Friday, July 31, 2009

Comics this week

Dark Reign: The Hood #3- Running a super-villain gang is tough. Just ask Parker Robbins, the Hood. First he has to contend with a demon looking to take over his body, then he was told the only way to stop the demon was to stop wearing the cloak that gave him his powers. Then he has to bust his men out of jail because they were in a drunken stupor and busted by the police. Then he has to look out as White Fang and the Controller are looking to cut him down from his position of power. And all this outside the fact he has to keep his identity secret from his wife and kid, and reject a deal with the demon that may just be worth selling his soul for. Some guys just got it tough.

Secret Warriors #6- Finally we get to see why this series is called the Secret Warriors. The Secret Warriors actually show up and did something of note. However I still think the series has too much Nick Fury. The revelations of the mole in Hydra was nicely done but the title really should be changed to Secrets of Nick Fury instead of Secret Warriors.

War of Kings: Ascension #4- Chris Powell is finally back in the Darkhawk armor...and immediately regrets it. The Starjammers and Gladiator are out for his blood for the death of Lilandra. Powell then surprised Talon and Razor by keeping control of the Darkhawk armor and even managed to get the Skrull host back. I think they then made a mistake. It would have been much better if the Skrull had stayed around and became something of a mentor figure to Powell. I mean the guy didn’t even know who Lilandra was; how is he going to do in space chasing down all the other amulets? Still it was a good end to a surprising well-done series.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Truly Feel For You

Sore loser. That’s my thought when I read that the coach of swimming superstar Michael Phelps is threatening to pull out his star if there is no ban on the latest bodysuit.

The current swimming world championship is being held in Rome this world and over 10 world records has fallen in the meet due, not to better swimmers, but to better swimsuits that helped swimmers cut seconds off their time. The governing body for swimming FINA will ban the latest bodysuits, the Arena X-Glide, next year but Michael Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman says that these new swimsuits should have banned bodysuits before these world championships because the value of world records was diminishing.

Now I’m not saying Bob Bowman is wrong but I find it rich that he (and Michael Phelps) is complaining about people using bodysuits to cut off world records. If I recall correctly, didn’t Phelps won all 8 of his gold medals in the Olympics with the Speedo bodysuit that was the latest technological swimsuit then? I didn’t hear him complaining about “lost all the history of the sport” back then.

If swimming is warfare and swimsuit are weapons, then the American team would be the U.S military. They held a technological advantage over the rest of the world in weapons, training and funding for a number of years already. Now they are complaining they lost because the other side has a technological advantage over them?

Tough luck! What goes around comes around.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lessons Not Learned

I read an article on Newsweek this week that state that the United States of America will still be the world leader once the current global financial crisis is over.

It’s actually a well-written article on the various reasons why the writer believes this will be the case, but I disagree with the writer on the outcome. I have a suspicion that once this financial crisis is over, America might not be the world leader anymore. Most likely America will be just one of superpowers, instead of the hyperpower it currently is.

There are 3 main reasons for my belief. First off, this crisis is not over. Despite good news from some companies, most American companies who received the Fed bailout money are still in trouble. Just recently, CIT Group faced bankruptcy despite getting about US$2.3 billion in bailout money last year. And CIT is small fry compare to some of the other companies on the list. Despite talk in Singapore about how Citigroup has turned around after posting a US$4.3 billion profit, Citigroup is actually losing money. The only reason they posted a profit is because they sold off their Smith Barney brokerage unit. Take that out and Citigroup actually lost money.

Second is the trillion dollar deficit America is facing. The American government is stimulating the economy by pumping money into the system. Money it does not have and will have to pay back sooner or later. I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to run a deficit now, but you have to cover the shortfall sooner or later. It took George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton about 8 years to clear the deficit Ronald Reagan ran up, so god knows how long it will take to clear this record deficit (which is growing daily).

However the biggest I see for America is the fact that lessons has not been learned from this crisis. Despite what U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have been saying, it seems like its business as usual in America. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase had good results and almost immediately announced million dollar bonuses for their top employees. The crisis started because financial companies were more interested in chasing after big deals instead of good deals and it seems the actual same problems that caused the global financial crisis in the first place are still been practiced in America.

