Monday, November 30, 2009

No Logic Involved

Ask any Singaporeans, and most of them will tell you that the ultimate status symbol in Singapore is not a house or jewelries, but a car. Owning a car is the ultimate symbol of having made it in Singapore and many car owners in Singapore pay a high price for owning their cars.

Recently there had been a huge outcry among car owners in Singapore because various insurance companies decided to increased the price of car insurance in Singapore, some up to 30%. Car owners in Singapore naturally cry foul but the insurance companies ignored the outcry. You know why? Because they can afford to! Singaporeans will continue to buy cars no matter how high the price (and the insurance) of the cars are in Singapore because Singaporeans are buying cars for ‘face’.

I knew of a guy who proudly showed me his new car once. When I discovered how much he paid for it, I was like ‘how are you going to maintain it?” He said that he would be able to afford the car. This despite the car loan, road tax, parking fees, petrol, car insurance coming to about 70% of his monthly pay! Did he care that he was spending so much on the car despite living in Singapore which has one of the best public transport systems in the world? No, because in his mind it was ‘worth it’.

When I ask what will happen if he gets into an accident and had to repair the car, he said, “Be more careful lah. No accident, no problem right?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that just because you don’t hit other people, doesn’t mean other people won’t hit you.

The moral of the story: Singapore is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy and maintain a car because Singaporeans dump their brains when it comes to cars. For those car owners crying foul at the insurance companies…please, if you can’t afford the insurance, SELL YOUR CAR!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Financial Tsunami On The Way?

Just when it looked like the financial crisis is slowly becoming a memory, here comes another reminder of how fragile the global recovery truly is. Everyone knew Dubai was in trouble due to the global downturn, but still no one expected them to ask for a "standstill" on paying back about $60 billion debt till May 2010.

The global downturn had derailed Dubai's explosive growth and the city was in trouble since the start of the year. Dubai woes were so bad that in February, it had to arrange a bond sale to the United Arab Emirates central bank for $10 billion. The hastily arranged bond sale was a bailout by Dubai’s oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. However it seems that even Abu Dhabi is getting worried about the debt of Dubai as in total, Dubai state-backed networks (called Dubai Inc.) are about $80 billion in the red.

Dubai is now so swamped in debt that people are wondering if even a six-month reprieve on paying its bills would be enough. Despite saying that Dubai's move to suspend payments on its Dubai World conglomerate's debt was "carefully planned", there is an air of desperation in the announcement. Dubai's ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, had continually dismissed concerns over the city-state's liquidity since the start of the year and even assured reporters in September that Dubai is not worried about their debt situation.

So much for that.

The only thing "carefully planned" was the timing of the announcement, on the weekend of Thanksgiving and the Haj but even then the sudden ‘standstill’ order shook world markets with Europe dropping 3% after the announcement and America opening 2% down after the Thanksgiving holiday. Now everyone is waiting for Sheik Mohammed to come out with a recovery plan to salvage Dubai World; if he fail to come up with a recovery plan that will be respected, we might be in for another financial tsunami.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Comics this week

Blackest Night #5- First off I will say that Blackest Night #5 is a fun read. Right off the bat, when you read all the corps saying their oaths to charge their rings…GOLDEN! Geoff John’s epic continues its great run by being well-executed, well-plotted and highly organized. The art by Ivan Reis is as good as the previous issue and the mixture of comedy and action was superb. However I have a huge problem in this issue. If you hadn’t been reading the Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps comics (or flipping through it in the comics shop like me), you may have a hard time in this issue. The issue starts with all 7 corps together, something that happened in the GL books. So there is a jump in the plot that took place off Blackest Night, and that's a problem for me. Outside that, everything else is great.

Immortal Weapons #5- The last issue of this miniseries ends like it started; with a bang! The Prince of Orphans story in this issue was great. A kung-fu master alone up against 10,000 spirits of dead noble soldiers; what’s not to like about it? I especially like the way the Prince hint that he find Iron Fist to be slightly annoying…which is slightly true. This issue along with the Fat Cobra story in issue #1 show what great stories there are in the Immortal Weapons. Too bad about the middle 3 issues, but #1 & #5 were great.

