Monday, December 31, 2007


2007 is over, here comes 2008. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #18- After months of fruitless searching, Countdown finally manage to close one of the more annoying stories. Yes, the Challengers had found Ray Palmer. Now we may finally find out why The Atom is so important. After all the travelling, it better be good. There is a battle between Mary Marvel and Eclipso (yes, they are still fighting), why they are fighting (outside the fact Mary Marvel is now a bitch) isn't quite clear and hopefully the writers will clean that on up soon. As the series closes, more answers are coming. After the less than impressive series so far, they better be real good.

Avengers: The Initiative #8- One of the major problems I have with this book is how do you determine which hero require training by the Initiative Camp Hammond? Diamondback require training? She's been around for years! The other major development is the fact that the camp's new drill instructor is Taskmaster. That is a good idea as it actually make sense. Taskmaster trained villains, why not heroes? The MVP story seems to be closing and it doesn't look good for the camp. You reap what you sown. That will be interesting.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh boy!

Pakistan's a country with a lot of problems...and it's about to get worse. Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a former Prime Minister, was assassinated in the capital Islamabad in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 other people.

However reports say Ms.Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest first before the gunman blew himself up. Her supporter has already blame Pakistan's current president Pervez Musharraf for the assassination.

And there goes the neighbour. Bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan is a major ally of the U.S and conisdered the frontline in the "War on Terror". It seems that the war in Afghanistan is spreading, and that's no good for anyone.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Video games has a bad rep. From to much violence to begin too "immoral", video games are the new punching bag, replacing movies and rap music.

So it's good new that the Scottish government has said that it would pay to insert advertisements discouraging drinking and driving into certain video games. Now I'm not usually a big fan for advertisements in-game, but it's good PR and a good message to boot. I had rather have in-game advertisements to discourage drink driving than in-game advertisements for the army.

A new partnership between video games and the government. As long as it's done well, it's good news.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman

I've always wanted to read the Gor series. For those people who has no knowledge of Gor, it is a series of books written by John Norman, a professor of philosophy. Set in a world where the sword is king, Tarnsman of Gor was first written in 1967.

The series has a cult-like status and it is very popular in the Second Life online game where there is a sub-culture based on the world of Gor. An aspect of Gor is that slavery is allowed and are considered (especially women slaves) for the most part chattel. For this, the books has been labelled as misogynistic. A few months ago, Dark Horse Publishing announced that they will released the first 3 books in one volume. Almost immediately there were threats in the U.S of boycotts of Dark Horse books by certain readers.

After that, my interest in the books were increased. After reading the first book of the series, Tarnsman of Gor, I have to say; Uh...what's the big deal? I can't say anything for the other books (there are 27 standalone books in the series), but Tarnsman of Gor is nowhere near as bad as reputation would have you believe.

What it is is an action-adventure book. Reading the book, I am remained of 2 other series; Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars and J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Before the first chapter is out, the main character of Tarnsman of Gor, Tarl Cabot, is kidnapped from Earth and delivered to the planet of Gor. However, don't look for any major plots in the book. Like Lord of the Rings, the quest is simple. Go to the rival city and steal a stone.

Along the way, things happened and Tarl Cabot get side-tracked. However the main star of the book isn't Tarl Cabot, the quest or even the numerous sword/aerial fights in the book. The main star is the world of Gor.

Much like Tolkein, Norman isn't really a writer and it show. The writing style tend to be a little dry and there's nothing special about the characters in the book. Like Tolkein, what Norman is really good at is world-building. At the end of the book, you may not remember Tarl Cabot, the fights or the supporting characters, but you will remember Gor. John Norman filled Gor with its' own history, social structure, songs, curses, even insults. At the end, you can truly think of Gor as a world by itself and that's probably why the series has achieved cult status.

I can't really say that Tarnsman of Gor is a good book and recommend it. But if you are one of those who love to read about a different world with different values and ideas, this could be the book for you. The world of Gor is the star and at the end, you will think of it as a living, breathing world. At that end, John Norman put his vision across and that is a success.

Monday, December 24, 2007

UFO debate in Jpan

Japan has always been known as a techno hub. The latest robots, electronic devices comes from the Land of the Rising Sun. The Japanese take technology seriously...maybe too seriously!

That's the felling I get when I read that there's a debate over flying saucers in Japan. Nothing too especial about that, expect the fact that Japanese politicians are the ones doing the debating! The debate even had the defense minister promising to send out the army if Godzilla goes on a rampage. Fantasy and facts meshed together to make a political nightmare.

All this just because an opposition politician's simple demand that the government confirm the existence of unidentified flying objects. Fortunately for Japan, there are still a few serious lawmakers. Lawmaker Toshihiro Nikai was quoted as saying, "There are many (other) things politics has to respond to."

True, true.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #19- Countdown is so much better when the writers decide to dump some stories and concentrate on the remaining ones. Even this week when the stories are on Jimmy Olsen and Holly Robinson, they still managed to put together a good issue. Cause the fact that the main story was on Piper dragging around the corpse of Trickster might have something to do with it, but the point is this. Why can't they do this at the start of the series instead of the end?

Countdown Arena #2 & #3- I have never heard of Keith Champage before, but I can see why DC hired him. Whereas most writers would have put together a story consisting of nothing but slugfests after slugfests (see World War Hulk for example), Champage had tried to put together a good story on this gimmick series. He is mostly successful. I'm especially impressed with how he had Monarch making the mistake of concentrating on the Supermans and not keeping an eye on the defeated heroes. Nothing in the interaction between the various heroes feel forced and there is a flow to the story which is very impressive. The artwork is so-so at best but the story by Champage is excellent. One more issue of this and DC got a success here.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Doomsday is MARS! Astronomers say that Mars could be in for an asteroid hit. A newly discovered space rock has a 1 in 75 chance of slamming into the Red Planet on Jan. 30.

The asteroid, "creatively" named 2007 WD5, was discovered in late November and is similar in size to an object that hit remote central Siberia in 1908, which unleashed energy equivalent to a 15-megaton nuclear bomb. This just 3 years after the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smacked into Jupiter, creating a series of overlapping fireballs in space.

First Jupiter, then Mars, next...Earth?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


It took a while but it's finally on the road. After endless false starts, Hollywood has finally started shooting for the live-action version of Japanese comic book series "Dragonball".

Shooting has already started in Los Angeles and Mexico and will start Justin Chatwin as Goku and James Marsters (Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Goku's main enemy, Piccolo. Shockingly, Hollywood got Stephen Chow to produce the film. Yes, Stephen Chow as the Stephen Chow from Hong Kong, star of "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle."

The Hollywood film seems to revolve around the same plot; Goku's quest to protect Earth from evil forces and find the various mystical objects known as "dragonballs." Let's see how they destroy the beloved anime.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bad Behavior by American sailors is news?

One of the strangest story that has come out in Singapore in the past week was reports of how an American sailor with the US navy punched a local man in the Orchard area. The man needed four stitches to close the wound.

Now I don't condone what the American sailor has done., but is this really news? Bad behavior by American Navy sailors isn't what I would call news because it's not! A certain building along Orchard Road comes to mind as I write this.

The sailor will probably be punished for this but this incident is hardly worth the front page of the Straits Times because...well, it's not actually new is it?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Haj begins

The most famous pilgrimage in the world starts as millions of Muslims from around the world will gathered in Mecca for the start of the annual Islamic hajj pilgrimage.

About 2.5 million men and women are massed in tent cities on the outskirts of Mecca awaiting the start of the haj and from any pictures you see on TV, newspaper, Internet etc, it is quite spectacular.

There's also a polictial slant to this year's haj as the King of Saudi Arabia has invited the President of Iran to attend the haj. Here's hoping something can come out of that.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Global warming not man-made? Money talks

The Bali climate talks surprising came out with a result. After threats from the European Union, the U.S finally agreed to an agreement that will set a target for cuts in global warming gases by 2020.

Will the "Bali Road Map" be effective? Will nations that sign the agreement uphold their part of the deal and cut emissions?

Dream on people! I predicate that nations across the world will ignore the road map like it never existed. Think I'm wrong? Well the fightback from the industries has started already. Before the ink has dried, a group of US experts has came out and insisted that contrary to what the vast majority of the world believe; humans are not responsible for global warming. These experts say that global warming is a natural phenomenon and is not man-made.

So what if 3,000 other experts from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reached a different conclusions using largely similar data. The IPCC is wrong. The group of US scientists say that the current warming "trend" is part of a natural cycle of climate warming and cooling, and they are most likely caused by, get this, "variations in the solar wind and associated magnetic fields that impact how much amount of sunlight is reaching the Earth's surface".

See this? Less than 24 hours after the agreement, the reaction has already started. It's the sun's fault! Not us, but the sun's! To cut emissions, industries will have to spend more on pollution control and that will drive up cost. Between safety for the environment and greed for money, which do you think people will choose?

Money talks people. The "Bali road map" is dead before it started.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #20- A few weeks ago, I said that the pace of the series has been great improved after the name change. This issue prove it again. The various characters are finally all doing something and more importantly Jimmy Olsen look like he will die soon. YES! JIMMY OLSEN MUST DIE! Never had a feeling on the character before but boy is the guy annoying in Countdown. The list of problems in this series is still quite long but most will be forgiven by me when Olsen dies. DIE, OLSEN, DIE!

Black Adam: The Dark Age #5- Black Adam has been superb so far, so there has to be a drop in quality some time. This issue is that 'drop' issue, but it's still bloody good. Black Adam's quest continued and writer Peter Tomasi gives Adam already wonderfully complex character even more depth as Black Adam admits that some of the things he is doing is nothing to be proud of, but he cannot and must not stop. #5 is nowhere as good as the first 4 issues, but it's still better than 80% of the X/Spiderman nonsense out there. Pick this one up.