If the United States of America is going to come out as the leader of the world once the current global financial crisis is over, it needs to first learn some lessons from it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Age of Conan: The Second Coming

Age of Conan (AoC) came out like a ball of fire when it was first released, but as time went on, players left as the bugs in the game ultimately defeated the gameplay. When Warhammer and Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was like the final nails in the coffin.

To give Funcom credit, they did not give up and have been going non-stop to fix the game. Over a year after the game first came out, the developers have finally managed to fix the bugs and offered old players a 2 week free trial. Like I had said before; free is always a good price.

Entering the game again means installing the game again for me, and updating the game. My god, there was a lot of updates. I am talking about hours and hours of it. Once done, I enter the game and I am glad to say most (if not all) the bugs are gone. The game is as beautiful as ever and the world of Hyboria was captured well by Funcom. The harsh, violent, chaotic but beautiful world is still there.

There are new areas for the higher levels, the Commons and a new dungeon in Thunder River. There are improvements in the games and if you like the game before, you will love it now. Hyboria is different from the other worlds out there in other MMOs and AoC is the game for you if you are looking for something different.

However, would I play the game again? That’s a different question. The biggest gripe for me in the game is that there seems to be some upgrades in AoC and my system is suffering for it. AoC has always required a good system to play however I never had a problem playing the game before…I do now. The game crashed on me 2-3 times, over a 2 week trial! When I played the game last year, I probably suffered 2-3 crashes in 3 months. The game seems to require a better system to play on than what I am having. Will I upgrade my system just to play a MMO? Sorry but probably not.

However if you have the system for it, AoC may be the game for you. There is a free 2 week trial for all. The download will be a bitch but try it. Like I said earlier; free is always a good price

Monday, July 27, 2009

Facebook Holdouts

I never understood the attraction of Facebook because I just don’t understand what’s so great about Facebook. Almost everyone I know has a Facebook account but I don’t.

So it was great for me to know that I’m not (totally) alone. One other famous man has admitted that he does not have a Facebook account and it was none other than the titan of technology, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates! He was forced to give up on Facebook when over 10,000 people wanted to be his friends.

I have no doubt that Gates’ massive fortune is one of the reasons why so many people want to be his ‘friend’, but 10,000 people? A prefect example of why I don’t understand Facebook. Way to go Bill, us Facebook holdouts need to stick together. Let me be your friend!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Oh Please!

English Premier League runner-up Liverpool FC is in Singapore as part of their Far East Tour and the headline from the New Paper yesterday was “Rafa, please play your first 11.”

However captain Steven Gerrard is still in England after having escaped a jail term and star striker Fernando Torres is only expected to play about 15mins, so the plead seem to have fallen on deaf ears. But please, what do you expect? English clubs like Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea are traveling the world for one reason and one reason only…and it’s not pre-season training.

To their credit, they are pretty open about this. They are here strictly for the money and their stars are more interested in shopping, sight-seeing, and attending promotional events than any exact training. So whether they play the first 11 or not does not matter to me because…well, they hardly interested are they?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Comics this week

Immortal Weapons #1- In Japanese, Chinese, Korean comics, almost every action comics has fist to fist combat. Karate, kung-fu, judo, MMA, you name it we have it. The Immortal Iron Fist is the west’s attempt to imitate this success. For the most part, it was successful. One of the best things out of Iron Fist is that we now know there are more martial art fighters than Danny Rand. Immortal Weapons showcase the other martial artists in the Iron Fist series. First up is Fat Cobra, a man-mountain who has drunk and fucked himself all over the world (and beyond) for over a hundred years. In this time, he had forgotten a lot of things and he hired an investigator to discover his past. Some things are better left forgotten. Fat Cobra’s past is tragic but almost funny. I like the fact that writer Jason Aaron didn’t take thing too seriously (Tongue of Thousand Passions anyone?) but yet at the same time, he did make you feel for the character. Fat Cobra is an interesting character and if the other Immortal Weapons are as interesting as him, Immortal Weapons deserve to be an ongoing book.

