Friday, August 31, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown #35- After 3 weeks of improvement, the book had 2 weeks of crap. Luckily, the winning streak has restarted. The story hasn't improved much, but while the writers couldn't do with plots, Countdown is at least packing action this week. Fights aplenty this week; Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and Bob fight againest the queen of the Nanoverse; Holly Robinson went into a battle AND she still has no idea what she is doing. Like me! What is she doing in the series? Jimmy Olsen continues try-out for superteams, this time the JLA. (Unfortunately, they did not kill him.) Mary Marvel got kicked out of Shadowcrest after her battle. Action all around!

Avengers: The Initiative #5- This issue is another tie-in to the World War Hulk event, at least this one make sense! Last issue, we saw the rookie get drawn in a fight with the Hulk. This month, the rescue mission starts. The Shadow Initiative is the black-ops of The Initiative. Dan Slott want readers to wonder about the identity of the Scarlet Spiders and Mutant Zero; I don't care! What is interesting is the team itself. I said before that I believe the team is too big, but Dan Slott seems to be trying to spilt the members into teams. That will work. I mean you can't sent nineteen characters on one mission right? Good idea, whether it will work long-term...I will be here to see.

Silver Surfer: Requiem #4- Before this mini-series has ended, Marvel has said that another mini starring Silver Surfer will be released next month. Naturally, I expected the bald one to live past this issue. HE DIDN'T! The Silver Surfer is dead! Really! Even Galactus couldn't save him. WOW! I haven't been this surprise by a character's death in years. (I expected Cap's death) WOW! J. Michael Straczynski, I take back everything I have said about you, this is impressive. The series was beautiful front-to-back. WOW!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Virgin Mary in a burqa?

Remember when the publication of cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 and how it led to violence, arrests, inter-governmental tensions and riots in several countries? Remember the debate about the right of free speech? How many Muslims claim that any image of Muhammad is blasphemous, while many Westerners say that this is the right of free speech? Some people just do not learn.

Artworks depicting Osama bin Laden in a Christ-like pose and a statue of the Virgin Mary covered in a burqa have been showcased in a prestigious religious art competition in Australia, and of course people are screaming bloody murder. Australian Prime Minister John Howard is leading a chorus of condemnation against the decision to include the two entries in a prestigious art competition that ridicule the Christian faith. The Australian Prime Minister, who was very quiet in 2005, now say that the artwork is "gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians."

Funny how different people are when situations are changed, isn't it?

But no matter what your views are on the Australian Prime Minister, he was right in that religious icons should not be mocked. Osama bin Laden in a Christ-like pose, that I can accept as he is not a religious leader. He is either a terrorist or a Islamic warrior (depend on who you speak to), but he is not a religious leader. The Virgin Mary statue covered in a burqa is another matter. I don't care if you are a artist or a newspaper, you should not mock religious icons. Why can't these morons learn from past mistakes? Some people will hold the opinion that these "art" works are a provocation, and I'm not that sure they are wrong.

Yes, I will admit to be very interested in the reactions of "free speech" U.S and Europe but this is an issue which should never be bought up in the first place. Please, stop these morons from causing further problems by banning such provocation works in the future.

Coming up: A Real-life Spiderman

In a way that show life follow art, a "Spider-man" suit that enables its wearer to scale vertical walls like the comic and movie superhero could one day be a reality.

In a article that was published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, natural technology used by spiders and geckos could help a human climb the side of a building or hang upside down from a roof. They are already working on a suit for the matter.

So the next time you see someone climb up a wall, don't be suprised, it's Spiderman!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rebound might not continue

The Straits Times reported today that global investors were pulling out of the Singapore stock market after the recent rebound.

This tell you how nervous people still are over the US housing meltdown and people are running scared of a possible credit squeeze in America. Even after a broad stock market rebound, including Wall Street's 2.29% rally in the past week, investors still believe that the hefty losses earlier this month will continue. I think they are right.

The biggest problem is that the crisis is in the housing sector. Real estate is a slow business, much slower than finance. So the housing problem will take the Americans weeks, if not months, to unravel. Until then, people will stay nervous and people will stay scared. Weak markets are ahead.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Strange death at marathon

In another strange turn, a participant of the SAFRA Sheares Bridge Run & Army Half Marathon collapsed and died on Sunday morning. 25-year-old Captain Ho Si Qiu collapsed at the end of his 21-kilometre run and medics who attended to him were unable to prevent his death.