Nova #9- Let me get this out of the way first. I am still pissed at the abrupt exit Nova took from Annihilation: Conquest. Now that's out of the way, this has been a damm good series so far. Richard Rider is still on the giant head space station with Cosmo, the talking Russian dog. Yes, it sound stupid right, but it worked! Bravo to the writers. They took the series in a new unexpected direction that is both dark and moody; this might not last but it has been a fun 2 issue. This is easily one of the better monthly out there. Forget X-Men, pick this one up instead.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dropping basketball for the next SEA Games?

The SEA Games in in full swing in Thailand right now. As all the countries within South-East Asia tried their best to get golds and glory for their countries, eyes are also being casted to the next SEA Games in 2 years time.

The next Games will be held in Laos and there's a problem already. Exactly there's 2, because the Laotians want to drop both basketball and gymnastics from the Games due to a lack of an indoor facilities. Now as anyone in the region will tell you, the SEA Games always has a few tradition and off-beat sports in its programme (dance-sport, Go, bowling etc), as such it always had a credibility problem.

That problem will be compounded if basketball and gymnastics (both Olympics sports) are dropped from the games. Now I have no problems with sports like Go or bowling in the SEA Games but you cannot expect people to take the SEA Games seriously if you drop Olympics sports from the programme.

A silver lining is that Thailand has offered to hold both sports for Laos as they have the facilities. (It beg the question why Laos has indoor facilities for wushu but no indoor facilities for basketball, but that's another question) Just keep both basketball and gymnastics in the SEA Games Programme.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

End to the UNSW saga

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) saga finally ended this week as UNSW and EDB have finally reached a settlement over the fallout of the UNSW campus in Singapore.

After a shock decision by the university to close down its UNSW Asia Campus in May 2007, which the university ran for only about two months, there has been a big dispute on whether (and how much) UNSW should reimburse Singapore on the grants UNSW received from the Singapore government. EDB had previously said it would try to reclaim S$17.3 million in grants. However there has been no details provided as to how much the settlement agreement involves.

Why not tell Singaporeans how much money has been lost on this fiasco? It's public money right? After 6 months of talk, surely Singaporeans deserved to know how much money has been recovered by the EDB? So guess what, TELL US!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another victim

It seems that no news is good news. After a few weeks in which nothing has been said about the credit crisis in the U.S, Swiss bank UBS announced that it will write-off nearly 10 billion dollars. 10 BILLION!

Things are so bad at the bank, one of the biggest in the world, that it had to turn to 2 outside investors to fill in the big hole. One of the 2 investors is Singapore's GIC who will invest in return for a seat in theUBS board. The other investor is an unnamed party from the Middle East. The US subprime mortgage crisis claimed another victim. And the worst might be coming, UBS warned that further writedowns is not out of the question. If this is happening to UBS, bets are that other banks are in a similar position. Any banks with any exposure to the crisis-hit U.S mortgage market seems destined for a loss-making year.

No news is good news, because the news are all bad when it come to U.S mortgage crisis.

Monday, December 10, 2007

There is a question here about torture?

Sometimes you read the news, and you just can't help but laugh at some of the self-delusion that goes on in this world.

News from America reported that the American CIA has destroyed hundreds of hours of interrogation tapes on terror suspects, and U.S lawbreakers are angry about this as they say it would damage America's standing and feed suspicions about possible torture. Wait, there's a question about America torturing terror suspects?

They say that the American Justice Department has even opened a preliminary inquiry into the affair. Who are they kidding? After all the photos that came out of Iraq, are Americans still wondering if their government are torturing prisoners? I would think it was a given after the photos from Iraq.

What the hell were they taping the torture for anyway? Talk about self-delusion!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Waste of Money

For people who don't know; from March 2008, it will be illegal for taxis to stop within the CBD to pick up passengers. Yes, you can no longer hail a taxi in the CBD anymore.

What you have to do is to walk to the nearest taxi stand as it is the only place taxis can stop at. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is now constructing 15 new taxi stands in the area to make up for the new ruling. Isn't this a waste of time and money? Why not just don't put in this new (and very stupid) rule? Most people can't be bothered to go to a taxi stand no matter how far it is, and Singaporeans will demand that the taxi-drivers stop them at the location they want to stop at, rule or no rule.

Waste of time, and a waste of money!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #21- The up and down ride that is Countdown is up this week. Most of the reason is due to the follow-up to the Trickster/Pied Piper cliffhanger last issue, it's a twist that the writers finally get right. I never got the animated Batman Beyond series, so I don't care about seeing them back in action (as Earth-12). The good points in this issue override the bad ones. The bad points is of course the Holly Robinson story. Yes, she's back and the issue died the moment she appears. The Karate Kid story make no sense but hey, we get to see OMAC back due to him, so I will forgive that. Less Karate Kid, much less Holly Robinson, no Jimmy Olsen and Countdown might, just might, get somewhere.

Countdown Arena #1- Yes, I know. This mini-series is nothing but a gimmick. But as far as gimmicks go, its a good one. Round up a number of the DC Multiverse's different versions of famous superheroes, and have them duke it out. Credit to writer Keith Champage for trying to put a story to this slugfest, he did much much better than I expected. I not that sure about the manga-inspired art but it's passable.The first issue has Monarch kidnapping several versions of DC superheroes and then dumping them in the Bleed. First battle is between the three different Nightshades (one of which I believe comes from DC proper, another is the Vertigo version) and then with a brawl between the three Batmen (Red Rain, Gotham by Gaslight and some other guy). The issue works, it was a hoot watching 2 Batmans analyzing each other fighting style but I had 2 main problems with this series. One; why did DC let fans vote on the winners? Is there any question that Red Rain Batman will win the fan's vote? To me, this is a big problem as letting fans pick the winners makes this gimmick comic even more gimmickry than it has to be. And that lowered the excitement factor in the series. Also I dislike the fact that DC is willing to let the different versions die. I'm not someone who care too much about characters dying, IF there's a good reason or good story for it. I mean I'm unhappy they let Earth 15 get destroyed by Superman Prime, and now this! What's the use of having all these interesting parallel earths if you are going to wipe them out left, right and centre. If DC are going to do that, why not let these Elseworlds stay in cold storage. It's better than letting them be destroyed right?

Annihilation: Conquest #2- Annihilation's sequel continue the high octane action as war engulf the whole of Kree space. I'm still not happy with Nova's absence or Ultron being the Phalanx's main man. Why do so many people like this idiot robot? But onwards to the story. The High Evolutionary makes a welcome addition to Conquest's cast as lines are drawn and alliance made. Adam Warlock new costume is...let say interesting. The Star-Lord crew make their appearance as Peter Quill and his band try their best to make a dent in the Phalanx machine and Ronan try a deal with his, and the Kree's, main enemy. Quasar, Moondragon, and Warlock are still looking for the Kree Empire's only hope, whatever that is. Everything is fast moving and the action is hard, fast and brutal. Saying that, I can't help but think of the original Annihilation and how this series is matching up to the original. The story was better then, the artwork was better then and the original also feel more important. Having said all that, Annihilation Conquest is still a damm good series. Easily one of the better series in the market now.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

SEA Games opening ceremony

A colourful ceremony opened the 24th SEA Games in Thailand today. It was big, it was loud...but it's about a week too late.

Why did the organisers have the opening ceremony now? About 30 gold medals have been awarded already, mostly to Games hosts, Thailand and Singapore (good work Singapore!), so why have it now?

To be fair Thailand isn't the first host to do this, but how about it. Have the opening ceremony, then let the competition start. It is called the opening ceremony right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Taxi fare increase

Taxi fares are going up in Singapore. Singapore's ComfortDelGro will raise fares for their taxis and it is expected that other taxi operators will soon follow suit.

Part of the reasons is due to rising fuel costs and taxes but you know what. I'm all for it because there had been a lot of complaints by the Singapore public for better service by taxi operaters. Guess what? You want better service, you pay more for better service. Sounds fair right? Not if the Singapore public has anything to say about it. They want better service at less cost. Dream on people. If you want that, do what I do.

Take the bloody bus.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

Although I am technically a Buddhist, sometimes I think ignorance is bliss. Reports said that a U.S.-based television channel investigating the existence of the legendary Yeti has found some footprints in Nepal similar to those of the abominable snowman.

Yes, I'm sceptical about it as well. But you know what I'm really worried about? That they might actually have found something! Think about it; we humans have being driving animals to extinction left, right and centre, what will happen if we really do find the Yeti? Everything from the dodo to the pink dolphin can now only be found in the history books, can the Yeti do any better?

I hope that the team of TV producers were just trying to drive up interest in their TV show and that the three footprints discovered are all faked. If there's Yetis out there; hide man, run and hide, and pray mankind never find you.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Turkey attack Iraq

So much for things getting better in the Middle East. Turkey seems to have finally run out of patience as the Turkish military attacked Kurdish rebels inside Iraq.

There's some dispute on the number of casualties, but Kurdish rebels has admitted that there's been an attack. The Kurdish regional government of northern Iraq are firm allies of the Americans. As Turkey are membes of NATO, America is caught in between 2 allies. Actually what they deserved for taking Turkey for granted.

In recent weeks Turkey has deployed around 100,000 soldiers along its border with Iraq, so even more attacks are in the works. Let see how the U.S get out of this one.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

EPL this month

We're almost at the halfway stage of the season. November's hot teams in the EPL

Top Teams this month
Chelsea- Avram Grant has proven people wrong. Jose Mourinho is gone and the sky hasn't fallen yet. Chelsea is winning and winning convincingly. A 4-0 win away at Rosenberg clearly showed what form the team is in, Jose who again?

Aston Villa- Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill is doing his England chances no harm as Villa is going on a tear in the EPL. There was a period where Villa had three away games in a row and they won all three. Now that's the mark of a good team. There's a resilience in the team and between Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and John Carew, they have probably the best attack in England. Too bad O'Neill ruled himself out of the England job.