Nova #27- Having a lead on his missing brother, Richard Rider led his small team on a smash and grab mission; and hit the brick wall known as Blastaar who is in control of a cosmic rod. Love the fact that as Nova Prime, Rider tried to talk his way out of trouble instead of charging straight in, however the War of Kings tie-ins has mostly been disappointing for me and this issue is no exception. We see a lot more of Rider and his Nova Corps in this issue, but something is just not right. The main thing is that Rider is constantly reacting to big battles that he can do little about. The Corps are suppose to be powerful, Rider is suppose to be powerful, but the War of Kings tie-ins keep making him look like an ant in a cyclone. Thankfully the War of Kings is ending soon, so (hopefully) we can get back to regular service.

Guardians of the Galaxy #16- Again the team is split. This is happening a lot more often than I like but we finally see what Starhawk is about. Nice to see the original Guardians like Charlie-27, Martinex, and Yondu but the story is mostly filler. However it’s a good touch to see that Black Bolt may be a bigger danger to the galaxy than Vulcan. Could it be that all the heroes are on the wrong side of the War of Kings?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Known Since 2007?

It’s another day and it’s another scandal regarding a private school in Singapore. For overseas readers of my blog, Brookes Business School was recently closed as it has been (along with Stamford Global Learning Centre) offering fake degrees from well-known schools such as the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

Nothing unusual about this; this is Singapore, and over here it happen more often than we like. Despite the losses of the students who had paid for their courses already, and former graduates of the school who are now holding fake, useless degrees, it’s not even big news here. No one in Singapore is really surprise at this scandal but what I find incomprehensible is the fact that Australia’s RMIT knew about the problem long ago and had even written to Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) in April 2007 to complain about Brookes Business School.

The MOE knew about the problems in April 2007 but never stop the school from offering the courses.

I have to ask why? Its one thing if you don’t know about the problem and the thing blow up in your face but the MOE know of it for 2 years and did nothing? Senior Minister of State for Education S Iswaran said in a written parliamentary statement that 2 months after RMIT alerted Singapore authorities to the suspicious nature of the Brookes Business School in April 2007, the Education Ministry gave Brookes a warning for carrying misleading information on its website and other publicity materials. HA! What’s the use of a warning when it was pretty clear that the degrees and courses were faked! RMIT alerted you themselves on the matter. If the MOE had taken action 2 years ago, instead of issuing a useless warning, hundreds of students today would not be facing the job market with a fake degree.

What is the MOE going to say to these students now? Not only did the MOE not take action against Brookes, Brookes is even registered as a school with the MOE and had Casetrust accreditation from the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). In case anyone wants to know, Casetrust-endorsed schools are schools who are suppose to have good student welfare/protection practices and standards, such as clear fee policies, well-defined student redress practices and systems, a declared commitment to quality, and well-trained personnel.

So not only did MOE not take action against Brookes, Brookes Business School was endorsed by various Singapore government agencies. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this. If anyone thought the EDB/UNSW saga 2 years ago (which cost Singapore about $15 million) was stupid, this Brookes case is downright ridiculous. At least the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) was trying to get a business to come to Singapore, what was the MOE doing?

Hopefully, Singaporeans can get some answer to that!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Confidence in Singapore

According to a Nielson Company poll, Singaporeans are now saving more and investing less. According to the survey, close to 57% of the Singaporeans surveyed say that they are now saving more, at the expense of investments and insurances.

I say, “Just 57%?” Considering that the global financial crisis that is gripping the world right now, 57% is a very good number. I thought the numbers should be higher than that. To put it in context, 43% of Singaporeans are still investing as per normal despite the financial problems of the world.

That’s either brave or foolhardy but no matter what, it’s good news for Singapore. Confidence in Singapore is still strong and in the long run, that's what Singapore need

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 years ago; History was made

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

40 years ago, on 20th July 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong these words as he stepped down onto the moon's Sea of Tranquility and created history as the first man to land on the moon.

As the United States celebrate the 40th anniversary of the historic landing, there is a countdown on who will be the next to go to the moon. Russia, China, India and Japan are all expanding their own space programs, with China expressing a desire to be the next country to land on the moon and beyond.