The cause of Captain Ho's death is still being investigated but something strange is in the air here. People who run marathons do not just died like this. If this is one incident, I say it can be a case of bad luck but Captain Ho is not the first case like this. I remember at least 3 cases like this in the past year when people died after distance races like this.

I believed there was no cause of death in the other cases, and I think the Singapore Sports Council must get to the bottom of this. Like I said earlier, people who can run marathons don't just died like this. If the reason is not found, there might be more deaths in the future, and I think everyone would like to avoid that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Garbage prize for Garbage singing

In the latest American Idol rip-off, 13-year-old Shawn Tok prove that Singaporeans are more taken with people who look cute than people who can sing (I think). Tok beat his older competitors yesterday to claim the Campus SuperStar title.

The Loyang Secondary School favourite earned the fans' votes and walked away with a trophy and the $2,000 prize money. You read that right. $2,000? These kids went through all these weeks of competition for $2,000? Is TCS poor? The prize money is a miserable $2,000? What were they thinking? No wonder the singing were so bad this year. They were garbage because the prize was garbage as well.

Now you know.

Comics this week

Countdown #36- Out of the various stories in Countdown, the writes has got 2 things right. Mary Marvel and the Piper/Trickster story were the only 2 things which were right about the book. After this issue, there's is only Piper/Trickster. Mary Marvel threw a temper tantrum and battle with her would-be mentor because...I'm not really sure why exactly. Essentially, the writers had destroyed the Mary Marvel story which leave only Piper and Trickster. Wonder how long it'll take for them to destroy that one?

Hiding In Time #2- I pick up the book due to the great plot. Listen to this: In the near future, the Witness Protection Program relocate people throughout time to ensure their safety. But then the program got shut down and hired assassins begin finding and killing the witness. Nathan Crew, a technician in the now-defunct Time Portal Division of the WPP, has to travel back in time to stop the killings! Now is that a great plot or what? The execution of the story (and the art) isn't as good as the plot but it is passable. A good story that could have been a lot better. Still, it is very interesting.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A "V" bonus?

In another show of how unsuccessful and unpopular the CPF changes are, the Singapore government now wants to encourage Singaporeans to voluntarily delay the draw-down of their CPF Minimum Sum by throwing in a sweetener.

Manpower Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen annoounced that Singaporeans will get a "V Bonus" - that is "V" for Voluntary - for each year they defer their draw-down. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier said that Singaporeans would get a one-off D Bonus, if they defer their CPF Minimum Sum draw-down age, to beyond 62. A one-two punch if you will.

Will this apleased Singaporeans and rid them of their angry? I don't think so but hey, it's better than nothing! Keep it coming!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Big Picture Sucks!

It seems the CPF changes were far less successful and popular than the Singapore government had hoped for. I don't know why. Surely they know that raising the draw-down age for the minimum sum from 62 to 65 and making buying annuity compulsory would not go down well with the Singapore public?

The government is not taking things lying down however. A whole series of government ministers had come up one after another to 'explain' the government's position. The lastest one is Environment and Water Resources Minister, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim who said issues related to the CPF are sensitive but the changes have to be implemented for the good of the country. He asked Singaporeans to consider the big picture.

I'll asked, "What if the big picture sucks?" What Dr Yaacob is asking for is that the Singapore public take one for the country because raising the draw-down age and making buying annuity compulsory does Singaporeans no favours. How is it in my interest to leave my money in the CPF for another 3 years and buy annunities which even the Prime Minister agreed gives very poor returns?

Until the Singapore government answer those two questions, unhappiness will reign.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review of The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum is the sequel to The Bourne Supremacy and the third film of the Bourne Trilogy. Starring Matt Damon as the amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne, this was to be the last of the Bourne films. I hope not because Jason Bourne KICK ASS!