Surprise Team this month
Everton- I would like to put Everton in top teams section of this article but for the fact that Everton had yet to beat a fellow top half club. They are a hardworking side who are very difficult to break down. They are also scoring victories after victories (7-1 win at home to Sunderland) but only against teams below or around them. But for some reason, they just can't win one against teams above them. Still, as long as the Ws keep coming in, they will be in the top 10 of the league.

Disappointing Teams this month
Newcastle- When it rains, it pours. Micheal Owen got injured for England and Newcastle went into freefall. But the thing is that Newcastle wasn't playing well even before Owen got injured. Manager 'Big' Sam has huge problems and a lengthy injury list to contend with. Until they get people back from the treatment table, things are not looking up.

Middlesbrough- Manager Gareth Southgate has problems. Having won just one in 11 League matches, Middlesbrough is in serious trouble and with their own fans turning on them; it look like it will be a long season. Their biggest problem is scoring; their top scorer is Stewart Downing, a winger with the grand total of 3 league goals. Southgate badly needs to get a striker in the transfer window or we might see them in the bottom 3 at the end of the season.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #22- After two weeks of seeing Superman Prime swooping in and destroying worlds and characters left, right & centre, the writers suddenly dropped him off the radar and go back to the plotlines that had largely been driving the book. Why? No one knows, but we get to see Jimmy Olsen's captivity on Apokolips, unfortunately he is still NOT dead. His story is easily the worst of the bunch (Holly Robinson don't count because we haven't seen that story in over a month), but at least the story seems to be moving. If this means the guy is moving closer to his 'death date', I'm all for it. The rest of the plots, Mary Marvel & the Rogues, feel a little tack on, but I am very interest to see what will happen next week after the last page in this issue. That I guess count for something.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #2- What do nuns do in a cult that worship crime? You get to see that here as the Question, Renee Montoya, goes undercover to explore the criminal empire that's growing around Intergang's Crime Bible. The buildup is slow, introducing us to everyone in the cell, from the low level minions (prostitutes) to the higher ups, and showcasing that even heroes has weakness. As expected, the writers just can't stop showing off Renee's sexual orientation (in case anyone don't know, she's gay) by having her shack up with a deranged prostitute. But it's the way it is done. Everything is in the details as Renee slowly, hesitantly, against her better judgement, gives in to her natural urges during her stakeout. It's expertly written and makes me love Renee as the Question even more. Take that, all you Vic Sage fans!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Maplestory Trading Card Game

After the anime, the onslaught of Maplestory continue as they now have a Trading Card Game. Released by card game kings Wizards of the Coast, Inc; in partnership with Nexon America Inc. (never heard of them), the MapleStory Trading Card Game was to be released in the US and Canada this November.

The TCG is supposed to comprise of real-world cards with codes redeemable for exclusive in-game content in the MapleStory world, similar to what was done in the Neopets trading card game Wotc released in 2003. The codes will unlock exclusive online rewards and game experiences such as sought-after artifacts, rare virtual pets, all-new quests etc.

Why did they released the game in America but not Asia is something I don't understand. 70% of the players in the game are from Asia isn't it? No word yet if the TCG will come to Singapore.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SEA Games

For some reason, I just can't get my head around the fact that The SEA Games are on this year. So imagine my surprise when I heard that Singapore had already got its first medal of the 24th SEA Games in Bangkok.

Singapore got a bronze in the men’s team 10m air pistol event on the opening day of the shooting programme. The SEA Games officially opens only next week but no one in Singapore is really that interested in it.

Why? I think the most obvious reason is the lack of media coverage. You open the sports page in the Straits Times and you will see pages after pages of English football, even after the team was kicked from the Euro. Pages and pages of why it happen, who will take over as manager etc, but nothing on a competition Singapore is taking part in.

To be fair, the media is only giving people what they want to read. But if Singaporeans are to be proud of their national team, there must be at least some coverage from the media. Singaporeans can't be supportive of their team in a competition they don't even know is on right?

More media coverage for our national team please!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dragon Boat Accident

First I would like to give my sympathies to the families of the 5 men who died in the sad accident in Phnom Pehn. For those people who do not know, Singapore sent a Dragon Boat team to Cambodia but an accident caused the boat to capsized and the loss of 5 members.

The remaining 17 members of the team had returned to Singapore. In Singapore, a lot fingers are pointing at the lack of safety in the race. Most are accusing the organisers of the race of ignoring safety by not requiring the teams to have life-jackets on.

I personally don't think this is fair for the following reasons.
1) There's no requirements internationally for life jackets.
2) The dragon boat racers are all strong swimmers (I believe one of them is a navy diver), if they cannot get out of the current on their own, no one can be sure a life jacket will definitely save them.
3) This is an unforeseen accident; in the Singapore Dragon Boat Association’s 20 years history, there's never been a single fatality.

Is it truly fair to blame the Cambodians organisers for such an unfortunate and unforeseeable accident? I don't think so.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A re-open hospital

Jurong Hospital opened its' doors again after a year of renovations, only it isn't Jurong Hospital anymore. It has re-opened its' doors as West Point Hospital.

In Singapore once a property go under new owners, a name change is very common. The one most people remember was when DBS tried to change POSB's name after taking over the bank. Only after a public outcry did they wisely decided not to change the name. Which bring me to my rant; why do we Singaporeans love name change so much? I mean it's not like the hospital changed its' location. Hell, the 60-bed private hospital is still going to serve the households in Jurong. So why change name? It just confused people. At least with Jurong Hospital, you know it's somewhere in Jurong. West Coast Hospital? That could be anywhere in the west of Singapore!

Let's stop these senseless name change.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Amazing Race Asia 2

Ok, The Amazing Race Asia 2 is finally on-air. The second season of the show still follow the same format; teams of two, in a pre-existing relationship, in a race around the world to win US$100,000. Hey, if it's not broken, why fix it?

Good thing is that this season, the show WILL go around the world. However, there's still the problem of ASIANS! There's a French woman in the show, as well as an American. At least they were interesting; after the first episode, I have to say the American with his bickering wife makes good television. Which is more than what you can say for the else.

As the producers went for racers who were actors and models (handsome, beautiful devils all), I had problems telling them apart.Really, outside the American couple and the Japanese brother-sister team; the other teams were a bloody blur. I was kind of hoping the HongKong dating team get kick last night for finishing last because that means less teams to confuse me.

M&M where are you?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #23- What the hell happen? Last week Superman Prime destroyed a whole planet, okay fine. This week shows more of him, I'm okay with that. It was even interesting. But what the hell happen at the end? Didn't Lord Havok say NO to Monarch? Didn't they had a big fight on the matter? Since when did Havok becomes Monarch's second in command? Plots jumped for no reason again on Countdown. What the hell happened?

Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer - Gotham by Gaslight- Another beloved Elseworld Batman get his own world. As one of the 52 Earths, this is one choice I agreed with. Hey it's a Batman in Victorian times; what's there not to like? The story is so-so at best; though I liked the fact we get to see the Victorian Blue Beetle. Eagerly awaiting the appearance of Victorian Hawkman, Aquaman, JLA etc. Just no more Superman; we got enough of those.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

G.I. Joe movie looks like a laugh

Now it seems the long drawn-out saga of the G.I. Joe movie is finally over. The movie is on and casting has already began.

And it does not look good.

British actress Sienna Miller is was reported to have snagged the role of the film's female lead, the femme fatale superspy, the "Baroness". Unbelievable, isn't it? Now I had no problem with Miller, in fact I think she's kind of under-rated (watch the recent Stardust if you don't believe me), but the Baroness? Outside the fact, Millar is blond; she doesn't remotely come across as either cold-blood, ruthless, power-hungry or all of the above!

The movie is suppose to follow operatives of the Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity (G.I. Joe see?) as they battle Cobra, an organisation led by a Scottish arms dealer. Yes, Cobra Commander will be Scottish!

Boy, does is look bad or what!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Price for defending Myanmar

Damm if you do, damm if you don't. I have written several times already on why I support Singapore's decision not to join in the talks for sanctions against Myanmar. Like most Singaporeans, money counts and Singapore has a lot of money invested in Myanmar at the moment.

However defending Myanmar against world opinion has a price as it shows now. The United States has criticised the ASEAN group of Southeast Asian nations over the handling of Myanmar and a free trade deal between Washington and the ASEAN is now unlikely because "ASEAN credibility" had been called into question. This is just a few weeks after The United States had expanded its sanctions against Myanmar. Things are so bad free trade talks between ASEAN and the European Union could also stall. Together, the United States and EU account for 27 percent of ASEAN's exports and a third of its inward direct investment.

It seems that the U.S and EU has hit on something here. In Singapore, money is king and between the West or Myanmar; the choice is clear. We will (and should) dump Myanmar in a moment notice if they hurt our business with the West.

Say what you will, I'm a Singaporean and I'm practical.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling.

The fourth novel in the Harry Potter series, one of the first thing you will noticed about the book is how much thick it is compare to the earlier books in the series. But is bigger better? Not really.

The book starts off with a murder of a nobody caretaker by Lord Voldemort and Wormtail. It then showcase Harry's annual escape from the his uncle. The better part of the early going take place at the Quidditch World Cup. Following the finals, a group of Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort's servants, storm the venue, creating panic and mayhem. Then the Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort's sign, shot into the night sky. Upon investigating, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Barty Crouch's house elf Winky, is accused of conjuring the mark. Crouch is furious and fires Winky on the spot.

During the Welcoming Feast, Professor Dumbledore announced that Hogwarts will host the recently revived Triwizard Tournament. The tournament involves three difficult tasks which the competitors must complete. The competitors are chosen by The Goblet of Fire. A magical goblet that will chooses one student from each competing school. Only students 17 years old and above are allowed to enter. Cedric Diggory is chosen as Hogwarts' champion, Fleur Delacour is selected for Beauxbatons Academy and Durmstrang Institute is represented by Viktor Krum. As expected, The Goblet unexpectedly selects a fourth champion, Harry Potter.

