Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Comics this (last) week

The Multiversity Ultra Comics #1- Multiversity has thus far been a series of hit-or-miss single issues. I will grant you that writer Grant Morrison has more hits than misses. I will even grant you his hits have been great (Thunderworld, Guidebook, The Just) while his misses (Pax Americana) are more below average than outright bad. However Ultra Comics is one issue which I have no idea where to put in. It’s a comic with some fun ideas (Ultra, Cannibal Kids) but at the same time seem more confusing than necessary. The idea that The Gentry is an evil that arise from thought instead of action is cool but then Morrison had to muddy up the waters by adding up useless crap like Ultrastuff, a time battle between Tar and Ecpoh etc. Even the idea that the evil that is The Gentry can be confronted and defeated by reader’s criticisms and demand for a good ending is swept by the wayside in the confusion. Too bad because it is a great idea. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew's Legacy

The downpour yesterday did not stop tens of thousands of people from lining up along the 15.4 km route to say goodbye to Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew. Mr. Lee led Singapore to independence 50 years ago and after a week of mourning, Singapore's founding leader was given an elaborate state funeral yesterday.

Thus end an age of Singapore!

Now comes the time to wonder about the legacy left behind by this great man. Already there have been people who have gotten into trouble talking about it. Opposition leader Low Thia Khiang was criticized for saying Mr. Lee was a controversial figure; local bakery, BreadTalk, got into trouble for coming out with a bread in honor of the man; and even a 17-year-old was arrested just for putting a video on YouTube criticizing Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Now as Singapore's founding father, it’s no surprise that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew holds a special place in the hearts of many Singaporeans. However, there’s a need not to go overboard and I don’t just mean the arrest.

Mr. Lee is a great man, widely respected and admired, but he was no saint. Mr. Low was not wrong when he says that Mr. Lee was a controversial figure; he was and that is something Mr. Lee made no bones or apology for! He is a leader whose intelligence, tenacity, vision, and ruthlessness led Singapore to become the country we are today. He is a leader that’s not afraid to get his hands dirty to get what he wants. He is a leader who did the impossible. And that’s how I think we ought to remember him. 

Let’s remember Mr. Lee Kuan Yew as the man he is; not as a saint or a myth but a man whose greatness is without question. Let's remember Mr. Lee that way, warts and all. From what I know and read about the man, he wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Singaporeans Respond To The Death of LKY

After a private wake, the body of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore, has been taken to Parliament House for public viewing. His body will be placed there till Saturday and the public can view the body.

The public has responded by coming out in droves with the first person in line since Tuesday night and the queue has been so overwhelming the Lying-in-State will be open 24 hours daily till Saturday, 28 March 2015, 8pm.

From what I saw today, it might still not be enough! Just take a look at the queue!

From this picture, I may be the only one in Singapore who think it is inappropriate to take photo of the gun carriage 

The queue starts here

Goes around Hong Lim Park

Pass One George Building (good touch with the half-flag)

Towards OCBC Building

Across Cavenagh Bridge

 And then you get to the Parliament House

That's in the afternoon; in the morning...

It went along Raffles Place Jetty


Boat Quay MacDonald 

Along Circular Road

To the end before U-turning back along Circular Road

So everyone who want to pay their respects, please be patient and be ready for a long, long wait. Thanks

Keep The Mystery

In the 80s, the two biggest stars in the music industry are Michael Jackson and Prince. Now both were pop-stars who made similar music, but of the two I always prefer Prince.

Prince was a musical genius who could (and did) played many instruments on his songs. His songs touched on everything from love to sex to family to spirituality, sometimes on the same song. So when I heard that when he has a vault full of unreleased songs, I was naturally curious. I mean the man has his own recording studio and could (and did) record his songs anytime he wanted to.

Now fans has been clamouring for Prince to open his vault for years, and a BBC documentary has interviewed many people who had worked with Prince before. All say the vault exist and that there are great songs inside. However most seem to doubt that the enigmatic Prince would ever release the songs in his vault.

I think it would be better if he never did.

As much as I am curious about the songs Prince has, sometimes the mystery is more important than the reveal. Not to say the songs would suck, but the legend of the vault is something that's work in Prince's favor. Keep the door of the vault shut Prince; it’s a legendary thing now. Keep the mystery. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One-Eye Man by L.E. Modesitt Jr.

I'll be honest; I'm not a fan of L.E. Modesitt, Jr. I read some of his books in his "Saga of Recluce" series but was never a fan. However the premise of “The One-Eye Man” was interesting, so I thought I gave it a try. I do not regret it.

In simple terms; you need to pick up this book!

