Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Miss Universe 2007

Riyo Mori, Ms. Japan was crowned Miss Universe 2007 yesterday. The win marked only the second time her country has won the world beauty title.

Not a big fan of beauty pageants, I watched the show for 2 reasons. The surprise win by Japan (the black, red and purple Japanese-style gown she wore was beautiful), and Ms. USA Rachel Smith, who fell on her butt during the evening gown competition. The fall looked painful, but she recovered very quickly. Still, I could understand why she was jeered by the Mexican audience during the interview phase. When you fall on your butt on the runway, you should NOT get fifth! What about all those other girls who didn't fall?

It wasn't the only problem I have with the pageant. The 20 years old winner was more cute than beautiful, Ms. Brazil (who was runner-up) was much more beautiful than Ms. Japan.

Still, my biggest complain are for those idiots who made Ms. Sweden miss this year's contest. Isabel Lestapier Winqvist dropped out because many Swedes say the competition does not represent the modern woman. It's a beauty pageant people. What? Modern woman want to be ugly?

Stupid doesn't even begin to describe those morons.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


A new survey on marriage attitudes has shown that only 3 percent of undergraduates and polytechnic students in Singapore do not want to get married. Only 3%.

HAHAHA! Trust me the real number should be a lot, lot higher. I think the only reason the number is at 3% was that the survey was conducted by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

It says that 2,041 undergraduates and polytechnic students took part in the survey, which was conducted between March and May 2006. A third of the respondents gave a resounding 'yes' to marriage, while six in 10 said they probably would, but it was not yet on the cards. That at least sounded possible, but only 3% do not want to get married! As a young Singapore, I can clearly say, "No Way!"

Most young Singaporeans are thinking about work first, have fun second, getting married is like ninth or tenth on the list. The Singapore government has been trying to encourage more singles to get married and have babies to boost the Singapore population. There are now policies such as the Baby Bonus and extending government-paid maternity leave...all of which are totally useless. The high pace city life of Singapore (and high cost of living) makes it difficult for young people to get married. If you get married, you need to buy a house. Which will put you and your parnter in debt for the next 10 to 20 years!

If Singapore want more young people to marry, the government should try to lower the cost of living in the country. That will work better than any baby bonus and maybe, just maybe, that 3% number will be true.

Monday, May 28, 2007

F1 backlash

There seems to be a growing backlash againest the F1 race here in Singapore. The latest question about the race is whether the race will harm the environment.

The Singapore Minister of State for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, said that noise and smoke are inevitable during the race, but organisers will studying ways to minimise their effect. Question- When did Singaporeans start caring about the environment?

Answer- When Singaporeans discovered that the Singapore government is to fund 60% of the $150 million race. Seeing that the race would take in only $100 million, there's a lot of people are wondering if the economics of the race is viable.

When it comes to money, Singaporeans will ask a lot of questions. Unfortunately, they are too late in asking the question. A lot of people who read my blog knows my views about holding the race in Singapore, at night, at that stupid location, but the deal is signed already. Too late to back out now!

When I start questioning the race, a lot of people say that F1 should come to Singapore. (I was a bit of a spolit-sport, it seems.) Well, it's too late to have doubts now! So Singapore, stop your whining! F1 is coming, whether you like it or not.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

UNSW not the only one at fault

The University of New South Wales(UNSW) saga refuse to die. Students affected by its Singapore campus closure were given a $22,000 annual scholarship to study at UNSW’s Sydney campus.

But the 400 students want something else; they want answers! They want to know why was the sudden decision to close the campus taken. Only one problem with that. It wasn't that sudden.

The Singapore Strait Times reported that the Australian university, citing bottom-line concerns and a lack of demand, was in talks with the Economic Development Board (EDB) since last year on the closeure of the campus.

This means that EDB, which helped bring UNSW here in 2004, had warning for over 5 months on the closure. How can they not say anything? The EDB said that it is facilitating discussions between UNSW and local universities to find alternatives for those students affected. That is damage-control. I want to know is how can they keep quiet about the closure for 5 months. The UNSW had told them that the campus was in danger already, why didn't the EDB at the very least gave some warning to the students on the matter. Now the students are left without a school for the year. UNSW was in the wrong here, but the EDB must take some heat for this. The closure came as a surprise for the students, you cannot say that for the EDB. They knew of this, or had warning of this, since last year and did nothing!