The movie starts immediately following the car chase at the end of the second film, the wounded Bourne suffered a flashback while evading the Moscow police. What follows is a thrillride where Bourne track down leads on who he truly is. In the midst of his quest, he crossed Blackbriar, the renamed, upgraded Treadstone. He also had unexpected help from Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) & Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), who find themselves helping Bourne for reasons that were never made clear to the viewers. This is especially true for Nicky Parsons. I find it amazing that she was the only character outside Bourne that lasted all 3 movies. Only hints of her reasons were made known (fourth movie plot!).

In the end, Bourne remembered everything but the best thing about this movie was not the story but the action. The car chases in this movie can't match the chase in the first one, you know the one in Paris, but the action was brutal. Bourne has a fight in Tangiers with another CIA assassin named Desh. Bourne eventually strangled Desh with a towel after a brutal, thrilling hand-to-hand fight that's was one of the best I've ever seem on film. Look out for that one, it's worth the price of admission alone.

If you haven't watch it, then get off your ass and do so now. Like the previous Bourne films, The Bourne Ultimatum is a thoughtful action movie that never tried to dumb itself down for bigger box-office. For that reason alone, Jason Bourne deserved another film.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

CPF Changes

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a few changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Some changes were good, others were not.

The one percentage point increase in interest for part of the savings in CPF is a good thing, especially for the lower-income people of Singapore. As most of the active CPF accounts have balances below S$45,000, there is a cap at S$60,000 for the higher payout. This is something I have questions on. I know of people who are drawing high salaries but have low CPF accounts due to various factors such as housing loans etc. Whereas there are Singaporeans who are drawing lower salaries but has high CPF accounts but that is due to the fact they are not paying for any housing loans. Giving this simple example, can the government really say that it is fair for the lower income Singaporeans to have less payout?

I also dislike the government making buying annuity compulsory. I knew it was coming when Mr Lim Boon Heng, Minister-in-Charge of ageing issues talked about it earlier in the week but annunities gives very little interest. What's more, you have to leave parts of your CPF alone for it to gain the annuity. And it's COMPULSORY! This is how it works. CPF members are allowed to convert their minimum sums to annuities with an insurance company and then get monthly payouts for the rest of their lives.

If the government want to convince me to leave part of my CPF for them, they better give me something much, much better than what it is currently giving. The fact that the scheme has not been popular is NOT because Singaporeans don't understand annuities or don't understand why they need them (I know what are annuities, thank you very much). It's also because the returns sucks! And now it is COMPULSORY?

However, all that is nothing compare the idea of raising the draw-down age for the minimum sum from 62 to 65. Currently, Singaporeans who have turned 62 can start withdrawing their CPF minimum sum and enjoy a S$790 monthly payout for the next 20 years. However, this will change in five years (in 2012) when the new "Draw-Down Age", or DDA, is raised to 65. As Chiam See Tong, MP for Potong Pasir said, "I think the government will have to do a lot convincing the people." Include me on that list! I know people are living longer, and we have to work longer. Why does that mean we have to start drawing on our CPF reserves later? I can't understand why working longer means drawing on our own money later, especially when the government intent to raise the retirement age! What about people who can't work till 65? The CPF was to be our retirement funds, but what good is a retirement fund if you can't touch it?

Details on the CPF changes will be spelt out when Parliament sits next month, expect more on this then.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Airbus A380

Recently, a big deal has been made about the fact that Singapore Airlines will be the first to get the world's biggest, newest aircraft; the Airbus A380. The aircraft will be configured with 471 seats in three classes: Economy, Business and the new Singapore Airlines Suites: a class beyond First. You know for those people who thinks they are beyond first class.

I have to asked: What's the big deal? After a few days, the aircraft will be given to almost every major airline in the world. So what's the big deal? It's not as if SIA is the only airline in the world to have the A380. Let me ask: Who is the first to fly the Boeing 747? Don't know? Neither do I? Who cares?