The One-Eyed Man is Dr. Paulo Verano, a freelance consultant who is also an expert ecologist. Following a messy divorce where his wife got most of his assets, Verano takes a government contract to investigate the environmental impact of humans on a far-flung planet named Stittara.

Stittara is the planet which is the main supplier of anagathics, a drug that can more than doubled the human life span, but there’s deep questions about the environment impact of human settlements on the planet so Verano was sent as a political move to quiet the critics. It was a strictly political move as everyone, including Verano, knows that there was no way powerful men will abandon the production of a drug that could double their lifespan.

Once on the planet however, Verano found things to be less straightforward. As Verano begins to diligently investigate the planet, he found that there are many factions trying to influence his report. There’re also questions on whether the local Skytubes, mysterious airborne organisms, were intelligent sentient creatures. The questions and answers Verano find on Stittara will have severe consequences for him, the planet and all the humans living there.

Now as you can tell, this is a sci-fi book and I have to say it is a very good one. Modesitt put together a hard sci-fi book that has quite a few interesting ideas. For example, one of the main reasons Verano took the contract is because of the time difference. The ship he took to Stittara travels at near light speed but with the accompanying “time dilation”, while the trip takes just weeks for Verano, more than seventy-five years has passed for everyone off ship. So by the time he reached Stittara, his daughter would be older than he is. Modesitt also place an emphasis on the society that would come living with this sort of time difference. When Verano first heard that there was a woman on Stittara over 400 years ago, he hardly blinks as he himself is over a hundred after the trip to Stittara.

The book isn’t all about fantastical science fiction technology; it is also a thought-provoking book on the limits of humanity. I won’t spoil the ending but by the end of this book, Modesitt gives you a good sense that even with great technological advances, there will always be limits on humanity and we need to be humble about our place in the world.

However the best part of the book is how it was written in the first place. “The One-Eye Man” was written based on a painting by John Jude Palencar (the image which serves as this book's cover art). Personally I have no idea how anyone can write such a story full of complex governmental systems and technological advances from this strange painting but I guess that’s why Modesitt has so many books to his name and I’m writing a blog. It is amazing.

The book unfortunately will not be for everyone. People who like action with their sci-fi will be sorely tested by this book. Although Modesitt throw a bone by making Verano a (improbable) martial artist, “The One-Eye Man” works almost like a detective story where the detective is more brains than brawn. In the final sequence of the novel, Verano spent his moments at his desk waiting for others to call him back. It’s makes perfect sense in the context of the book but people who want their hero to be an action star will be sorely disappointed.

People may also have an issue with the details of Verano’s investigation. A large part of the middle portion of this book is spent on his investigation; visiting the various communities and corporations that had set up shop on Stittara, doing analysis, speaking to Survey personals on the planet. I find the whole thing interesting but I can see why some people may find it boring instead.

Despite the lack of action, I found that the plot of the book moves compellingly forward as Modesitt cleverly hints, weaves, and knits together various threads of information to form a story will blow your mind. Pick this one up; it’s great!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Passing Of A Legend

Everyone knew it was coming, but it is still with great sadness when word finally came that former Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has passed away. 

The 91 year-old Mr. Lee has been hospitalized since early February with severe pneumonia so news of his passing came as no surprise. However, such is his stature that even Singaporeans who do not agree with his political views will mourn his passing. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is widely credited as the man who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub. He was Singapore's prime minister for 31 years, so he is widely known as the architect of Singapore's prosperity.

It would be slightly incorrect to say he was loved, but respect and admiration are in no short supply when speaking about the man. His toughness and pragmatism were legendary and he will be missed. 

Farewell Mr. Lee, Singapore will miss you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DC Comics Pulled Joker/Batgirl Cover

When I read that “DC Comics Pulls Controversial Batgirl Cover”, I expected the cover to be you know…controversial. This is the cover;

I can only say this after seeing it; what the fuck is wrong with it?

This is supposed to be a variant cover for Batgirl #41 which is part of a series of 25 Joker-themed variant covers planned for DC's June comic lineup. The covers feature the Clown Prince of Crime alongside various DC heroes, and this cover is clearly one that plays off “The Killing Joke”, a story where the Joker paralyzed Barbara Gordon.

People objected to this cover because of Joker's treatment of Batgirl.

Guess what idiots; that’s the idea! What? Do you want him to be smiling? Joker is a creepy, scary, intimidating villain, who once paralyzed Batgirl. To me, this cover by artist Rafael Albuquerque portrayed him perfectly, This is the JOKER!

Instead of accepting this wonderful cover, people put on #CHANGETHECOVER which pretty much caused/forced artist Rafael Albuquerque to request that the cover be removed. DC, wimps that they are, pretty much immediately accepted the request.