I want to know why didn't they say something to the students on this. That is an answer I am just dying to hear.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #49- Countdown like to open with a bang, and the latest issue of Countdown kept up the tradition. Opening with Jimmy Olsen, the writers gave a huge hint on "Why Jimmy Olsen Must Die!" Unexpected and very interesting.
Countdown #49 went from that opening scene to the many Monitors we've seen kicking around lately. The "Monitors of the Multiverse" story is getting interesting. Since they were the new characters, I thought this plotline would be the weakness of the lot. But early signs are that I was wrong.
I've never cared much about the Flash, so you can just imagined my 'love' for his rogues gallery. Pied Piper and Trickster ? Never cared about them and even with Countdown, never will. Mary Marvel's plot is the most interesting above all others. Mary Marvel lost her powers, and will do anything to get it back. I love it! Hints of sweet Mary making a deal with the devil. Beautiful.
As a big fan of 52, I love the final sequence of this issue. Return of the MAN! Now if only we can know how he got his powers back.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Year of the Italians

When Liverpool had their miracle in Istanbul 2 years ago, Pippo Inzaghi was sitting in the stands. In Athens, he was in AC Milan's starting line-up, and became a hero as he scored twice to give Milan a 2-1 victory over Liverpool to secure the Champions League.

From a free-kick, Andrea Pirlo's shot was deflected in off Inzaghi's shoulder. Let's admit it. Liverpool was very lucky in Istanbul 2 years ago. What goes around comes around I guess because I don't care what Inzaghi says, that first goal was a total fluke. And it came in first-half injury time!

The first Milan goal was lucky, the second was just a piece of skill and great timing. Chasing the game, Liverpool took out Javier Mascherano for Peter Crouch. That left Liverpool without a marker for Kaka. The Milan wizard then delivered a pass through the Liverpool defence for Inzaghi. Credit to Inzaghi because that run of his was beautiful. Perfect timing, no chance of offside. Round the keeper, Pepe Reina and it was 2-0. Dirk Kuyt pulled a goal back with a header with a minute left, but it was too little too late.

Unlike most people in Singapore, I thought Milan deserved the victory. For all of Liverpool's passion and commitment, they never looked dangerous. Even in the first half when Liverpool had 60-70% of the possession, Milan never looked in trouble. Rafael Benitez may have his tactics right, but upfront they were just short of class. Crouch is Liverpool's most dangerous striker, but Benitez liked the movement of Kuyt and Craig Bellamy more. Nothing wrong there but Kuyt and Bellamy are not going to break that Milan defence. Crouch's height gave Liverpool something dangerous upfront and I believed he should have started.

Compare this to Milan. AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti picked Inzaghi over Gilardino as their lone striker upfront and 2 goals from Inzaghi tell you that it was the correct decision. Benitez may have won the tactical battle but Ancelotti made the correct selection upfront. That was the real difference as both teams were well-match in other areas.

After the World Cup, came the Champions League. This is the year of the Italians.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

UNSW closes after 3 months

3 months! That's how long the University of New South Wales Asia lasted in Singapore. The New South Wales campus was opened to much fanfare in March, and now it's closed.

The campus was touted as Singapore's first comprehensive private university, and the UNSW name was so respected that the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB) was the one who persuaded the UNSW to come. However due to high fees, only 148 out of the 300 expected students enrolled in the university. The school charges $26,000 to $29,000 a year in tuition fees, 4 times more compared to what local universities are currently charging.

UNSW also exceeded its budget and spent $3 million on marketing, so it decided bite the bullet and cut its a tune of S$22 million (A$17.5 million). Wow. 3 million in marketing? What the hell were they thinking? You don't spend 3 million on marketing for a school, especially one that's just started up in Singapore.

But that's something for UNSW to decide as it is their money. What I really want to know is how much did EDB lose on this venture. EDB invited UNSW to come to Singapore, so it must have a hefty percentage on the $22 million loss. So how much is it? Also why did EDB got involed in this? Why did EBD invited UNSW to Singapore? Isn't there more than enough schools in Singapore? Out the local universities, there's a whole load of private schools like Infomatics & Thames. I know Singapore is trying to be some sort of eduaction hub, but why get involed in such a crowded market?

Some people might say that hindsight is a beautiful thing and that's what I'm doing now. Okay, you have a point. But EDB uses public money. don't you think they should be upfront and tell people how much Singapore loss in this venture? It is public money right? Tell us how much we lost in this

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

FAS boo-boo

What a boo-boo! Last week, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) proudly announced the induction of Aide Iskandar and S Subramani into the Fifa’s Century Club. This is for players who have played over 100 times for their countries.

