Monday, July 27, 2015

Silly Season Is Here Again!

With the Electoral Boundary Review Committee’s report out already, any pretense that a GE (General Election) is not coming is over. So do you know what that means? It means it's the season for silly Singaporean's complains!

Case in point; Mr. Chew B.W for his complaints about the rising cost of living. Now many Singaporeans has the same complains but the problem for Mr. Chew is that he lives in a private estate and his complains include as the cost of a year's tuition at The Learning Lab ($4,000) and a fencing costume for one of his children ($600). 

Many netizens on social media has been mocking Mr. Chew about his complains but come on people; it's election season! You know what they say; in Singapore, you can't complain against anything. During election, you can complain about everything.

So for the netizens do missed out on complaining about Mr. Chew; don't worry. There will be more cases like Mr. Chew's in the near future. All the way till the exact GE!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Comics this week

Birthright #9- Like I said before, I’m not quite sure about the plot going into separate directions. I can see what writer what Joshua Williamson is trying to do, but there's just not enough room in the issue for 3 separate threads all going on at once. The flashback of young Mikey, adult Mikey and his younger brother’s road trip, and the search for the 2 brothers. Thanks to artist Andrei Bressan's good work, the series is still threading water but Williamson need to condense the story quickly.

Magneto #20- This series has been a slow burn but here at the finish, it has been nothingg short of being wonderful. Writer Cullen Bunn's Magneto will set the standard for other writers for years to come and that's well deserved. This Magneto series show who Magneto is, why he's doing what he’s doing, and why he can never stop. Under Bunn's deft hand, Magneto has become more complicated than ever and it is a travesty that this series is going to end. Catch it while you can!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Bioware had a lot riding on Dragon Age: Inquisition. The third installment of the Dragon Age series, Inquisition had to make up the lost sales of Dragon Age 2 and get the franchise back on track. It mostly succeeded.

Personally, I never had been a great fan of the series. I thought Dragon Age: Origins was a good game but was overrated. It wasn’t anywhere near as great as many would have you believe. Dragon Age 2 had a great story, but the gameplay wasn’t as good and it didn’t allow you to have as many choices as Origins. Bioware obviously took into account fans’ complaints during the production of Inquisition and the result was a game that’s the sum of its predecessors. 

The story takes place after the events of Dragon Age 2 with the Mages and Templers in all-out war. The Chantry is trying to de-escalate the situation and holds a peace summit. You took part in the summit when things go badly wrong.

Once you recovered, you discovered that a big blast killed everyone at the summit except you. Not only that, there’s now a big hole in the sky and demons from the Fade are using it to enter your world. Your job is to stop the demons, closed the hole in the sky, and find out who targeted the summit.

At its heart, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an action role-playing game and in many ways it is superior to its predecessors. The behind-the-back combat view took a little time for me to get use to but once I did, the action flows. I also like the fact that the Qunari race is playable for the first time, and considering the number of Youtube videos out there showing Qunaris in-game, I’m not the only one.

The idea that you’re not just the leader of a bunch of adventurers, but the leader of a movement that aims to reform the world and bring order to it was very well executed. Your inquisition will sent followers to scout regions, undertake missions, require power, play politics, do investigations; and all these actions are tied, some loosely I admit, to the story. This allows you to have a sense of epicness; that you are truly playing for the world.

However in many ways, it is the little things that Dragon Age: Inquisition really shines. The small pieces of lore scattered all over the place, the small details in the elf temple, the decisions you make in the throne room; these are what ultimately set this game apart from the first two.

Of course the game is not perfect. I found the tactical view to be terrible. It is almost useless especially when you encounter multiple enemies standing close to each other. Some of the specialization classes are also overpowered, some even say the Knight-Enchanter class is unkillable. It’s an exaggeration, but only just.  

I also find the Dragon Age Keep to be a stupid. In theory, Dragon Age Keep allows players to have an ability to import their save files from the first two games into Dragon Age: Inquisition. If players of the previous games do not have access to their save files, they can go to a website, Dragon Age Keep, in which they can detail the major plots of the previous two Dragon Age games. In theory, this allows players to customize their games without having to replay of the initial games.

In practice however, Dragon Age Keep can mess up because it does not save the files onto the game. Everytime you enter Inquistion, the game will go to Dragon Age Keep to get the files. I actually went and change the info on my Dragon Age Keep because I wanted to start a second game. Once I done that however, the info on my first game got change so I got a game whose world history was changed halfway into the game. Talk about breaking world immersion.