Guardians of the Galaxy #20- After the destruction of the team in the last issue, what remains of the team tried to move on. Dealing with their pain with work, Guardians of the Galaxy investigate the Fault but the meat of the issue deals with how the team deals with the loss of their friends. Moondragon mourn Martyr; Rocket Raccoon deal with Cosmos’ death; and Starlord mourn the loss of everyone. After the action of the past few issue, this was a welcome change of pace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Need to Worry

In terms of time, most experts agree that a vaccine for H1N1 was achieve in a very fast time. However in the rush to get a vaccine for H1N1, there are now questions about just how safe is the vaccine.

In Singapore, there are 27 reported cases of people having adverse reactions to the H1N1 vaccine with at least 1 serious case. While all the cases in Singapore have been non-serious, there had been reports all over the world about people having side-effects from the vaccine. A particular batch of the swine flu vaccine has been suspended from use in Canada while at least 2 deaths in China are suspected to be due to adverse effects to the vaccine.

Still I don’t think Singaporeans should be too worried. Currently there are at least 65 million doses of the swine flu vaccines around the world and for every 10,000 doses of vaccines administered, there had been only one report case of adverse effect. By any standard, 1 in 10,000 is a pretty record.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PSLE Results

In Singapore, the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results will be out on Thursday. Every year, students aged 12 will take the PSLE exams to decide which secondary school they will enter. The results of the PSLE will decide the rest of their lives.

Yes, all this at age 12!

A man in Singapore can live till he is over 75, our retirement age is 65 and the rest of these students lives will be decided at 12! I have always been against PSLE as the kids are way too young to have their lives decided at this age. Frankly I find it incredibly unreasonable to expect children at age 12 to know how important the PLSE is to them. I remember at 12, I thought of the PSLE as another exam. An important one but I don’t remember thinking of it as life-defining. However that’s what the PSLE is; a life-defining exam…at age 12!

Since there’s nothing I can do about it, all I can do is to wish all the children taking the PSLE the best of luck on Thursday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weird Creatures of The Oceans

With a huge meeting on climate change in Copenhagen next month, it’s great to see how diverse our world thoroughly is. An update on a 10-year census of marine life showed creatures like tentacled transparent sea cucumbers, primitive "dumbos" that flap ear-like fins and tubeworms that feed on oil deposits.

Tubeworms feeding on oil! Wow! Is that weird or what?

These creatures live in the oceans depths below 656 feet, the point where sunlight ceases. In the past, it is thought the few life-forms lived in the depths of the ocean, but about 17,650 species has now been recorded there. Once the census is done, three books will be published with one of them on the biodiversity of the oceans. With a binding agreement in Copenhagen between slim to none, books would be the only place we would ever see these weird creatures again.

I’ll be looking forward to the books.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beyond My Understanding

I will fully admit there are some things in the world I just do not understand. Sometimes, these are things I also know I have no chance of ever understanding. The feelings and thinking of women is one, and now it seems the law is another.

That’s what I believe when I read that the ex-CEO of Ren Ci Hospital, Ming Yi, has been sentenced to ten months jail. Ming Yi, a monk, and his former assistant Raymond Yeung were convicted last month of falsifying Ren Ci payment vouchers, involving an unauthorized loan of S$50,000 made in 2004 to the Mandala Buddhist Cultural Centre, a religious artifact shop managed by Yeung.

The district court sentenced Ming Yi to ten months jail while Raymond Yeung got nine months. I just do not understand this. Raymond Yeung was the one who falsify the records; he was the one who took the money. When Ming Yi found out, he covered up for Yeung in return Yeung was to return the money back to Ren Ci Hospital. Ming Yi never took any money, so how come he got more jail time than the guy who took the money?

The prosecution even said that Yeung put the money to "frivolous" use to renovate a friend’s flat in Hong Kong and Ming Yi’s lawyer argued that Ming Yi did not personally profit from the loan to Yeung. So Ming Yi didn’t take the money, he did not profit from it, but he got more jail time than Yeung?