Harry is helped throughout the tournament by Professor Alastor Moody, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. In the first task, the champions must retrieve a golden egg from a dragon. With advice from Hagrid and Moody, Harry decided to use his broom and outfly the dragon. The second task requires retrieving something important to each champion that is hidden in Hogwarts' lake. Dobby the house-elf gave Harry gillyweed so he can breathe underwater. Harry rescued Ron. He however waits for Fleur to show up and save her little sister Gabrielle, but when she does not, Harry rescues Gabrielle, losing time but awarding him additional points for "moral fiber". For the third task, the champions must navigate through a large maze filled with dangerous obstacles. Shortly before the event, Harry and Viktor Krum are startled when a dishevelled Mr. Crouch emerges from the forest, demanding to see Dumbledore. Harry runs for help, but when he returns with Dumbledore, they find Krum unconscious and Crouch missing. While waiting in Dumbledore's office, Harry peers inside a pensieve containing the professor's memories. In one, Harry sees a wizarding trial in which Barty Crouch, Jr., a Death Eater, is sentenced to Azkaban by his father, Crouch Sr. Harry also hears testimony that Severus Snape was once a Death Eater.

During the third task, Harry and Cedric successfully navigate the maze and, because they had helped each other earlier, they agreed to grab the Cup simultaneously. Unknown to them, the Cup is actually a portkey. Awaiting them is Peter Pettigrew carrying what appears to be a deformed infant, but is actually Lord Voldemort who orders Pettigrew to "kill the spare". Pettigrew kills Diggory with the Avada Kedavra curse and then ties Harry to a tombstone. He then uses Harry's blood, a bone from Voldemort's long-dead father, and his own severed hand in a bizarre ritual that restores Lord Voldemort to his full body and power. Voldemort now carries Harry's blood within him and is no longer affected by the magic that has protected the boy since infancy. Voldemort then reveals that his servant at Hogwarts ensured Harry would win the tournament and be brought to the graveyard. As their spells interlock, a Magic effect occurs, causing the spirit echoes of Voldemort's victims, including Cedric Diggory, James and Lily Potter, and others to spill out from his wand. The echoes momentarily distracted Voldemort, allowing Harry to grab the portkey and escape to Hogwarts with Diggory's body.

After Harry returns to the school grounds through the portkey, Moody takes Harry to his office immediately. He reveals that he was the servant the Dark Lord was talking about and had been helping Harry throughout all of the tournament's events. After the explanation, Mad-Eye attempts to attack Harry but is stopped by Dumbledore, Snape and Minerva McGonagall. When Snape feeds Moody a bottle of Veritaserum, Moody is exposed as Barty Crouch, Jr. who escaped Azkaban and used a Polyjuice Potion to impersonate the real Alastor Moody, trapped in a magical trunk. Crouch Jr. murdered his father and entered Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire, covertly ensuring that Harry completed each task. Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, arrives at Hogwarts accompanied by a Dementor. Fudge denies Dumbledore's claim that Voldemort has returned and before Crouch can repeat his confession his soul is sucked out by the Dementor.

At the end, Dumbledore urgently revives the Order of the Phoenix and against the Ministry's orders, tells students the truth about Cedric's death and that Voldemort has returned. Harry was crowned the Triwizard Tournament champion but felt that Cedric should have been champion. He then gave the one-thousand Galleons prize to Ron's twin brothers, Fred and George, telling them to use it to open their own joke shop, their life-long ambition.

Yes a lot of things happened in this book. However bigger is not better. When you need to set aside a whole chapter at the end for the villain to explain all that has happened, usually that's not good. Another thing is that the main villain came out of left field. Rowling likes to give us red herrings in the books, but overdid it this time. There were like 4-5 different people who could be the main villain, but none of them were it. I also find the Quidditch World Cup overly long and a tad unnecessary. The great thing was the fact that Rowling expanded the world Harry is in. Small little things that were dropped here and there (flying carpets trade disagreement) were most fun to read.

I can't help but think that a good editor is needed for this book. Parts of it work, other don't; usually because they went on too long. A good editor would and should have cut off parts of the book. The book could lose about 50-100 pages and would have been better off for it. Reports say that Rowling admitted that the fourth book was the most difficult to write as she noticed a giant plot hole half-way through writing. She rewrote the ninth chapter 13 times. It showed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No More 'Ho'

"Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!" The famous Santa Claus greeting is heard around the world every Christmas...expect Australia!

Why, you asked? Because Australia have been told not to use the traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women. Instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha".

They're right. Ha ha ha! What a joke. I thought this was a joke at first but it's for real. What's next; every Chinese in Australia with the surname 'Ho' must change their name?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #24- Earth 15 sure didn't last long. After all the work that went into bringing back the multiverse, DC went and destroy one of the Earth. You know, the one with General Zod as Superman we saw a few months ago. A black-costumed Superman Prime showed up and the whole planet was destroy. Yes, destroyed just like that! Why bring back the multiverse if you are going to destroy them in less than a year? A good point was the little duel between Black Mary and Darkseid. Outside that, why did they destroy Earth 15?

Black Adam: The Dark Age #4- After a remarkable run during 52, Black Adam had his own comics. The Dark Age has been ultraviolent up to this point, but writer Peter Tomasi tone it down this issue. And it still work! Everything in the book is still dark but there's no in-your-face tearing up of bodies. Maybe this is a good thing as it prove there's no need for massive body count for a issue of Black Adam to work. Still a must buy.

Avengers: The Initiative #7- After the last miserable issue, I am glad to say Initiative is back on track. As usual the book keep jumping from characters and plotlines to characters and plotlines. But hey, it worked! Most of the issue is on the new Scarlet Spiders and a cameo by the real Spider-Man (yes I know, twice in seven issues). However there's a surprise at the end that made it worthwhile. Who knows, maybe the Scarlet Spiders may even get off my least favorite characters list. There's also a brewing storyline on Justice and his quest for info on the dead MVP. Now that's a interesting storyline.

Nova #8- Okay, Nova will not be in the Annihilation: Conquest storyline. After escaping from the clutches of the Phalanx, Richard Rider is now at the edge of the universe. I'm glad Worldmind is back; the backtalk between the almost clueless Richard and the too-much info Worldmind is the best thing about the book. Another plus; the telepathic Russian dog. I'm not sure how, but writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning successfully put the dog into the story. To take such a corny character and be successful with it. Brilliant! An entertaining storyline, a telepathic Russian dog and the severed head of a Celestial; crazy but highly entertaining.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Maplestory Anime

Whether you like it or not, most gaming fans in Singapore have heard of Maplestory. The massive free MMO is without question the most played MMO in Singapore. Now anyone who had played the game will tell you there isn't really a story behind all the button bashing; that's not stopping them from making an anime about it.

Yes, Maplestory now has its' own anime. Now this is truly called making it big. Follow the link to the wikipedia write-up if you don't believe me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Iraq Inspectors Close Shop

After all the pretense, the UN is finally shutting the door. The United Nations Security Council has finally closed the door on the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, admitting that there really wasn't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

If you can remember, the weapons were the main reason/excuse the U.S used to invade Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. No weapons were found after years of fruitless searching and the UN, especially the U.S, has finally admitted defeat.

I know, I'm surprised they're still working too. It's been 4 years since the U.S invaded and all the talk of yellowcake and nuclear devise had long been dismissed by everyone. And the Iraq inspection teams were still working? Don't the UN had better things to do with the money than to waste it on a fruitless search that no one believe in? How about more money on refugees or something?

I never quite understand all the talk of UN reform before but if this is what the UN is wasting money on, I've changed my mind. Reform is a must for them.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Cooling for the Property Market

The red-hot property market of Singapore is in the news again. Worried that the property markets has become too hot for foreigners, Singapore has taken some steps these few months to try to cool it down.

No more. The Singapore government has came out to say that that's it. No further steps to cool down the booming property market is forthcoming. Too bad because I don't think enough has been done on the matter. Property prices in Singapore is still at their highest levels in about 10 years, there's still a strong demand and some very liberal payment schemes that allow buyers to make only a 10% deposit. Also, inflation just hit a 12-year high of 2.9 percent in August and consumer prices could potentially surge up to 5 percent in the first quarter of next year.

Put all these factors together and I do feel that more should be done to lower property prices. Afterall Singapore home prices rose more than 21 percent since the start of the year, and it hasn't come down yet. For most Singaporeans, upgrading has went from being an ambition to being a dream. And that I think is something the government must fix.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown to Final Crisis #25- After weeks of mostly crap, Countdown is finally moving. With the title's name-change last week to Countdown to Final Crisis, the writers has finally decided that there's no more need to put the title in neutral. Not a moment too soon I say. There's still the problem of 2 page cameos, but at least we can see that the story is going somewhere. Even more amazingly, this week's pages are mostly taken up by Karate Kid's quest in Bludhaven and it's even enjoyable! A real leg up as most of the Kid's story were unreadable up to this point. Another good point is that the villain finally show up. Darkseid and his dark gods of Apokolips are finally making their move (like this book) and are gathering forces. Mary Marvel siding with Darkseid? Can't wait to see what happen there.

Countdown: The Search for Ray Palmer - Red Rain #1- I will admit I do not understand why so many people loved the Elseworld Batmen is a vampire story. It's good, but hardly a classic. And I can never get over the fact it's a story with a hook and nothing more.
However, DC listen to the majority vote and put the Red Rain Universe as one of the 52 Earths. As much as I dislike the world, this story is pretty good. The story is mostly about the Dick Grayson of Red Rain and how as a vampire-hunter, his hunt for the biggest, baddest vampire in the world, Bat-man! Like the entertaining Jokester's origin story in the Crime Society installment, this is a character driven story. Dick Grayson's quest to hunt down and kill the Bat-man that murdered his parents is the glue of the story and show more potential in the Red Rain Universe than I thought possible. Another solid look at a 52 world.

