Monday, December 31, 2007


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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Comics this week

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh boy!

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


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

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

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

UFO debate in Jpan

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

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

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

True, true.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Comics this week

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2007


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

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

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bad Behavior by American sailors is news?

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

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Haj begins

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Global warming not man-made? Money talks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comics this week

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

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

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dropping basketball for the next SEA Games?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

End to the UNSW saga

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Another victim

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

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

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

There is a question here about torture?

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Waste of Money

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

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

Waste of time, and a waste of money!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Comics this week

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

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

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

Thursday, December 6, 2007

SEA Games opening ceremony

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Taxi fare increase

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

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

Take the bloody bus.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss

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

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

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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Turkey attack Iraq

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

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

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

Saturday, December 1, 2007

EPL this month

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

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

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

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

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

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