly sliced jalapeño chilies. It invited me to "customize" how I like. So mentally I did exactly that.]


America's obsession with covering everything in breadcrumbs and deepfrying the bejazus out of it is both baffling and nauseating. At some point a fast-food chain will offer a pork sausage patty wrapped in a flapjack, battered, crumbed, and nuked, for a convenient hand-held breakfast at the drive-thru window.

Your choice of Ranch or cheez-whiz™.

Why aren't the curry houses here open at six o'clock in the morning? There's something exceedingly wrong with a society that doesn't eat decent food till evening time.

Dammit, all you darn Anglos, I want my 'Greasy Chicken Wrap'!

Let me tell you what you can do with that Ranch dressing.

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There are times when one wonders whether Andy Lau (劉德華 'lau tak waa') has lost his marbles. If he ever had any. Make no mistake, the man is a star performer, but his artistic judgement is seriously fragile, such as in the return concert where he had scantily-clad girlie poos dancing all jumpy and jiggly-wiggly with giant lollipops on stage, in the song "stupid boy' (笨小孩 'pan siu hoi').
As "art", it stank. As entertainment it hurt the eyes.
His audience was rapt with adoration.

The problem with karaoke is that when no one is singing, strange shiznit shows up on screen. Andy Lau is responsible for some almighty strange shiznit, and could be called the master of the genre.
The song where his back-up dancers are sex-gargoyles, or the atomic fat boy white doll performance, are truly bizarre stage numbers.

Cham Mak Si Kam

When the four young fellows left, I asked Jenny to put on Leslie Cheung (張國榮 'jeung gwok wing') instead. A remarkable actor, a good singer, and the kind of man one would like to know, or like to be.

Here is Leslie Cheung with Sam Hui (許冠傑 'heui gun git') in one of their best known duets. It's a rather beautiful piece.

張國榮,許冠傑 — 沉默是金


Leslie died in 2003. As Jenny at the bar said, a very handsome man. Boyish, sweet looking, memorable. Truly an actor everybody loved.

The lyrics to the song, written by Sam Hui, are below.


夜風凜凜  獨回望舊事前塵
是以往的我  充滿怒憤
誣告與指責  積壓著滿肚氣不憤
對謠言反應  甚為著緊

受了教訓 得了書經的指引
現已看得透  不再自困
但覺有分數  不再像以往那般笨

是錯永不對  真永是真
任你怎說  安守我本份
始終相信 沈默係金

是非有公理 慎言莫冒犯別人
遇上冷風雨  休太認真
自信滿心裡  休理會諷刺與質問
笑罵由人  灑脫地做人

[repeat stanzas two, three, four.]

少年人  灑脫地做人
繼續行  灑脫地做人

The song, by the way, is from 1988.
It was a hit in that year.

Note: The astute reader will have noticed that the first character of the name of the song is different above the video from what's shown in the video as the title. 沉 ('cham') versus 沈 ('cham'). Same number of strokes, same pronunciation, and almost exactly the same meaning.
So it's not an important distinction.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019


This blogger is getting almighty tired of seeing the name Jeffrey Epstein. Is it really necessary for the newsmedia to club us all with new and sickening details about notorious degenerates like Epstein, the Kardasians, or Florida? How about some happy news? Like, just as hypothetical examples, Russia not detaining people seemingly at random, African regimes not shooting their opponents, or East European officials not being revealed as ignorant illiterate bigoted swine? How about "veganism leads to intestinal gas", "Water in DC contains hallucinogens, that's why", and "Space Aliens are deliberately ignoring Earth"?

Stuff we really want to read.


"Antarctica - Written records recently unearthed reveal that these flightless fowl created an advanced civilization deep under the icecap, complete with superior scientific achievements, complex engineering feats, and cures for cancer, before deciding "oh the heck with this, we are happy just snarfing fresh herring and having monogamous feathered sex once a year"."

"Fittingly, this was announced by a team of Norwegian scientists at a weather research station, days after the monthly vodka and akvavit delivery."

Because of the depredations of the local penguin population, they ran out of salty snacks to serve with their vodka and knekkebrød. They plead for understanding, love, and an emergency delivery.
The situation is desperate.

In all honesty, vodka, knekkebrød, and monogamous feathered sex once a year, all sound pretty good to me. Those Norwegians should just shut up; they've got it good. The penguins got bored with herring, okay?!!?

Any news article featuring penguins and Norwegians is bound to be immensely cheering. It's all that vodka, akvavit, and krill on knekkebrød.
Plus monogamous feathered sex once a year.

CONFESSION: This blogger knows very little about Norwegians.

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In the middle of July an intelligent and likable elderly gentleman invited me to attend meetings of two groups of which he was a member, as he thought with my interests I would find them worthwhile. What I forgot to mention to him was that I am not really a sociable type. Sure, I can be polite, courteous, and friendly. Pleasantly groupish.
But it's not my natural thing.