So far, so good right? A close look at the list reveals an amazing information. They are the first two Singaporeans to make the Century Club! What about Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab, Samad Allapitchay, David Lee and Nazri Nasir? Fandi Ahmad debuted for Singapore at age 17, and retires at 35. Surely he has more than 100 caps?

It seems that the problem lies not with Fifa, but with our own FAS. Fifa only recognise players when presented with proper documentation like team sheets, match commissioner’s reports and other supporting documents. It seems that FAS did not keep records when Fandi started playing for Singapore, even for something as simple as how many caps a player has.

I don't know how the FAS can clear this mess, but without question they must. These players spent a lot of effort playing for the Singapore cause, surely the least we can do is to keep track on how many caps they have. The very, very least.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Extradition Treaty comes under pressure

The Extradition Treaty and Defence Cooperation Agreement signed between Indonesia and Singapore last month has come under pressure again. Certain people in Singapore are saying that these pacts are unfair as they are signed due to the pressure of the sand ban and the sale of granite between the two countries.

So much so that ministers in Singapore have to come out and say that the issues were not linked. Of course the issues are linked. So what? Singapore sign an extradition treaty with Indonesia to send Indonesian criminals back to Indonesia. As I've asked earlier in this blog, "What is wrong with that?"

Sending criminals out of Singapore is a good thing. When has it been otherwise? The Extradition Treaty will strengthen our cooperation with Indonesia in tackling crime, terrorism etc, again what's wrong with that? Indonesia might also be more willing to settle differences in other bilateral issues due to this agreement.

I'm not in a habit of saying good things about the Singapore government, but the ET is a good deal. We get the sand ban lifted in exchange for...sending Indonesian criminals back to Indonesia. Does this sound like a bad deal to anyone? Crazy!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp

Just finish reading another Forgotten Realms novel, 'Shadowbred' by Paul S. Kemp. The story take place a year after the events from the Erevis Cale Trilogy. I strongly suggest you read the preceding books first before tackling this one. Though you can read this book without reading the Erevis Cale Trilogy first, the books are really a series together.

Who is Erevis Cale, you asked? Erevis Cale is a assasin turned cleric. Unfortunately, he became a cleric of Mask, God of Thieves. Worse, Mask liked him so much, he made Cale his Chosen. Chosen are like their gods point-man on the world. A job that grant great power and powerful drawbacks. This is the part of the book I liked. The only other Chosen we have really seem thus far in Forgotten Realms are the Chosen of Mystra, Goddess of Magic. A job that seems to have no drawbacks at all. However, Mask is a god of evil so he has no problem doing what needs to be done to get Cale to do his dirty work. That just seems more...godlike don't you think?

Kemp's Forgotten Realms novels are a bit different from the majority of the stuff set in the world. While the tone of the Forgotten Realms is high fantasy, Kemp usually tried (and mostly managed) to give a darker, grittier tone to the books. How many Forgetton Realms books are there that spotlight the evil faiths of the Realms? No more than a handful, at best. This is what makes the Cale's books different from the Drizzt's books or the Elminister's books.

However, it's not all roses for Shadowbred. Cale has always been a character that did evil things (lying, killing etc) for good purposes, however there is a shift to the good side for him in this book. Nothing wrong there, I understand Kemp need a likable main character to sell the book, but the turning of Cale to a 'good' guy seems very forced. Also, a main character from the trilogy did not turn up until the last third of the book. A big no-no in my view.

Overall, this is a good book that continued the Erevis Cale story. The dark gritty tone suits the book and the characters. Pick it up if you want something different from the Forgotten Realms.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Beautiful Promo

Still playing 9dragons right now. Went on the web to see if I could get some information about the game, and I came across this beautiful promo. A battle during the 9dragons War between the Wu-Tang Dragon and the Iron Fist Dragon. To think both of them are the good guys! Take a look.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A meeting in Langkawi

The Singapore and Malaysian Prime Minister had a 'informal' meeting at a retreat in Langkawi this week. Newspaper in Singapore are making a big deal out of this, but I do wonder; Don't they had meetings before?

Since Malaysia and Singapore separated four decades ago, there has been the occasional hiccup, but trade, investment and travel have never stopped. Okay, maybe this is the first meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as both are pretty new, but meetings has happened before.

And no matter what people say, problems will come up again in the future. Here are the reasons:

1) We are close neighbours. With the amount of trade between the two countries, problem will come up sooner or later.

2) There are many outstanding issues (the new Causeway bridge, price of raw water etc) which are unsettled, and these will make years before an agreement can be made.