I have no chance of ever understanding the law.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Comics this week

Realm of Kings- Straight after the ‘War of Kings’, the next space opera from the minds of Marvel cosmic gurus Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning is ‘Realm of Kings’. The ‘War of Kings’ series was disappointing and I hope this new series would do better. As a one-shot prologue to the main series, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning seem to be going back to the story of Annihilation. At the end of the Inhuman/Kree war, a Fault was created in time and space, and no one knows what’s on the other side of the Fault. To find out Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy and…Project Pegasus (?) sent Quasar in to check. On the other side of the fault is another universe who intends to invade Marvel universe. I’m not a fan of Lovecraftian horror, but the mixture of horror and space worked surprising well here. I thought it’s kind of cute to use Cthulu-like monsters as space beings that are devouring space. However I think the biggest reason why the whole thing work is the art of Leonardo Manco. A fan of his since his run on HellStorm & Druid, his work is perfect for horror, even cosmic horror. If horror is the direction Dan & Andy want to go on Realm of Kings, then Leonardo Manco will be perfect for the whole series.

Irredeemable #8- Mark Waid finally revealed all this issue. The final nail in Plutonian’s psyche was the disillusionment of his sidekick that his mentor was responsible for the deaths of thousands. The revelation made Plutonian think enough is enough and went rouge on the rest of the world. After 8 issues, it’s good to clear the mystery of how he turned bad and now the heroes are actually making some headway on how to stop him. Now instead of looking at his past, we can concentrate on the future as the world is open for Plutonian to tear apart.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Higher Yuan

Like the presidents before him, when U.S President Barack Obama met China's President Hu Jintao this week, he asked that China stop controlling the price of its currency and allows the yuan to float on the open market.

To the surprise of no one, the Chinese ignored the calls. I can understand why because the reasons are simple; by fixing the value of its currency against the dollar, the Chinese ensure low prices for Chinese-made exports, and for an export economy like theirs, that is important. What I don’t understand is why America is the only one shouting about the yuan.

Personally, I feel that other countries should join America in protesting the level of the yuan. Yes, it’s a little bit like the pot calling the kettle black but when you considered the position of China in the world’s economy and the fact that China holds more than $800 billion of U.S. government debt, there is no question that the yuan is ridiculously undervalued.

I feel it strange that other export countries in the region do not question why the yuan is so low. The level of the yuan directly affects the exports of countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and our own Singapore. I mean even the Chinese no longer argued that their currency should be higher than it is now, so I fail to see why other countries shouldn’t put China to task on the yuan.

It’s in the interest of everyone expect the Chinese that the yuan goes higher, and if you look at it in a purely economic viewpoint, it should be higher! The Americans are right and frankly other countries should join America in calling for a higher yuan before another currency crisis hit all of us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Bow

When you meet a king, you bow. I thought that was not only common sense but common courtesy as well. So when I saw pictures of U.S President Barack Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan, it seems pretty normal to me.

However I’m not an American so there’s nothing I’m missing because I read that Americans are unhappy that Obama is bowing to the emperor. Some reports even said that critics are “incensed” about the bow as US leaders should stand tall when representing America overseas. I don’t get it because I remember various leaders even U.S presidents bowing to kings and queens before (Queen Elizabeth of England comes to mind) with no problems whatsoever. Has Obama become so hated over in his home country that even a simple bow can cause him problems?

What’s even stranger is that most people in Asia considered Obama’s trip to Asia a success! Strange that people in his home country do not think so; and it’s all because of common courtesy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Better Than Nothing

For years, there’re warnings about man overfishing the oceans. For years, the world had ignored the problem. Finally there’s hope as the European Union (EU) is going to cut bluefin tuna catches by 40% in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean regions.

This international agreement is a breakthrough but unfortunately it may also be a case of too little, too late. Environmentalists warned that the bluefin tuna is on its way to extinction and want a total ban in the fishing of bluefin tuna. The agreement by the EU was a compromise solution as a total ban would make thousands of people jobless. However environmentalists warned that the cut may not be enough as the population of bluefin tuna is already at very low levels. Time even did an article on it a few months ago.

