You have to hand it to the United States. Everything is larger than life there. 

When they want to lay it out, they can lay it on as thick as molasses. Its movies can be as crappy as they can be superb. Their smart people can be as Nobel-sharp as their dimwits can give dumb a bad name. 

I mean, the average village idiot in Malaysia generally rants about the tightfitting attire of Malaysia Airlinesstewardesses, while simultaneously fantasising about the bounty it conceals. 

In the United Kingdom, they routinely rave about the imminent demise of Planet Earth from their soap boxes in Hyde Park. 

But only in the United States do they become President. 

When he was young, he thought he was so sharp he should become a surgeon. His father hastily talked him out of that after he noticed that young Donald could never tell the difference between “antidote” and “anecdote.” 

It still remains one of the enduring mysteries of the 21stCentury – how on earth did the US elect such a person to the highest office in the land, a man who, apparently, thinks that Covid19 is tweetable? 

Anyone who saw the village-idiot-in-chief’s interview with Chris Wallace last week would have been stunned. 

Mr Wallace might work for Fox News but he is a highly respected journalist who used to be a regular on 60 Minutes, the investigative news programme on CBS. 

Wallace politely corrected the President twice, fact-checking him so decisively that Trump felt compelled to call for back-up to prove his point. 

The back-up didn’t bolster his case but the President, never one to let facts get in the way of a spin, just talked over Wallace while repeating his false claims. 

But his idea of proving that he was smarter than Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee for President, made Wallace’s jaw drop. 

The President bragged that he’d “recently” aced a “test” whose last five questions were so hard that he doubted that either Wallace or Biden could have done as well. 

Here, the American people should be afraid, they should be very afraid. The so-called test the President was talking about is called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test. It is not only easy – a fifth grader could ace it – but is chiefly used to spot the signs of early dementia. 

The question to ask therefore: why was the President of the United States having to take such a test? 

That he’s evidently proud of his feat is clear: he’s boasted about it several times including something to this effect to another Fox News reporter: that the doctors administering the test were so impressed with his last few answers they said that “few people could do as well.” 

The person interviewing him seemed impressed as all hell. Then again, he’s the same guy who was overjoyed the other day after he heard that he’d won the Nigerian national lottery. 

Between prescribing bleach for Covid-19 sufferers and railing against Obama for All America’s Ills, the President has begun shocking people in other ways. 

He’s actually beginning to sound intelligent. He’s advised people to wear masks and he’s cancelled the Republican Convention in Florida.

If you believe he’s changed, you’d also believe that there is no such word as “gullible.”


Did you know that Listerine shares guarantee a royalty so long as people worry about bad breath? 

According to Bloomberg, bids were being taken last week on a share of royalties backed by Listerine mouthwash sales. These stem from contracts signed 140 years ago by its inventor and still cited in business law classes that require the maker to pay shareholders in perpetuity. No wonder over 100 bids for a single share reached over US$340,000!

While the share up for sale only paid $32,000 last year, it’s a payment that will keep coming as long as Listerine “kills germs that cause bad breath.” In modern terms, that’s like pressing the F5 key – it’s refreshing. 

And Listerine is by far the most popular mouthwash — it had a 37% share of a growing $5.2 billion global market for mouthwashes and dental rinses last year. 

The formula for Listerine was invented by Joseph Lawrence, a St. Louis doctor who originally marketed it as a cure for dandruff and/or a treatment for gonorrhoea. Those original objectives were not met: the unfortunate scalp sufferer’s hair fell out entirely. As for the other affliction – don’t ask!

But the good doctor’s invention proved to be a boon for his daughter Beatrice. While an apple a day kept the doctor away, the same could not be said for her preference of an onion a day which kept everyone away. 

The comely Beatrice discovered, however, that her father’s elixir proved to be the perfect counterbalance to the pungency of an onion diet and, lo and behold, not only was mouthwash created, suitors began arriving in droves. 

But Dr Lawrence’s true genius may have been his inspired choice of his product’s name. He named it after British doctor Joseph Lister, who discovered that disinfectants could reduce post-surgical infections.

Thus, Listerine became forever associated with antiseptic – synonymous with anything astringent, clean or fresh smelling. 

It’s become a word indelibly associated with freshness, almost an involuntary reflex like drooling over a roasting steak or vegetarians salivating over the smell of freshly mowed grass. 

Whether the dour Dr. Lister, who was as humourless as Donald Trump in a pandemic, approved of the use of his name on a soon-to-be-famous mouthwash is less clear. 

Dr Lister was a grim soul who disapproved of mouthwash almost as much as he did meat which was why he was resolutely vegetarian. 

But such was the nature of his unflinching soul that he was vegan not because he liked animals but because he loathed plants. So, most people appreciated the irony of his epitaph when it read Rest in Peas. 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. Dr Lawrence had to work at it, tinkering around with his Listerine formula until he got it just so. That was generally affected by the judicious use of a canary: if it keeled over dead, the dose was generally considered too strong.

This story has a decidedly happy ending. The innumerable descendants of the once-comely Beatrice have gone on have had wealth thrust on them thanks to Dr Lawrence and many heroic canaries.  

And, yes, it’s been good news for modern man and the transformation, willy-nilly, of too-many-to-count groomsmen into grooms. 

And it’s been for you as well. Picture for an instant, the lack of a good mouthwash in a crowded lift. 

I mean, it would smell bad on so many levels. 


Off a dirt road in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently faced off against Indonesia’s famed chef William Wongso in a beef rendang showdown.

