Friday, December 31, 2010

Comics this week

Green Lantern #61- When they first came out, most people didn’t think much of the Red Lanterns. Beings of rage who did nothing grunt and destroy, they just didn’t cut it beside the Green Lanterns, Star Sapphires and the Sinestro Corps. So this issue came as a pleasant surprise as the Red Lanterns and their leader, Atrocitus, were given their time in the sun. Explaining the rage that burns in their heart, the guest-starring Specter was totally overshadowed as for the first time Atrocitus’ rage was shown. Another great issue in a series that’s quickly becoming DC’s best.

S.H.I.E.L.D #5- After alternating between confusion and revelation, I guess it’s no surprise that #5 made me go, “WTF?” again. Outside the power struggle of Sir Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci, the rest of the issue made no sense. The time traveling of the 2 S.H.I.E.L.D agents didn’t help matters at all. Frankly I rather writer Jonathan Hickman just focus strictly on the struggle between Newton and Da Vinci. If he did that, this would have been a great series.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #7- Now this is more like it. In this Wheel of Time series, most characters have stayed true to their characters in the book. The one exception has been Moiraine. In the books, she was a woman who would turn and twist her words into anything to get her way. She’s on a quest to save the world and although her vows prevent her from outright lying, she didn’t let that stop her from getting things done. Finally we see something of that personality instead of the mother-hen act we’ve seen so far. Another solid outing in the series.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


News of Facebook and internet users getting into a bit of bother with authorities is nothing new. Usually this is due to the users posting something critical of the government or authorities in their country. However Egypt has made the news for being maybe the first country in the world to jail someone for promoting the country!

An Internet user in Egypt, Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni, was sentenced to jail for starting a Facebook group for army recruits. The kicker however is that according to Reporters Without Border, the Facebook group Bassyouni set-up was to encourage his fellow Egyptian Internet users to enlist in the Egyptian armed forces! He was promoting the Egyptian Armed Forces to his fellow Egyptians and for that reason, he was sentenced to six months in prison by a military court.

Wow! Now since I’m not in Facebook, I can’t check to see if the Facebook group really is promoting the Egyptian armed forces but if it is…how do you spell paranoid is Arabic?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Morals? We Are In A Capitalist World!

2 nights ago, I was watching ChannelNewsAsia and there is this program about compensated dating. Basically young girls willing go on dates with strange men in return for lavish gifts and money.

The program showed 2 cases in Hong Kong and the dangers behind compensated dating. In one case, the girl got sexual transmitted diseases while in the other, the girl was killed by her…date. The program is supposed to be a warning for young girls not to get their greed and curiosity lure them down this road. To educate girls not to trade their dignity and morals for money.

Good luck! I say that because I fully expect the program (as good and as well-meaning as it is) to be ignored. Money makes the world go round and frankly in this world dignity and morals isn’t worth a lot. Think I’m wrong?

Then how do explain the fact that this is happening throughout the world. The practice of compensated dating is thought to have originated in Japan but compensated dating is almost innocent compare to China’s biggest dating website, Jiayuan, where men and women openly advertised their willingness to marry for money. In some cases, even their willingness to be mistresses and boy-toys of rich men and women! Before anyone has any idea, this is hardly an Asian problem. Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, is at 84 marrying one of his girlfriends who is 60 years younger than him.

I feel there is no way to stop things like compensated dating. In the capitalist world we are living in, we have better luck stopping a tsunami. And like a tsunami, the best anyone can do is to pick up the pieces.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Global Warming & Weird Weather

I’m sure by now everyone has heard of the travel chaos that has engulfed Europe and America. Airports throughout Europe and America had been forced to shut down as snow has made air travel impossible.

Global warming has caused the weather to go out of whack throughout the world but to fully see the effects of global warming, don’t look at Europe or America. As bad as it is there, snow is expected. This is winter after all in Europe and America, so snow (even heavy snow) is a given this time of the year. It’s not weird. Weird weather is what is happening in Australia right now.

It is suppose to be the height of summer now Down Under but you wouldn’t know it in parts of Australia. The state of Tasmania has been hit by snow. Yes, snow in summer! And if not snow, then it is torrential rain. Rain in eastern Australia have left has flooded roads and even whole towns. All in the season of summer!

Snow and torrential rain at the height of summer! Now that’s the full effect of global warming. If this continue, I wonder when will Singapore see its first snowfall?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Comics this week

Green Lantern #60- The last few issues of Green Lantern has been leading to this. The big revelation of just who was capturing the entities was good. A little surprising but it made sense and both of that is always good. However even the good reveal will be overshadowed by the battle between Hal Jordan and a Parallax-possessed Barry Allen. Senseless banter notwithstanding, the action was good and the art from Doug Mahnke was excellent. Good issue all around.

Brightest Day #16- Firestorm and the new Aqualad, Jackson Hyde, take center-stage this issue. The Firestorm story has been by far the weakest of the lot and this issue didn’t do anything to change it. Luckily the majority of the issue is on Aqualad. Unluckily for us, the story of Aqualad this issue didn’t make much sense. The message from the chest didn’t make much sense because 1) Mera is still alive so why can’t Aquaman just bring her to see the new Aqualad and 2) how did those weapons just happen to be in the chest? The leap of logic needed for the story to work is a step down for me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Hurricane Smith

WikiLeaks has released some pretty funny cables so far, but this one has to be the one to beat. A recently released Wikileaks cable reveals that American celebrity Anna Nicole Smith was indirectly the reason for the collapse of the government in the Bahamas.

According to the cable, Anna Nicole Smith was a hurricane that changed the face of Bahamian politics. The Anna Nicole Smith scandal was due to an alleged $10,000 bribe she paid to Minister of Immigration Shane Gibson to speed up the process of getting residency in the Bahamas. The resulting scandal toppled a string of officials and the government 2 months after Anna Nicole Smith left the country.

Here I was thinking she was nothing more than B-list celebrity who was famous for being famous and nothing else. Show how much I know!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Singapore is NOT a country!

How do you know that the PAP (People’s Action Party) is facing a tough fight in the next general election? When government ministers suddenly decided that Singapore is NOT a country but a city!

I read this article on Yahoo Singapore (dilemma-over-singapores-national-identity/), and while it’s amazing that our own ministers are saying that they are ministers of a non-country, let’s be honest on why they said such things. Foreigners!

With foreign workers and PRs flooding the country, foreign immigration is one of the most contentious issues in Singapore today. The Singapore government allows a lot of foreigners into the country…city…country…city…whatever, to bring down the cost for companies. Companies employed foreign workers instead of Singaporeans because they are cheaper and a majority of Singaporeans also believe that the influx of permanent residents buying property in Singapore is pricing citizens out of the market.

And if there are 2 things Singaporeans care about more than anything, it is jobs and housing. There is anger on these issues and, looking on the bright side, it seems the PAP know it. That's why our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is talking about “The Singapore Spirit”, why our Law (and Home Affairs) Minister K. Shanmugam say Singapore is not a country, and why our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (the man behind Singaproe) said that Singapore was not a nation.

Seeing that this is Singapore and the PAP is always right in the country...uh city, this means Singapore is a city and is NOT a country! Now if only I can get my 2 years of National Service back...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Splinter Cell Package

Now I’m no fan of Ubisoft but when I read that Ubisoft is going to re-release the first 3 Splinter Cell games in one package, the news was almost enough to make me a fan of Ubisoft.

Ubisoft will have high definition updates of the original Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and will release the package sometime in 2011. Now I’m not a big fan of “stealth games,” but this is a welcome move and I wonder why more game publishers don’t do the same thing.

Old games like Splinter Cell may be great but players are not going to buy them unless it’s for nostalgia. However if you update the game, and then package it together with other games, suddenly it becomes very attractive for people to buy the games.

Not only will this get sales, it may also get you fans for the franchise which in the long run is what developers really want. So this is one gamer that hope more developers will jump on the bandwagon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

European Laws Are Insane!

Regular readers of my blog know that at times I find the law in Singapore to be confusing, and at times down right stupid. However recent events lead to conclude something else; Singapore law makes much more sense than the laws of Europe!

The laws of Europe are insane! Before you disagree with me, let me show you 2 examples;

Example A) Singaporean student, Mr. Jonathan Wong, 23, plead guilty after police in the United Kingdom found 50 child pornography videos in his computer. What’s his punishment for pleading guilty to 17 charges of making child pornography videos in the United Kingdom?

A 6 months imprisonment sentence that was suspended for two years! That means he will walk free despite being guilty of being a child pornographer!

Example B) Information was leaked to the press on why rape charges were filed against Mr. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Now it seems that rape charges were filed because Mr. Assange had unprotected sex with the 2 women and then refused to have an AIDS test. The 2 women then filed rape charges because “they want peace of mind.”

This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of. Man and woman meet. Man and woman have sex. Man refused to have an AIDS test. That means the man is raping the woman?

Another thing is that if the 2 women want “peace of mind,” then why not do the AIDS test on themselves? If Mr. Assange did the test and don’t have AIDS, that doesn’t mean they don’t have AIDS (unless both were virgins). If Mr. Assange did the test and do have AIDS, that doesn’t mean the women have AIDS either because they may not be infected. This is the reason why rape charges were filed? Are those guys in Sweden for real?