I’m afraid that the environmentalists will just have to make do with what they got. When caught between jobs/money and saving a fish from extinction, I’m pretty sure jobs and money will win every single time. 40% is better than nothing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Engineering Disasters

Discovery Channel has a show called “Engineering Disasters”. The show showcased man-made structures which either collapsed or did more harm than good.

Coming soon to that show is China's massive Three Gorges dam! Even before construction started, there had been warnings about environmental impact of the massive project as well as how the dam would destroy the legendary Three Gorges and displaced more than 1 million people. The Chinese government ignored all warnings and now the problems are coming hard and fast.

The environmental impact of the dam had caused landslides as the raised water level had eroded the soil near the dam, and prompted a “postponement” on plans to raise the water level to full capacity.

I had never been a fan of the Three Gorges project. I always believed it to be a vanity project as I never bought the stated aims of the Chinese. The 2 aims of the dam were to end centuries of floods along the basin of the Yangtze River and to provide energy to fuel the country's economic boom. The Chinese people had been lining along the Yangtze for thousands of years and China did not need the amount of power a $23 billion, 660-km long dam would provide.

Now you have geological risks like landslides, serious soil erosion and seismic instability; and a changing eco-system which result in less water coming from the upper reaches of the Yangtze and drought in the lower reaches of the Yangtze. Producers of “Engineering Disasters”, please take note.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Powerboat vs Fishermen

Last year a futuristic powerboat called "Earthrace", managed to go around the world in just under 61 days. It was a new world record.

The super-fast, space-age vessel is going to go from world record holder to… harassing Japan whalers? As unbelievable as it sound, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It seems that “Earthrace” will be used to pursue Japanese shipping boats and stop them spearing whales during their annual hunt in waters off Antarctica.

Now I’m all for saving the environment but to use a multi-million dollar powerboat against fishermen? So on one side, you have fishermen trying to make a living; on the other, you have a multi-million dollar powerboat. Uh…wonder how that’ll look on TV?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Comics this week

Batman/Doc Savage Special #1- One of the strangest things to come out of the great 52 weekly series was the lack of stories about the 52 worlds. I mean if DC was going to return the multi-verse back to the DC fold, you would expect DC to have some stories lined up about the various 52 worlds right? Better late than never I guess as Brian Azzarello's First Wave series is going to see print in 2010. As a kickstart, Batman/Doc Savage Special was the right vehicle to introduce readers to the new world. I enjoy how they manage to get Batman into a world without superpowers. In most instances, Batman would be nothing but a way to put readerships; however in this case it worked beautifully. I enjoyed the way Azzarello tweaked the Doc Savage character into the superman of this world. No superpowers but he is the perfect man thus making Doc the Superman to Bruce Wayne’s Batman. It was a cute move. The story itself was nothing much but Azzarello did a good job introducing the world…which is what the issue is mainly for. I must say I was very surprised at how enjoyable this one-shot was; a good intro issue for the First Wave that will leave you asking for more.

S.W.O.R.D. #1- S.W.O.R.D. is an agency that defend Earth from threats from outer space. The idea was great and it clearly deserved a series of its own. Agent Abigail Brand has always been an underused character. I mean she’s a half-alien, half-human ice queen with a heart of gold. What’s there not to like about that? What I don’t like is the introduction of Beast into S.W.O.R.D. I never bought the relationship between the two and I feel the series would have been better if we had less Beast and more of the other supporting characters like Henry Gyrich and Lockheed. Good start to a series with potential.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Reason Why

Later this week, the Singapore national football team will play Thailand in Singapore. There is an article in the Strait Times today that wondered whether Singapore (the home team) will become the away team as Thai fans may outnumber Singapore fans at the match.

The article then went into the regular monologue about how successful the current Singapore team is and that fans should come and support the team. The reason the Strait Times believe for the lack of support is due to Singapore fans remembering the glory days of the Malaysia Cup. Now, I’m not saying that has nothing to do with the lack of support by Singapore fans but it’s not the main reason why Singapore fans are keeping away from the match.