40 years ago, history was made as mankind made a small step towards space. Here’s a hearty congratulations to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin (second man on the moon), and the rest of NASA on making history 40 years ago!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Are We a Nation Yet?

"Are we a nation yet? I will not say we are. We’re in transition."

With these words, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said that Singapore is a work-in-progress and is still not a nation.

I agree with him. When it comes to nationhood, the people in the country need to feel a sense of belonging. They must live in the country and has an express willingness to continue living in the country.

Singapore does not have that.

In a country that has so many foreigners, what is the Singapore identity? The answer is that we don’t have one. How can we when so many foreigners come in, get the PR but have no intention of staying long-term in the country.

I read in the Strait Times recently that Australia recently refused to renew the PR of a Singapore couple because they did not spent enough time in Australia so it proves that they had no intention of staying long-term in Singapore.

I don’t know the details of that case but the Australians are on the right track. Why give citizenship to people who had no intention of staying long-term in the country? This is something Singapore can learn from.

Singapore has already seen some of our foreign PR soccer players gone back to home country once their playing careers were over. Some people may say it’s no loss as their soccer careers were over already but how can Singapore be a nation if we hand out citizenship like this? Just because we want their skills, we give them citizenship but once we don’t need their skills they can go. Is this the way to build a nation? Is this the way to give Singaporeans a sense of belonging to our country? It might be a good way to run a corporation, but a country is another matter.

So I agree with the Minister Mentor; I just wish the Singapore government can do something about it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Comic this week

Blackest Night #1- Two years after the “The Sinestro Corps War”, Blackest Night is finally here. “The Sinestro Corps War” made Green Lantern one of the most successful series for DC and while I’m not really impressed with the idea of 7 different corps each representing one emotion, I will say Blackest Night is off to a great start. Although in theory this is a Green Lantern story, I can see why this series is a mini by itself. The scope of Blackest Night is huge. From Earth to Oa to the various space sectors, the newest corps makes their presence felt. However the issue is anchor by 2 pivotal scenes. The first is the talk between Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. I am one of those fans who firmly believe Barry Allen should NOT have return but for the first time since his return, Barry Allen was great. The showing of all the dead heroes and villains clearly show how long Barry was gone and how much he has to catch up on in the world. The second pivotal scene involves Hawkman and Hawkgirl. These 2 characters had been criminally underused by DC for a number of years now, so it was great for me that they played such a central role in Blackest Night. I love the fact that they both will get their own rings, and I don’t mean the black ones. I don’t usually say a lot about artwork but the art by Ivan Reis in this issue is especially good. The visuals in Blackest Night is superb and very detailed. The scene where all the dead Green Lantern first rises up is one of the best, most dramatic scenes I have seen in years. If Geoff Johns and Reis can keep this up, Blackest Night might be every bit as good as Sinestro Corps. Now that’s something to look forward to.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Isn't It Common Knowledge?

No more warnings! That’s the view of as train operator SMRT as it says that it will issue outright fines from now on for those caught eating and drinking in MRT.

It seems that the current practice is to warn the offenders, usually through the station’s PA system, and then fine the offenders if they continue eating. I must say I’m surprised. I always thought anyone found eating and drinking on MRT trains and stations would be fined immediately. Why does SMRT give a warning? I mean there are signs all over the stations stating “no eating or drinking allowed”, isn’t that enough warning?

Even if you are blind or can’t read, it’s common knowledge that you can’t eat or drink in MRT trains and stations. I had always known it. There are Singaporeans who don’t? So for those people complaining about this new ruling from SMRT, I have a suggestion. Walk to work!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Foreign Elements Response

China’s problems in Xinjiang just got worse. With riots in the restive region of Xinjiang, China issued their standard argument blaming ‘foreign elements’ as the cause of the troubles. That is a joke because even Chinese officials believe that the problems in Xinjiang are domestic in nature.

However blaming ‘foreign elements’ is standard procedure in China as China's domestic politics make it impossible to blame themselves for the mess (just look at Tibet), so it’s no surprise that China do it again this time. However I don’t think they thought ‘foreign elements’ will response to them.