The laws of Europe are insane! A man who refused to have an AIDS test is charged with rape while a convicted child pornographer walk free after getting a suspended sentence! Someone tell me I’m wrong!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pale in Comparison

Every Christmas, there is something called the Orchard Road light-up. Basically bright shiny lights are hung along Orchard Road to give it the Christmas spirit, aka entice people to spend money.

This light-up cost millions every year but it pales in comparison to a Christmas tree that cost $11 million in Abu Dhabi. Yes, a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi in the UAE (a Muslim country that doesn’t even celebrate Christmas) put up a Christmas tree that holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, sapphires etc that totals $11 million.

Already people are screaming that they had went over the top. True! But say what you want about the Arabs, they don’t do things halfway.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do Better Sweden!

As WikiLeaks continued to release U.S. diplomatic cables to the world, pressure continued to be put on its founder Julian Assange. As Bank of America became the latest U.S. company to stop accepting payment for WikiLeaks, Sweden has released information on the rape charges against Mr. Assange.

As the Singapore government is no friend of Mr. Assange right now, the Strait Times newspaper has been more than happy to give a full page to the charges. There’s only one problem; this is a clear example of how NOT to charge someone with rape!

According to what I read so far, I’m amazed that charges were ever filed against Mr. Assange. Maybe rape has a different definition in the Swedish language but to a man in Singapore, the rape charges are a joke. No force was used, no one was hurt, both women accusing Mr. Assange parted with him on friendly terms, one woman had lunch with Mr. Assange on the day AFTER the alleged rape, the other woman agreed that she had consensual sex with Mr. Assange, both women only accused Mr. Assange of rape AFTER speaking with each other and comparing stories, and the basis of the rape charges seems to be because Mr. Assange did not use a condom on both occasions.

As a man who knows next to nothing about Swedish law, is having sex without using condoms illegal in Sweden? If that’s the case, what’s the birth-rate there? If the Swedish prosecutor wants to convince the world they are NOT part of a conspiracy against Mr. Assange, my goodness do a better job than this!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What The Hell!

It used to be that managers in England need to fail to meet expectations before getting the sack. “Used to be” because that’s no longer the case now.

In England, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley sacked manager Chris Hughton, a man who had quietly guided newly promoted Newcastle to 11th in the table. A mid-table position for a newly promoted club? Hell, that’s great work!

Then the new owners of Blackburn Rovers sacked respected manager Sam Allarydce despite the club being in 13th place in the EPL. Worse, reports say the owners intend to replace the manager with… Diego Maradona! The man who almost single-handedly prevent Argentina from being in the World Cup!

With such nonsense, it’s almost make one glad he’s not seeing the EPL this season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A MacBook For Education

Geeks and Apple lovers in Singapore went into ecstasy as a local school, Maris Stella High School, announced that it would now be compulsory for all of its 1,500 students to own an Apple MacBook for used in school assignments and projects.

A lot of Singaporeans are in favor of this move, I am not. I suspect this is an idea that’s better on paper than in real life. 2 problems spring to mind.

First, why the Apple MacBook? Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if everyone just bring along a laptop to school instead of making parents fork out money for a MacBook? By making it compulsory for its students to have an Apple MacBook, you are making parents come out money. However if the students can just bring a laptop, they can just take their parents’ laptop. I’m sure the number of parents who own a laptop is much higher than the number of parents who own a MacBook.

The second of the problems I see are students from disadvantaged families. Maris Stella said that students who cannot afford the MacBook will be rendered financial assistance. Define what sort of financial assistance they will receive. A MacBook cost between $1,500 to $3,500, so how much of this cost would Maris Stella foot? Also what if students need to replace their MacBook? Would Maris Stella help with financial assistance then as well?

This might work in a school like Maris Stella but Singaporeans in favor of this move should be…realistic. This is NOT the way of the future because I don’t see this “project” being implemented in the whole of Singapore. Hell, I don’t see this being implemented in most of Singapore!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


It’s one of the strangest streaks on television. In 17 seasons, no all female team has won the "The Amazing Race" or at least the American version of "The Amazing Race." All female teams had won other edition of it like the first winners of "Amazing Race Asia."

However that streak is now gone as doctors Nat Strand and Kat Chang crossed the finish line first to win the 17th season of the race. It’s about time! Every season we got all female teams going on about how they will be the first all female team to win the race and frankly, I’m tired of it. Now the monkey is gone, so hopefully we will never have to hear of it again.

This season was a little boring but at least one record was broken. Bring on season 18.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Get A Grip

As the leaks from WikiLeaks continued, I again wonder why America is so worried about them. There’s nothing too damaging about them and seriously, it’s causing more problems for other people than America. I’m sure the Saudi King isn’t having a good time of it at the moment and the latest country to get into trouble is Singapore.

The latest batch of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks has comments made by high-ranking Singapore diplomats to U.S officials. Basically, we had been badmouthing every country from Japan to India to our American allies.

Now in light of these leaks, some Singaporeans have been quite proud of the fact that the Americans are asking Singapore about our assessment of the region. These Singaporeans need to get their heads out of the clouds. Although Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is highly respected, I believe the reason why the Americans asked for our assessment is quite simply because Singapore is the most pro-America country in South-east Asia.

It’s that simple. You ask your allies what they feel about their neighbors and that’s why Singapore is in WikiLeaks. Singaporeans should understand that just because these are our diplomats’ assessment, that doesn’t mean they are true or even these are their true feelings.

Take for example the case of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. He has been charged for sodomy in Malaysia, a case most Singaporeans (and Malaysians) do not believe. One cable from WikiLeaks state that Singapore told Australia that Mr. Anwar did engaged in sodomy. Is that true? Maybe not because Singapore made that assessment based on intercepted communications. That doesn’t mean those intercepted communications were true. Also factor in the fact that it is in Singapore’s interest that Anwar do not come to power in Malaysia. We have 40+ years of trade and business dealings with the current Malaysian government, so it is in our interest the current Malaysian government stays the government of Malaysia.

Another thing is that these assessments were made in 2008. A lot can happen in 2 years and some had already been proved wrong. A Singapore senior diplomat Bilahari Kausikan was quoted as saying Russia’s economy is “Third World” and some of their problems were insurmountable. Yet they just got the World Cup.

I feel too much has been made of the whole WikiLeaks thing. The diplomats' comments are unlikely to stoke tension in the region because talk is just talk. Worse, these are talk from 2 years ago! Embarrassing but they are nothing Singaporeans should be afraid or proud of.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1

Okay, I don’t think the usual introduction is needed here. Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years…on Mars, you probably should know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last book in the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling.

In a bid to squeeze even more money from the series, the producers have decided to spilt the last book into 2 movies. So instead of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 1.

Directed by David Yates and written by Steve Kloves, the same team did the entertaining Half-Blood Prince, I was looking forward to this movie. Unfortunately, the end result is mixed.

The story followed Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) on his quest to find and destroy the Horcruxes, which house the soul of Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). By far the darkest film so far in the series, the movie has cameos from almost every character that had shown up in the series but mostly it is a chase movie as Harry, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) tried to find the Horcruxes while running from the Death Eaters.

The high point in the movie for me has to be the meeting between Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Smoldering with danger, this was the first time you can truly see how dangerous Voldemort really is. Ralph Fiennes finally get to show off as the ultimate bad guy and he did his job admirably.

Which is a good thing as a lot of people would die in this movie. A lot of the secondary characters were killed as the action has been increased in this movie. Spells fly left, right and centre as the Death Eaters clashed with the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry of Magic.

However it’s not all good as parts of the movie just didn’t work. As almost every character that had shown up in the series show up, at times it look like the movie was a cameo parade. Characters show up and then disappear never to show up again.

I also wonder just how chunky was this book. Even when it was spilt into 2 movies, parts of the movie was rushed through. Some of the deaths were only mentioned as it happened off-screen and the farces at the wedding of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour lasted all of 5 seconds. All this in a movie that lasted more than 2 hours!

One of the reasons for the rush was a wish to focus on the 3 leads. In a way, that’s understandable as Harry, Ron and Hermione had always been the stars but at times this focus take things away from the movie. The fight at the wedding and the escort of Harry from Privet Drive could and should have been great but were not because both were too short whereas the scenes of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the old headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix were too long.

The biggest problem I have with the movie is that it seems incomplete. Yes yes, I know this is Part 1 so it should be incomplete. However that does not excuse the plot-holes in the movie. I hate it when writers leave gaping plot-holes in books to be filled later in the series and I don’t like it when it happened in movies either. The Malfoys must have seen Harry, Ron and Hermione dozens of times by now, all of the Malfoys including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), but none of them can recognized Harry even with the stupid puff up face?