Singapore is a country who like to think it's the world's best at anything and everything, but let's be serious here. No one cares that Changi Airport is the first home airport of the super jumbo, and why should they? Singapore, SIA; Let's not make a mountain out of this smallest of molehill.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown 37- After 3 weeks of improvement, the winning streak ended with a thud! Countdown's problem is that everyone who read the series wish the plot would advance a little faster than it has been. Mary Marvel likes power and is well on her way to being Black Mary; ok, get there already people! I still have no idea what Holly Robinson is doing in the series, and Donna Troy's team in the Nanoverse might as well not be in the book. What have they done in the less 3 weeks? Nothing! Yet we keep seeing the team for 2-3 pages every issue. They are a waste of space, though not as great as the Jimmy Olsen storyline. Jimmy made a big discovery involving Superman, but the dreadful pacing of the storyline made me want Superman to just kill him to shut him up. The only bright spot is the Piper/Trickster storyline which has been constantly getting better. A few funny moments between the two saved the storyline because the plot also moved nowhere there as well. Even without the shadow of 52, this series is just poor.

Booster Gold #1- Booster Gold was to be the breakout star of 52, a position that was taken (rightfully) by Black Adam. The Booster Gold storyline was by far 52's strongest plot device, re-creating the Multiverse, but the character himself was not great. A time-traveling, self-absorbed, glory-hound hero is not really a great basis for a long-running series. However, this was one promising start. The issue starts with Booster trying to rejoin the Justice League, but Rip Hunter has other ideas. The reborn Multiverse is chaotic following Mr. Mind's munching of time and space, and Hunter want Booster to be his pointman and put a stop to any anomalies. Booster's struggle is that he can't let other people knows what he is doing as that will only increase the anomalies. He is the greatest savior the Multiverse has ever seen, but no one can ever know about it. Did I say he is a glory-hound yet? Writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz also surround Booster with a good supporting cast. Rip Hunter,Skeets and Daniel Carter seems interesting characters that will greatly increase the value of the book. Interesting and far better than I fear.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Review of Shadow of the Flame

Just finished Shadow of the Flame by Chris Pierson, the last book in the Taladas trilogy. In case anyone don't know, this is set in the Dragonlance world Krynn. However, it is not set on Ansalon, where the Dragonlance saga was set in. Instead, the story was on the lesser known continent of Taladas, north of Ansalon.

They are on the same planet, so a lot of stuff was similar. The people worship the same gods as those on Ansalon, yet they have their own names for them. However we see stuff and creatures which are unique. Mind-flayers, snow ogres, and mer-people (not sea elves), things not seen on Ansalon. Which is what Taladas is about, similar but different from regular Dragonlance.

The book start immediately after Book 2, Trail of the Black Wyrm. Disaster has struck at the ruins of Akh-tazi and Maladar, the Faceless Emperor, has been reborn. The greatest wizard Taladas has ever seem, maybe the greatest Krynn has ever seem, Maladar has taken over the body of the heroic Barreth Forlo.

Forlo is now a prisoner trapped in his own body. Forlo’s friends, the elven moon-thief Shedara and the warrior Hult must find a way to stop Maladar before his power grows too great. The solution lies with Azar, Forlo’s supernatural son. But can they trust him?

Of course! This is Dragonlance, where 9 out 10 times the good guys win. However Shadow of the Flame brings the adventures of Forlo, Shedara, and Hult to a fiery, thrilling climax. Chris Pierson has written a solid book. Not only is it packed with action, there was around 8 battles, he also made sure the action was gritty and serious. Deaths can come out of nowhere and even those who lived through the story will have scars for the rest of their lives.

This was what the Dragonlance world needed. The fantasy genre is currently in a gritty mood, and maybe Taladas can fill that role for Krynn. A new place where anything can happen. Give the book a read, it's solid.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Bear Market

The crisis in the US subprime mortgage sector may be worse than anyone thought as there are now fears that Countrywide Financial, the biggest US mortgage lender, could face bankruptcy if conditions deteriorate.

Countrywide has being suffering growing defaults as rising interest rates made it harder for people in the U.S to pay their mortgages. Countrywide announced that foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies had risen in July to their highest levels since early 2002.

When it rains, it pours. The non-stop bad news due to the subprime crisis has made put the market firmly in a bear market, and it doesn't look like it will turn anytime soon. Market is going south guys.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The latest drug: Espresso Coffee

The War on Drugs has a new target, Espresso Coffee. Why do I say that? Because a teenager in the U.K was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee. No, this is NOT a joke.