In a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy, Al-Qaeda is threatening for the first time to attack Chinese interests.

Osama bin Laden's group has not previously threatened China, but now there are calls for retaliation against China for the deaths of Muslims in the restive region of Xinjiang. If you are going to get blame for something, you might just as well be guilty of it.

The big danger is that Al-Qaeda's central leadership would affiliate the various Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang and start to arm and train Uighurs in terrorist tactics. If that happen, China’s standard argument blaming ‘foreign elements’ will really come true and the world will all regret it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stop Changing the Numbers

Another day in Singapore, and another change in Singapore’s GDP numbers for 2009.

I said this a couple of months ago and I will say it again; Singapore need to STOP changing the GDP numbers. This time the Singapore government is changing the GDP upwards but whether it is upwards or downwards does not matter; Singapore need to stop doing it.

Think of it this way; if you are a boss of a company, how in the world are you suppose to make plans for next year when the government keep changing the GDP numbers for this year?

This has to be the fourth or fifth change in the GDP numbers this year, and we are still in July! If this continues, by the time we get to December we probably would have nine or ten changes in the GDP numbers…in one year!

I know we are in a finanical crisis and there may be a general election later this year but that is just stupid.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bloggers Beware

Governments have been trying to control the flow of information since ancient times so it’s no surprise that governments around the world are trying means and ways to rein in bloggers.

However the little-known country of Azerbaijan is trying something new. Two bloggers in Azerbaijan have been detained for two months pending their trial on charges of hooliganism, after they (the 2 bloggers) were beaten up! Media rights group Reporters Without Borders said that the 2 bloggers were in a Baku cafe when two men in and attacked one of them. When the other blogger came to the other’s defense, he was beaten up as well.

For this incident, both bloggers are being charged with hooliganism. Reporters Without Borders also reported that the pair were not allowed to see a lawyer and the police allowed their assailants to leave before arresting the pair.

For bloggers the world over; Beware!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

In one of the more insane ruling by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the MAS recently banned 10 financial institutions in Singapore from selling structured notes for periods ranging from 6 months to 2 years.

The ruling is insane because the bans were supposed to be punishments for the structured notes fiasco last year. However it’s hard to imagine how this ban is punishment when there is almost no Singaporean who would want to buy structured notes at this point of time. What’s the use of banning financial institutions from selling something no one is buying? Only the MAS can answer that question.

However one good thing that has come out of the ban is that it kick start some investors to file a class action lawsuit. 204 investors has filed a lawsuit against DBS in a bid to recover losses of around S$17 million due to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. I wish the investors good luck because they are going to need it.

Frankly I just cannot see how any ruling in Singapore will favor the small investors over the big financial institutions in Singapore. Unlike Hong Kong where small investors got a favorable outcome, I just cannot see that happening in pro-business Singapore. One only has to look at the history of class action lawsuits in Singapore to see why. What’s more they are going after DBS, which is like Singapore’s national bank!

Again I wish the investors good luck, but I’m not holding my breath

Friday, July 10, 2009

Comics this week

Street Fighter II Turbo #7- The fight between SF Alpha and SF II comes to a head this issue. It’s disappointing. The fights involving Rolento, Birdie, Cody, Hugo all lasted about 1 page…each! I knew they were going to lose but 1 page each? The back-story about Guy is great, but it’s saying a lot about the issue when I like the back-story more than the main story.

Stormwatch #22- It had to happen. After being dropped into the middle of a vampire army, Winter is understandably less than happy with Jackson King. Add that to his decision with Fuji, the members of Stormwatch are wondering if the pressure of saving the world has got the better of him. It seems that we might have a case of “Mutiny of the Bounty” soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Not Helpful

$787 billion later, the U.S economy is still in the toilet, and U.S politicians are panicking.

That’s the only reason I can think of when I read that some U.S. leaders are proposing a second stimulus package to jolt the U.S economy out of a recession that just refuse to end. Despite all the talk of ‘green shoots’ and ‘the rot has stop’, the U.S economy has not recovered and it’s still causing job losses.

