Monday, April 30, 2007

It's over!

After some three months of sometimes painful-to-watch competition, Vas and Pris were crowned Singapore first reality show dancers.

They got the grand prize of $50,000 cash, which is great. Much less so was the show. The 'So you think you can dance' rip-off was in ratings hell for most of its run and if you watch it (especially the early rounds), you can see why.

Good thing: the show's over. Bad thing: there's a season 2. Ah....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Comics this week

52: Week 51- After World War III, the writers went to the inevitable task of wrapping everything up. We finally see the space-stranded heroes make it back to Earth (or Rann in the case Adam Strange). We also see Skeet's quest to hunt down Rip Hunter and Booster Gold and Skeet's transformation. The revelations there was...either surprising or baffling. Quite frankly, I couldn't care less about that storyline to bother. Lobo's story also finished, as expected with him killing things.

And all the heroes of the DCU gather around the Superboy statue to pay tribute to those who fell in the last Crisis and WWIII. Yes, I know AGAIN! Don't they get tired of all these tributes? I guess after WWIII anything the writers do would be underwhelming, but I still expected better! Afterall, coasting down to the end would be a injustice after 50 weeks of a very well-crafted series.

Astro City: Dark Age- 1 issue every 2 and a half month. Um...ok. Is this series so good that Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson need 2 and a half month to come out with 1 issue. No! But this issue at least mark a return to form. The story finally moved! Charles & Royal finally have things to do outside bitching about their lives. We even get to see the F4 clones, the First Family!

Reading issue 3, I rediscovered why I liked Astro City so much (I have every Astro City issue out there). Now, if only it can come out more often.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dirty Money from Indonesia

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says the extradition pact between Singapore and Indonesia agreed on Monday will not hurt Singapore's property and banking sectors.

Mr Lee said,"Please remember that the financial sector is not built up on Indonesian money- it's been going on now since we started in the late 70s - early 80s. And we have, today, handled about 720 billion Singapore dollars in funds. They come from not just the immediate region but now from India, the Gulf, some from China, some from Europe. Indonesian money is no more than two to three per cent of it."

My question is why should there be a problem with the extradition treaty? These crooks stole money from Indonesia and then ran to Singapore. Now the Indonesians want them (and the money) back. What's wrong with that?

If people stole money from normal Singaporeans (remember the lawyer a few months ago) and then ran off to other countries, would not Singaporeans want these crooks to be sent back to Singapore? Why are people worried about these Indonesians funds which are in essence 'dirty' money? Are Singaporeans that money-minded that we don't care where the money comes from as long as it comes? The answer seems to be a big, unfortunate YES.

Movie Trailers

It's the summer of sequels. The end of the trilogys. Spiderman 3 is first up but here's the trailers for Pirates of the Caribbean 3 - At World's End, Spiderman 3 and Shrek 3.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bye-bye Ubin

So much for the peace and quiet of Pulau Ubin. The Kekek Granite Quarry in Ubin will restart work in about three to six months.

Re-opening the quarry is part of the Singapore government's plans to make up for the granite shortfall facing Singapore, after supply was disrupted from Indonesia last month. There are also plans to protect the marine life and surrounding environment on Ubin, to make sure they are not affected by the mining.

Don't bother. If you are going to mine Ubin, the environment there is history. Gone, kaput, bye-bye! You want to protect the envirnoment, don't mine there. If you're going to mine there, don't waste money on a useless show. The envirnoment there will die if there's mining. It's just a matter of time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Review of TMNT

Just saw the new TMNT, aka Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, movie and I must say...Cowabunga! When I heard that it will be full CGI, I was hopeful. I was RIGHT! It rocks!

The movie takes place after Shredder's defeat/death, with the team essentially broken as Leonardo is training in Central America (how did a man-sized turtle reached there was never told), Donatello and Michelangelo have jobs, and Raphael spends his time as a vigilante 'Nightwatcher'. The story focuses on Max Winters, an immortal warrior who tried to take over the world 3,000 years ago. Due to a mistakes of his 3,000 years ago, 13 demonic beasts were let loose into the world and Winter's 4 generals were turned into stone. Leonardo returns and tensions begin to rise between him and Raphael over the leadership of the team. The Foot Clan also made a small appearance (as expected), with Karai leading them.