The best way to describe this movie is that it’s a set-up. It is the appetizer to the main course that will be in Part 2, and like most appetizers, there is no satisfaction. Hopefully Part 2 will finish the series off in a flourish.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Comics this week

First Wave #5- After 4 issues, the action kick into high gear as Doc Savage and Batman began their investigation and attack on the Golden Tree. Action filled the pages from front to back in this issue as writer Brian Azzarello tried to wrap up his project. Unfortunately I feel he tried too hard. The action sequences are rushed as Rags Morales seems to run out of pages. The diversion by Batman and the destruction of Black Hawk Island were just begging for more panels. After 4 issues of gentle pacing, this ramp-up pace seems desperate. It almost seems as if Azzarello suddenly realized that he only have 1 more issue to go and the story is no more near finished. Not a bad issue but unfortunate about the pacing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Pot and The Kettle (Part 2)

When the "Warisan Merdeka" tower was first announced, the Malaysian government got muck flak as the 100-story commercial skyscraper was considered a white elephant. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has been defending the mega-project from all comers including Malaysian’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Now I’m not saying Mahathir is wrong, Kuala Lumpur need a new skyscraper the way Eskimos need to buy ice, but talk about the pot calling the kettle black! When he was the PM, Mahathir presided over the construction of several mega-projects like the Petronas Twin Towers, the Malaysian capital, Putrajaya, and Port Klang.

Some of these projects were success (Petronas), some were not (Putrajaya), while some were outsight disasters (Port Klang). But for Mahathir Mohamad to scold anyone for spending money on mega-infrastructure project is like…well, the pot calling the kettle black!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Pot and The Kettle

At first it was funny, but now this has become ridiculous. Ever since WikiLeaks started to release secret US diplomatic cables, the whistleblower site has been facing pressure from America and its allies.

Threats have been made against WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange by U.S politicians (even presidential hopefuls) and there’s even a trumped up rape charge against him. Stupid since the leaks doesn’t contain anything that damaging to America.

However things have gone one step further with cyber-attacks against the WikiLeaks site and government pressure against servers hosting WikiLeaks. In the past few days, WikiLeaks had to jump from the Amazon server in the U.S to three new addresses in Holland, Germany and Finland as governments are pressing to ban WikiLeaks. France's Industry Minister Eric Besson has already called for WikiLeaks to be banned from French servers, and the list of American politicians threatening to act against any American company hosting WikiLeaks is too long to be put up here.

I can only say this to all these people; I never want to hear any complains from the West about China’s Great Firewall, censorship or unfair reporting by state newspapers ever again. Things are going too far. Julian Assange has been arrested in the U.K due to that trumped up rape charge and even a Swiss bank account of his has been closed due to government pressure.

It’s a simple case of the pot and the kettle. By showing their colors, Western governments are no longer in any position to call anyone else "black". Now if only they could act this way against real problems like global climate change and the global recession instead of one man releasing undamaging secrets.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Make Things Big?

A few days ago, a local celebrity in Singapore, Mr. Pierre Png, was accused of being a road bully by another motorist. According to the motorist, Mr Png’s car swerved into his driving lane and he had to slam his brakes to avoid an accident. When he honked at Mr. Png’s car, the actor stopped his Mercedes car in the middle of the Pan Island Expressway and came out of the car to confront him. The motorist even put up a photo of Mr Png coming out of his stationary car.

When told of the accusations, Mr. Png naturally defended himself that he is a reckless driver and a road bully. In fact, the actor accused the motorist of being the one who was driving dangerously. According to the actor, he had signalled his intention to switch lanes but when he tried to do so, the other motorist suddenly sped up to close the gap even though he was more than 2 car lengths behind him.

Now this is a simple case of “he says, he says.” Singaporeans drivers are infamous for not giving way to anyone and Mr Png should have known better than to signal before changing lanes. He did the right thing on paper, but in Singapore where drivers don’t give way…

However the funniest thing about the whole incident is the other motorist. When informed by reporters of Mr. Png defense, the motorist refused to give his name as “he don’t want to make things big.”

Too late my friend! You put a photograph on the internet and you “don’t want to make things big?” Talk about a joke! This unnamed motorist remained me of all those people who complain about taxi-drivers and bus-drivers but refused to leave down any name or contact no. You want to mess with other people’s ricebowl but don’t even have the guts to leave down a name?

As an actor and celebrity, Mr. Png will be affected by this publicity and it will affect any future projects he may or may not received. Furthermore if you don’t want to make things big, why the hell did the motorist put a photograph on the internet?

Well, I hope the motorist is really to make things big now because Mr Png also took a photo of his car and now intend to make a police report on the matter. Frankly speaking, the moment the motorist put the photograph on the internet, he was just asking for it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #15- In Brightest Day, writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi seems to have decided that Martian Manhunter will be the Batman of the cast. It’s good to see J’onn use his detective skills, even if it’s just a mental battle. A good issue with the only drawback being the return of Firestorm.

Heroes for Hire #1- I was never a fan of Heroes for Hire, both the Iron Fist/Power Man and the Colleen Wing/Misty Knight versions just didn’t interest me. However after their great work in the cosmic section of Marvel, I thought I give writers Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning a chance and try out Heroes for Hire #1. The end result is mixed. Don’t get me wrong, this was a highly entertaining book. There was some high octane action, the art by Brad Walker was good, and the way the heroes work together was interesting. However in the end, this was just too much like Birds of Prey. The twist at the end (and the darker tones) saved it for being actually like Birds of Prey but there was no disguising where Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning got their idea from. I mean Misty Knight even went under the name of "Controller!" Still there’s no way to go but up after “Shadowlands” so it’s a good start for Marvel.

Taskmaster #4- Let me say this one more time to Marvel; “Taskmaster is a VILLAIN!” Not only is he a villain, he is a villain that teaches other villains. That’s what he is, that’s what fans love about him! He is NOT a former S.H.I.E.L.D agent with memory problems! That’s NOT what fans like about him. N’uff said.

Friday, December 3, 2010


When world football chief Sepp Blatter revealed that Russia and Qatar won the battle to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, I was in shock. I can understand the choice of Russia who had held various Olympic Games before, but Qatar?

I know of the various plus factors Qatar brings to the table; rich, relatively stable, in a region that never held the World Cup before, but Qatar has a huge minus; Qatar has never played in a World Cup before! In fact in the last few World Cups, Qatar didn’t even come close to qualifying for the World Cup.

Their national team sucks and as host they will be in automatically! In South Africa 2010, South Africa became the first host to be knocked out in the first round of the competition and unless something change real fast, Qatar is going to go one better and be the first host to be knocked out after losing all their games.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Piece To Rule Them All

In the world of Western comics, there are 3 big franchises; Batman, X-Men and Spiderman. There are so many series on them, these 3 are almost an industry by themselves.

In the world of Japanese manga, the Big 3 used to be One Piece, Naruto and BLEACH. I said “used to be” because this is the figures for the highest-selling manga of 2010:

1 - One Piece 32,343,809
2 - Naruto 7,409,068
3 - Kimi ni Todoke 6,572,813
4 - Fairy Tail 5,739,526
5 - BLEACH 5,204,193

Yes, One Piece sold 4 times more than Naruto in 2010. In fact, it sold more than the rest of the top 5 put together. Wow! That’s all I can say. The pirate adventures of Luffy D. Monkey have slaughtered most of the existing sales records in 2010, and this is a year when overall sales of manga in Japan had actually went down!

Wow. Luffy D. Monkey may or may not be the Pirate King at the end of his adventures but right now, he is most certainly the Sales King in the world of manga.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Worst Case Scenarios

Worst case scenarios are always a little morbid. A study of the worst that can happen usually is but it is also necessary if only for preparation. As they say, “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

So I find studies by international groups on the climate to be so fascinating. Studies indicate that in the worst case of global climate change, world temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by the 2060s. A simple rise like that would mean that sea levels might rise by between 0.5 and 2 meters.

In my self-interest, I find a sea level rise of 2 meters to be very scary. Living on the island nation of Singapore, a 2 meters rise in sea level would mean a lot less real estate here in Singapore. Considering how much Singaporeans love their property, that’s a scary though for all Singaporeans. I guess there’s always immigration.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What's The Secret?

Today is supposed to be D-Day for the US State Department as whistleblower website WikiLeaks released hundred of thousands secret confidential cables. After reading some of the more high profile cases I can’t help but say, “That’s it? This is what they were worried about?”

Outside the embarrassment factor, I fail to see what’s so amazing about the cables released by WikiLeaks. The Chinese government trying to hack into Google; we knew about it already because Google announced it to the world. The Saudi Arabia's king's asking the US to bomb Iran; not unexpected as Saudi Arabia and Iran are hardly friends. Israel discussing with Egypt and the PLA before its war on Hamas in Gaza; hardly a surprise.

Where are the real juicy secrets? No, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s suspect affair with his "voluptuous blond" Ukrainian nurse does not count. This is what the Americans were worried about? Most of this stuff can’t even be called secret.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Since Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said that former fugitive Mas Selamat Kastari took shelter at his brother’s flat before escaping out of Singapore, the Singapore Government (and the government-backed media) has been “urging” Singaporeans not to lay blame at the Malay-Muslim community for the escape of the suspected terrorist.

All good and well except for the only problem with it is that NO one I know blame the Malay-Muslim community! Really, the Singapore government needs to stop talking about “blaming” the Malay-Muslim community because no one does! Singaporeans don’t blame the Malay-Muslim community for the escape, they blame the Singapore government for the amazing incompetence of not checking on Mas Selamat’s immediate family members! In fact some Singaporeans I know seems to understand why the family sheltered him. He is afterall their blood, but the government’s failure to keep an eye on the family? That is something no one can understand.