Count me in as one of those who are skeptical of more stimulus spending. I agree that the $787 billion stimulus package has not had the desired effect, but if $787 billion can’t do the job, pumping more money in the system will not help either. Let’s be serious; if a $787 billion stimulus package is not enough, what kind of number will be?

None! If a $787 billion stimulus package is not enough, then America need to change their strategy because a second stimulus package will be like pouring good money after bad in a losing business.

Personally I think the Americans should just wait and see if any of those ‘green shoots’ pan out. With all the problems the U.S economy is facing, it’s understandable that U.S politicians are panicking but a second stimulus package will not help.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson

After the disappointing Reaper’s Gale, the eighth book of the ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ is here. Toll the Hounds move the story back to the continent of Genabackis; to the city of Darujhistan, where the reminds of the Bridgeburners are having a less than happy retirement, and the new city Black Coral, where Anomander Rake has put together a daring plan to right an ancient wrong.

After the disappointing Reaper’s Gale, I’m glad to say Steven Erikson is back. Erikson has a love for making his stories epic in scope and the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series has not always been better for it.

However Toll the Hounds is truly epic in scope and it works. Although the action takes place in the here and now, the reasons for the action of the characters are rooted in actions that took place eons ago. As usual, scenes jumped from one end of the continent to the other; from the here and now to ancient times; and then back again. A lot of characters also make their return in this book, some of whom are unexpected (isn’t Mappo dead?) and some are very welcome.

However for all the various plots and revelations in “Toll the Hounds”, the main story is on the Son of Darkness, Anomander Rake. Rake is the leader of a people without a god, without hope and without a future. In the end, the third son of Darkness sacrifices himself for his plan to bring back his mother for the good of his people and save the world along with it.

“Toll the Hounds” has a lot going for it. Rake’s plan worked well and the finish where everyone meets up in Darujhistan was filled with tension. Characters that populate the book are as interesting as always and certain characters got their deserved screen time. With more time, comes more character development (Hood comes to mind especially in this category) and the story is better for it.

It’s also interesting to see how a minor god is born in the Malazan world. In a world filled with gods, ancient gods, minor gods, demi-gods, and mortals powerful enough to be demi-gods themselves; I found this to be very interesting. The hints for the next book are very encouraging in this as well. It will deal with the death of Fener, the Boar of Summer. With his death, all the minor gods of war are clamoring to take over the portfolio of God of War and it will be interesting to see how a minor god turns into a god.

However as good as the book this, there are some things that didn’t ring right. At times, Rake’s plan seems a little incredulous. I don’t care how much confidence Rake has in his people, but he actually expect an old mage (even a very powerful one) to hold off the Crippled God? He actually expects a warrior (even if it is his most powerful warrior) to hold off Kallor, the High King?

Despite these missteps, “Toll the Hounds” is an excellent book which shows that there is still life in the “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series. Pick this one up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Afghan War getting Hotter

In May, Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal became the new US and NATO man in charge of the war in Afghanistan. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates placed Lt. Gen McChrystal in charge as a way to bring in "fresh thinking" in the war against the Taliban.

The “fresh thinking” involves going south into the Taliban heartlands with thousands of troops to secure the area for the upcoming Afghan elections. However as US troops go south, they might find the Taliban waiting. 7 American troops were killed on Monday, that’s on top of a British Lt. Col who was killed a few weeks ago. The Taliban also claim that they have captured an American soldier last week.

With the Americans coming into southern Afghanistan, the Taliban also seems to be going north with 4 of the Americans dead coming in northern Afghanistan. With the Americans going south, and the Taliban going north; the seven-year-old war in Afghanistan is getting hotter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mark of a Champion

Roger Federer successfully won his record 15th Grand Slam yesterday when he defeated Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon finals yesterday. The final score yesterday was 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14; yes that’s right 16-14 in the fifth!

I’ll be honest; I’m not Federer’s greatest fan. People say that he is humble, but I just don’t see it. Federer seems to be that kind of guy who is great, knows he’s great, and don’t mind telling you he’s great. He’s not brash, he’s always polite, but polite arrogance is still arrogance.