The main reason Singapore fans feel nothing for the current Singapore national football team is because half the team are from overseas! To be fair, the Strait Times did say the current team a “hybrid” team, but that’s the main reason why Singapore fans are keeping away. If you remember, when Singapore first left the Malaysia Cup, fans kept on supporting the team, fans still packed the National Stadium, and the Kallang Roar was still in full cry.

However it would be very strange to cry for the Singapore team now when half the team are not from Singapore right? Now before anyone say stuff like France winning the World Cup with Zidane who is also not fully French, I remind you that Zizou went to France at a very young age and he was a product of the French youth system. All the foreign players in the Singapore team were given PR status when they were in their late teens, in their 20s, or even in their early 30s. It’s hardly the same to compare the two.

As for the match between Thailand and Singapore; I hope not but I for one will not be surprise if Thai fans outnumber Singapore fans on matchday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming Out of The Woods

One reason to believe the world economy is starting to get out of the woods is the rise in oil prices.

Oil prices has been hovering near US$80 for the past few weeks despite a stew of bad news like rising U.S. oil inventories and poorer than expected corporate results from companies. The main reason for the rise seems to be the weaker US dollar which makes it easier for foreign currencies to buy the commodity but oil prices are usually a good indicator of sentiment in the overall economy.

Guess it’s time for another bull run on Golden Agriculture on the STI.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

If Only...

Oh, now you want peace talks!

With Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, saying that he would not run for election scheduled for January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suddenly called for an immediate resumption of peace talks with Palestinians and pledged more steps to improve economic conditions in Palestinian areas.

Netanyahu went so far as to send Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Washington with a message that Israel will do all it can to renew peace talks with the Palestinians. Of course Netanyahu still refused to freeze Jewish settlements in the West Bank as is required in the Oslo peace talks but the open “and very public” begging for immediate peace talks is something new for Netanyahu. Desperation sure can make people change their speeches in a hurry.

Now why can’t he do this in the first place? He and U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton cut the legs off the peace deal last week when they argued Israeli restraint is as good as a settlement freeze. Now the politically wounded Abbas has decided to throw in the towel, and Netanyahu is faced with the prospect of war or a new more radical leader than Abbas. Suddenly there’s activity for peace talks.

Unfortunately, it seems this is too little too late. If only he would have done this in the first place. Another miss chance for peace in the Middle East.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Change Your Argument

I’ve said a lot about immigrations in Singapore already, so I was thinking of avoiding the topic for awhile. However when Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong spoke on the issue twice in three days, what the hell!

SM Goh said that new immigrants help sustain and enrich the quality of life of Singaporeans and that Singapore needs new Permanent Residents (PRs) and new citizens, or Singapore will not be able to expand the population.

All good, fine and well. However when he said that “it is possible for new immigrations to become loyal to Singapore, to Singaporean values, and to contribute to Singapore society”; that’s when I have a problem.

It is possible; that’s without question, but when you have a Chinese PR who went back to China, took part in the Chinese National Day parade and then openly said that she is unsure if she want to return to Singapore, that’s a little rich. The vast overwhelming majority of immigrants are here strictly for the money and they own little loyalty to Singapore, which is fair in my view because Singapore is NOT their homeland. I can understand perfectly why that Chinese PR above felt more loyalty to China than to Singapore.

SM Goh also said that he understood how Singaporeans felt crowded out by all the new citizens and PRs, whether in housing, jobs or schools, and that new immigrants were perceived as "taking advantage" of better opportunities here.

I do not understand why the Singapore government continues with this line of argument. First off, the sheer number game tells you there’s not enough new housing of all the new immigrants. Singapore has accepted more than 100,000 foreigners per year while HDB only built like 8,000 flats per year. What else is there left to say on that?

As for new immigrants being perceived as coming to Singapore to take advantage of better opportunities here; of course they are here to take advantage of the better opportunities here! Seriously, why else would they be here? If Singapore didn’t have better opportunities, these new immigrants wouldn’t be here.

SM Goh is right when he said that this is an emotional issue for most Singaporean. That is why the Singapore government needs to come up with better excuses/reasons for the Singapore people. The Singapore government also needs to be honest about the problems the new immigrants are causing. Our housing market is over-heated yet we have a government minister saying “HDB figures showed that eight in 10 first-timers could get a flat on their first try if they were not choosy ; the success rate was 96 per cent for the second try”.