3) There is political reasons for the disagreements. Whenever life is bad in Malaysia, politicans there will blame Singapore for it. This will divert attention from them and cast blame on an out-of-the-country group. It's a political play that always work! (To be fair, Singaporean politicans do exactly the same thing.)

The reasons are many, and one meeting between the two leaders will not change much (if anything). But we are neighbours, why not work on issues that can be solved. Business, investments, tourism; these are issues that both countries have a stake in and agreement can be worked out on these. If money can be made, Singaporeans are very agreeable in anything.

Work on these! Let's try to settle issues which can be solved. The rest of the problems between the two countries are there and will always be there. And say what you will, but the leaders of Malaysia and Singapore are no fools. It is the smart political thing not to solve them.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #50- The first issue of this series has a fantastic opening (Darkseid anyone?), this issue has a similar fantastic opening. Jimmy Olsen being guided by Superman to the Red Hood. Nice!
Thus far Countdown has tried to put together a series of events and character interactions that showcase both the well and lesser-known players in the DCU. Jimmy Olsen's scenes with the Joker are great. The Joker is locked up in a mental institution, but knows more than anyone how screw up the world is. That was just priceless.
Some scenes are not as well done, but all in all, Countdown has been solid more than anything. After the great 52, this series has a lot to live up to. So far, so good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A sad story

An sad accident happened in Singapore. One woman was killed when a raintree in the Bukit Batok Nature Reserve collapsed on her due to the rain. 43-year-old Madam Ho Siew Lan take the route for her morning walk. The tree which fell on her, killed her on the spot.

Coming just a few days after Mother's Day, this was indeed an sad accident.

However, I feel that this was all it was. An accident. There are some calls that the National Environment Agency (NEA) or the Singapore Government should pay the family due to the fact that the tree was under NEA care. I am sorry but even I, a Singapore government critic, think that's going too far. No one want this unfortunate incident to happen and it is a pure accident.

Let's not over-react here. Asking the Singapore government to pay due to this incident, is just not right.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

GST increase

Due to a 2% increase in the Goods-and-Services Tax (GST), the Singapore Government announced a S$4 billion GST Offset Package during the 2007 Budget.

The package will be spread out over a four year period and will cover over two million Singaporeans. The GST credits will only be given out from July 1st as the GST increase will only be in effect from that date. What I want to know is why must there be an increase in GST in the first place? The answers the government gave just make no sense. The government is not in need of the extra cash, so why are we paying the extra GST for? To pay for the increase in minister's pay? I'm not going to say let's be understanding to normal Singaporeans, but there is no real need to increase the GST. The Singapore reserves are growing at good rate (as usual), and there's no special need for the extra cash the increase will bring in, so why the increase?

The GST package may shut people up with the complains but the Singapore government should still explain the increase better.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Shazam! movie

It seems that the latest superhero moive in the works is a Shazam! movie. 20 years ago, Captain Marvel was on par with Superman and it seems that Hollywood want to make it so again.

That's the good news. The bad news is that they have approached...Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to play Captain Marvel. Hahaha! I am not a big Captain Marvel fan but isn't he a white kid who turn into a white guy. Less I check, The Rock isn't a white guy. It could be like casting that black guy as the Kingpin in the Daredevil movie. We all know what a horror that turned out to be.

I know The Rock is a big action star but I just hate it when Hollywood make such nonsense decisions with the characters. If you are going to spend millions of dollars to make the movie, at least make sure to get something right. The Rock as Captain Marvel. Hahaha...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

F1 challenges

After my post on how much work there are to get ready for F1, it seems that Singaporeans are finally seeing what I saw.

Channel NewsAsia has spoken to several experts and they have listed some technical challenges Singapore will have to overcome. Testing the circuit, getting personnel to man the race, resurfacing of roads, setting up pit areas and barricades, are but some of the problems Singapore will have to solve.

There are also concerns about power supply, and about what happens if it rains. Newspapers in Singapore are saying how F1 racers like Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld like the idea of night racing and street circuits. Of course they say that! What do you expect? That they will admit fear in front of their peers after the agreement has been sign already?

Get ready for a bumpy road (and traffic jams) ahead, people. F1 is coming to town.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

F1 in Singapore

The news is out. Singapore will stage a Formula One Grand Prix next year, with the race set to be the first night race in the F1's history. More importantly, it will be on a street circuit around the Marina Bay district. The first race will be in either September or early October 2008.