Frankly, it makes the government looks bad. By keep screaming that Singaporeans should not blame the Malay-Muslim community, the Singapore Government looks like they are trying deflect responsibility. With an election coming up, I can understand the Singapore government's instinct to tai-chi away the responsibility but that is something Singaporeans will not (and are not) accept.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Comics this week

Astonishing Thor #1- For a mini-series that’s supposed to bring new fans to Thor, this was rather disappointing. Mike Choi's gorgeous art notwithstanding, this issue had little going for it. Writer Robert Rodi’s story tried to cram too many things into one issue. One moment we have Thor saving Manhattan, then a visit to Asgard, then a flashback to his younger days, then a visit to Ego The Living Planet, and finally The Stranger pop up. As they say, too many cooks…

Star Wars: Blood Ties #4- After 3 good issues, writer Tom Taylor wrapped up the series in a serviceable issue. The story gave more about the relationship between Jango Fett and Boba Fett but it was the art of Chris Scalf that was the star of the issue. Scalf was excellent in the first 3 issues but that was nothing compare to his work here. He truly outdid himself and I’ll be looking forward to his new works.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


While completing for Singapore in the current Asian Games in China, the Singapore water polo team played while wearing swimming trunks which featured the crescent moon and stars from the Singapore flag.

Some people in Singapore complained that this is “obscene” especially the “placement” of the moon. In an act of covering their ass, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) said that the Singapore water polo team did not seek their advice on the design of the trunks.

Talk about the ridiculous. Here we have a group of men who took time off their work and studies to represent Singapore and they are being criticized for their…swimming trunks? Really, what’s so wrong about their trunks anyway? It’s just a pair of swimming trunks and the team even design it themselves to showcase the flag they are playing for. What’s wrong with that?

The complains are both stupid and ridiculous!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Buffy Remake

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a hit TV series that made stars out of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and writer Joss Whedon. What most people don’t know is that the TV series came out of a movie starring Kristy Swanson.

In another example of Hollywood running out of ideas, Warner Bros. is now going to remake "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" the movie. Only one problem; "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was a terrible movie! It was neither funny nor scary. In fact I remember once while watching the TV series thinking, “how in the world did this good series came out of such a movie?”

Hollywood must be desperate for ideas to remake bad movies. I wonder what’s next; “Plan 9 from Outer Space?”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stranger and Stranger

Are you kidding me? You have to be joking! What incompetence!

These are just some of the reactions Singaporeans has when Singapore Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said in a Ministerial statement that former fugitive Mas Selamat Kastari took shelter at his brother’s flat before escaping out of Singapore. 2 years ago, Mas Selamat escape from the Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC) and eluded an island-wide manhunt before being caught in Malaysia in 2009.

Incredibly, now it is reported that he was staying at his brother’s flat! An island-wide manhunt for a wanted fugitive and they never bother to check on his brother’s house? We’re not even talking about an uncle or a distant cousin here, but his brother! As impossible as it sounds, the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari has just gotten stranger and stranger.

Singaporeans are in disbelief over this latest revelation. Some don’t believe it, even go as far as to say that this is nothing but a tactic to pressure Mas Selamat to reveal who actually helped him escape Singapore (of course that’ll open another can of worms). Personally, I believe this. I mean if it’s false, it’s one stupid, stupid lie. It’s so ridiculous it has to be true.

That means that the Singapore authorities really didn’t check on his brother’s house. That means heads has to roll for this incredible oversight.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes, We Can Judge

Recently, a Singaporean student studying in England was arrested after hardcore child pornography was discovered on his computer. Mr. Jonathan Wong, 23, then plead guilty to 17 charges of making child pornography videos, some featuring girls as young as 6.

Now Mr. Wong has been reported to be remorseful for his actions and some Singaporeans have rallied around him saying it’s not their position to judge him. Why?

People who know me personally know that I’m not lily-white. I accept that everyone has their fetish but even I have to draw a line at child pornography. This is child pornography!

I do not know Mr. Jonathan Wong personally but he seems like a bright man with a good future in front of him. He is also on a teaching scholarship from the MOE (Ministry of Education) at Goodricke College.

That does NOT matter! 50 videos were found in his computer, some files showing 6 years old girls! Of course we as a public, as a society are in a position to judge. If you can’t condemn and judge child pornography, Singapore as a society is in big trouble.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #14- Maybe it’s just me but I can’t understand why writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi let Deadman get the white ring. He’s not a truly likable character and worse, he’s not even an enjoyable one. So it’s not really a smart move to let Deadman carry this whole issue. A lot of interesting developments happen here but none of which is truly enjoyable, if only they had a better lead.

X-23 #- That was faster than I thought. I always believe that writer Marjorie Liu had to move X-23 out of Utopia if only to get her out of the X-Men’s shadow but I surprised she’s gone after just 3 issues. Luckily, the “Wolverine in Hell” tie-in looks over and Liu look like she has plans for X-23. She did more than enough to get me back for the next issue.

Artifacts #3- Set-up for the coming battle between the bearers of the 13 artifacts, not much really happened except for the fact Nottingham got the Blood Sword (too easily for my liking). This was a strange issue. Battle lines were drawn, all the bearers of the artifacts were introduced but there was neither suspense nor build-up to the coming battle. No reason was given why Aphorodite IV was recruiting the bearers or even why some of them agreed to fight for her mysterious master. Basically, there’s no reason why we should care.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Language

Today there’s an article on Yahoo Singapore about the unofficial national language of Singapore; Singlish. Written by an “ang moh”, it’s basically a foreign look at Singlish. Anyone who read the article can easily see 2 things;
1) Singlish is distinctly Singaporean
and 2) foreigners loved Singlish!

This is generally true as most foreigners I know, even those from other Asian countries, think Singlish is fun. They are amused by it and most think of it as a national trait. As they say, “You can dress like a Singaporean, walk like a Singaporean, but the moment you open your mouth, people can tell you are not a Singaporean.”

Now the Singapore government might be embarrassed by Singlish (remember the stupid “Speak Good English” campaign?), but most Singaporeans are proud of the unique language. There’s even a Facebook page asking the government to declare Singlish as an official language.

I’m not on Facebook but if I am, I’ll be on the page. Why not? Singlish has its own distinct grammar and vocabulary, so why not call it what it is; a national language.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Great Waste Of Money

A friend and I were on the road when we saw a Volvo. He commented that it’s a great looking car; I reply that it’s true but it’s also a great waste of money.

He said that the COE (Certificate of Entitlement) for these vehicles is the same as any car above 1600cc. Also true, but he (like most Singaporeans) forgot one thing. The COE might be the same, but the registration fee for a Volvo is much higher than that of a Toyota or Hyundai.

When you register a vehicle in Singapore, the COE is not the only thing you will need to pay. There is another payment called the Additional Registration Fee (ARF). This registration fee is 100% of the vehicle’s Open Market Value (OMV), which for a Volvo can come to 6 digits. Although you will receive a de-registration value when you scrap the vehicle (called the PARF), that value at most 75% of your OMV.

That means the day you buy your car, the vehicle has already lost 25% of its value. Not only that, the COE is for 10 years so everyday, you are losing the value of your COE as well. Take the example of the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) fraud case involving Mr. Koh Seah Wee. The case was still under investigation and the authorities were already trying to sell Koh’s Lamborghini and Mercedes Benz cars. The reason is simple; those vehicles were losing money every single day so they need to sell them off as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to sell such vehicles. Not just in Singapore but frankly everywhere else in the world. When was the last time you heard of anyone proudly proclaiming they have a secondhand Lamborghini, Volvo, or Mercedes Benz. There’s no resale value in such vehicles and that’s beside the point that anyone who can buy these vehicles would naturally want to have the latest model, not a used secondhand one.

Lamborghini, Volvo, Mercedes Benz. All great muscle cars, all look great and all great money drainers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Get Your Free AK-47!

The AK-47 is widely known to be the best assault rifle in the world. It’s the weapon of choice for armed forces, rebel groups, and militants the world over.

Now it is also the weapon of choice for a sales promotion in America. A truck dealer in Florida has offering a free AK-47 assault rifle to anyone who buy a vehicle from his dealership. And the promotion is so successful, sales has tripled!

Now I know the right to own guns is a big deal in America but using AK-47 as a sales promotion tactic? I don’t know what’s more surprising, that it’s legal or that sales have tripled since the promotion!

Well, sales have tripled and since you can’t knock success; I wonder when they will start offering rocket launchers and Stinger missiles there in America?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saying Bye-bye To Our Sushi

Even when everyone agrees on the fact, humans can still disagree on what to do. A few months ago, I posted about how the Atlantic bluefin tuna is heading towards extinction due to over-fishing.

Industrial-scale fishing in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic over the past 40 years has depleted stocks by 85% but instead of stopping, nations are now “discussing” how much tuna they can fish from the sea without destroying the species (and the multi-billion dollar business that goes along with it).

On one side are the conservationists who say that the species will die out unless the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) suspends or at the very least heavily reduces the catch. On the other side is the fishing industry who says that thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people will be out of jobs if fishing is suspended. Instead they are saying the 13,500-tonnes annual quota will be enough to allow stocks to increase.

The one thing everyone agrees on?

