Review: A Fighting Chance

A Fighting Chance
A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In lieu of a review, I’d like to share 2 quotes that I especially liked —

“Sure, government fails sometimes. (By the way, corporations fail sometimes, too.) But I don’t believe the response to government failure — such as the inept response to Hurricane Katrina or the slew of failures that led to the financial crisis — should be a snarky “I told you so” or a heavy sigh of resignation. No: the response should be *outrage*. The government — *our* government — should be held to a higher standard.” (p.186)

“How do we build a future? I made the case for what I believe: We are stronger and wealthier because of the things we build together. We are more secure when we create a foundation that allows each of us to have a decent chance to build something on our own. We are better off when we invest in one another. It’s economics and values, tied tightly together.” (p.216)

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Review: Ministry of Moral Panic

Ministry of Moral Panic
Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stories impress themselves upon you, and you’ll remember each one’s unique shape, tone and character. Raw in some areas, jarring in others (an uneducated housewife with a penchant for Tsai Ming Liang?), teetering on cliche even. But Lee Koe shows she has her finger clearly on the pulse of these times: our sex-cynical, social media-soaked, hipster-populated years. She’s only 23 @_@ I’m looking forward to more of her writing.

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Pilot Scholar E

The Scholar E is a marvel for Pilot fans. It combines features from a few Pilot Japanese models and then some.

The pen has the torpedo size and shape of the Custom 74 (and the Custom 67 before it) but with a different cap band and – most notably – guilloche-like chasing on the black plastic.


Under the cap, the pen sports a large inlaid nib – a distinctive design that debuted on the Pilot Elite series of pens, and is available these days only in 18K gold on expensive offerings like the Silvern series or last year’s Elite 95 reissue. This is a steel nib though, just gold-plated.


The squeeze-filler on the pen is unique too. It looks like a larger CON-20 (Pilot’s current production squeeze converter) and it screws into the section housing. The filler is easily unscrewed but the section lacks a piercer for cartridges. The sac is clear plastic – probably vinyl.

The Scholar E was (is?) made in Korea, apparently by a licensee of Pilot that is still in business according to Bruno Taut. The pen can’t be imported into Japan it seems.

Maybe I’ve been spoilt by other pens, but I paid about US$50 for this Pilot Scholar E and I think the weight and materials are just about OK for this price point. Cosmetically, the cap and barrel are a different material and shade of black from the captop and barrel end. The chasing is interesting but cut shallowly. The gold-plating on the nib has flaws too. The plastic for barrel and cap feels a bit too light. The ends unscrew easily as well.

The nib is stiff as a nail. Not scratchy but also not as smooth as a Japan-made steel Pilot nib e.g. on the Prera. And on my pen ink seeps out from the back of the nib. No serious leaking or blobbing, but I do need to be careful not to put my fingers there when I write.

In all, a budget-priced curiosity or treat for Pilot fans.


Capped length: 14.4 cm
Uncapped length: 13.6 cm

201 Hero (“201” 英雄), 1955(?) -1966


This is a well-used 201 Hero ( “201” 英雄 ) from the Shanghai Huafu ( 华孚 ) fountain pen factory. The pen is the nicest copy of the Parker “51” I’ve handled so far. Parts fit well. Doesn’t feel too light or flimsy. Has a gold nib and what looks like a celluloid jewel on top of the cap.

There’re 2 interesting modifications to the “51” design: the faux “clutch ring” comprising a piece of plastic sandwiched between 2 thin metal rings, and a thin metal band with circular cutouts on the inside rim of the barrel (probably to prevent cracking but visually interesting too).



Capped length: 12.6 cm
Uncapped length: 13.7 cm

This pen was very well-used and clearly much-loved. Ink flow is a bit dry and I think the feed could be fitted more closely to the nib. But the nib writes so smoothly regardless. (Worn down with regular use?)

I’ve more questions about this pen. Why was there so much blue ink inside? Why was it left to dry out when it was clearly well-used and so worn? How many people have owned it? How did it leave China in the first place? Where did it spend the decades?


Have been trying to pin down production dates. Based on this source and others it seems the pen was made sometime between 1955 and 1966. 1955 was when the Shanghai Huafu Fountain Pen Factory (华孚金笔厂) launched its “Hero” brand of fountain pens. 1966 was when the factory changed its name to “Hero Fountain Pen Factory” (英雄金笔厂) (possibly due to events during the Cultural Revolution?).

If you’ve more information about this pen, please feel free to post comments. Would love to hear from you :)

201 Hero capped

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