I don't care if the race will bring in 120 million dollars per year; I don't care if 100,000 people will come to Singapore due to the race; I don't even care that the Singapore Tourism Board had evaluated the event and deemed it "worthy" of the government's support, but you cannot hold the race at the Marina Bay site!

Can you just think of that location with all traffic cut off for at least a month? It's not just the race itself, before that the teams will have to test the track, get everything ready and they will have to test both in day-time and night-time. That means that the whole Marina area will have to be cut off from traffic for a month, at least. That's not even counting the countless roadworks that will have to take place before the race itself.

There's also the lights issue. When Red Bull driver Mark Webber came to test run the track (in the day I might add) a few months ago, he said that F1 cars do not have lights and so the circuit would have to be brilliantly lit for visibility purposes. He means floodlights, people. The normal lights we have now will not be enough, especially if it rain. Going over 300km/h in the rain at night with the lamp-posts we have now? Not for me.

We have a lot of work to do. So why not either move the track to another location or built a race track? Either option will be better than to have the race in Marina. I have a headache just thinking of the traffic jam it will cause. Move the location.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #51- I pick this one up due to the great 52 series. After all, that's all you have as no one knows what DC is counting down to. There was a chance DC was merely trying to keep the weekly momentum going after 52, but the opening scene between Darkseid and Desaad manipulating figurines of DC heroes around a board lay some of the concerns to rest. Having said that, some things in the issue need explaining. Mary Marvel lost her powers? When did that happen? And isn't the Red Hood (Jason Todd) a bad guy? Why is he fighting crime? Still this series is bold. To produce and coordinate an epic, weekly series within DC's regular monthly titles. That's intriguing to say the least. That's enough to get me onboard, here's hoping another star like Black Adam can come out of this series.

Nova #2- There's hope yet. The first issue of this series was disappointing to me, but this issue was great. Nova's return to Earth was wonderful. Nova returns home for the first time since well before the Civil War and the issue was remarkable in showing how out of the loop Richard Rider is. He didn't know of the New Warriors' death and the effect it had on America. Hell, I doubt he even know Captain America is dead. Nova was once in the superhero community, so the Initiative affect him in significant ways. We see some interesting interaction between Nova and his parents. How do you feel if you see an alien super-computer take over the body of your son? It was funny in a tragic sort of a way. And then there was Tony Stark's Initiative forces showing up on his parents' doorstep. Nova threatening Iron Man? Richard Rider sure have moved up in life. Nova coming to grips with the loss of his friends and the unfamiliar world before him was great, but the best part was his talk with former teammate Justice. That was just the icing on the cake. There's hope yet.

Samurai: Heaven and Earth 2 #4- This is a book full of potential which never got going. Showing a samurai going around the world, chasing after his lady love has provided some memorable moments, mostly due to Luke Ross's superb artwork. However, the flashbacks are unneeded as usual and can we please get to the killing already. I didn't wait 2 months for this book to see...nothing happening. Boring.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Review of Spiderman 3

Just saw Spider-Man 3, not that I have much of a choice in the matter as the Spiderman juggernaut has conquered Singapore movie theatres. If you are not watching Spiderman 3, you are not watching a movie period.

But enough of my bitching, on to the review. In case you are from Mars, Spider-Man 3 is the third superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spiderman. At $258 million, it is the most expensive movie ever made.

The movie starts with Peter Paker (Tobey Maguire) enjoying life as Spider-Man and planning to propose to Mary Jane. Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) on her end is beginning her Broadway career. Peter's best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), still seeks vengeance for his father's death and attacked Spiderman early in the film. The battle leaves Harry with short-term amnesia.

A small meteorite crashes New York City and an alien symbiote oozes out. It attach itself to Peter Parker's bike and follows him home. Later, a captain from the police informs Peter and Aunt May that a small-time crook named Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) was the one who killed his uncle, Ben Parker. Peter then go all swearing vengeance again and waits for Marko to strike again. While asleep, the symbiote bonds with his costume and Peter discovers that not only has his costume changed, but that his powers have been enhanced as well. The black suit also alters Peter's personality, making him more violent and aggressive.

Flint Marko however has fallen into a particle accelerator and is transformed into a shape shifting sand monster, the Sandman. After a near fatal attack on Marko during a battle in the subway, Peter then exposes and humiliates Eddie Brock Jr. (Topher Grace), a rival photographer who has sold fake pictures of Spider-Man. Harry Osborn then recovers from his amnesia and threatens to kill Peter unless MJ breaks up with him. After Mary Jane leaves Peter, stating she is in love with another man, Harry meets Peter at a restaurant and claims to be the other man. Peter confront Osborn at the Osborn mansion. Peter is victorious in a battle that leaves Harry's face disfigured.