Jasmine Willis, 17, developed a fever and began hyperventilating after drinking seven double espressos while working at her family's sandwich shop. Why the hell she needed SEVEN espressos is something only she can answer, but doctors confirmed she had overdosed on caffeine. The teenager, who was allowed home after a few hours of observation, suffered side effects for days afterwards and now says she cannot stand the sight of coffee.

This is serious. Quick, let's ban all Starbucks in the world. We must protect our children!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A much needed bail-out

After a bloody week for stocks all over the world (unless you are called China), The Federal Reserve of America pumped 62 billion dollars into the jittery US financial system on Thursday and Friday to ease tightening credit linked to the crisis in the US subprime mortgage sector.

This is its biggest operation since the week of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. I have but one thing to say, "Keep this up!"

Amid the sharp falls on global stock markets, almost all investors fears that more undisclosed bad debts would surface. This current fall was due to French bank, BNP, when it said that it would freeze three investment funds because it could no longer accurately measure their value. Aka, no one will buy its debt. The European Central Bank acted on Thursday and Friday when it added a combined 155.85 billion euros (212.98 billion dollars) to the eurozone markets.

Yes, this is a bail-out (let's admit it, it is) but it is what the markets needed to stem the blood-letting until calmer heads prevail. The chances are that BNP is not the only European bank getting crushed by these bad debts, other banks will come forward in the weeks to come. American banks will be the hardest hit by this crisis and when they come forward, the market will drop again.

The Fed and the European Central Bank must slow the sheer speed of the market losses. We want to go down a slope, not go off a cliff. Keep injecting the money guys.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown- The series improved again this week. It's taken a while, but the book looks like it has finally found it's legs. This week was helped by two factors; a large part of the focus was on Oracle and her worldwide computer battle with The Calculator, and there a big segment on Mary Marvel. Of course, the minus are still there. I'm eagerly awaiting the death of Jimmy Olsen/Mr. Action. Never hated, even dislike, the character till now. Die Jimmy Olsen, die! And the Question's decision to just let the rogues go is just strange. Still, things are looking up.

Black Adam #1- Since becoming the breakout star in 52, it was a matter of time before Black Adam got his own series. I was worried DC was just trying to cash in, but the worry was unfounded. A potential problem was the fact that anybody who reads Countdown knows that Black Adam did indeed regain his powers, but writer Peter Tomasi ignored Countdown totally. A great decision! The mood was dark and the tension high as Black Adam try to reclaim his position as DC's biggest villain/anti-hero. We also see several different parties trying to locate Adam, but the main action was on the man himself. Torture, cannibalism, a military uprising, grave robbing, all done by Adam to reclaim his power. We also see the fact that Adam still has the loyalty of many men who would gladly die for him. This issue was brutal from beginning to end, read it!

Nova #5- You must really feel for the Worldmind. It's Nova Corps destroyed, it had to depand on a hot-headed Richard Rider for protection. Poor Richard Rider isn't in the best of shape since the last issue, and the Worldmind has to turn to some unlikely allies for assistance. Who does it end up with? A Kree who has as much problem as Rider did following orders. Ko-Rel is set up to be a very relatable multi-dimensional character, maybe even the start of a new Nova Corps, and that is great. Nova need a supporting cast. I also love the action involving Gamora. Most writers use her as the sexy flower vase, but we see here why she is the 'Most Dangerous Woman'. The only thing I don't like is the fact that there are about 2-3 artists on the book. Why? Can't 1 guy do this book by himself? Outside that, Nova is still a must-buy book.

Friday, August 10, 2007

New EPL Season

You know it's coming. The new EPL season is 1 day away, so it's my (usually way-off) veiws on who's in for the title and who is going down.

The Big 4
Manchester United - Champions last year who spend big this year, maybe too big. With Carlos Tevez's arrival almost certain, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has spend over $60 million to add to the array of attacking riches he already had. Last year they won due to the form of Cristiano Ronaldo, they will need him again as I think the new players will need time to gel. Also Wayne Rooney need to improve from a so-so season last year as Ferguson is gunning for the Champions League. They will be up there, but they won't be champions this year.

