Friday, January 30, 2015

Australia Is Not Part Of Asia

Since joining the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2006, the Australian football team has been achieving great success in the international arena. They qualified for two straight World Cups and two Asian Cup finals, their women team won the Asian Cup in 2010, and Western Sydney Wanderers won the Asian Champions League final this year,

So why am I in favor of a proposed move to kick Australia out of the AFC? The answer is simple; Australia is not part of Asia! They had never been part of Asia and if you go onto the streets of Sydney or Melbourne, you will be hard-pressed to find a single Aussie who would say Australia is part of Asia.

The head of Australian football said he was "extremely surprised" by the the proposal. Well, he shouldn't be. The move may be prompted by their success on the football pitch, but that doesn't mean the Arab states pushing this is wrong. Australia is not part of Asia so that means they have no business being in the AFC in the first place.

The move may be dictated by self-interest but again, that doesn't mean the move to kick Australia out is wrong. After all if Australians don't think of themselves as Asian, why should they be in the AFC? That makes no sense.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Comics this week

Amazing Spiderman #13- After Captain Universe-Parker, the most powerful Spiderman inexistence, got killed last issue, the Spidermen are now on the backfoot. Writer Dan Slott does a fine job once again in this issue, giving time for the various Spiders to bolster each other's spirits including a surprisingly rousing speech from Superior Spiderman. I also like the fact that Otto finally got the fact that 616 Spiderman comes from later in his timeline; might be a way for Marvel to restart the Superior Spiderman series. This issue is more of a setup for the finale but with interesting character moments and solid art from Giuseppe Camuncoli we got another winner here.

Spiderman 2099 #8- By now, it’s clear Marvel is trying to get a female hit on its Spiderman franchise. Silk, Spiderwoman, Spider-Gwen; they all had their turn in the sun, now it’s the turn of Lady Spider. Miguel O'Hara is a supporting character in this issue as the focus is firmly on the Lady; the duo even jump to her steampunk world. Sorry but I don’t buy it. Unless you’re a fan of the steampunk genre, I don’t think too many people will find this May Parker all that interesting. If Marvel really want a female Spider hit, they would have a better chance with Silk or Spider-Gwen. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

No Winners, All Losers

For months, the Singapore government has been harping on the Worker’s Party (WP) administration of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC). The main thrust of their attack has been on the S&CC arrears rate which went as high as 29.4% in April 2013.

Well, they are right. The WP has not been doing well because they just had a press release stating that their report in 2013 was wrong. The AHPETC has admitted that the arrears rate of 29.4% for April 2013 was an error. AHPETC said that it has erroneously double-counted some of the arrears of households and AHPETC Chairman Ms. Sylvia Lim apologized for the error.

I have one question. How is it that no one, the WP, the AHPETC, the HDB, the MND, managed to pick up on this error till now? The error occurred in April 2013, and it took all of them till Jan 2015 to figure out there was a problem with the figures?

I mean with the politicking around the case, between Lee Yock Suan, Desmond Lee, Lawrence Wong, Sylvia Lim, the WP, the PAP, HDB, MND, no one thought to double-check to see if the numbers were correct? It took everyone over a year before figuring it out? Somehow, all the whole incident did was to make me to worry about the state of politics in Singapore.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review of Whiplash

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is a drama starring Miles Teller and J. K. Simmons on the pursuit of greatness and the sacrifice needed to achieve it. More importantly, it is a film on the desire for greatness and the harm it can inflict on people striving for it.

Teller is young jazz drummer, Andrew Neiman, who attends the Shaffer Conservatory of Music in Manhattan, one of the best music schools in the country. J. K. Simmons is Terence Fletcher, the school’s fearsome maestro of jazz. After seeing Andrew at practice, Fletcher took the budding young musician under his wing and subsequently bully, insult, and terrorize his young charge into becoming a better musician.

Andrew not only takes what Fletcher dishes out, he willing destroys his personal life (breaking up with his girlfriend, distancing himself from his father) in order to achieve the impossible standards Fletcher demands. However as Fletcher’s demands increased, things comes to a head and the teacher/student relationship breaks down.

Now a lot of people probably had already heard/read about how J. K. Simmons is a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor award at the Oscars this year; believe the hype!