After a scuffle where he accidentally throws MJ to the floor, Peter discovered that the black suit is changing him for the worse. After a night of soul-searching, Peter decides to get rid of the symbiote. He went to the church tower but was unable to pull the suit off. However the sound waves from the church bells weaken the symbiote, thus freeing Peter. Eddie Brock is at the same church. The symbiote falls from the tower and takes over Brock, who became Venom.

Later, Venom finds Sandman and they join forces to destroy Spider-Man. The pair use Mary Jane as bait (again) to lure Spider-Man out. Harry turned down Peter's appeal for help. Spider-Man arrives but is overmatched by both villians. Harry then arrives and rescues Peter. Two-on-two, Sandman & Venom vs Spiderman & the Green Goblin.

As the fight progresses, Harry saved Peter by jumping in front of his own glider. Remembering what happened in the church, Peter frees Eddie from the symbiote by creating sound waves from several pipes. Peter throws a pumpkin bomb at Venom and both Eddie and the symbiote were destroyed. After the battle, Marko tells Peter that he had no intention of killing Ben Parker, that it was a pure accident. Peter forgives Flint. Peter and a dying Harry forgive each other before Harry dies with Mary Jane and Peter by his side.

Remember when I said that the movie was the most expensive ever made? It shows. The special effects was great, especially anything to do with Sandman. When he changed shape, you could see the grains of sand that was moving in his body. The pacing was also good. Although it's long, it never felt tedious or boring in any parts. James Franco and Thomas Haden Church did well in their roles as the two conflicted villians.

Tobey Maguire didn't do as well as Spiderman. I know he is a respected character actor but his Peter Parker just didn't do it for me. When Peter has the black suit, he was a alpha-male. A aggressive go-getter. Maguire came across as more goofy than anything. There was also too many things happening in this film. It almost as if they know this is the last movie so they must squeeue everything in. Why else was Gwen Stacy in the movie? She hardly do anything.

Overall, this is a great movie. Easily the best of the Spiderman trilogy, it had plenty of humor and action. The feelings of angst (by Sandman) and personal betrayal (by Green Goblin) was heartfelt and these two were the heart of the movie. (Ironic since they are the bad guys) A fitting end to the trilogy, go watch Spiderman 3. You have no choice in the matter.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A second library on Orchard Road

The National Library Board (NLB) will built a second library along shopping haven Orchard Road. The new 1,000-sq-m library will be Singapore's first-ever youth-centric public library and will be located within the upcoming four-storey *scape building on Grange Road next to Orchard Cineleisure. It is slated to open some time in 2009.

Why? How many people go to Orchard Road to go the library at Ngee Ann City now? Why are you building a second one at the same location? It just make no sense. If you are going built a new library, built it at another location outside the shopping belt. It'll make more sense.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Review of Danse Macabre

Just finished reading Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton, which is Book 14 of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of novels. In case anyone do not know, this is a series of dark fantasy novels whose main character is called Anita Blake.

She is a zombie queen- turned vampire executioner- turned detective- turned necromaner- turned succubi. Yes, a lot of thing happened to dear little Ms.Blake in the novels. She is so popular that her first novel, Guilty Pleasures was turned into a comics mini-series by Marvel. But this review isn't about the comics, it's about Book: 14.

The book starts with a possible pregnancy scare for Anita. Threatening to derail her life, even as she prepares to help Jean Claude, her vampire master, host several visiting Masters of the City. Some plots from the earlier books were given attention to. Anita discover that she will almost certainly be a shape-shifter. Whether she will be were-wolf, lion or leopard is up in the air but she feels her "beast" inside her. The only way to stop the change is to give the "beast" to another lycanthrope, aka have sex with them. Hey, she's a succubi. What do you expect?

Jean Claude and Anita also determined that the ardeur (her succubi power) is "seeking" food, pushing out power so that Anita can have sex with them. Specifically it may have shaped Anita's and her lovers' personalities to make them more compatible partners for one another. It also encourages the visiting Master of the City of Chicago to force Anita into feeding her ardeur on him.

Yes, there is a lot of sex in the book.

So, is the book any good? I am mixed on this. After the porno book that was Micah (Book: 13), this was a welcome back to form for the writer. I do warn that if you have not read the earlier novels, do NOT start with this book. Anita has many lovers in her life due to the ardeur and add even more to them after this book. If you have not read the earlier books, this one will be very confusing for you. And that's not even counting the various powers she has!