The 13,500-tonnes quota is widely ignored! Everyone agrees that despite steps to increase enforcement of the quota, almost every country in the ICCAT catch more tuna than they should. In 2007, investigations shows that France caught more than double their quota that year.

So everyone agrees that the quota is useless, that it is widely ignored and yet this quota is the basis the fishing industry is basing their argument on? I guess everyone can say bye-bye to their sushi.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

With a general election (GE) expected soon, an unwanted question has been bugging Singaporeans; how will Singapore cope without Lee Kuan Yew? The 87-year-old Lee is considered a sage in Asia and a large part of Singapore’s success is due to the man’s vision and determination.

However Mr. Lee is now 87, in poor health and rumored to be in grief over the recent passing of his wife. So the question is being asked if Mr. Lee should stand for elections in the next GE.

The question came up again yesterday when the Mr. Lee himself said that he will only stand if he is physically capable and if the Prime Minister wants him. Since the Prime Minister is his son, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he and the People’s Action Party (PAP) would want Mr. Lee in the next GE (you have to be an idiot not to). So the question is down strictly to Mr. Lee’s health.

If that’s the case, then I say Mr. Lee Kuan Yew should not stand in the next GE. Mr. Lee has been in politics for over 50 years and with his poor health, there’s no need to risk it to stand in the next GE. Fact of the matter is; although the opposition would probably gain some seats in the next GE, there is no way they are going to stop the PAP from forming the next government. They just don’t have the numbers.

In short, the PAP will form the next government without or without Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. There is no urgent need for him to stand in the next GE, and even if there is a need, his health should be of paramount importance. The man has done more than enough for Singapore, his place in Singapore’s history is secured and he should look after his health. The man deserved his rest.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Comics this week

The Thanos Imperative #6- Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning made the right decision this issue to focus on Thanos' betrayal of the Guardians of the Galaxy and his new alliance with Lord Mar-Vell. As expected, Thanos then betrayed Mar-Vell as well in the name of for his one, true and only love; Death. The aftermath of the betrayal was the golden moment of this issue, no, of this whole series. The last stand of Nova and Star-Lord was nothing short of momentous and credit has to be given to Miguel Sepulveda as his art managed to bring out the best in the story. The final scene on Hala was a fitting sendoff to this great series and fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy might have a tear or two in their eyes at how many of the team had died in the line of duty. The Thanos Imperative ends with a bang, here’s hoping there’s more of this to come.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #6- One of the most fun things about Wheel of Time is seeing the pictures of characters we read about years ago. I never thought the warriors of Manetherendrelle have samurai-like armor but it does make sense. The famous axe of Perrin is also shown. A complain I have of the series is the pacing. After 6 issues, we are only now leaving Two Rivers and that’s just way too slow. The Wheel of Time is a thirteen book series and we’re like not even a third of the way through book one! This is going to take forever.

Halcyon #1- Halcyon means heavenly or peaceful and that’s the premise for this new superhero series by Marc Guggenheim and Tara Butters. What would superheroes do if suddenly there’s no crime? In this case, Halcyon is a JLA-like group who faced a single particular problem; crime rate has dropped like a stone all over the world. There is almost no crime anywhere in the world and even the most feared super-villain in the world has surrendered. The idea is intriguing if nothing else and I’ll be here to see how it goes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stop Whining!

With World of Warcraft having 12 million subscribers, it's no surprise that developers are currently trying to find the next big online game. One of the biggest is Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Budgeted at US$100 million, and developed by the respected Bioware Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most ambitious MMORPG projects to date. However with the big budget come the high expectations. Already the internet is filled with doomsday scenarios that the game will suck, it will never make a profit, that it’s too big for its own good, etc.

What a bunch of whiners! Really, the game is at least half a year away and people are already whining that the game will fail. Whatever happened to the days when gamers actually look forward to games coming out? Okay, I’m not a Star War fans so I’m not really looking for to the game but that’s a different matter. People should stop whining about games that are months (MONTHS) away from being released.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time For Change

During his trip to India, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly endorsed India's wish for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Now I know Obama did this because America needs access to India’s economy and influence but that doesn’t change one thing; he’s also right!

The U.N. Security Council currently has 5 permanent members; Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. All 5 got their seats after World War 2 which ended over 60 years ago. That’s a long time ago and with its economy, India has more right to be on the council than say, France or Britain. Hell, I think Brazil has more right to be on the council that France or Britain.

The 5 permanent members of the U.N. Security Council is no longer a fair reflection of the world powers. Obama might have said what he said in America’s self-interest, but he is also right. It is time to change the U.N. Security Council and countries like Brazil, Turkey and India deserved their permanent seats on it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ogawa Ryuju Deserve Singapore Citizenship

Anyone who read my blog before know how I feel about Singapore giving out citizenships to rich foreigners who then disappear from the island to live in another country. So it is extraordinary to me that Ogawa Ryuju is having such a hard time getting his Singapore citizenship.

Ogawa Ryuju is a half-Japanese, half-Singaporean who have been living in Singapore with his mother since he was 10. He did his ‘N’ Levels education, did his National Service, got his Pink NRIC from a Member of Parliament (MP), even renounced his Japanese citizenship at the age of 21, all so that he can be a full Singapore citizen. Then when he went to renew his passport, he found out that he wasn’t a Singaporean. All because he did not take a formal Oath; a technicality!

Now I always thought there’s something wrong with our citizenship system and this proves it! Here we have a young man who gave up his Japanese citizenship to be a Singaporean and he is denied this, even after doing his NS, because he didn’t take a formal pledge?

I don’t get this at all. Ogawa Ryuju did his NS and already had his Pink NRIC. So why isn’t he considered a Singaporean? Permanent Residents (PRs) get the blue NRIC, while Singaporeans have the Pink NRIC. That has always been the case right? He already got his Pink NRIC but is still NOT a citizen of Singapore? And all because he did take a formal pledge; a pledge he has been taking in school since he was 10?

That makes no sense. Most Singaporeans thinks so and at least 2 MPs, Mr. Lee Boon Yang and Mr. Heng Chee How, are helping Ogawa Ryuju on his case. Here’s hoping there’ll good news for him. He went to school here, did his NS and renounced his Japanese citizenship; Ogawa Ryuju deserve Singapore citizenship a hell lot more than some movie stars I could name.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #13- After a long time gone, Hawkman gets his turn as the star this issue. Writer Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi get down to business quickly as battle scenes filled this issue. Outside a somewhat boring exposition in the middle, it’s battles all the way but none of the scenes were truly memorable. Personally I don’t care much about the story of Hath-Set and the Hawks but it was nice to see Hawkgirl do an Onatopp on him. Outside that, the only thing that got my interest was the final scene which made sense but at the same time was very surprising. An okay issue saved by the ending.

Taskmaster #3- This issue reminds me of an old Elektra series I collected a few years ago. In the series, Elektra was protecting a young girl and teaching her self-defense at the same time. Yes, this was the time when the stupid movie starring Jennifer Garner was coming out. The series, like the movie, died a quick death. The reason was this; Elektra is a killer, one of the top assassins in Marvel, if not the best! She works best as a killer, as an assassin, as a bad-guy. She is a villain! That’s why people like her! Taskmaster is also a villain. He teaches bad guys how to be bad guys. That’s why people like him. He is NOT a memory loss S.H.I.E.L.D agent with a S.H.I.E.L.D agent wife who has been secretly funneling info to Nick Fury since the start of his career! That’s not why people like him and writer Fred Van Lente better have some way to save this in the final issue or there’s going to be a lot of angry Taskmaster fans out there!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Generally speaking, I don’t care much about biographies. Especially if they are biographies written by people about themselves. Whether they are politicians, leaders or generals, I think it’s pretty impossible for these biographies to be objective.

So I didn’t care much about it when I heard that former U.S President George W. Bush is going to release an upcoming book titled, "Decision Points." Then I heard the interview he did with a reporter to promote his book and boy, was I interested!

In an interview with NBC reporter Matt Lauer, the former President said that the worst moment in his presidency was when rapper Kanye West criticized his handling of Hurricane Katrina and called him a racist. Now I’m no fan of his but I don’t hate George W. Bush like some people. In fact, I question if he can be blamed for Hurricane Katrina. I mean who can stop Mother Nature right?

However even his greatest fans will have to admit he made quite a lot of mistakes during his presidency. The Iraqi War, Iraq's non-weapons of mass destruction, economic meltdown; all happened on his watch. But the worst moment of his presidency was when he was criticized by a loudmouth rapper?

Now that’s getting your priorities right! No wonder his presidency was such a smashing success. His book will be funny if nothing else. I need to go read it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New Templates

I’ve been receiving “reminders” from blogger for a few months now that there are new templates available and I “can” change my template to a newer version. After months of ignoring them, my resistance has been broken.

So how do you like the new template? Hate it, loved it, can’t be bothered; all comments are welcome!

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay has been writing fantasy novels for quite awhile now however “Under Heaven” is the first novel by him that I have read. Yes, I see a few heading shaking among you and you might be right. I might be missing out on a few good reads because “Under Heaven” was a very good novel.