Besides, I am the fellow who always derails discussion.
Sticking to the program leads to anarchy.

The other day I mentioned black cherries to the cigar smokers in the back room, in the context of an aromatic pipe tobacco that also contained black cavendish (almost always a souped-up component of blends) and Virginia ribbon (probably just filler in this case). This lead, evitably, to a long drawn out discussion about R&B music and singers popular during the Seventies. Which was their era. Other than occassionally interjecting a comment, I did not take part. I am not group-social, know nothing about their music, am not a cigar smoker, and I had things to do.

Later, much later, they were discussion their sex lives. Other than hanging around listening in from a safe distance, and marveling at what a bunch of outright filthy beasts they were, I did not say a word. There was plenty of room for snide comments, but it was one of the first times ever that they were sincere and vulnerable. Albeit it lamentably depraved.

Again, I am not a cigar smoker.

Regarding the groups of which the gentleman in the first paragraph spoke, the ones with an overlap of interests, I attended one meeting. It is doubtful that I will do that again. They're likable people though.

Pipe club once a month, elderly Cantonese at a bakery, back table at a chachanteng watching the regulars arguing politics with the sh*t disturbing bus driver (a very "eloquent" man). Plus pointing out to the head sheep why he's wrong, oh so very wrong, about the importance of his role or his furious objection to the she-sheep being considered wiser, plus countering the one-legged monkey's fantasies about acquiring a banana plantation with my credit card. Observing unstable street people from a safe distance.
And mentally talking back to cell-phone conversations nearby.

Once a week I'll head out late at night for conversation with a book seller and people watching, and a spot of karaoke. Neither of us sing.

We like some of the people at the place with karaoke.

It's a somewhat self-limited social life.

Yes, it could be better.

Some of my friends have expressed an interest on having me give them a tour of Chinatown, seeing as I know a bit about the place, speak passable Cantonese, and can read shop signs and the wall-specials at restaurants. Which is a rather minor ability. It might be less interesting than they think, seeing as I go there for tasty snackiepoos and a cup of milk tea, groceries (vegetables in particular, plus condiments and other flavouring ingredients), people watching, and also to enjoy a quiet pipeful without angry frumps objecting to the reek of my tobacco. Lunch, milk tea, smoke.

An hour of me talking would bore both of us.

Perhaps we could sit on a park bench observing the old folks playing cards, children running about, and tourists gawking at the strangeness of so many Chinese people all in one place doing completely normal things.

We could pretend that we are here to gather data for the invasion fleet.
Our kind don't know much about human beings.
We think they could be useful.

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Monday, August 19, 2019


Like many people, I tend to smoke outdoors. Largely because the person who lives in the other room of this apartment is a non-smoker who doesn't like the smell -- one must be considerate of the people who tolerate one's peculiarities, those are hard to find -- and also because there are very few indoor smoking places left in San Francisco, or anywhere in the modern world. So, of course, I've gotten used to it, and sneer at fellow smokers who grumble about the cold and their personal sense of offended discomfort; "it is so frigid down by the compost heap, darn it, it's snowing, there's a blizzard, and I cannot feel my toes!".

Snow, blizzard, toes? Suck it up, old boy, be a man!

In the interests of full disclosure, I have no compost heap, it never snows here, and if that's an aromatic pipe tobacco (vanilla cherry strudel?), you're pretty darn stinky and deserve to hide near the open sewers.

So, let me quote from Mr. Bender on Facebook:

"Oh-so-manly dudes who smugly sneer at those who make the choice to smoke in the garage or outdoors rather than in the home where their families, pets, et cetera are. They come across as insufferably lacking in empathy and just sort of simultaneously inflated and empty... “Ha, look at you losers being respectful of those around you. Pathetic. I do whatever I want wherever I want whenever I want to. I’ve been divorced five times, have no friends, none of my relatives talk to me anymore, and I have been banned from every church and Walmart in the tri-state area, but by God I’m a real man!”

"And, I mean, if circumstances and housemates allow you to smoke indoors that’s great; but making it part of some hopped-up hypermasculine bullshit is just plain dumb."
End quote.

This morning I was out on the front steps with a tiny cigarillo, a hot cup of strong coffee, and my bathrobe. It's peaceful out there. Some people up and down the street waiting for their ride to work, a few loonies and street people talking to themselves, pigeons, crows, and a seagull. An occasional vehicle (uber, garbage truck), and the silvery light of the sun behind the layer of haze and fog.

My "hypermasculinity" consists of knowing many things, being relatively agreeable and considerate, and a certain level of tolerance for other people. I don't know if any churches or Walmarts would let me in; I'm not likely to find out.

Smoking isn't reflective of machismo.

So I agree with Mr. Bender.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019


This blogger is delighted to find out that a columnist exists who goes by the name "Orange Wang". This while reading an article about diminished United States soybean sales to The Peoples Republic of China (on the Mainland).