That is basically my biggest complaint about the book. Hamilton just add characters like there's no tomorrow. Anita has around 10 lovers by the end of this book, because of the no. of them, some of them hardly showed up at all. For example, Damian's main job seem to be threatening to die unless Anita has sex to generate more power to sustain him. If that's all he is doing, get rid of him then.

The no. of characters in the book, counting the vampires, bodyguards etc that showed up are just too much! Even I, who have read the earlier books, has a hard time keeping count. If you are a new reader, you will have no chance. What happened to Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter? One of the things that was great about the earlier book was how her job and personal life collided. This no longer happen. Does she still work with Dolph and RPIT? All we see is she having a lot of sex and helping Jean Claude. Some of the plotlines have just overstayed their welcome.

Still, it is much better than Micah. Anita seems more herself, a little tough, stubborn, and tactless ball of fire that could kill you in an instant without batting an eye. The possible pregnancy and her friendship with Claudia was by far the best thing about the book. Anita's breakdown due to the pregnancy was also very well-written, unfortunately her response afterwards was just unbelieveable. Go straight back to work after a breakdown?

Overall, Danse Macabre is not as good as some of the earlier novels but it's better than the last book. So there's hope for the future.

Another useless piece of paper

The Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices has now a new set of guidelines aiming to ensure that if a worker has to be given the axe (aka got fired), it will at least be done in a fair and responsible manner. The recommendations are on how to conduct dismissals and retrenchments.

Companies should now keep detailed records of all their staff’s performance and conduct, and use these to justify their decision to dismiss an employee. The affected worker should now have the chance to defend himself, with the final verdict assessed by an impartial and independent panel comprising, for example, staff from the company’s HR department (yes, in Singapore that's an impartial party for you).

This is for groups such as mature workers and would-be mums, who have complained of being unfairly dismissed on unsubstantiated claims of poor performance this past year. There's even a 13-page booklet produced by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment.

All good, all well but so what? These are guidelines with no teeth whatsoever. Companies can ignored them with no penalties and really; if a company ignore the guidelines, who are you going to report them to? The five year old Code of Responsible Employment Practices was also widely ignored, hell it was so ignored most Singaporeans did not even know it existed! What's to say this new guidelines would have the same none effect.

This isn't a milestone for labour laws in Singapore, but another useless piece of paper. It would be nothing short of amazing if even a small percentage of companies will put these guidelines into effect. You want the guidelines to be of use, give it some teeth; or else it's nothing but a waste of time.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Comics this week

52: Week 52- This is it! The final installment of 52 is finally here. First off, let's talk about this issue. This week focuses on Rip Hunter, Booster Gold and Supernova's fight to save all of time and space from Mr. Mind. Yes, I know. Booster Gold and Supernova are the same person, read the book to get the twist. As someone who hates time-travel stories, the twist here isn't that bad.
But the main reason for this issue is to re-establish the Multiverse. The writers limit the Multiverse to 52 different Earths, Earth 3 is the earth with the Crime Syndicate of America; Kingdom Come is Earth 22; Wildstorm is Earth 50 etc. For this reason, this issue will go down in comics history. But the Multiverse came into being because of Mr.Mind? That just do not seems right. Anyone remember the time when he was just a small little bug? He's the reason for all the different Earths?
However, this is the last issue of 52 and the series was great. Not only were the stories good (for the most part), it was also on time! (You heard that Jim Lee and Wildstorm? Where the hell is my Wildcats #2?) Here's looking at Countdown.

Avengers: The Initiative #2- The Marvel Universe is a different place after Civil War, and this title will show you how. A Texas team was fighting an evenly match enemy, so what do they do? They call for more heroes. This is where the issue come into trouble. If you have over 70% of the Marvel superheroes to call, will you call in the new recruits? Some of which never even fired a weapon before? When this was noticed by Cloud 9, what was the Gauntlet's answer. "It's just like Halo. Point and click." That's it! That's the answer you give to a new recruit who have never been in a firefight before? Before she was about to risk her life without even basic training? I thought the reason for the Initiative was because they wanted the Marvel U to make more sense? If this is the best Dan Slott has, this book is in big trouble.