The story was full of holes. April O'Neil is now a ninja, worse she is now good enough to kick Karai's butt. Yes, that's Karai, leader of the Foot. How is it that only Casey Jones (a moron) could tell that Raphael was the Nightwatcher? The final fight was way too short. The ending was terrible, it was as if the director just wanted to end the movie ASAP.

But who cares about the story! Who go watch TMNT for the story? We go to see the action and the wacky humour. The action was solid (the roof-top fight between Raphael and Leonardo was great) and the CGI was almost flawless. The wackiness was toned down however as the tone of the movie was far grittier than before (more in line with the comics) and there was a hint of a sequel at the end.

23 years after appearing forthe first time, TMNT is still going strong. Not bad for a parody of Daredevil huh.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Environmental Industry has no chance in Singapore

I hope Tony Tan was joking. Dr Tony Tan, Chairman of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore, said that Singapore is aiming to develop into a centre for research in environmental sustainability. In case anyone is wondering what that means, it means that Singapore is going to aim to develop long-term solutions for the supply of water and clean energy for the environment.

I know the reason for doing this is the expected 11,000 jobs that are going to be created, but it is just a waste of money. Singapore is in no position to aim for an environmental industry. I mean
Singaporeans are already screaming bloody murder for paying 10 cents for a plastic bag (due to Bring Your Own Bag Day), and you hope to have a thriving environment industry here! How can we have a successful environmental industry when Singaporeans don't care about the environment? Let's throw the money at a industry that has a chance of success in Singapore because the environmental industry have no chance here. I wish I am wrong, but that's just the truth.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Comics this week

52: Week 50- WWIII (aka Black Adam vs the world) is finally here. After 49 weeks of a surprising well-made weekly series, 52 is closing with a bang. The epic battle has Black Adam facing almost all the heroes from JSA, the Marvel Family, Doom Patrol, Teen Titans, the Great Ten and many others. Battles raged from the Middle East to China, it is a issue packed with battles from front to back.
So, did it work? My feeling was mixed. First the bad things; the issue was too short. DC should have put it in a longer length book as there was almost too many battles for the writers to go through. One normal-length book just wasn't enough when the battles were like the slugfests from Infinite Crisis. The art wasn't good enough. The last battle where Captain Marvel throw down the lighting was very confusing. Only after I read the WWIII tie-ins, then I understood what happened. The good stuff; Black Adam maintained his A-list villain status. After 49 issues of building up the character, I would be one piss off reader if the writers didn't keep him as the enthralling character he has become. They managed to do that. The battle also has a sense of importance to it. I mean it is the battle to stop WWIII right? It should be important and it was. 2 more weeks to the end, here's hoping Countdown will be just as good.

World War III, Part One: A Call to Arms-
World War III, Part Two: The Valiant-
World War III, Part Three: Hell is for Heroes-
World War III, Part Four: United We Stand-
I'm doing all 4 of the WWIII tie-ins (yes, I bought them all. Great marketing DC) as they are about Week 50 of 52. The books go on 2 tracks. Part One and Four was about the battles with Black Adam. Whereas Part Two and Three was about the many changes that happened during One Year Later. On that front, we see why Jason Todd became Nightwing. The beginning of the relationship between Firestorm and Firehawk when they are both part of Firestorm. Why Supergirl is both in the 31 st and 21st centuries (I still don't get it). Donna Troy taking up the Wonder Woman costume. The return of the Suicide Squad. Why Batgirl became a villian. How Aquaman became the insane and hated hermit of the seas. Yes, there is a lot for the writers to go through and they failed! Outside the Aquaman story, the rest were crap. Batgirl became a villian after a talk with Deathstroke? Deathstroke? Does that make sense to anyone? You can skip Part Teo and Three as it has almost nothing to do with 52.
What saved the tie-ins were Part One & Four. The first battle between Black Adam and the Martin Manhunter was too short but it was there and it was the closest anyone got to beating Black Adam one-on-one. In fact, it was the Martin Manhunter's presence that saved the tie-ins. J'onn's internal struggle is part of what made 52 so great. Changes. His changes wasn't forced (unlike some others) and felt very natural. And if you want to know exactly how World War III came to an end, you need to read Part Four. As I've said earlier, reading the main book will not be enough. Jack Jadson did what the 52 pencilers couldn't. Explained what the hell happened! WWIII is over, long live Black Adam!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Great idea, will it work?