Simmons’ portrayal of Fletcher is powerful to say the least. He is the teacher from hell as he pushes Andrew and his other charges to practice and rehearse till they drop. He is driven to get the best out of his students and if this means screaming at them with sexual and religious insults and making them practice till their hands bleed; then that’s the price they have to pay.

In most other films, Fletcher would be the clear-cut villain but in a testimony of Simmons’ ability as an actor, we never lose the sight that Fletcher is first and foremost a teacher. His drive to make the next great jazz player is so all-consuming that he fails to grasp the greatness right in front of him. When he finally realized Andrew’s greatness in the stunning finale, Fletcher’s shock, surprise and final acceptance was something to behold.

However the movie would not work with just J. K. Simmons. I have to say the whole cast was excellent. Miles Teller was in every scene of the movie and I could see why he is so highly rated in Hollywood. His Andrew Neiman was put through hell and Teller’s performance was up to it.

Even the secondary actors were very good. Paul Reiser was almost unrecognizable as Andrew’s loving father and Melissa Benoist (Andrew’s girlfriend) made the most of her limited scenes. Music may be the main drive of Whiplash, but it was the actors that made the film works.

Of course, the direction given by Damien Chazelle helps a great deal. This was obviously a very personal film for the writer/director and throughout the movie, you could sense just how important the movie is to him. Whiplash seems like a labor of love for Chazelle and if this movie is any indication of what’s to come, he could be the next big thing in the director chair.

The movie is of course not without some problems. The setup for the finale was to me way too brief. There’s no way a professional band would just allow Andrew to just come in to perform at a big concert without at least one rehearsal. Also the way the rest of the band managed to follow Andrew’s lead when he went on his impromptu solo was unrealistic, maybe the only unrealistic feature in the whole film.

On the whole however, I have to promote Whiplash as a movie worth watching. The excellent cast and steady direction of the director make Whiplash an uncomfortable but wonderful movie. Anchored by great performances from both its leads, this is one movie you will not forget in a hurry. Watch it! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The French Hypocrisy

After terrorists attack the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the magazine put a picture of the Prophet on the cover of its first issue after the attack. I posted that the magazine was being stupid and provocative. The French says they were defending freedom of speech.

Well, it seems the French definition of “freedom of speech” is kind of limited because since the attack, French police have arrested more than 70 people for allegedly "defending or glorifying terrorism". One of the people arrested was a French comedian named Dieudonne M'bala M'bala. He was charged over a Facebook post saying "I feel like Charlie Coulibaly", play on the names of magazine Charlie Hebdo and Amedy Coulibaly, the attacker who killed four hostages at the supermarket. 

That's it. He didn't call for people to attack Charlie Hebdo again or say the attackers were doing a good thing. He just did a play on their names. He was arrested for that.

Let see here; a magazine (that sells millions of copies) showing a picture of the Prophet is okay even though almost all Muslims considered it an insult to their religion, but a Facebook post against the magazine can get you jail time. Uh…how do you spell hypocrisy in French? 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Running Away With An Electric Scooter

10 policemen! 10 policemen on the chase! Right here on streets of Singapore!

That's right. The New Paper reported that on Wednesday night, 10 policemen were involved in a chase at Buangkok Link against a teenage suspect...on an electric scooter.

HA! When I read this, I can't help but laugh when I read this. The police were after the teenager as he was suspected for forgery and the teenager took off on an electric scooter? In the movies, you would always see a suspect running from the police in a motorbike, a muscle car, or even running/jumping with their legs. In Singapore, suspects run from police on electric scooters.

Hollywood/Bollywood/Hong Kong are all behind the times.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

€1.1 Trillion

Yes, you read that right. €1.1 trillion! That's the amount the European Central Bank (ECB) will inject into the eurozone to jump-start the ailing economy. There's little doubt that the ECB is trying to do quantitative easing (QE), even though they are refusing to call it that. There's a big problem with this though; QE doesn't really works. 

Yes, QE is a strategy that appears to have worked in the US but...the magic word there is "appears". Even Americans are unsure about the recovery of their own economy and this is after the US Fed undertook a huge program of QE between 2008 and 2014. Also the UK and Japan did their version of QE and their economy isn't doing so well. The UK economy is based on finance and billionaires parking their money in property, mostly in London. The less said about Abenomics, the better. 

Now the EU want to join the bandwagon to the tune of €1.1 trillion? For their sake, I wish them the best of luck.