The other problem the Singapore government has is that most Singaporeans believed the government is only saying this stuff now because there is a general elections coming. Once the elections are over, the government will go back to its old habits.

Now that’s a view the Singapore government do not need.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Comics this week

Nova #31- This issue was quick and the lack of quality shows. Nova’s meeting with Darkhawk was disappointing and a waste. The biggest problem was that Richard Rider went in fully convinced Darkhawk was not a murderer, despite all evidence to the contrary. That doesn’t sit well with me because up to now Richard Rider had been trying his hardest to be a good example of a true Nova Centurion. One meeting with his old friend and suddenly that’s all out the window? And what the hell is wrong with the art? At the end, the art looked like something a kid would draw. I don’t usually mind the art that much, but it was just horrible. Terrible issue!

Secret Six #15 – After the multi-part story of the past few issue, John Ostrander guest-write with a character origin story of Deadshot. The result is a mix bag for me. We have a history of Deadshot's origin from his first meeting with Batman, to an overview of his dysfunctional family, and his guilt as the one who killed his brother. As a origin story, the issue worked very well. However in many ways, it’s kind of anti-climatic after all the crazy stuff that came before. Not bad, but not great either.

Immortal Weapons #4- The series started great with Fat Cobra story; since then it had been downhill and unfortunately for fans, Tiger's Beautiful Daughter continue that downward trend. The biggest problem I have is that Iron Fist is a martial art series. The greatest joy of the series was seeing all these trained martial artists kicking the shit out of everyone. Unfortunately in Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter we didn’t get a trained martial artist but a natural warrior who kick shit without training or any battle experience. Aka, we got another Amazon. I can understand why but if I wanted to read about an Amazon, I'll go read Wonder Woman, not Immortal Weapons. That is sad because the back-story was great. A nation of Amazons attacked their neighbors but was roundly defeated. Facing certain death, they still wanted to fight but their men wisely step back, drugged the women for their own safety and sued for peace. Now the new generation of warrior women had grown up and they want to fight despite the history and odds against their people. That’s a great plot but too bad about the Amazon angle.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Pursuit of Gold

In Singapore, there is a legendary swimming club called the Chinese Swimming Club. The club is responsible for crutching out swimming champions for decades in Singapore. At the Chinese Swimming Club’s Centennial Charity Dinner, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng was the guest of honor and he said that the Singapore government will continue to invest heavily in sports.

Personally I feel this is a good thing, but one question I have is what kind of support will the government give to the various sports associations? The Singapore government has been giving money to the various associations, and they demand good results in return for their investments. In theory, this is fine. However in practice, it’s a different situation. Fears of losing government grants, some sports associations have taken short cuts to produce results. Basically, certain sports associations are now so focused on producing results that they are ignoring Singapore youth development.

When there is youth development, certain associations are transporting youths from China instead of training promising young Singaporeans. I have no problem with the Singapore government demanding good results in return for their investments, some accountability is always good, but maybe the Singapore government should also look into not just youth development but Singapore youth development.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mass Effect

Mass Effect is a shooter RPG hit by Bioware. The game came with a good reputation with solid reviews all around and it was a hit with a sequel coming out next year.

After playing the game, I can see why it was a hit. First off, Bioware did a lot of work in the setting of Mass Effect. It is a sci-fi setting and Bioware went wild with it. The background of all the alien species; the different spaceships; the detailed history of the races; all made for a very interesting world to play in.

I also found the voice acting to be very good. The game uses a system for conversation that takes a little time to get used to. The game shows you not what your character will say but a short idea of how he would response. It was a little strange at first but fun.

The story was top notch. Although short, the story was tight and it interweave with the history of the setting beautifully. The mysterious story had enough twist and turns within it to satisfied most RPG players.

However Mass Effect is also one of those games which I don’t know if I should recommend to friends. Despite the great many good things Bioware got right, they got one thing wrong. This is a seriously short game.