Following the example set by Germany, Singapore now has its own BYOBD (Bring Your Own Bag Day). Singapore's very own NEA (National Environment Agency) is trying to encourage people to bring their own bag when doing their shopping.

Great idea, but it will NOT work. The reason is simple; Singaporeans don't give a damm about the environment. Already the campaign was greeted with a lukewarm reception today, with many of the shoppers unaware that it was BYOBD. When told they had to pay 10 cents for a plastic bag, they were screaming bloody murder. Unreasonable was the most common reaction to BYOBD.

Singapore may consumes 2.5 billion plastic bags a year but Singaporeans do not care. Reducing the waste of plastic bags is a great idea but for it to work, NEA need to first increase awareness for the environment. Or else BYOBD will be just another campaign that Singaporeans will ignore.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sacrifice of the Widow by Lisa Smedman

Just finished a new Forgotten Realms book, Sacrifice of the Widow by Lisa Smedman. Now, this is what the War of the Spider Queen should have been. Smedmen again show why she is one of the more under-rated writers around as the book has a bit of everything. Tension, fighting, high magic, plots, betrayal, everything is here.

The book start slowly with Eilistraee and Lolth playing over a sava board. Of course being gods, the pieces are mortals. Halisstra Melarn, who was turned into the Lady Pentinent in the last book of the War of the Spider Queen, is busy killing priestesses of the Dark Maiden under the orders of Lolth. Seems that after her long Silence, Lolth is trying take out the Dark Maiden. Being drow, the other gods of the Dark Seldarine (Selvetarm and Vhaeraun to be exact) are trying to take sides and gain advantage in the war between the 2 goddesses.

Eilistraee's forces take a beating throughout the book and her top gun, Qilue of The Seven Sisters is doing a lot of fighting. The ending was great. 2 gods dead, 1 god wavering between good and evil. Yes, things are exactly (finally) happening in the Forgotten Realms. Now, if only the same thing can happen in the upcoming Orc King.

Free Marketing

Singapore marketing has went crazy. A matchmaking agency has offered to get 15 couples get hitched for free. To more exact, it is offering 15 China brides for free. Now is that free promotion or what? The agency say that it is part of it's 6th anniversary celebrations but women's group are screaming bloody murder over it.

Selling women, they screamed! Don't they know they are just giving even more free promotion to the agency. The papers even ran a story over it AFTER the complains started. Free advertising without paying a cent. And it's not like Singapore care about right's problem. The agency says the response so far has been overwhelming. It has received over 10 calls within just one day of advertising its promotion, and some candidates have signed up on the spot. It's free what, every Singaporean's dream. Free marketing at it's finest!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dream F.A Cup Final

Michael Ballack made sure the dream final everyone wanted came true! Chelsea will meet Manchester United for the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley after beating a spirited Blackburn 2-1 at Old Trafford.

Ballack scored after four minutes into the second period of extra-time. Enough to give Chelsea the 2-1 win but the win was largely down to a man-of-the-match performance by goalkeeper Peter Cech. The first goal in fact came from a Cech's goal-kick. Didier Drogba bought the ball under control and lay the ball off to Ballack. The Germany captain then rolled a pass through the inside right channel. Blackburn's Ryan Nelsen's then made a stupid lunge at the ball which allowed Frank Lampard to nick the ball past him. One on one with Brad Friedel, Lampard had no problem hitting the net. Blackburn however kept fighting and deservedly got back on level terms. After winning a freekick on the right of the Chelsea area, up came the best free-kick taker in England, Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Norwegian's low delivery was driven home by Jason Roberts who managed to get in front of his marker John Terry. Cech then showed why he is the best goalkeeper in the English league. A Pedersen's long throw was back-headed towards his own goal by Terry , Cech reached backwards and clawed it away when it seems a certain goal. On came extra-time.