On the whole however, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a good game. An epic story (that admitting loses steam halfway), detailed environments, excellent combat, good voice acting, makes Dragon Age: Inquisition the best game of the Dragon Age series. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Comics this week

Justice League #42- I heard of having too many cooks, but “The Darkseid War” seems to be suffering from having too many good ingredients. There are just so many good points in the story writer Geoff Johns seems undecided on what to focus on. To be fair, the man may just be a victim of his own success because everything here is on him. The JL team, Darkseid, Anti-Moniter,  Myrina Black and her daughter Grail; everything that’s here was down to the man and he’s trying to give everyone a chance to shine. Personally, I would prefer that more time be spent with Superman and Lex but that might mean less than with the JL team which might mean the shocking end of this issue may not pay off as great as it did here. Like I said, a victim of his own success. 

Moon Knight #17- For the past few issues, Marc Spector had been on a tear against other worshippers of Khonshu. Spector is trying to prevent others members of the Khonshu clergy from using their powers for ill intent but the problem is the God of the Moon and Night Travelers has 3 faces and it is clear that Spector only represent one aspect of the god. When his opponent this issue asked Spector why he was so narrow-minded and why they couldn’t co-exist side-by-side, his only answer was to burn down the building. Another excellent issue here! 

Don't Sign

To the surprise of everyone, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to a €86bn eurozone bailout deal demanded by the EU (European Union). Today members in the Greek Parliament are debating whether to approve the tough economic measures the deal demanded. I say, "Don't sign it!"

Forget the fact that the Greek public had overwhelming voted against the deal in a referendum, the deal on the table miss one crucial detail that MUST be in it for any deal to work. There's no write-off on Greek debts. 

There is no doubt in anyone's minds now that austerity measures is not going to work. For the past 5 years, Greece has been working under severe austerity measures and the result is that their economy has shrunk by just 5 years! Why in the world would more austerity measures work now when it hasn't worked for the past 5 years? 

It won't. The deal on the table is terrible with little to no chance of solving the Greek crisis. Even the IMF (International Monetary Fund) agreed with this assessment. The Greek debt is just too big. For any deal to work, some of it has to be written off. 

This deal don't have that. It won't work so don't sign it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Have Confidence

Singapore has launched a review of electoral constituency boundaries…2 months ago? I must say I am shocked to read that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong only informed parliament on Monday that the electoral boundaries review committee has been at work for 2 months already.

In Singapore, an electoral boundaries review committee would be formed to redraw constituencies and once the report has been released, parliament could be dissolved at any time and a GE (General Election) would be called. So many people, including me, believe that the announcement yesterday means a GE will likely be called soon.

What I don’t get is why the PM kept the formation of the committee secret till now? Most political analysts in Singapore believe the ground is sweet for the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) and I agree. Singapore is holding celebrations for our 50th anniversary of independence in August. Singapore just had a very good SEA Games. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew just died earlier this year so the PAP will have the sympathy vote.

Outside all these, the government has also attempted to sweeten the ground. The number of COEs available for the next 3 months will be increased. Road tax for all petrol vehicles will have a 20% discount starting on 1 Aug. So with all these advantages, why is the PAP so afraid that they had to keep the formation of the committee secret for 2 months?

It just doesn’t make sense. Any advantage the PAP can get from these 2 months is nothing compared to the drawback of keeping things secret. I can understand that the PAP is playing things cautiously after the results of the last polls in 2011, but they must not give their opposition ammo just because of an unreasonable fear of a bad result.

Not only is the formation of the committee secret, the PM has also asked the committee to reduce the average size of the GRCs. Now after losing 2 ministers in the last election, I can’t say that’s a bad move but it’s a move that has fear written all over it.

The ground is sweet, the incumbency has many advantages in Singapore, and they have the press. The PAP needs to be more confident. This election is theirs to lose.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Election Bought/Sold

One of the strangest things about the current scandal engulfing Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is how strong his support has been within his own party. As bad as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal has been, PM Najib’s support in Barisan Nasional (BN) has been very strong.

It seems we now have the reason why.

According to the Citizens For Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM), a non-governmental organization, the money that had been in PM Najib’s account were channeled to component parties of BN in the run-up to the 13th general election in 2013. The CAGM were used to “greased the wheels” of election machinery to ensure victory for the BN.

Now throwing money around during election time is no surprise, it happen in every country, but what’s surprising is the numbers involved. According to CAGM, the 13 BN component parties each received an average of RM30 million to RM50 million, and the rest of the funds were given to more than a dozen BN-friendly parties and NGOs.

This, if true, would explain a few things. One; why US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) were channeled into two of PM Najib's accounts. Two; why no one in the Malaysian government has demanded that the PM step down. And three; why PM Najib’s insistence that he did not have or use the money for "his personal gain" has not been challenged by anyone in BN.

If this report from CAGM is true, then one thing is clear. The BN should not be the government of Malaysia. They bought the election in 2013, to the tune of US$700 million, and even then they lost the popular vote! Malaysia now needs a new general election, hopefully this time it will be one where it won’t be bought.