Annihilation: Conquest #1- Annihilation was THE sleeper hit that came out of nowhere. The original Annihilation retool the cosmic wing of the Marvel Universe and with the hit, came the sequel.
Conquest has a lot to live up to, and mostly it a success. Like the original, you can feel the effect of the war. The battles in this issue are brutal and very dangerous. This is where the book succeeded. The sheer scope of the war is amazing. You can see and feel that this is a galaxy-wide war and the people who are fighting in it take no prisoners and gives no quarter. Also, I like the fact Adam Warlock made a return. The bad thing of the issue is the main villain that showed up at the end. Him? That's the...guy that made the Phalanx into a threat that conquered the Kree? Annihilus and his forces I can understand, this guy...I have my doubts. Another problem I foresee is the amount of characters the writers are trying to squeeze in. The amount of characters involved means that even characters like Nova, Star-Lord and Drax the Destroyer can't even make an appearance. However, this is a good start and I'll be there for issue 2.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Elder Scrolls Online

Travelling from Daggerfall to Morrowind, take a portal to Oblivion, sail to the Summer Isle; fans of the Elder Scrolls series are drooling like me at a piece of news that came out last week.

Bethesda Softworks, owner of the Elder Scrolls series, has registered the domain name It seems the ZeniMax, who owns Bethesda, has just created a new division called ZeniMax Online Studios, dedicated to the development of massively-multiplayer online games.

I love this idea! Elder Scrolls: Oblivion is a huge game, so I can't wait to see what Bethesda Softworks will do. It could be better than big. However they just registered the name, so it'll be a while. Here's for waiting patiently for the next MMO smash!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

There's an island called Pedra Branca?

Singapore papers are filled with Pedra Branca. The island is 40km from Singapore and both Singapore and Malaysia claim the island.

Most Singaporeans I know have the same reaction I did; Where the hell is Pedra Branca? The island is 40km from Singapore and...we can claim an island 40km away? I know it's in a strategic position but it is 40km away! Only a lawyer can figure this one out. The International Court of Justice will determine which country has the sovereign right to the island. Hopefully after this, we will never hear of the island again.

Let's not relations between Malaysia and Singapore be damaged by an island no Singaporeans has ever heard of.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Review of Stardust

There are fanboys who worship at the alter of Neil Gaiman. I loved the man's work on the classic Sandman series, but I am NOT one of them!

Although I love Sandman; to me the series seems a one-off for Neil Gaiman. A fluke if you will. Nothing he has done before or since has quite reached the amazing bar Sandman has set. There have been a few close calls (American Gods coming to mind), but while Gaiman's stories has loads of imagination, lack of execution has been his fatal flaw at times. At times it almost seems that he has too much imagination for his own good.

The movie Stardust is based on a novel Neil Gaiman wrote, does NOT have this problem. For this, thank God for Matthew Vaughn. The British film producer-turned-director might be better known as Mr Claudia Schiffer, but does the man have talent or what!

Vaughn streamlines the book to give off a charming movie that's both funny and fun. The casting director need a pay raise as well because the film is amazing well-casted. How the hell did he managed to get Robert De Niro (having a ball of a time), Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Sienna Miller all into Stardust? Whoever he is, the pay raise is richly deserved.

I won't go into detail about the movie as I probably won't be able to do it justice, let just say that I understand why the film remind people of The Princess Bride. Like that classic film, Stardust is destined for classic status. DO NOT READ THE BOOK FIRST! The film is good in that you are never quite sure what's going to happen next.

Also, Charlie Cox is a breakout star as the main character Tristan Thorne. Cox is believable as the bumbling, naive boy as the start of the movie; and is believable as the heroic man at the end. A superb performance!

Take a look at Stardust; it's one of the best film of the year!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Confusing! That's what I thought after reading the third Harry Potter book. That's the main trouble with time travel. If you want to have a time travel story, you need to make sure everything make sense while the action is happening and in the end.

That's the main problem with the time travel parts of this book. It makes sense in the end...only if you are willing to make a leap of faith in the midst of the story.

To be fair, the story was pretty good till the time travel started. J.K. Rowling's third book in the Harry Potter series opens with Harry Potter enduring yet another unhappy summer at the Dursleys'. Then Uncle Vernon's visiting sister, Marge, viciously insults Harry, Harry's anger snap and magically causes her to inflate and float to the ceiling. Harry runs away but the Knight Bus soon find him and takes him to the Leaky Cauldron.

During the trip, Harry learns that a supporter of Lord Voldemort, Sirius Black, has escaped from the magic prison of Azkaban. Black murdered thirteen people with one curse and is a strong supporter of Lord Voldemort. Harry met with the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, who surprising told Harry that he will NOT be expelled from Hogwarts for using under-age magic. While staying at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry hears Mr. and Mrs. Weasley arguing over whether he should be warned about Black.

As Harry begins his third year, there are two new wizards joining the staff: Professor Remus J. Lupin for Defence Against the Dark Arts and Rubeus Hagrid for Care of Magical Creatures. While Lupin's lessons are enjoyable, Hagrid's soon become dreary. The hippogriff Buckbeak, a half-horse, half-bird creature, was provoked into attacking Draco Malfoy whose father, Lucius Malfoy, immediately files a complaint against Hagrid.

Because Black is still at large, Dementors, the inhuman Azkaban prison guards now patrol the school. Dementors drain happiness from anything they approach and Harry find that he is particularly affected by them.

Shortly before Christmas, the Weasley twins give Harry their Marauder's Map, a magical document that shows every person's location within Hogwarts as well as secret passageways in and out of the castle. Harry uses a tunnel to sneak into Hogsmeade village where he overhears a disturbing conversation that Black was his parents' best friend and is his godfather and legal guardian. He was also the one who betrayed the Potters whereabouts to Lord Voldemort and murdered their friend Peter Pettigrew.

A large dog then attacks Ron and drags him and his rat Scabbers into a hole at the base of Whomping Willow. Harry and Hermione follow, finding a tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack. Inside, Harry confronts Sirius Black, who is an Animagus, a mage who can transform into an animal at will. Lupin suddenly bursts in and embraces his old friend Black. Confronted by Hermione, Lupin admits to being a werewolf and also the Map's creator, along with Black, Pettigrew, and James Potter. Lupin and Black explain that Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew in his Animagus form. He is Voldemort's servant, and he betrayed the Potters, framing Black for the crimes. Harry is skeptical until Black and Lupin force Pettigrew back into his human form. Black explains he discovered that Pettigrew was still alive and escaped Azkaban to seek revenge.

As the group heads back, the full moon rises, causing Lupin to turn into a werewolf. During the ensuing commotion, Pettigrew escapes. Black turns into his dog form to protect the others from Werewolf Lupin. Lupin flees, leaving Black badly injured. As Dementors move in to attack Black, Harry and Hermione see a mysterious figure in the distance cast a powerful stag-shaped Patronus, a guardian spirit spell. The stag scattered the Dementors. Black is then captured and taken to the castle where the Dementors intend to suck out his soul.

Hermione then reveals to Harry that she was entrusted with a time-traveling device. Prompted by Headmaster Dumbledore, she and Harry travel three hours into the past, watching themselves go through the night's previous events.

This is where the story start losing sense. Harry and Hermione set Buckbeak free and return to the Whomping Willow. As the dementors are about to attack the "other" Harry and Black, Harry realises that the mysterious figure he saw earlier was actually himself. He casts the powerful Patronus that repels the dementors. Harry and Hermione free Black, who escapes on Buckbeak as the timeline restores itself to normal.

Does the last part make sense to you? It sure didn't to me as I was reading it. Hermione just happen to be entrusted with a time travel device, which is a big thing in the magic world. Harry just happen to learn the Patronus spell which save Black. They then managed to free Buckbeak who flies Black to safety.

Coincidence? No such thing, magic time travel! A good book that tries so hard to find a good ending, it suffers. That's my view.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sherwood Forest going, going...

We might not like to hear this, but climate change is mostly a man-made problem. We had, and still are, destroyed the trees and forests needed to keep the world cool. The Amazon rainforest is only about 70% of what it once was and getting smaller by the day.

Sherwood Forest is joining the rainforest. Yes, the famous forest in England that housed the legendary Robin Hood is in danger of being extinct. The forest once covered about 100,000 acres; today it is about 450 acres. If Robin Hood was alive today, he'll be stealing from the rich and giving to the forest.

It tell you how bad things are getting when even a national icon like Sherwood Forest is under threat from extincted. Unless man decided to destroy less forests...there goes the neighbourhood.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #26- A title change this week. The newly named Countdown to Final Crisis #26 is a sad, sad effort to remind people to buy the new upcoming, supposedly last Final Crisis. The DC event new year. I rather wish DC would concentrate less on marketing and more on getting this series to live up to the level set by 52. To be fair, this is a good issue. A Monitor basically gave a show and tell to clue readers in on how there's a plan for everything. Mary Marvel's temper tantrums, Jimmy Olsen fight on Apokolips, the Jason Todd/Donna Troy/Kyle Rayner search for Ray Palmer, even Karate Kid's quest for a cure. The only one missing is Holly Robinson; I knew that story was useless! A improved book is good, marketing...not so good.

Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #1- Of all the stories in 52, the Crime Bible story was, in my view, the weak link. I love the fact Renee Montoya is the new the Question (yes, I'm one of the few), but the the Crime Bible segments of 52 were just too drawn-out. This series however start with a bang. A series showing how the students of the Bible are spreading their religion. What's there not to like? Keep this up and DC will have a winner.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A few cents worth

There's a big wave in Singapore these few days on those 3 British morons who cheated an old trishaw rider of his hard earned money after taking a trip on his trishaw; and then put the whole incident on Youtube.

My view on this; Why are you surprise by this? Service staffs all over the island had always complained about rude, unreasonable tourists (mostly Westerns). These 3 idiots from the U.K are hardly the first, or last, of their kind. Hell, in the Singapore "West is good" thinking, Singaporeans are beginning to ape those Western morons. Remember the papers a few months ago when they reported a woman (a Singaporean) who refused to pay her taxi fare unless the taxi drop her off at the other side of the road. Which is all of 5 metres away! How is the woman any different from these British cheats?