It was a total bored with almost no chances for either side. However, Shuan Wright-Phillips then made a great run across the field from right to left. He got to the byline, crossed and a there was a scramble for the ball. The ball fell to Ballack who swept it into the net. Game over and the dream final was on!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Comics this week

52: Week 49- 3 issues to the end. As expected, the writers are busy finishing off all the existing storylines. This issue sees the end for Egg Fu and the scientists on Oolong Island by...Will Magnus and his Metal Men! Yes, Magnus was the one who did it. But this issue is really another set-up for the war and bloodshed of the upcoming WWIII. After 3 set-up issues, WWIII can't come fast enough.

Loners #1- This book has a fascinating concept. A bunch of D-List heroes who are trying their hardest to give up their masked lives. Easier said than done when you have so much power in your hand. The concept is interesting, unfortunately the execution was not. The art in the second half of the issue was terrible (it looked like Karl Moline was in a rush to meet the dateline). However, I will be back to see how the series go. The Heroes Anonymous meeting was great and I loved to see how the concept play out.

Nova #1- After Annihilation (the best Marvel event series last year), the Nova Corps were gone. Only one Nova is left. Of course, only surviving member is the Earth Nova. Richard Rider is taking on the responsibilities of the entire army, but one man is not an army and he learn that in this issue. I admit I'm not a big fan of Nova, I only pick this up due to the great Annihilation series. This book is well done but will NOT make me a fan. There is a lack of showing who Rider is. For a new reader to Nova, that's a problem. Yes, his shoulder is heavy with responsibility. Yes, he is trying to live up to the legend that is the Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force that has been around for eons. But who is Richard Rider? Who is he outside the mask? Does he have a life outside being Nova? These are questions the writers never answered. I'll give this book a few more issues to hook me, but after Annihilation, this was disappointing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq Parliament Builing Bombed

So much for the surge. A suicide bomber slipped through the tightest security net in Baghdad and blew himself up in the midst of lawmakers. Nothing special so far right? Happen everyday in Iraq right? What's special is the location of the bombing. The bombing happened while the lawmakers were having lunch IN the parliament dining hall. So much for progress in the latest U.S.-Iraqi bid to clamp off violence in the capital.

A news video camera showed smoke and dust billowing through the area, and confused and frightened lawmakers screaming for help. At least two lawmakers were among the dead. If the Americans can't even control and protect the parliament building, that's it. They have lost already.

President Bush condemned the attack saying that, "We stand with you." Yet the brazen bombing is the clearest evidence that militants can penetrate even the most secure locations. Green Zone, what Green Zone? It's over. The Americans should just walk out of Iraq before they get run out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

There's water. So what?

On Earth, water is considered by many to be vital for life to begin. Now water vapour has been detected for the first time in the atmosphere of a planet outside our Solar System. The planet, HD 209458b (why can't scientist come out with some better names), is a Jupiter-like gas giant located 150 light-years from Earth.

Question is why they are so surprised to find water or water vapour on other planets? I mean there are billions of planets out there, surely at least one other planet out there have a lifeform or at least water. I mean what are the odds of we being the only planet that have life? I think I have a better chance of hitting TOTO!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Damage Control

The Singapore Government swing into damage control today as public anger over the pay rise rises. Although you will never know it reading the Strait Times, there is anger out there (just read any blogs on Singapore). Ministers after ministers are coming out stating how important it is to pay top price for top talent and they must match the private sector's pay.

Question: If people in the private sector fail, they get fired. Does this means that this will apply for the Singapore civil sector as well? Bye-bye, iron rice bowl?
Answer: Laughing out loud now.

