Cheap Coffee

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Frosts in Brazil, civil wars in Africa… whatever’s happening on the supply side one can be sure that a kilogramme of your average branded instant coffee is going to cost at least US$25/kg retail (compared with US$2.15/kg for robusta coffee beans in bulk).

I tend to wait for specials and then buy a big jar of can – or buy supermarket ‘own brand’ coffee. I did this last week and it was pretty awful stuff. Today I experimented by putting a drop of vanilla essence in the cup and my consumer experience was transformed!

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So here’s my Economical Household Management Tip for December. Buy the cheapest coffee you can find and a little bottle of vanilla essence. Do this over your whole adult lifetime, invest the savings wisely, and you could have enough for a funeral that will be the envy of your friends. The ones who outlive you, anyway.

Sun Tzu

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I am indebted to the blog https://chinaicons.com/ for drawing my attention to the proverbs of the famous Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu, whose writings are still studied by military commanders the world over. I’ve borrowed this picture of his statue from the China Icons website.

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Among the proverbs this one resonates with me particularly:

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

Isn’t this exactly how the Chinese leadership is making fools of the rest of us? Their creeping occupation of the South China Sea, consolidation of their hold over Tibet and suppression of political freedom in Hong Kong are all being achieved through persistent bullying and angry outbursts that fall short of provoking armed conflict. (See my earlier post ‘Trump, Tsai and Xi’.)

Again, one can draw parallels with those other rogue states Israel and Russia – and North Korea too, I suppose.

PS According to the WordPress computer, my fellow-blogger at China Icons found that earlier post of mine “awesome”. He or she writes well and is not given to extravagant hyperbole, so I guess I’m up there with Sun Tzu himself – and even Confucius! Or maybe WordPress is leading the charge towards degradation of the English language. OMG, that would make me s-o-o-o stroppy!

Trump, Tsai and Xi

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Why must we always be the ones to back down and compromise our principles? By ‘we’, by the way, I mean The Liberal Democratic West (LDW for short, not to be confused with LBW).

Taiwan is a country with its own government, socio-politico-economic system, policies and values. It suits many people to maintain the fiction that it’s a renegade province of the People’s Republic of China that will one day be reincorporated into the mainland Chinese polity, but for all practical purposes and for the foreseeable future it is a separate state.

Moreover, the so-called People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping is going out of its way to behave badly. Whether it’s denying political rights in Hong Kong, flouting international law in the South China Sea, engaging in industrial espionage or dumping dodgy steel products on world markets, China is donning the clothes of a Rogue State.

And why wouldn’t it? It has observed that the LDW will always back down rather that risk a fight – unless its opponent is orders of magnitude weaker. Israel, Russia and Saudi Arabia have got away with murder, so why not China?

That’s why I applaud Donald Trump’s decision to talk to President Tsai of Taiwan (both pictured below, courtesy of AP). Let journalists and political advisors cringe and mouth the doctrine of appeasement. I say, “Enough! What’s the point of spending 4% of your GDP to build and maintain the most powerful military machine in the history of mankind if you always back off rather than risk hurting a few feelings?!”

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Don’t get me wrong: On almost every issue I am at odds with both Donald Trump and John Bolton (tipped to become his Secretary of State), and I have no appetite for a Third World War. But in this one instance the Donald got it right and John’s endorsement was spot-on. We tried being nice to China and look where it got us. It’s time to try something different.

If Xi Jinping doesn’t like it, let him rant and act offended and threaten to cut off the supply of Barbie dolls.

The World Needs a New Award

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A friend forwarded the following advertisement to me, and it gave me an idea. On my next birthday, by way celebration I shall present the first Stroppy Git Award for Meaning­less Twaddle. This is the only nomination so far – a strong contender, I think you’ll agree.

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My birthday is 17 January and nominations will close at midnight GMT (or UTC if you prefer) on Friday 13 January 2017. The award will take the form of a blog post dedicated to the perpetrator(s) of the winning entry.