Before we Singaporeans start showing our rightness fury, let us take a good look in the mirror first.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Legend Falls!

Success make people do funny things; even successful people; even legends. That can be the only reason when someone like Switzerland's Martina Hingis announced her retirement from tennis after admitting she is under investigation for a positive test for cocaine.

Shockwaves were felt in the tennis world when reports said that Hingis failed a drugs test during this year's Wimbledon. Now she say that she is innocent but will retire rather than fight the doping charge. Hingis, winner of five Grand Slams, is on a comeback after retiring in 2003 due to persistent ankle injury problems. She only returned to the top flight in 2006, but despite showing her potential by getting to 7th in the world at one point, she has struggled to recover her old form.

Maybe she is innocent; maybe it's a bad test; but I feel Hingis should stay and fight the charge. By retiring like this...well, it's had to accept she is innocent isn't it? And after her outstanding career to boot! A champion and a fan favorite well respected by everyone; what made her do it?

Like I said; The desire to have success make people do funny things.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

EPL this month

Who's hot in October

Top Teams this month
Arsenal- Forget Brazil, the beautiful game has a new savior; his name: Arsene Wenger. The manager of Arsenal has the team playing a brand of football which is bewitching to the eye. And they are fearless! Who else would dare go to Anfield and attack Liverpool? Cesc Fabregas is so good now that no one even notice the absent Robin van Persie. Arsenal are on a roll!

Manchester United- Last month they were winning even when they were playing badly. No longer a problem. Wayne Rooney's return to scoring form was badly needed and the defence is still great. Still not sure about the Rooney/Tevez attack, but you can't argue with results. Sir Alex Ferguson still has the magic touch.

Surprise Team this month
Chelsea- Chelsea putting Man City to the sword? Attacking and scoring goals for fun? Avram Grant has proven that he is different from ex-manager Jose Mourinho and the team is responding to the changes. The team is exactly exciting to watch now. Jose who?

Disappointing Teams this month
Tottenham Hotspur- I disagree with those people who say Martin Jol didn't have a chance. Martin Jol had over 10 games and Spurs are in the bottom 3 instead of the top 3 of the EPL. He had to go. Maybe now Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and gang can get going and put some results together.

Liverpool- Why is Fernando Torres so important to Liverpool? Because Xabi Alonso is injured! Without Alonso, there's no creator in the Liverpool midfield and that's what make Torres so important. He is the only striker Liverpool has that can create! Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and Andriy Voronin are good strikers that bring different things to the table...but they are not creators. Liverpool need Alonso back in a hurry.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New NBA season

After the ugly, ugly Cleveland Cavaliers/San Antonio Spurs series that was in the NBA Finals last season, the new NBA season is starting.

And not a day to soon. After the yawning series to end last season, the NBA was hit with a close season betting scandal on one of it's referees. The bad taste in the mouth must be wash away quickly if the NBA is to maintain it's grip as THE basketball league of the world.

Luckily, there's good moves in the close season that give the new season great promise. First off, my favorite team the Boston Celtics has made some great trades. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen has now join Paul Pierce in Boston, giving the Celtics 3 All-Stars. Of course all 3 are on the wrong side of 30 (and they have no bench), but with the Big 3, the Celtics are favorites to reach the Finals from the Eastern Conference. Tim Duncan's San Antonio Spurs are the defending champions and they look a good bet to be in the Finals from the West. They have kept all their best players and they still have the solid look they have last year.

The Celtics and the Spurs in the Finals! That's my bet for the coming season.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

US home loans problems continue

The subprime crisis claimed another 2 victims. First off UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, reported a quarterly loss of 830 million Swiss francs (US$713 million) after its third quarter results were hit by the ailing US home loans market.

Yes, 830 million! The second victim was Merrill Lynch chairman and CEO Stan O'Neal is "retiring" from the global investment bank and brokerage after Merrill Lynch posted some of the biggest losses in its history. The loss: 7.9 billion dollars in losses!

Yes, a total loss of over 8 billion! The deterioration in the US subprime mortgage market is really getting scary because it's still not over. There's may be more losses involved. Get ready for a bumpy ride.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Heroes of Might and Magic V discount

Being a Singaporean, I also love a deal. Maybe not as much as most Singaporeans (in which I am glad) but what's there not to like about a cheap discount. So when I saw Heroes of Might and Magic V: Gold Edition at South Asia Computers at Funan for $64.90, I grabbed it.

The game is Heroes of Might and Magic V and its' 2 expansions; Hammer of Fate and Tribes of the East. Other stores are selling it at $76.90; a $12 discount! Hey, I'm a Singaporean.

The game look huge, with lots of maps and missions. Probably will be spending months on it! Sleepless nights, here I come!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Comics this wek

Countdown #27- About time! That's what I said when I saw Jason Todd finally turning on the Challenger of the Beyond. A guy who looks out for no. 1; that's how he is being written after his return from death. About time the writers return him to something like how his personality is suppose to be. The other parts of Countdown still suffer from problems. Black Mary battle with the Shadowpact is a mess. We see it as it's in the middle, then Mary just teleport out as it is reaching a climax. A mess!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Stupid Americans (Part III)

Finally! Common sense finally prevail in America as the backers of a resolution to formally name the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide will postpone efforts to bring it to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The controversial resolution support faltered in the face of the expected protests from NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has already recalled its U.S ambassador in protest and warned of a reduction in military cooperation if the vote goes though. Tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels located in northern Iraq has also increased in recent days.

Not playing nice has worked for Turkey but how the hell did it came to this? Surely the Turks are more important to America than the Armenians? Oil prices had hit to 90 dollars a barrel due to the tensions; the war in Iraq has come under threat as Turkey has threaten to invade northern Iraq. All this could have begin prevented by ignoring the stupid vote. Surely that's the wise thing to do!

Better late than never I guess.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yoga man float in the are

A white man floating on the White House lawn. A Yoga trick or Yoga magic? See and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Singaporeans do not support sanctions

Singapore has up the pressure and has now openly "advised" Southeast Asian nations NOT to impose economic sanctions on Myanmar despite the political upheaval there last month.

In theory, the reason is that this is because such sanctions will not be effective but everyone knows the real reason...Singapore has a lot of money in Myanmar. Singapore is now effectively the pointman for Myanmar to stop sanctions. Never mind the hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who are now dead because of the guns of the junta, in Singapore money is king!

The Singapore leaders are right! On this, I believe they are in line with what most Singaporeans are thinking. Despite what the Western governments say; no matter how high the death toll is; Singaporeans do not care about dead bodies in Yangoon or any other cities in Myanmar. Just take a look at Singapore news, you will hardly see a single Singaporean supporting sanctions. Why? Because Singapore has over a billion dollars in investments there, and that is what Singaporeans truly care about.

The generals in Myanmar can kill a couple more thousands people, and no one here will care. In Singapore, money is the be-all and end-all. This is not a rant; just facts!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Kimi wins! A Race God in the sky!

There is a racing god! That's what come to mind when Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen won his first Formula One drivers' championship after finishing first at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton's bid came to a dramatic end in the Brazilian Grand Prix after going off in the first lap and a gear-box problem at lap 8 costing him over 40 seconds in the race.

Hamilton, who needed to finish in the top 4, could finish only seventh while his McLaren "team-mate" Fernando Alonso's hopes were dashed as he finished third behind Raikkonen and the Finn's Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. This is good for F1 fans (or for all F1 fans who isn't British) as no one from McLaren has won the championship. With their spying on Ferrari this year, it would be laughable if one of their drivers won the title.

As I have said last month, the spying saga has, in my view, tainted the title race for the McLaren's drivers. So I was delighted when Kimi Raikkonen won it; at least now, we can say for sure Raikkonen is the real champion of the track (without blatant spying for help).

Cry-baby Lewis Hamilton made a last ditch attempt to steal the title by appealing against a decision by the race stewards. The Williams and BMW Sauber team, whose cars filled fourth, fifth and sixth places, were investigated for ilegall fuel usage. Fortunately the stewards decided to impose no penalty. Had they been disqualified, Hamilton would have moved up to fourth, giving him enough points to win the world title.

Yes, Hamilton is a true cry-baby. Thank you racing god, whoever you are!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dumbledore is gay

In a act that will make Singaporeans parents faint, J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling Harry Potter fantasy series has reveal what some has always suspected: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay!

Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," she spotted a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. A note was duly passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character.

Quick; ban the book! Ha! I find this revelation extremely funny. Oh the pressure parents will be in now. Just imagine kids asking parents what are gays! Ha!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #28- The Countdown problem continue. This book is slow, the characters are not interesting; but Countdown has not been a total failure. This week show why. I still don't care about Jimmy Olsen, and when did Trickster get a invisibility shield, but at last the story are moving and when that happen, Countdown is interesting. Countdown has potential, if only they'll show it more often.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

World War III?

Just a week after I said he did something right, U.S President George W. Bush again prove to the world what an idiot he truly is. Bush warned that world leaders must come together to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons if the world want to avoid the prospect of "World War III".

This is just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a new proposal to end the nuclear crisis as he met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for landmark talks in Tehran. Bush is threatening World War III just when Putin put forward a proposal to break the deadlock? Talk about bad timing or what. What's worse, he did this knowingly!

Just as Putin and Ahmadinejad were shaking hands and smiling for the cameras, Bush is threatening World War III. Stupid

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Took awhile, but I had finally finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The second book in the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling, I have to say the book was much better than 'Sorcerer’s Stone'. Also, I have seen the movie before but the movie truly pale in comparison to the book.

The story start again with the Harry Potter at home with the Dursleys for the summer. However, the book quickly get the mundane out of the way as Dobby, a house-elf, arrives and warn Harry not to return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year.