However I have nothing but praise for his play on the tennis court. His movement is superb, he can create some amazing angles on his groundstrokes, he combine power with a great touch at the net, and most importantly he (like most champions) finds a way to win.

Finding a way to win is the mark of a champion and there were 2 great examples of it in his win against Roddick. The first example was when a set down, 6-2 down in the second-set tie-break, Federer looked dead and buried. However Federer stormed back to win the tie-break 8-6 and win the second set. Another example was when he broke Roddick’s serve in the fifth set to win the match. Roddick was serving out of this world yesterday. Not only was Fderer unable to break the Roddick serve, he never looked like he was going to break the serve. However in the 77th and last game of the match, he broke the Roddick serve for the first and only time in the match to close out an epic match.

Roddick was upset and mentally drained at the end of the match and who can blame him. Against anyone else and he would have won the match twice over, but he was facing Federer and with the mark of a champion; Federer found a way to win. Roger Federer; Wimbledon champion and record-holder!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Comics this week

War of Kings #5- The feared set-up issue is here. There is some small subplots being advanced like Ronan and Crystal strong objections to the T-Bomb, and Gladiator’s rage at the death of Lilandra, but for all the talk in the issue about the feared T-Bomb and how Black Bolt will sacrifice himself to bring the Shi'ar/Kree war to a close, this issue is mainly to set-up the big fight between Black Bolt and Vulcan next issue. Slightly disappointing but not wholly unexpected.

Irredeemable #4- You know in a disaster movie, only famous places get destroyed. It’s always the usual suspects, New York, Moscow, Paris, the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt; now add Singapore to the list. Yes, Singapore has made it! We are now so famous that we are destroyed in an American comic. Singapore is mentioned by name and you even see the Merlion, but by the end of Plutonian’s rampage the whole island is at the bottom of the sea. For any self-respecting comic book fan in Singapore, that alone should be enough to get this issue. Buy it to see Singapore get DESTROYED!

Secret Six #11 – Even for super-villains, there are some things they dislike. Seem that working for slavers is one of them. While arguing among themselves about working for insane slavers, we get to see more character development like how Catman may be an anti-hero but he is also first and foremost a professional. Something that did not ring true to me is why a super-villain like Jeanette would risk her life to save Artemis. She did it because…she don’t like the fact the Amazon is being tortured? Okay…doesn’t sound right does it?

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Asian Youth Games Disaster

In case you don’t know (and chances are you won’t) Singapore is currently holding the inaugural Asian Youth Games (AYG) at the moment. Young athletes from around Asia are currently battling for honors; unfortunately the AYG so far has been nothing short of a disastrous.

First even before the games began, there was the H1N1 scare. Several athletes from various countries had been struck by the H1N1 and their teammates had to be isolated for 7 days. This means that for team sports like football, the matches had to be postponed. Amazingly no matches were cancelled, and all the affected matches were postponed. This caused a scheduling headache and even the teams were unsure where and when they would be playing their matches. The H1N1 also caused the Malaysian team to pull out of the AYG. Ironic because we have teams from Japan and Saudi Arabia but our closest neighbor Malaysia was the one who pulled out.

Another thing is that athletes are playing in near empty stadiums. The Singapore Sports Council announced this week that only 7% of the tickets have been sold so far, and things are not looking up in the near future.

H1N1 scare, pull-out, empty stadiums; yes it has been a disaster.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BB Gold Farmers

The Chinese Government has just issued a new ruling that ban the trading of virtual currency for real goods and services. In short ‘Gold Farming’ is now banned in China.

I have never understood ‘Gold Farming’ and I support this ruling. In fact, I wish other governments in the world will follow the Chinese Government. I just don’t understand why people will want to pay other people to play their character for them. This is especially so for MMOs such as World of Warcraft which require a paid subscription. If you are bored with a game or hate the grind, just do what I do; don’t play that game!

It is said that over 80% of gold farmers are based in China, so hopefully other governments in the world will follow the Chinese Government’s lead and wipe out the other 20% as well.