Come on, even a senior White House official was floored by the fact that Singapore's prime minister earned five times more than US President George W. Bush. Little Lee got a 25.5 % pay hike to a salary of 2 million dollars per year. Bush gets only $400,000 dollars per year. Do the maths!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

5 times better than America

Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, will earn five times more than U.S. President George Bush this year after a pay rise that will take his annual salary to S$3.1 million. Other Singapore government ministers (who are already among the best paid in the world) will also see their salaries jump by about 60 percent.

Why is it so high? The answer is simple,
- Singapore is 5 times bigger than America
- Singapore is 5 times richer than America
- Singapore is 5 times more powerful than America
- Singapore is 5 times more important than America
- Singapore's leaders are 5 times better tham America's (with Bush that may actually be true)

Not only is our prime minister's pay 5 times better than Bush, it is also six times more than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Why? Because Singapore aim to be the best, and paying our leaders more is something we will beat them at. Who cares if other countries aim for pay cuts for their leaders; who cares if Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister and father of our current prime minister, was paid 'peanuts' and still had huge success; who cares if even our Southeast Asian neighbours are laughing at us; who cares if I (and every other Singaporeans) never had a 60 percent increase in pay; who cares...ah forget it.

Monday, April 9, 2007

There goes Ubin

You have to laugh at this one. Singapore is looking at re-opening the granite quarry on Pulau Ubin to get an alternative sources of granite. With Singapore's supply of granite and sand lowering due to the ban by Indonesia, the Singapore government is now looking desperate.

It's one thing to look for alternative sources but really, how much can you get from the quarry in Ubin. Nowhere near enough to replace even a percentage of what was lost in Indonesia. Pulau Ubin may once have been a thriving centre for granite quarrying, employing hundreds of people but the magic word there is ONCE! And once mining starts, we can all say goodbye to the environment there.

Now, why don't we sit down and talk nicely to the Indonsians. Outside the land issue, they also want Singapore to give them white-collar criminals who have fled Indonesia to Singapore. So they want us to hand over criminals, right? When has that been a problem for Singapore? It seems to be a very reasonable request. Catch criminals wanted in Indonesia and hand them over to them...why not? It's better than destroying the environment in Ubin, right?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Comics this week

52: Week 48- I know I'm one of the few fans who loved the idea of Renee Montoya taking over the role of the Question, hopefully this issue will show all of you why it is such a great idea! Yes, after months of waiting, Renee Montoya finally accepts the role from Vic Sage. I will ignore the rest of the issue (hopefully this is the last we will see of Intergang and their half-man, half-animal goons) because there is a new Question in town! On a sidenote, I am very sorry about the fact that Batwoman managed to live through this issue. She should have stayed dead!

Justice League of America #7- After 7 issues, we finally see the full team. A nothing issue really because all we hear about is how legendary the team is. The only part of the issue I liked is that we get to see the new Hall of Justice. The first storyline is over, so no more JLA for me.

Avengers: The Initiative #1- We get on the ground floor for the new superhero army of America. Boy is America in trouble. This ongoing series is about the training of the heroes that will be protecting the 50 states of America in the aftermath of (the crap) Civil War. Dan Slott is a good writer but this book will face the same problem Checkmate faced; the team is just too big. There were about 40 heroes in this book, so D-lister and some new faces but they barely show up. Rage was shown in a grand total of 2 panels! Dan Slott is good but unless he trim the team or focus on some of the main characters, I highly doubt this book will last.

Friday, April 6, 2007

"Revolving door" style of citizenship

Singapore cannot afford to have a "revolving door" style of government where top leaders change every five years, so said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in Australia. No, Singapore don't have a "revolving door" style of government, we just have a "revolving door" style of citizenship.

I have no problem if foreigners take PR in Singapore and stay. But what about people who take PR and then leave after a few years. Prime example: Sportsmen. For people who do not know, Singapore give PR to sportsmen who are willing to play for the Singapore flag. Footballers, table tennis players, badminton players etc, all were given fast-track citizenships. Problem is these sportsmen usually leave Singapore back to their home country after their playing career are over. Now, isn't this a "revolving door" style of citizenship? People who come to Singapore for their benefit, then disappear after getting help from us. I know of a friend who had to wait for about 10 years before getting his PR. If only he was good in sports huh?