Loners #2- This issue wasn't really about the would-be former heroes but a Ricochet issue. As someone who have no idea who Ricochet is (that's how obscure some of these characters are), this issue is great. We get to know what powers Ricochet has, why he wanted to quit being a hero and why at end of this issue, he's back in costume. The only problem is that the issue deal only with Ricochet. We hardly seen Lightspeed, Turbo or the rest of the Loners. I hope C.B. Cebulski isn't making the same mistake that Warren Ellis is making with Thunderbolts, spotlighting on single characters instead of the team as a whole. When I read a team book, I want to see at least some interaction between the members. That's the least I can expect right? Hope that will come in the later issues.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Singapore- Fastest walkers in the world

With our kiasu mental ability, Singapore has achieved another first. We are now the fastest walkers in the world.

According to an international study by a British psychology professor, Singapore left 34 other cities like Guangzhou, New York and London, in its dust as we are the "fastest-moving city" in the world.

Professor Richard Wiseman, had timed the walking speed of 35 men and women at each of the city centres. In Singapore, that was on Orchard Road. According to Mr Michael White, adviser to the British Council Science Department, the experiment was carried out in all the cities during identical times on a single day last year, on "a busy street with a wide pavement that was flat, free from obstacles and sufficiently uncrowded to allow people to walk along at their maximum speed". And they even ignored anyone holding a mobile telephone conversation or struggling with shopping bags."

Singaporeans clocked the shortest time of just over 10 seconds (10.55 seconds) to walk a distance of over 18 metres. Copenhagen (10.82 seconds) was second and Madrid (10.89 seconds) was third.

Now this is a title we can be proud of! Even our stress-out live is more stress-out than others! Madrid, Tokyo...HA! Singapore is still the best and we did not even have to prepare anything. This is a title for the normal Singaporeans in our normal Singapore lives. I don't know why people are saying that this study is wrong, it seems pretty true to me. If they had done the experiment in Shenton Way, it'll be even faster! And we are the world best, isn't that what Singapore always strive for?

In case anyone wanted to know, the most slow-moving city on the list is Blantyre, a city in Malawi. Pedestrians there averaged 31.6 seconds, about three times longer than Singaporeans, to walk the same distance. We should send some coaches over there. Slow turtles.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

New MMORPG: 9Dragons

Downloaded a free MMORPG game today called 9Dragons. A game set in China's Ming Dynasty, it's a martial arts mmo with 6 clans to choose from, 3 White Clans and 3 Black Clans. Think of it as a more polished version of Silkroad Online.

Just started the game, and so far so good. I liked the fact that there are 6 starting areas, 1 for each clan. The six clans are Shoalin (it's how the game spelled it. I think for legal reasons), Wu-Tang and The League of Beggars for the white clans and Heavenly Demon, Sacred Flower and The Brotherhood of Thieves for the bad guys. There is some risks taken by the developers in making Shoalin an all-male clan and Sacred Flower an all-female clan (if you are not of the right gender, you can't join them) but this is in line with the real Shaolin Temple's history. There are also 3 advanced clans but I'm not sure if anyone can join them yet as the game is still in beta (and I haven't reach that far).

There's hell a lot of kung-fu skills to learn. I'll already came across 6 of them and the skills are based on what kind of weapons you use. So, basically you can become a great unarmed martial arts expert, a swordsman, a monk using a staff etc. It's all up to you.

The gameworld is big. Each starting area has its' own map and there are other areas where you can do higher level quests. For a guy who liked to explore, this is a big plus. What I do not like is that you must be at least Level 20 before you can enter a clan and learn their clan-based skills. I guessed for people who are undecided on what clan to join, this is a good thing but it will take a while to reach 20.

And like most MMO, there is grinding. Killing things for the sake of experience and gaining levels, but every game has that so I can't complain that much about it. It's also not that crowded because it's quite new. So take a look at 9Dragons, it's interesting and more's free.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Getting married at school

For someone who loved to avoid school (sometimes at all cost), this is just beyond my understanding. The Singapore Management University (SMU) city campus has just been added to the list of unusual places in Singapore to get married.

Newly-wed couple Eunice and Adriel Lim became the first couple to get married on the campus grounds. The bride was an SMU alumni but do you really want to get married in a school. Especially a school you went to before?

Ok, I'll give you that this is something new and different. But a school? With more than 200 guests? If I die without having to go to school again, I'll die a happy man. School is something you AVIOD! Get married there? Hahaha...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pay and Pay

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) say that it will be upgrading 45 bus shelter kiosks in Singapore. This is supposed to make it easier for commuters to browse and buy while waiting for a bus.

What for? Really, why waste money on these kiosks? Just a day before, LTA just announced that ERP rates on 5 gantries will increase. Is this why? Taking money from Singapore people to pay for the kiosks? I rather LTA keep the kiosks the way they are and just aviod increasing the ERP rates. Tell me, am I alone?