Chelsea- Only 1 big signing in Florent Malouda? Is this really Chelsea? Don't worry Chelsea fans because Chelsea got smart this year. They licked up some really good free agents this year. Tal Ben Haim, Steve Sidwell and Claudio Pizarro are all good players who will get into the team. Also Andriy Shevchenko had a year to bed in already, so I expect him to go total on the other teams. The biggest problem is the injuries to key players such as John Terry. Also the midfield is still overly dependant on the, in my view, over-rated Frank Lampard. Chelsea's defence make them the most difficult team to beat but they won't be champions.

Liverpool- Manager Rafael Benitez hit the transfer market this summer like Alex Ferguson but will they have enough to win the title? In Fernando Torres they have a great player who is quick, big and athletic but he isn't going to score 20 goals in the league. He will need help from Dirk Kuyt, Peter Crouch and the best buy of Liverpool, Andriy Voronin. Voronin is going to be the next Berbatov, the surprise hit signing of the season. The most likely champion of the new season.

Arsenal- They have finished fourth in the last two seasons, but without Thierry Henry...that might be a problem this year. Arsenal play a brand of football everybody agrees is the most beautiful in the league, but can they win it with that style? Not likely. Manager Arsene Wenger has a lot of trust in his players like Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and new man Eduardo da Silva to replace Henry, I hope for the beautiful game, he is right.

Most Likely to go Down
Derby- The writing is on the wall. Manager Billy Davies hardly spend any money in the transfer market and everyone know this season will be a struggle for the Rams. Derby will be well supported with good crowds but that will not be enough. Very surprised if they manage to even finish fourth from bottom this year.

Wigan- Wigan was very lucky last year and this year their luck will run out. They will struggle for goals but Antoine Sibierski & Jason Koumas are 2 very good signings. New manager Chris Hutchings has bought in several players with good experience, still it will be a hard season. They will play hard and give their all, but I doubt it will be enough.

Reading- Ever heard of the second-season syndrome? Wigan suffered it last year and I think that Reading might just experience it this year. Other teams has one year to know Reading's style already and they lost a quality player in Steve Sidwell. Reading were also a defensively weak team and this more than anything will be a big problem this year. Don't be surprise if Reading is down there at the end of the season.

National Day

It's here. Happy Birthday Singapore!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

National Day is NOT a major holiday

Yes, shocking isn't it. I know I was shocked when I discovered that there are 5 major holidays in Singapore, and National Day is NOT one of them. New Year, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas are the 5 major holidays, but National Day isn't one of them. The day when we celebrate our nation's birth is not major?

I think most Singaporeans, like me, just assumed National Day is a major holiday. People, we are all wrong! With Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong due to deliver the annual National Day Message, maybe he can change National Day to a major holiday. The nation deserve it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

National Day Tickets

I never understood why people go all out to get tickets to the National Day Parade. Really, I have been to 3; once when I was in secondary school and twice when I was in NS. You must be on standby for hours on days on end, merely waiting for the day to be over.

And here there are people who plan everything just to get the tickets. Taking part in a quiz on Channel NewsAsia's Singapore Tonight, the winners stand by the television and the computer just to wait for the quiz.

Why? I never had any wish to attend the Parade, hell I didn't want to take part in the one I took part in! Why would anyone want to spend the whole day waiting in the sun for a bloody parade? I can only think of one reason. National Pride.

Wish I had some.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Climate Change

The global climate crisis the world is facing has struck again. Helicopters has began dropping food and other essentials aid to the millions of people forced from their homes by floods across South Asia, but officials warned that the things could get worse before they get better.

The floods were triggered by unrelenting monsoon rains and glacial snow melt from the Himalayas and have flooded large swathes of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, leaving some 20 million people homeless. The numbers are just scary people. Officials have speed up rescue and relief operations, but water levels on the Ganges were still on the rise.

The melting Himalayas are part of the global warning crisis facing the world but still there are people who don't believe in it. I know because I met one person who think climate change is total nonsense. I am at a loss at this. What will it take to get these people to believe in climate change? Total world destruction?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Cooling down the property market in Singapore

In a clear sign that the Singapore authorities have finally decided to take action againest sky-rocketing property prices, the Singapore authorities have overturned a S$500 million condominium purchase by developer Hotel Properties.