The story in the book is the same as it was in the movie. Events take a turn for the worse when a monster began stalking Hogwarts and several people, and a cat, became petrified (turned into stone). The Chamber of Secrets is believed to have been opened by someone. According to the school legend, the Chamber was built by Salazar Slytherin (one of the founders of the school) and can only be opened by his heir, in order to purge Hogwarts of "all those who were unworthy to study magic". Harry discovered a new power, he can speaks Parseltongue (the language of snakes). Everyone suspect Harry as the culprit who opened the chamber as Parseltongue is a rare ability that Salazar Slytherin had, which mean Harry could be his heir.

Harry, being Harry, decide to investigate the case personally. Things take a turn for the worse when his friend Hermione Granger was also found petrified. Harry finally discover the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets with his best friend Ron Weasley. They force Gilderoy Lockhart, a teacher at Hogwarts who is also a fraud, to go with them. Once they find the entrance to the Chamber, Lockhart attempts to use Ron's broken wand to erase Harry and Ron's memories, but the spell backfires on to himself and brings the ceiling down on them, separating Harry from Ron and Lockhart.

Harry makes it to the Chamber alone where he finds an unconscious Ginny Weasly, Ron's sister. He also meets a young man named Tom Riddle, who claims to be a "memory". Harry learns that Ginny, under the control of Lord Voldemort, opened the Chamber. Voldemort, whose real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle, imprinted his memory (when he was 16) in a diary, in order to one day continue the work he began when he was a student in Hogwarts. From there, a fight ensure with Tom Riddle calling out the monster in the Chamber, a basilisk (a monster who can petrify you if you look into it's eyes). But Albus Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, arrives carrying the Sorting Hat, from which Harry draws out a magical sword. Fawkes blinds the basilisk, destroying its fatal gaze, and Harry slays it with the sword. However in the attempt to slay the basilisk, Harry's arm was pierced by the creature's fang, and Riddle tells him that the venom will kill him within a minute. After Fawkes' tears healed Harry (phoenix tears have healing power) , Harry stab the enchanted diary with one of the basilisk's fangs, and the memory of Riddle is destroyed. Ginny then awaken from her near-death state. Hermione recovered fully along with all the other victims of the basilisk.

As I have said earlier, the book is far better than the movie. Characters were fresh out, especially the Weasly family, and the plot was moving along nice and tight throughout the whole book. I finally saw why the series lasted as long as it did. J. K. Rowling expanded on the wizard world and the strange diverse characters in it. A good, solid read; pick this one up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stupid Americans (Part II)

Last week, US lawmakers defied warnings by Turkey and voted to label the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as "genocide." I said then that the resolution was an act of stupidity; unfortunately I am being proven right.

With the stupid vote by the Americans, the Turks are now NOT playing nice with their enemies. Tensions mounted between Turkey's government and Kurdish rebels located in northern Iraq and Turkey's army said that it had began shelling Iraqi territory following an attack on a military outpost with rockets and gunfire from across the border by Kurdish rebels.

So now, the Americans are struck between protecting their Kurdish allies in Iraq or their Turkish allies in NATO. Wonderful! In case anyone is not taking this seriously in Singapore, the rising tension is the main cause for the rise in oil prices. And we all know how important that is to the economy.

The world's oil futures immediately cross the important $85 and then kept on going up! Oil close at 86.13 dollars a barrel. The oil prices spiked as the Turkish government are seeking parliamentary approval for a potential military incursion into neighbouring Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebel bases there. Yes, they are just seeking approval. Just imagine what the oil price will be if and when the Turks do attack!

The White House are now urging "restraint" from Turkey. Maybe they should have though of that before the stupid vote; a vote that could wreck the world's economy in the coming months.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #29- The one thing I'm still interested in Countdown lately is the 52 Earths. This week, the Challenger of the Beyond travel to Earth-8, home of Lord Havok. Of course, Havok only last long enough to be taken in by Monarch and his new army. Yawn! The problem is that none of the stories are really moving; Piper/Trickster are talking in a diner; Holly Robinson is finally on the Amazonian Island; God knows what Jimmy Olsen is doing; Mary Marvel is becoming more and more evil; Karate Kid has his 2 pages...that's it! Move the story already.

Black Adam: The Dark Age #3- Black Adam was the surprise star of 52, the Black Adam mini-series continued the trend. The phenomenal first two issues were great, sadly this third issue does not live up to the first two. One thing different in this issue is that the writer Peter Tomasi no longer give you a psychological view of Black Adam. Instead, it's throwdown time as Black Adam go up against Hawkman. (Why Hawkman believe he has a chance against Black Adam is something I rather not think about). Outside the fight, there's a long talk between Black Adam and Felix Faust on how to bring Isis back from the grave. Also the JLA discuss their plans to capture the fugitive villain, but the most interesting thing was the surprise introduction of Talia Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. Why are they here? Uhm...very interesting.

Nova #7- As the Annihilation Conquest mini is coming up, all the the various tie-ins are spiraling downwards to their respective conclusions. Having dispatched Ko-Rel last issue, Nova and Gamora continue to carry out missions for the Phalanx. The death of a follow Nova however gave Richard the will and the strength to fight back against the Phalanx technophage. After that, the Worldmind and Nova escape from Kree space to...the other side of the universe? How is Nova suppose to be in Annihilation Conquest when he's on the wrong side of the universe? Guess I have to pick up the next issue to find out.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Tales of Pirates review

Having played months of 9Dragons, I decided that it was time to explore some other online games...which are available for free of course (hey, I'm Singaporean!). I was looking at the free trial of City of Heroes/City of Villians...but the trial was only for North America. Damm!

With that idea gone, I decided to try Tales of Pirates. For people with no idea what it is, Tales of Pirates is a fantasy-realm massively multiplayer game (MMO). You will create a pirate and experience all about the lives of pirates. You can build your own ship, explore huge ocean maps, and team up with the Navy Force to engage in seas battles or take the roles of Traders, Merchants and Fisherman. Of course all these are after a few hours of grinding.

Now the game has been around for awhile and I did tried it before. It didn't impress me too much then, but I heard on the web there has been great improvements. So why not? It's free right! Exciting naval wars, intense island-attacking battles, unique ship PK battles, island-fighting, island construction and island protection; what's there not to like about the idea! It's a One Piece online game!

I agree that there's been great improvement since the last time I tried the game. For some reason I can't log on using my old password, even though I'm sure it's correct. Small detail; I use a new one. The game interface was better, and there seen to be some graphics improvement. The gameplay is basically the same but they did not improve the one thing I hated the last time.

The game is very crowded. The starting city of Argent is big, but even then there were times I can't see my character as it was blocked by 6-7 other characters. Once outside the city, it get better. But you have to stay in the city for awhile and that's a huge problem when you CAN'T SEE YOUR GUY! If anything, it's worse now than it was in the past as the game is more popular now.

Sad because the game is pretty good. Especially for those who like cute avatars, this is the game. Just be sure you have eagle eyes at the start.

Friday, October 12, 2007

When there's Money...

In a stunning show of how well and alive the kaisu spirit is in tiny Singapore, some residents in the Sin Ming area are unhappy about a custom-built funeral parlour being built possibly near their houses.

With a basic "not in my backyard" mentality, the residents fear that the funeral parlour will bring down the prices of their houses. The protest has been so strong that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has U-turned and given reassurances that no decision on the location has been taken. Note that the residents are not challenging the URA's contention that with an ageing population, there will be a need for more funeral services but "just not near my area"!

When money is involve, always expect Singaporeans to fight for their right.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Stupid Americans

In a move destined to hurt (maybe destroy) relations between America and Turkey, US lawmakers defied warnings by Turkey by voting to label the Ottoman Empire's World War I massacre of Armenians as "genocide."

The US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee voted for the resolution in a sheer act of stupidity. Now most people knows I'm no fan of US President George W. Bush, but even I can't blame him for this. He and his top lieutenants were blunt in attacking the non-binding resolution, warning that it would trigger Turkish reprisals and undermine US efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East as it will do harm to US-Turkish relations.

He is correct. Yes, that's right! I'm admitting the man got it right on something. Although they have no troops in Iraq, Turkey is a crucial transit point the US need for supplies bound for Iraq. This is especially so for northern Iraq. Is it truly wise to mess with your ally when they are fighting a war with you? Especially when Turkey is a Muslim NATO country who is right next door to Iraq? Turkish President Abdullah Gul has already denounced the vote as "unacceptable".

As Singapore support America in Iraq (due to the bribe of the FTA), I hope words are all that will be said and no action is done. When you are in the middle of a war, you do not kick an ally in the teeth like this. This is just stupid!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Malaysian in space

As you read this, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor would have became Malaysia's first astronaut as he blast off into space in a Russian Soyuz rocket.

In a voyage seen as breaking new boundaries for Malaysia and Muslims everywhere, the 35 year-old doctor would travel to the International Space Station (ISS) with Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and American Peggy Whitson. He was to spend about nine days onboard the ISS, arriving at the orbiting station near the end of the holy month of Ramadan and staying there for Eid, when he will treat the long-term crew to festive Malaysian food.

Malaysian officials have described the voyage as a national milestone for their country as they marked 50 years of independence. It is also the 50th anniversary of space travel as Sputnik 1, the very first space satellite was launched in 1957. The space trip was arranged as part of a billion-dollar purchase by Malaysia of Russian fighter jets.

I say the Malaysian are getting their money worth. Here's hoping a safe trip to the first Malaysian in space.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taking back Marion Jones' medals

Anyone who is a sport fan will know that recently disgraced sprinter Marion Jones, once the fastest woman in the world, has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during her reign as sprint queen of the world.

As such, Jones has been stripped of her gold medals from the 2000 Olympics and asked repay more than 100,000 dollars in prize and bonus money. Jones has returned the three gold and two bronze medals she won unfairly at the Sydney Games. Worse, some of the medals were won in the relays and as such her relay teammates also has to turn over their medals from 2000 as well.