I hit all the side missions and visited all the planets and systems, and I finished the game in about 20 hours! If you go short through the story without doing any side missions, I’ll be surprised if you can go beyond 10 hours. That is seriously short, even discounting the fact that Mass Effect is supposed to be a RPG.

I went through the game twice and I don’t think I clock in 50 hours on the game. That’s half of one game of Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (first time I finish Oblivion, I hit 100 hours). 2 Mass Effects = half of Oblivion!
If I didn’t get the game at a discount, I would feel seriously ripped off.

Another problem is how easy the game was. I hit all the side missions and when I finally tried the final missions, I was at such a high level I walked through the missions. I think I only have to reload the game once at the final mission. Whatever happened to the good old days when games were so tough, you felt like throwing your computer out the window?

Mass Effect is a good game, but way too short and too easy for a RPG.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

APEC Rejections

This is why I don’t understand why Singapore bothered to hold summits like for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). With only a few weeks to go before the summit, Singapore has again turned away potential protestors from entering Singapore.

This is no surprise as everytime there is such a summit in Singapore, the Singapore authorities start rejecting people from entering the country for no reason. This time 2 Falungong followers were denied entry into Singapore despite the pair having made frequent trips to Singapore before. Now they may say that all requests to enter the country would be treated fairly, but it is something no one believed and the evidence is against it.

I just don’t understand why the Singapore authorities are so afraid of a couple of civil groups. I mean everytime they start to reject people from entering Singapore ahead of events like the APEC summit, it make Singapore look very bad. Has everyone forgotten about the embarrassment a few years ago when Singapore rejected people from entering Singapore for the IMF meeting? Has nothing been learned about the incident?

I guess not.

Monday, November 2, 2009

EPL this month

October is over, and it had been a month of surprises. Here are the winners amd losers of the month.

Top Teams this Month
Chelsea- Like an unstoppable machine, Chelsea had taken over the top in the EPL. There had been a few bumps along the road but it will take nothing short of a miracle to stop manager Carlo Ancelotti’s men from claiming the title.

Sunderland- Forget the beachball incident! Sunderland deserved their win against Liverpool and even before that, they should have gotten more than a point at Old Trafford. The one danger I see for them is who will score for them if striker Darren Bent do not score. Outside that, manager Steve Bruce is enjoying life.

Man City- Who would had thought that of all the teams in the EPL, Man City would be the team with the least losses. Man City may have bought a lot of attacking talent in the off-season, but manager Mark Hughes has also made his team very difficult to beat. The biggest problem for Hughes is how he is going to keep everyone happy, already Robinho is making noise about leaving the club. If Hughes can manage that, Man City may just challenge for a Top 4 spot at the end of the season.

Surprise Team this month
Manchester United – The surprise of the season has to be how Sir Alex Ferguson had been getting away with saying the stuff he says. Sir Alex has been ranting and raving about referees and the league is allowing him to get away with it. Frankly, Sir Alex’s ranting has worked as referees had been helping Man Utd in certain matches (7mins injury time anyone?) this season, so I fully expect more of the same from him.

Disappointing Teams this month
Portsmouth- They got a new owner and went on a mini spending spree and then…things got worse. The new Arab billionaire owner turned out to be no billionaire at all, and he openly said he is in this only for the money. Manager Paul Hart has a sense of humor about the whole thing and his team is fighting for points on the field. Portsmouth is miles better than they were at the start of the season but until they sort out their off-field problems, they will be in trouble.

Liverpool- Yes, I know they beat Man Utd but before that they lost 4 in a row and I’m not convinced Liverpool is out of the woods. The depth of the team is in question and Rafa Benitez had to play an 80% fit Fernando Torres against Man Utd because Liverpool had no cover for him. Rafa need to get a striker to cover for Torres in the transfer window. Till then, Liverpool fans will need to pray Torres stay fit.

Hull City- Manager Phil Brown looked certain to get the sack sooner or later. The club is in great danger as they are not able to get wins and worse, they are unable to beat the teams around them. The poor finances doesn’t help and it’s hard to see how Hull could beat the drop if they are unable to get reinforcements in the transfer window