Although set in the Empire of Kitai, the story actually started on the western frontier of Kitai, Kuala Nor. The site of a massive battle 20 years ago between the Kitai and Taguran Empire, the place is now a no-man land between the 2 great Empires. It is also a massive graveyard for unburied soldiers from the battle. In the midst of the graveyard toiled Shen Tai, the second son of a Kitaian general who rose to prominence in the battle. Despite the ghosts of the unburied soldiers haunting the area, Shen Tai had been there for the past 2 years burying the bones of dead Kitan and Taguran soldiers in honor of his deceased father.

Thought of as a virtuous man due to his work, Shen Tai was given an unwanted gift of 250 prized Sardian horses from the Taguran Empire to honor his work burying the dead of both sides. After escaping an assassination attempt with the assistance of the ghosts of the Kuala Nor, Shen Tai has no choice but to leave for the capital of the Kitaian Empire, Xinan.

Along the way, he picked up allies and enemies who were drawn to him by the gift of the Sardian horses. He also picked up on the political situation of the Empire, including the fact that his younger sister Li-Mei has been made a princess of Kitai and had been sent off in marriage to the northern Bogu people. The arranged marriage was done by his older brother Shen Liu, who did it to further his own political career as well as their family’s fortune.

Knowing why it was done did not make Shen Tai any less angry with his brother for sending away their sister. Despite his wishes, Shen Tai also found that his horses has thrust him into the political and dynastic struggles of the empire and he has to make unwanted choices between personal and family needs especially when Kitai was rocked by a military rebellion.

As I said earlier, I have never read a novel by Guy Gavriel Kay before but after reading “Under Heaven”, I can just he is a good writer. The plot of “Under Heaven” is relatively simple but Kay managed to impose a sense of history to Kitai. The story is filled with small insights on how things are done in Kitai and the reasons (or at least the tradition) behind them. This gave Kitai a sense of being “lived-in” and made the Empire of Kitai more believable.

The main character of Shen Tai was also a winner. A man thrust into an unwanted situation by a gift he did not want but cannot reject, he was both realistic and heroic at the same time. Not an easy thing to do.

Another thing Kay done was to fill the story with appealing minor characters. Bytsan sri Nespo, the Taguran officer who helped Shen survived Kuala Nor was an interesting character who could never understand why he helped Shen Tai as much as he did. Another interesting character was Roshan, the general who rose up against the imperial rule. The would-be villain of the novel, he was a warrior who was always an outsider in the Kitai court due to his non-Kitai heritage and decided, not without reason, that he has a better chance of lifelong power by himself. This was a book where there wasn’t any real villains, only men who did things in their interest.

Of course not everything Kay did came off. About a fifth of the novel followed Shen Tai's sister Li-Mei during her adventures in the north and the whole piece was a bore. Her journey across the steppes with her rescuer Meshag could have been great, but it wasn’t. It was confusing at times and worse; boring. Most of the time when I reached Li-Mei’s part, I had to fight the urge to skip the whole chapter.

Also I found some the characters a little perplexing. The Banished Immortal was one of these. He is a swordsman, a poet, a wanderer, an adventurer all roll in one. All good and well, unfortunately he’s not the main character of the novel. Usually only the main character of the story gets to be everything at once and the Banished Immortal was a character that I can’t help but felt was underused in the novel because there’s just a story to be read there.

One thing that could be great or could be a complain is the amount of poetry in the novel. Kitai has a culture of poetry and it shows. At times, characters would break into poetry over drinks and there is even a poetry contest scene. How much you’ll enjoy them depends on how much you like poetry. If you enjoy poetry, this will be great. If you can’t tell good poetry from bad poetry, like me, this could be a problem.

Overall however, these are just minor complains as the story successfully weaves itself into a good book. Fill with interesting characters, “Under Heaven” is an excellent novel set in a rich new fantasy world. Here’s hoping there will be other novels set in the world of Kitai.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crazy Players in EVE Online

Most people in Singapore would probably have never heard of the online game EVE Online. It’s a space online game where players pilot spaceships for trade and to control territories. Gamers in Singapore probably have heard of the online game before but most of them, like me, are probably not playing the game.

After hearing the latest piece of news from the game, most would probably never will. They, like me, will probably be too scared to do so.

In what’s called the biggest, largest and longest PvP battle ever recorded, over 3,000 players from Russia and Europe engaged in a battle for control of a territory in the game called LXQ2-T. As you can see from the screenshots above, this is no joke (all the small dots you see at the background are all players). Yes, over 3,000 players at one battle.

I can only ask this, “Are you people insane?”

I know of some games that don’t have that many players that login at any time of the day, and there are that many players at just ONE battle. What’s even more amazing is that the server didn’t crash. Although there are reports of players being crippled by 10 minutes lag, the server did manage to stay up. Now that’s amazing!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Celebrating World No. 2

After a reign of 5 years, Tiger Woods is no longer the world no. 1 in. In the latest world golf rankings, England's Lee Westwood is now the new world number one. This ends Tiger's 281 weeks reign as world no. 1 and the way you hear it on the news; it’s like the end of an era.

No, it’s not.

Personally, I’m always a little amused when sport writers calls for an end just because someone is no longer world no. 1. The same thing happened to Roger Federer. So Tiger Woods is no longer world no. 1, he’s now the world no. 2.

So what? That’s still great right? To be the second best player in the world at a sport is still something to celebrate isn’t it? Whatever happened to just participating in sports? Being the world best isn’t everything right? Hell, I would love to be the world no. 2 at any sports, much less one as rich as golf!

Winning isn’t everything, and being the world best isn’t the be-all and end-all of sports. Being world no. 2 is still a case for celebration.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Comics this week

Star Wars: Blood Ties #3- As I had said before, I’m not really a big fan of Star Wars much less Boba Fett. Having said that, writer Tom Taylor has managed to won me over with his interpretation of the character. Yes, the fight scene were a little weak considering how much better Boba was compared to the rest of the bounty hunters but overall Star Wars: Blood Ties continue to be an excellent read. Too bad there’s only one more issue left.

Uncanny X-Men #529- That’s it. I’m dropping Uncanny from my buy list. As Hope round up one more Light, Emma Frost hired Fantomex to kidnap Sebastian Shaw. I always had an issue with the prison in Utopia. Frankly, it’s a bad idea that they should get rid of ASAP. Seriously, the X-Men have Shaw, Empath and others under lock and key but allow Magneto to walk around free? Sounds stupid right? This issue didn’t help the problem and what’s worse is that Danger allowed the kidnapping to happen on some strange experiment to see if Frost is good or evil. Don’t look at me; it makes no sense to me either. So I’m dropping Uncanny from my buy list. You can’t say I didn’t give them a chance.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Better Headlines Please!

“My heart bypass surgery cost me $8”

“What?” “Are you sure?” “In Singapore?” These were the words of disbelief that greeted Singapore Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s statement that his heart bypass surgery in early May cost him only $8.

I admit I also have the same problem. I did not believe him. In expensive Singapore, having to pay $8 for any surgery is unheard of. The devil is in the details.

When reading the 57-year-old personal blog, most of his bill was actually paid by his personal health insurance along with the government MediShield plan. $8 covered the reminder of the bill.

That makes prefect sense. However, most people who do not check further will just be fooled by the headline of “My heart bypass surgery cost me $8.”

That brings me to the main point of this post; Headlines!

We need better headlines from the Singapore newspapers. Really, “My heart bypass surgery cost me $8” is totally wrong. Mr. Khaw’s bill is far more than that because the bill was paid from his personal insurance policy which he paid yearly premium on. That is still money out of his pocket right?

To be fair, this isn’t just a Singapore problem. Anyone who glanced at the news from France will be fooled by the “retirement at 62” headlines. However under the new French rules, retirement at 62 with full pension is almost impossible and the actual age of retirement under the new rules is 65.

So the next time you read a big bold headline, look into the details of the story. The actual facts could very well be totally different from it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Oracle is dead

The biggest star of the World Cup is dead. Shot to fame because he managed to predict the results of 8 straight matches in the World Cup, Paul the Octopus, the Oracle Octopus, has died of old age.

It’s a sad, sad day for football (and supernatural) fans as Paul was the greatest and most uplifting story in the World Cup. Only sore losers from defeated teams hate him but every else love him.

I do too. So sad, so sad…I’m sorry, I need to stop now. I’m need to go off to cry…sob, sob

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Happy Marriage

Here comes the bride…by herself. (Sing it with music in the background; it’s funnier that way)

Desperation has a whole new meaning in Taiwan as Chen Wei-yih has decided to marry herself! Saying that she is uninspired by the men she's met but facing social pressure to get married, the 30-year-old decided to pose for wedding photos, enlisted a wedding planner and rented a banquet hall for a marriage celebration of one person. Her!

Now I know of women who are desperate for marriage but this is something else. What’s even funnier for me is the amount of support Chen is getting. Once this news was known, she has been received sympathetic comments online and even her own mother is helping with her wedding plan!

It seems people, or at least people in Taiwan, are perfectly fine with this! I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Expensive But Sensible

Just last week, I heard that the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is looking to tie up with the Australian exchange ASX Ltd. Now I heard that’s SGX will take over the Sydney-based exchange in a deal worth A$8.4 billion ($8.3 billion).

Now a merger between SGX and ASX will create the fifth-largest listed exchange in the world, so on paper this looks like a good deal. Shares in ASX jumped up 25% once news spread, however the news is less great for SGX shareholders.