Set against a picturesque backdrop of cliffs and lush greenery, the duo were cooking for West Sumatra governor Irwan Prayitno and his family.

That was how old Irwan felt about cooking: he thought if you worked hard enough and prospered long enough, you’d get someone like Gordon Ramsey to cook for you. 

Still, food for thought, what? If you noticed, no one said anything about Malaysia having any claim on rendang.

It wasn’t like that two years ago. 

Remember when a culinary contestant on MasterChef UK got booted after her offering of nasi lemak – comprising chicken rendang among other components – was deemed inedible on the grounds the said chicken rendang “wasn’t crispy” enough.

At the time, Malaysian social media users thought that said fowl had been taste-treated most unfairly and said so in such numbers that it made the pages of the British press.

Even the then British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicky Treadell got into the act.

“It can be chicken, lamb or beef,” she declaimed poetically, “And never crispy. Heaven forbid, chief.”  

Gordon Ramsey shuddered at the verse and recoiled at the idea of chicken in rendang. “Fair was foul and fowl was merely fair,” he agreed with the Bard, “But beef was the answer to life’s problems.” 

Still, Mr Ramsey dismissed Messrs Wallace and Torode – the judges in the MasterChef question – as confused cooks who thought that the dish might have been something you got out of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Actually, both the chefs were pretty good at their craft. Mr Wallace wanted to be a great cook because his mother had been terrible.

He only realised this when he was eight and began wondering why his morning toast had bones.  Another time he’d cried is when he saw his mum chopping up Onions. 

Onions had been his favourite rabbit. 

So, when he got to culinary school, he never took anything for granted. In fact, he was indefatigable. If the recipe might have talked about separating eggs, for example, the intrepid Wallace would invariably ask, how far? 

Chef Torode, the other judge in question, may have been equally sinister. He was famous for crating the concept of “pre-heating” which is the practice of heating up an oven for a specified time so that one might burn one’s fingers twice – when inserting in the food and when extracting finished product.

Of course, the whole fuss was nothing more than national hubris run amok. The problem was that Malaysians were notoriously touchy about their food. 

We shouldn’t be. Now it appears that Indonesia might be the home of beef rendang. It is a horrible thought because it might mean that Chicken Rice actually originated in Singapore. 

Maybe we should be less fussed about these things and be like the English. The country only contributed the chip to world cuisine but it’s an important invention nevertheless – to couch potatoes the world over. 

We should get over it. I mean, there’s bigger fish to fry.

A Tale of Two Tubs

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has described his country as a “shining success” in fighting Covid-19, according to state-run KCNA news agency Friday.

The pompadoured, platform-shoe-wearing Supremo of the secretive dictatorship was speaking at a Tuesday politburo meeting which discussed the novel coronavirus. 

Under Kim’s multi-chinned management, North Korea had closed its borders and put thousands into isolation more than six months ago.

Some of the state’s civil society elements argued, however, that these measures had already been in effect for decades, but did not make too fine a point about it as they were, 

1) civil to a fault;


2) loath to be strapped to an intermediate range missile prior to an “extremer-prejudice” launch. 

It was yet another day in the hermitage. Ask a citizen how it went, and you’d invariably get the same response: 

“Can’t complain.”

KCNA reported that after reviewing His efforts, North Korea’s “baddest” butterball had pronounced the outbreak dead, saying it had “contained the malignant virus” and “maintained a stable anti-epidemic situation despite the worldwide health crisis”.

According to KCNA, the people gloried in the news and danced in the streets, crying “hosanna” and generally behaved as they did after every successful long-range missile launch, which was every two weeks, according to its rotund ruler.

His Multi-chinned Magnificence felt it was not just necessary but desirable to have as many missiles as possible because a portly president over the seas had threatened “flame and fury” on him if he ever stepped out of line or threatened his southern neighbour whichever came second.  

While not brooding about fire or rage, His Presidential Plumpness felt flamingly angry about America’s efficiency. It was too much testing that was the problem that was leading to too many infections. 

“Take away the testing and you would not have so many infections” he wound up before cunningly concluding in a poetic burst. “Quod erat demonstrandum (QED),” 

It was the sort of Trumpian twist designed to impress Latin America and iron-clad logic of such high school standards that even Paul Krugman was rendered speechless. 

The ample authoritarian in Pyongyang wished he could carry off something as convincing as QED and he thanked Heaven that he did not have to convince anyone in North Korea about anything.

 “Not by the hairs of my chinny-chin-chin-chin,” he laughed immoderately and felt immensely grateful to his far-sighted grandfather who’d built up the family business, so to speak. 

Indeed, the Twin Tubs had much in common, both were probably, to quote an eminent Speaker, “morbidly obese” although it was fair to say that Mr Trump had tried almost everything to lose that extra 20 pounds short of diet and exercise.  

Both were shameless self- promoters although it must be conceded that Mr Trump took bragging to rarefied heights not seen since Hilary scaled Everest.  

Both were highly egotistical and critical of one another. When asked what he thought of Mr Trump after Singapore, His Meaty Majesty snorted: “He’s an arrogant fellow who thinks he knows as much as me.”   

Both were at ease with hyperbole. Witness Kim’s “shining success” with the presidential “more testing that anywhere in the world” back in March. 

And both weren’t especially bright. Mr Trump thinks Finland is part of Russia while his Supreme Shrewdness thinks Kimchi was named after his late, unlamented grandfather.

The fate of East Asia might rest on them. 

Woe is us!