My guess is that he backs The Netherlands every time the World Cup rolls around. As, indeed, do I. And who wouldn't? The Dutch team always puts up a manly fight, thrills the crowd, never ever bloody wins.

Team Orange is the perfect team for realists.

Close, yet ever unvictorious.


Orange Wang. Yep. Love orange. Okay.

From the page

"Orange Wang covers the Chinese macroeconomy, and has many years of experience with China's monetary and fiscal policy moves. He also covered global market and financial news for a long time, with a particular focus on new technologies and their influences on economic growth and society. Before joining the South China Morning Post, Orange worked as a Shanghai Correspondent for ET Net, a Hong Kong financial news agency."
End quote.

I had already gotten to the end of the article before I wigged to the name.
I was planning to write something about the Chinese sneering at America's overpriced nasty-ass soybeans, perhaps quoting the article, because if the inventors of soy products ain't buying, there has to be something wrong with them (the beans), but my delight at so fortuitously finding a fellow fan of Dutch soccer leaves me limp. Quite.

Over the next week or so I shall read his many other articles in the South China Morning Post, which has become one of my favourite news sites.

I am pleased at this happy discovery.

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Where several hours ago a young couple was wrapped in embrace there is only a pigeon now, with an air of determination inspecting the pavement. Moments earlier it had found a pizza crust, no doubt unconnected entirely to the two late night lovers. Across the street, an early rising neighborhood resident walks towards his car.

A small cigarillo was key to both observational moments.

In the morning, coffee also played a role.

On the entrance steps of the apartment building, while smoking. One must, of course, be fully dressed, or at least covered-up at such a time, because front steps nudity would be frowned upon. Which is a limitation of one's personal freedom that is acceptable only because one expects the same clothedness from other people in their porticos or in front of their buildings, within one's line of sight. When they're out there.

There are very few people whom I would want to see naked while smoking. At this moment, I cannot think of any.

If you are outside and enjoying tobacco, that necessarily implies either pockets or a purse. For the matches, the lighter, and the tobacco product. As well as house keys, and perhaps a wallet. The only other possibility is that you fled in the buff, in desperate need of a smoke.

Sofar, I have never encountered a naked neighborhood nicotine addict. Yet. But if someone were to come up to me undressed asking for a butt, I would certainly give it to him or her. To keep their hands occupied.
I believe that's very important.

This is a thought that, naturally, comes to mind when the first cup of coffee is coursing through one's veins. But incidental smoking related nudity is more likely late at night, probably due to pizza and beer.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019


This blogger is nearly seven thousand miles away from Hong Kong, and in no way personally affected by the chaos there. But even so. The mobs of rioting activists should calm the "F" down. Perhaps they do not realize what an exemplary police force they have? And that once they start targeting families of officers they're in a dangerous grey zone where their next step could have repercussions they cannot foresee and would not ever want.
Neither the mainland cops NOR the Taiwanese police forces are as little corrupted or as tolerant.

[Heck, many of those police in the hinterland are outright gangsters.]

The Hong Kong Police are still constrained by rules.
Kindly remember that. It could change.

By the same token, pretty much the entire Hong Kong government should resign. They've lost control, lost any moral authority, and lost whatever little respect the public may have ever had for them. Their failure is monumental.
They are little more than Peking's running dogs.

Carrie Lam might better leave town.
And consider a name change.

The mainlanders cursing over the internet, and voicing opinions, should shut up. Not your horserace, and y'all have no stake in the outcome, other than being able to go there for shopping sprees and uncouth hick behaviour.
Piss off, pipe down, and keep kissing Peking's diseased back-ends.

Same goes for the folks making anonymous death threats. It may take a while, but they can be found. Not necessarily by the authorities.

Jackie Chan can shut up too. His voicing of support for the party line did not win him any friends outside of the mainland, and given that those hosers have pirated his movies anyhow, there's no point in catering to them.

Donald Trump suggesting that President Xi meet with the protesters was, of course, sheer gibbering idiocy. Ain't gonna happen. Despite his sterling credentials as a pragmatist and relatively honest mob boss, Xi remembers what happened the last time a political leader met with student activists.
About which we shall not speak.

Besides, he has neither the language, nor cultural framework, to make it worthwhile.

Hong Kong people largely despise the northerners, quite justifiably.
Communist party officials have an anti-Cantonese agenda.
Mainlanders tend to be ignorant vulgarians.
And Donald Trump is an idiot.

As an illustration of how easily any fraught discussion in Hong Kong can get out of hand, here's a video of a conversation between a bicyclist upset at a road closure in Mongkok and several excedingly patient members of the Hong Kong constabulary.



My sympathies are with the entire frikkin' lot of them.

That bicyclist should talk to Trump.

He's eloquent.

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On the path up to the doorway of my workplace this morning I encountered a small presence, which I have since then concluded must have been ...