The government have sided with a minority of the homeowners who had objected to the sale. The reason given was that the January acquisition of downtown residential estate Horizon Towers did not comply with the proper procedures. Aka, paperwork was not in order as the committee of homeowners that organized the sale had failed to file certain documents. This was the first time in seven years a collective property sale had been overturned as a result of objections by a minority of owners. And it is about time!

In case anyone do not know this, under Singapore law, housing estates can be sold collectively as long as the building is over a decade old and they have the agreement of owners with 80 percent of the property's value. Rising real estate values has pushed the property market to 10 years high recently, making it much harder for Singaporeans to either buy houses or upgraded. It's about bloody time something was done to cool the market down.

The Singapore government has made several recent measures to slow the property boom and I hoped it will cool the market. No one wants the market to collapse but the market is way too hot. Anyone who has read my posts before knows that I'm in favour of cooling down the market so it's no surprise that I'm happy about these recent developments by the Singapore government. Hopefully it will be enough and Singaporeans can now dream of that house once again.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Maplestory's Singapore Map!

You remember when the Counterstrike Singapore map came out a few years ago, how it was reported in the Singapore papers. This is bigger. I haven't been playing Maplestory for quite a while, but when I heard that they are launching the Singapore Map, I just have to see it. There were cartoon versions of our very own Merlion, Esplanade and Airport. HAHA! Download the game and take a look.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Comics this week

Countdown 39- I have to say, 11 weeks into DC's weekly follow-up to 52, the Piper/Trickster storyline is one of the more entertaining story in the series. This issue is dominated by the Piper/Trickster thread and is therefore highly entertaining. Yes, there are still downside to this series. For one, there's no Mary Marvel this week. Instead, we get the usual 2 page appearances from Donna Troy, Jimmy Olsen, Holly and Harley in the Athenian Women's Shelter etc. Things are still painfully slow, but yeah, hopefully people will getting dying soon. (Sooner the better for some of these characters)

New Warriors #3- After a strong start, New Warriors hit a brick wall in #3. Here's the reason; The idea that a group of young, rebellious heroes fighting Tony Stark's SHIELD is a good one, but what we got here in this issue is questioning who is in the Night Thrasher's costume. Do I care? No! I want to know about the team, hell we don't even know all their names yet. Leave the mysterious leaders who are supposed to be dead stories for later, tell me about this new team.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Market drop

One day after the GIC sounded caution on the world markets, it happened. Asian stocks dropped like a stone today as the growing problems in the US mortgage market stoked concerns over how much the debacle may ulitmately cost.

The tone was set early in Sydney, down 3.3%, when Macquarie Bank said two high-yielding funds faced losses of up to 300 million dollars (258 million US) because of the problems in US sub-prime home loans. Yes, you read that right. 300 million dollars!

And they are not alone. There is a belief that many other financial groups are in the same boat as Macquarie Bank. Already Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) is saying that it was checking whether the US problems might have any fallout on the island's financial firms.

Saftey first seems to be the motto for today as investor just unloaded on the market. The Taiwan market lost 4.26% in heavy turnover as Tokyo fell 2.19%. Elsewhere, Seoul was down 4.0%, Mumbai dropped 3.08%. In light of this, Kuala Lumper and Singapore did fairly well. KL dropped only 2.50% while Singapore lost 2.87%.

It could have been much worse. You must always see the silver lining in the dark clouds.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

GIC sound caution

You knows things are going to get bad if even the normally secretive GIC says so. The Singapore Straits Times newspaper quoted the deputy chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) saying that ther are dark clouds on the horizon in the world financal markets.

In case anyone do not know, the GIC manages Singapore's national reserves, which has funds of over than US$100 billion. Deputy Chairman Tony Tan said that the crises was in the sub-prime mortgage market in the United States, rise in oil prices and the danger that some asset markets are priced based on a rosy scenario for the world economy.

I hope this means that the GIC will invest less in the U.S market, especially in the buying of the U.S dollar. I have written last month that I believed that Singapore has too many U.S assets at the moment. Already we have seen last week what could be the first signs of the credit squeeze in the U.S. Instead of a one-off like many people hoped, it could be the start of a bear market. If you don't trust what I say, you must take note of the GIC.

So for all you people who put your life savings in stocks, look out! Exercise caution, and be slightly conservative in your investment. we may be in for a bumpy ride.