A sad end to a once great career, but I question the need to hand over the medals Jones won in 2000. The reason? Simple...Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou is now in line to receive one of the golds because she finished second behind Jones in the Sydney 100 metres. But guess what? Thanou was given a two-year ban for allegedly faking a motorbike crash to cover up missing a drug test during the 2004 Summer Games. So they basically now have to hand over the gold to a sprinter with a bad record.

Brilliant! If this is the case, why brother with the problem of taking back the medals from Jones? Here's hoping the US will clean up the team for next year's Beijing Games.

Monday, October 8, 2007

EverQuest Movie

After the mess that was D&D, Street Fighter, Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, DOA...etc, Hollywood and the gaming industry still has not learned their lesson.

How else can you explain rumours that Sony Pictures is planning to bring Sony Online Entertainment's MMORPG fantasy game EverQuest to the big screen? The way the rumours has it, the movie is stated for either 2009 or 2010. After all the game-to-big-screen disasters, do we really need another?

Of course not! Here's one gamer who hope that the movie never get made. And I don't even play EverQuest!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The "Rasa Sayang" dispute

In a little known dispute in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are arguing over who has ownership over the Malay folk song "Rasa Sayang".

The folk song was used in Malaysia's tourism campaign and the Indonesians have accused Malaysia of stealing the song from them as it is an Indonesian folk song. They are considering suing Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia naturally say that the allegations are madness. This little small dispute could spark a diplomatic row between the two neighbors.

This is just surreal to me. How can Jakarta even think of suing for copyright when no one even know who wrote the song in the first place? Does it make sense to anyone? It's like when Americans copyrighted yoga; total nonsense!

Hell the song is sung by people from southern Thailand to people in Sri Lanka. Next thing we know Indonesia will accused Malaysia and Singapore of stealing batik and the Malay language. Stupid!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #30- I know Countdown is the 'spine of the DCU' but that doesn't mean the writers should skip the action all over the place! Last we saw, Piper/Trickster were running after crashing Black Canary bachelorette party, the issue starts with them in a cave where several heroes and villains are duking it out. How they got into this position? Why are they fighting? Your guess is as good as mine because there was no explanation at all! Add 2 page cameos for the Jimmy Olsen storyline (which is getting more stupid by the page), Holly and Harley's Amazon adventure (which was kind of amusing this week), Karate Kid's illness (one word: BORING), the saving grace this week is The Challengers From Beyond storyline (aka Jason Todd/Donna Troy/Bob). I admit I'm a sucker for 'elsewhere' stories, and this week they hit a Earth where they ARE the Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern of the world. Oh, and General Zod is Superman! Yes, kind of cute in a way but one segment cannot save the mess. I expect more and better for my money.

Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer - Crime Society #1- Last week we saw The Challengers of Beyond pop into Earth 3 and their fight against the Crime Society. This issue is a tour of the Earth 3 like the Wildstorm book was, instead writer Sean McKeever choose to focus on the back-story of the Jokester, Earth 3's version of the Joker, one of the few heroes left in Earth 3. McKeever turned the Joker story on it's head and the Clown Prince of Crime's origin story was a load of fun. Now if only Countdown can follow it's own spinoffs.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Orc King by R.A. Salvatore's

The world's most popular drow returns as Drizzt Do'Urden is back in this new Forgotten Realms novel by R.A. Salvatore. The dark elf failed in his attempt to kill Obould Many-Arrows in his last book, The Two Swords, and now have a difficult task as the orc has proclaimed himself king. Drizzt must now convince his friend Breunor Battlehammer, King of Mithral Hall, to make peace with the dwarf's most hated enemies.
Does he succeed or will the Forgotten Realms have another war in the Spine of the World?

Yes, he does. How do I know? Because I read the damm prologue!
Salvatore gave away the ending at the very start of the book. The prologue is set 100 years in the future with Drizzt Do'Urden still around. Now that's okay as I never expected them to kill off the drow, but the prologue then began revealing that the orc King Obould succeeds in the creation of The Kingdom of Many-Arrows for the orcs and that Drizzt supports this kingdom. Not only that, he was the one that convinced Breunor of the need for peace. Great! Super! I can stop reading the book right there, can't I?

I have to say this is the only book I have ever read that I hated from the very start! Salvatore did not just gave away the ending at the start; he even tell you how the end came about! By the way, if you are reading The Lady Pentinent series by Lisa Smedman, skip the prologue as it gave that one away as well. What in the world was he thinking!

Regular characters like Drizzt, Cattie-brie, Bruenor, Wulfgar, and Regis all make appearances in this novel but this is not actually a Drizzt novel. He is in the thick of things but this book give more info about Obould than anyone else. Outside the barbarian Wulfgar (who left for Icewind Dale) and Drizzt's wife, Catti-brie (who is on her road to being a wizard), nothing really happen to the mainstays of the series. The plot of this book is about Obould, the creation of his kingdom, and the revolt he faced down from the half-orc/half-ogre chief, Grguch.

Overall, the book was pretty solid. If you like Salvatore's other works, you will like this one. Just remember to skip the stupid prologue.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Myanmar quiet as crackdown works

As UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari stopover in Singapore, from where he will fly back to New York, the storm in Myanmar seems to be over and the generals are still in power. As Mr. Gambari brief UN chief Ban Ki-moon, probably on Thursday, questions are still been asked about the thousands of people reported 'missing' in Yangon.

Local and UN officials say at least 1,000 people are being held without sanitation inside a warehouse at a Yangon campus, the fate of others are currently 'unknown'. Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo has joined other world leaders to ask for restraint from the generals.

I'm not sure about that. Quite frankly, I think it might be better if Singapore keep quiet on the matter. There's already cries of hypocrisy with regards on the matter, and you have to say they do have a point. Singapore IS the second largest investor in Myanmar, right up there with China and India. If we come out too strongly on Myanmar, we risk been known as hypocrites on the matter. I mean Singapore have been supporting/investing in Myanmar since the 90's. Worse, what if the regime in Myanmar decide to turn the screws on Singapore investments there? Last I heard, Singapore investments in Myanmar totalled well over $500 million.

It is sad what is happening in Myanmar, the missing (or most likely dead) monks, but I think most Singaporeans will not be very happy if Singapore's money get thrown away on the protests. Yes, when the Myanmar junta rise prices by 500%, I fully expect the people of Myanmar to revolt, but this is something which most Singaporeans don't truly care about.

If we shout too loudly, the generals could just take all of Singapore's money in Myanmar. This is something most Singaporeans (like me) will not be happy about.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

EPL this month

Another month has come and gone. Who's hot and who's not in the EPL in September

Top Teams this month
Arsenal- They say Arsenal was too young. They say the team will struggle without Thierry Henry. Yes I admit; I said much the same things, but Arsenal was red hot this month. Cesc Fabregas has been nothing short of amazing for them and Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie seems to have a good understanding upfront. With the Champions League starting in October, the team might be a little thin for the run to continue but manager Arsene Wenger seems to have hit it right this year.

Manchester United - They say the mark of a champion is to win even when you are playing badly. If that is true, Man Utd will win it this year because they are playing like crap...but they are winning. The big spenders in the summer has had huge problems on the field. Wayne Rooney's injuries hurt them badly and manager Alex Ferguson does not seem to have a Plan B. But that defence is great and as long as that defence holds, Man Utd will continue to win games.

Man City- Man City continue to surprise as manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's team starts to gel. Playmaker Elano look like the steal of the season as his passes are just picking teams apart. A series of virtuoso displays from Martin Petrov also helped the team's climb up the table. There's still some problems for the team, why does Eriksson continue to start Kasper Schmeichel in goal been one of them, but the team looks good.

Surprise Team this month
Portsmouth- A 7-4 win over Reading? 11 goals in a game? That in short is what's great about Portsmouth, they can and will score goals. Neither Kanu or Benjani Mwaruwari are noted for scoring a lot of goals but the team will find goals from somewhere. They are finding goals from the midfield and both their strikers are scoring in September. As long as them keep scoring, they will do well this season.

Disappointing Teams this month
Tottenham Hotspur- Say what you will, but you can't say manager Martin Jol did not have a chance. 8 games into the season and Spurs are still at the wrong end of the table. Keeper Paul Robinson has been less than solid so far and main man upfront Dimitar Berbatov is still not scoring. A matter of time I'm afraid before Jol get his marching orders from the Tottenham board.

Chelsea- I said last month that the midfield is beginning to look a little short and an injury to one of their main midfield players could break Chelsea's engine room. Hold and behold, Frank Lampard got injured and Jose Mourinho became the ex-manager of Chelsea. Avram Grant has been promoted to manager and his record in Israel looks good. Still, with several players unhappy in camp, this look like the beginning of the end for Chelsea.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Review Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone

With the last book of the Harry Potter series out a few months ago, the whole Harry Potter series is done. So I decided to read the book that started it all.

No. I have never read the book before but I had seen the movie already, so I kind of expected what the book was about. The story of the boy-wizard Harry Potter, and how the world of magic turns his world upside down.

Having read the book, I have to say it was a pretty good read. The pacing was good and tight, especially after Harry was taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As expected, the book fresh out certain characters in the Potter world that got short-shafted in the movie. I never knew his classmates had such an effect on him, or how truly famous Harry was till I read the book. I also finally know how the stupid game of Quidditch was played. When I saw the movie, the game made no sense. Yes the rules made no sense in the book also (why not put all the people in the team after the Golden Snitch; it’s that important right?), but at least I know how it’s being played.

However, I was also slightly disappointed with J.K. Rowling. The book did span 6 sequels and made her millions of pounds right? Maybe it’s the level of expectations that has went up due to its’ success, but I was expecting more from the book. It was a good read but there was nothing that suggested it would be the big hit that it was. I wouldn’t put it with ‘The Game of Thrones’; now that’s a great fantasy book!

That is basically it. Read the book with an open mind and it would probably be a good, solid book. Just don’t expect too much; it’s good, not great.