Singapore may not have a "revolving door" style of government but how about we stop the culture of a "revolving door" style of citizenship. That way, at least we know who is a Singaporean and who isn't?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

NS is 40

National Service (NS) is 40 this year. The rite of torture for most men in Singapore (I say most for those white horses out there) is having a birthday party of sorts as the SAF is holding some exhition at Ngee Ann City on 12 April. Let's have a big round of clapping for NS! (cough)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

MAS take bad positions

The Wall Street Journal said in a report that the MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) has recently developed a large derivatives position that reflects a heavy intervention in the market. The MAS net forward and futures positions in foreign currencies has surged to $66.6 billion in February from $26.6 billion a year earlier.

Limiting the strength in the Singapore dollar has always been the MAS policy, however I wonder how effective the policy will be now. After all, the U.S housing market is in trouble and the Iraqi War is draining money left, right and centre. That plus the fact that Singapore cash reserves is about $140 billion means that the Sing dollar will rise, come what may. There is only so much the MAS can buy before the risks outweights the benefits.

What's worse is that if the U.S dollar drop (due to the housing woes, Iraq War etc), the MAS will be struck with big bad positions. Positions they will have to get rid off at a loss, a big loss if the market turn in a hurry. I suggest the MAS be very, very careful about this.

Monday, April 2, 2007

This is a test drive?

F1's Mark Webber tested drive the proposed night circuit yesterday and he called it a pretty and possibly signature race in the F1 series. There is just one small problem about that. Webber tested drove in the day time! There is a huge difference driving during the day and at night, much less at 300km/h at night. I still say that we can't hold the race at City Hall, let's close off the proposed circuit and let Webber drive through in a real F1 vehicle AT NIGHT. That will shut me up!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Dragon Champion by E. E. Knight

Dragon Champion is the first book in the The Age of Fire series by E. E. Knight. This book follow the new trend of fantasy writing, writing views from the other side of the fantasy world (aka the bad guys). There have been books told from the view of dark elves, orcs and now dragons. Being a sucker for this kind of books, I just have to pick it up.

The book is told by Auron, a rare, defenseless gray dragon. Early in the story, the young dragon's parents were killed by dwarves and Auron sets off in search of his kind. He faced elves, humans and a particlar dragon-slayer (who usually would be the hero of the story).

I love the way Knight spilted the book. It is told in 3 parts, hatchling, drake and dragon. It showed Auron in the 3 phase of his life; when he was a hatchling and depended on his parents for everything; when he was a drake, a young dragon without wings; and when he was a full-blooded dragon and became a champion for his kind. It was almost like reading 3 different books.

The world building was very good. Knight sets several varied histories of the world, you get the views of history from the elves, dwarves, and dragon, depending on who is doing the telling. I also liked the fact that Knight did not sugarcoat the fantasy world. There is plenty of violence including a savage survival of the fittest birth ritual (the book started with a bang). And the lessons the young hatchlings learned from their parents was great. It made the loss felt by Auron later on more real and painful.

However, the book is not without some problems. First; Knight ram into you the view that Auron is 'special'. A rare grey dragon, he is without scales but faster than most other dragons. He is also very resourceful, smart and has boundless determination. He is the Batman of dragonkind. Second; some of the fight scenes are very confusing. Maybe Knight wanted to show that dragon fighting is different from a fight from a human, elf or even an orc because the fight scenes do 'jumped'. You are in a cave, next thing you know you are flying in the air. Confusing to say the least. Lastly; for a book that is so different from other fantasy books, the ending was a little disappointing. I won't say what it is to prevent a spoiler but it is a happy, very happy ending. A very fantasy ending.

Overall, the book is great. Auron is a captivating character and the world is very well made. I liked the strange and different allies Auron made and the pace of the book was very good (especially in the drake section). Besides, how often do you get a book told from a dragon's point of view! Pick this up.