SGX shares fell as much as 6.7% before recovering some of the losses. The reason is simple; ASX will lose its monopoly in Australia next year when a new exchange, Europe's Chi-X Australia Pty Ltd, will start operations.

So the question being asked in Singapore is why is the SGX paying $8.3 billion for an exchange that is going to lose market share next year?

I also have that question, the price do seem a little high to me, but at the same time I can see why SGX did this. SGX and ASX are the second and third largest listed bourses in Asia and both have been around for awhile, so on several levels this merger make sense. As for the price…time will tell if it is a good price.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tough but Good

Singapore has been hard hit for the past couple of years by private schools which suddenly closed down, leaving angry students in their wake. Usually these students have no recourse to either continue their courses or getting a refund on their school fees.

The most recent case was the School of Applied Studies. The small private school closed suddenly due to financial difficulties and their three hundred students were left stranded despite paying between S$13,500 for a diploma to S$36,000 for a degree.

To raise standards in the private education sector, the Singapore government has put in place the Private Education Bill. However in a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, industry players says the new bill is so tough that about half of the 1,000 private schools in Singapore may have to close down. Under the new and tougher Private Education Bill, private schools need to register under the new framework if they wish to continue their operations and about half of the private schools will be unable to do so.

You know what I say to this: “Good!”

Personally I have little sympathy for the administrators of the private schools. There had been far too many cases of schools closing down suddenly, leaving students in trouble. Since the schools had closed, it is almost impossible for the students to get their money back. If the Private Education Bill can stop these incidents from happening, I’m all for it. I’ll leave my sympathy for the students.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why America?

Terrorism made the Singapore news again. A Singaporean, Mr. Balraj Naidu, was convicted in America for conspiring to provide weapons to Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. Justice Department said Mr. Balraj Naidu was part of a group that tried to buy U.S.-made weapons and ammunition and provide them to the Tamil Tigers to be used against Sri Lankan government forces. Another Singaporean, Mr. Haniffa Bin Osman, was also convicted on the same matter but more attention has been paid to Mr. Balraj Naidu as he is a founding member of a political party, the Reform Party, here in Singapore.

However this post is not really about politics or even Mr. Balraj Naidu. This post is about why the hell was Mr. Balraj Naidu being charged in America in the first place? Now I understand that the Tamil Tigers was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by America, but I still find this charge to be very strange. The U.S. Justice Department openly admits that the weapons are to be used in Sri Lanka and they were never intended to be used against America or any American citizens.

So…why are the 2 Singaporeans being charge in America for? I can understand it if Sri Lanka charge them but America? The Tamil Tigers never attacked America, America never send troops to Sri Lanka; basically America got nothing to do with the Sri Lankan civil war. A civil war which is now over because the Tigers were defeated in 2009!

Why is America getting involved in a civil war which is now over and over weapons which were never intended for use against America? I mean they are Singaporeans but you don’t see the Singapore government charging Mr. Balraj Naidu or Mr. Haniffa Bin Osman for helping the Tamil Tiger do you?

And we shouldn’t because Singapore got nothing to do with the Sri Lankan civil war! Not only is the war over, it is also none of Singapore’s business! It also got nothing to do with America.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #12- After last issue’s disaster, I am glad to say writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi have managed to right the ship. The main thing they did; move the series away from Firestorm. The main character this issue is the Martian Manhunter and his psychic drag-out fight with D’Kay Drazz. One thing that I extremely like was the psychic nature of the fight. The flow of the contest between the two was wonderful and the trick at the end…brilliant. Now they just need to prematurely stay away from Firestorm.

X-23 #1- Sigh, it just had to happen. After a great first issue which dealt with X-23’s character, writer Marjorie Liu has been dragged kicking and screaming into the mini-event that is “Wolverine in Hell.” Liu did the best she could but the main problem is that the “Wolverine in Hell” is boring, so even the addition of Gambit is no help. Too bad because I thought this series could have went somewhere after the first issue.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unbalance Economy

You know for a country which is expected to achieve a growth forecast of 13-15% for 2010, Singapore will rather strangely be in a recession at the end of the year! That’s according to Singapore Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran.

Now for people who have no idea about what this is about, Mr. S Iswaran said in Parliament that Singapore will see a technical recession in the second half of 2010. Yet Singapore will still see growth of 13-15% for the full year.

If there was ever any doubt in anyone’ mind Singapore has a strange economy, this will settle it! Singapore must be the only country in the world which will end the year in a recession even while growing 13-15%. Now I heard of countries growing while ending the year in a recession, but growing 15% and still managing to end the year in a recession? That has to be a first!

Now some people might accuse me of splitting hairs but a technical recession is still a recession! A recession while the country achieved a growth forecast of 13-15%. Who can read that line and tell me it isn’t strange?

What’s even stranger for me is the fact that in Q3 (the July-September period), the Singapore economy fell 19.8%, the largest contraction since 1975. If there is a technical recession, then Q4 will have another contraction. 20% contraction in Q3, another contraction in Q4; yet we managed to grow 15% for the full year. Doesn’t this mean that in the first half of the year, Singapore grew by…over 30%?

Now the same people who accuse me of splitting hairs on the technical recession will also say I’m splitting hairs because in the end, Singapore still grew by 15%. However I disagree with the notion that all’s well in the economy because Singapore manage to post an impressive number. Reading these numbers, you have to say it sounds like a year of feast and famine.

That means the growth of Singapore was unbalanced. And when that happens, it means the Singapore economy is unbalanced. And having an unbalance economy is never a good thing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vote Buying in FIFA? Really?

On Dec 2, officers from FIFA will choose the host for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. That was the plan before undercover reporters from London’s Sunday Times newspaper put together a sting operation that exposed corruption in FIFA.

Posing as lobbyists for the American bid, reporters arranged meetings with Nigerian delegate Amos Adamu and Oceania Football Confederation president Reynald Temarii and filmed them asking for funds in exchange for their votes. FIFA president Seep Blatter has already promised to probe into World Cup bribery claims.

What’s the big deal?

Seriously, I don’t see what’s so special about this. There had long been suspicions of vote buying in FIFA. Hell, there had long been suspicions of vote buying in FIFA, IOC and almost every other international sports governing body you can think of. Now we have evidence of wrong-doing but anyone who says they are surprised by this don’t read the sports news very often.

So what’s the big deal? This seems par for course to me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's Time Is Over

A lot of Singaporeans are screaming “YES!” when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said that they are looking to send a team to play in the Malaysia Cup again. As Singapore was once part of Malaysia, our football team played in the Malaysia Cup even after independence.

This lasted till 1994 when Singapore withdrew from the competition. A lot of Singaporeans fondly remembered our time in the Malaysia Cup when 50,000 fans would pack the National Stadium in Kallang to roar on the Singapore Lions. Nostalgia might be great but anyone hoping (or praying) for a return to those time will be disappointed.

For one thing, talks are centered on a Singapore Selection team playing in the Malaysia Cup. Would Singaporeans cheer on a Singapore team made up foreigners? Another thing is that Singapore no longer has a National Stadium! It’s been tore down for the new Sport Hub, which won’t be ready for at least another few years.

Even if we return to the Malaysia Cup, it would not be the same. The Kallang Roar is dead, the National Stadium is gone, and no matter how Singaporeans miss them, they are not coming back. The time of the Malaysia Cup is over.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Correct Choice In A Bad Situation

On Thursday, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) surprised market-watchers by allowing the Singapore dollar to rise. By widening the trading band in which the Singapore dollar was allowed to be traded in, the Singapore dollar was propelled to a record high.

A lot of people were caught out by this action and had questioned the timing behind it. With Singapore's economy shrinking by a jaw-dropping 19.8% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, many believed this is not the time to allow the currency to rise. For all the talk, Singapore’s economy is still an export-reliant one.

However, I don’t see the MAS having a choice in the matter. As I had posted a few days ago, several governments had intervened in the forex market to try and stop their currencies from rising. They tried and failed. With the Chinese refusing to publicly allow the yuan to rise, other Asian currencies are suffering. Singapore can also do what other countries did, and mostly likely failed as well.

The MAS probably see this and realized that any intervention in the market is an exercise in futility. I believe that if the MAS had its way, the Singapore dollar would not be at a record high. However Singapore just don’t have the financial muscle to stop the Singapore dollar from rising, so it had to widen the band to at least control the rise to an acceptable level.

I believe they made the right decision. If you can’t stop it, at least you must be in a position to control it. In the end, they made the best of a bad situation and it was the correct choice to make.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Comics this week

The Thanos Imperative #5- As writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning expand the cosmic section of Marvel, Nova had been falling on the wayside. Other cosmic heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator and Ronan has been getting more attention from the cosmic duo. With that in mind, I am sure glad on the much-needed attention on Nova this issue. In a short but powerful scene, Richard Rider showed again what a hero he has become since taking on the mantle of Nova Prime. He talked down Medusa and Gladiator and chooses to personally help the Guardians of the Galaxy, but at the same time sent Quasar to the Fault to help the alliance as well as his Nova Corps. After all the stupidity in Secret Avengers, I’m glad to see Nova back to what he should be. A leader!

Green Lantern #58- Writer Geoff Johns is one of those writers who like to have several storylines happening at the same time, interwoven with each other. Green Lantern #58 is a clear example of how good a read this method can be when it works. The issue jumps from one place to another but at no time was it hard to follow. However what really shines was the character development of the various lanterns. Carol Ferris has officially been promoted from forever supporting character to an interesting character in her own right. The way she told off Hal was role reversal at its finest. Now if only Johns give us more info on the entities.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miracle Rescue

When a cave-in on August 5 trapped 33 miners over 2,000 feet underground in a copper mine in northern Chile, I thought it was a great tragedy. When I heard that the men could only be rescued by Christmas, I thought they were dead.

Show what I know!

In a show of amazing human spirit, all 33 trapped miners have been rescued from the mine. In a painstaking operation, a specially designed steel capsule barely big enough than a man was inserted into the mine and one by one, the miners were pulled to safety.

The men were trapped for 69 days, over 2,000 feet underground; hell, no one even knew they were alive for 17 days after the cave-in! Yet now, all 33 of them are safe and sound. I am still amazed they were able to do it!

The word has been overused but in this case it fits; this is truly a miracle!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Yuan

At the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) talks in Washington, the subject that dominated the talks is the Chinese currency. Developed countries like the United States, Europe and Japan complained bitterly that Beijing's currency policies have led the Chinese yuan to be grossly undervalued.

China has dug in its heels, refusing to allow the yuan to rise. Fears of a currency war between the world's most powerful economies are over-rated because it is just not going to happen, but I feel governments in Asia need to lend their voice against China on their currency.

Simply put; it is in their interest that the yuan be allowed to go up.

Due to the current level of the yuan, governments from Japan, South Korea, India, Thailand, the Philippines, all had to intervene in the market to stem a rise in their own currency. The yuan is just too low. No one, including the Chinese, argued on this point. When they defend the level of the yuan, the Chinese don’t argue on the economics but on the social aspect of the currency.

The Chinese government say the Chinese people will lose jobs if the currency rises, but that is just a wrong argument because the low yuan is taking away jobs from other countries where the level of their currencies match their countries’ wealth (or lack of). China has now the second biggest economy in the world, but they are arguing that their currency should be at the level of a third-world country!

That is just crazy and Asian governments need to lend their voice to the West on this. After all, the West is not the only one suffering from the yuan.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Singaporean Bid

Days after I posted that I don’t understand why New England Sports Ventures (NESV) would want to takeover English Premier League club Liverpool, news has come out that a Singaporean billionaire is set to make an improved offer for Liverpool.

Singaporean Mr. Peter Lim, who is worth about $1.5 billion, has matched the $476 million being offered by NESV but reports say his bid had already been rejected by Liverpool. Whether or not Mr. Peter Lim managed to buy Liverpool, you can’t miss the feeling of pride of Singaporeans that one of their own is trying to buy a storied club like Liverpool. However this may be false pride because my problem with Liverpool remains the same; why would anyone want to buy Liverpool at this point of time?

Liverpool has debts about $453 million, they are in the relegation zone in the English Premier League (EPL) and one of the co-owners, George Gillett Jr., has defaulted on a $75 million loan from American hedge fund Mill Financial. This means Liverpool is in real danger of going into financial administration, which also means a 9 points deduction in the EPL!

So with all these problems, why would anyone (even a Singaporean) want to buy Liverpool?

Monday, October 11, 2010

City of Heroes: Going Rogue

Last weekend, I spent my time going back to City of Heroes (CoH). CoH is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) based on the superhero genre. For a long time, it was the sole superhero kid on the block but with Champions Online and the upcoming (if delayed) DC Online, competition is now tough for publisher NCsoft.

The game started in 2004, so it is now 6 years old. To match up with the new kids on the block, NCsoft released an expansion, City of Heroes: Going Rogue. This is only the second expansion for CoH after 2005’s City of Villains (CoV). So it is the first full expansion in 5 years for the game and NCsoft incited former players back by having a free weekend trial with the Going Rogue expansion.

Entering the game for the first time in about a year, I decided to try out the new expansion. I logged on my level 50 Mind-Master and tried to find my way to Praetoria, the new playfield of CoH. I quickly found no way of doing so and broadcast a question on how to do so.

To my shock, I found out that I can’t! To enter Praetoria, you must create a new Praetorian character because Praetoria is a level 1-20 playfield. I’m still in shock about that but okay, I created a new Praetorian character and enter Praetoria for the first time. The new playfield was excellent. Most players are of the option that Praetoria is the best 1-20 playfield in the game and I am inclined to agree.

As an alternate Earth dimension, new characters begin as neutral Praetorian which means all the classes are available. The storyline of Going Rogue is also excellent as you can decide if you want to follow the good if tyrannical Emperor Cole or the freedom-fighting if chaotic Resistance.

There are various shades of gray in the storyline with neither side wholly good or wholly evil. City of Heroes: Going Rogue also has what can be called a moral system. In CoH or CoV, heroes are heroes (in Paragon City) and villains are villains (in the Rogue Isles). In Going Rogue, players will be faced with a series of missions where they can decide their character’s morality. Heroes who act evil can become Vigilantes and Villains who act heroically can become Rogues. Vigilantes and Rogues can access both sides of the game (Paragon City and Rogue Isles) but they cannot enter the Taskforce missions which are the level-50 missions of the game.

Even after they become Vigilantes and Rogues, players will have missions where they can switch sides completely to the opposite. These missions with moral choices are pretty well-done. The missions themselves are nothing new but the moral choices available make things interesting. However, will these new choices make me go out and buy City of Heroes: Going Rogue?

The answer is No!

During the free weekend, former players can only push their new characters to the maximum of level 14. I thought that was a strange limit to impose because the level limit is at 50 but I soon found out why. At Level 20, Praetorian characters will have a final mission where they have a choice to either become a Hero or a Villain and then they will enter either Paragon City or the Rogue Isles. The Going Rogue expansion only has playfields for level 1-20 characters!

No matter how good the playfields are, there are only 4 of them. How did NCsoft okay an expansion which has nothing for characters level 21-50? The recent Age of Conan expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, has a new level 1-20 playfield and about 4-5 other playfields for level 80 characters! Compare the 2 expansion and you add to that the fact old characters can’t even enter Praetoria at all; Going Rogue strikes me as pretty weak.

Also I have to wonder how serious was NCsoft about the free weekend. I never received any email about it and if I didn’t read about it in Massively (a MMORPG website), I would have no idea there was a free weekend for former players! How was NCsoft going to incite former players with a free weekend when the players don’t even know about it?

There is also a stability problem with the game. At several times, I lost “connection to the mapserver.” At first I thought it was my internet connection but when I was in a 6 man team, I found that 3 other players in the team have the same problems. That leads me to believe the problem should be pretty widespread.

The gameplay and playfield of City of Heroes: Going Rogue is good, the new storyline is great, and the new addition of moral choices is excellent. However the expansion is faced with some problems like nothing for characters above level 20, and old characters being unable to enter Praetoria. These design choices are a pity because the gameplay and storyline of Going Rogue are good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Liverpool Sale

Football news has been about nothing but the attempted takeover of the English Premier League club Liverpool by American investors, the New England Sports Ventures (NESV). NESV are owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball team in America

I said “attempted” because the current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are refusing to go and will fight the sale in court. Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton however believes the 300-million-pounds sale will go through.

Question is, “Why would anyone want to buy Liverpool now?”

Liverpool is over 200-million-pounds in debt! Add that to the sale price and NESV is paying over 500-million-pounds for a football club currently in the relegation zone. Now I am sure Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson will get the club out of trouble sooner or later but 500-million-pounds, plus a few more for new players; how long will it take for them to make a profit? Just look at Manchester United; they just reported a 83.64-million-pounds loss despite a 100-million-pounds profit!

That’s because Man Utd’s owners, the Glazer family, took a massive loan to buy over the club a few years ago and the 100-million-pounds profit was used to pay off the interest of the loan. If even a currently successful club like Man Utd can’t make a decent profit in the current climate, what chance does a club in the relegation zone do? So don’t be surprised if NEVS sell Liverpool for a profit once they get their hands on it. That’s seems the most logical decision to make.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #11- I have the greatest respect for writers Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. Johns’ Green Lantern and Tomasi’s Black Adam were both great but they have failed to bring their magic to Brightest Day. Even with a great artwork, there is only so much that can be camouflaged. The Firestorm story need a quick explanation to what's going on because isn’t Nekron gone and dusted? The Aquaman story is so much better that it’s like reading a good issue combined with a poor one. Even the cool name of Deathstorm didn’t save this issue.

S.H.I.E.L.D.#4- The craziness and confusion of #2 is back! After an excellent #3 that answers some of our questions, writer Jonathan Hickman is back to throwing wild ideas at us that makes no sense. The confrontation between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci was okay when it could have been great and the story of Nostradamus was…well, confusing. I’m sure Hickman has a grand idea at the end of all this, but the payoff better be great because the confusion sure is.

Taskmaster #2- After a first issue that was filled with Taskmaster fighting crazy groups with even more insane names; he is back again doing the same thing. Why fix something that’s not broken, right? Writer Fred Van Lente this time gave us Don of the Dead and gave us some background on Taskmaster himself. Don of the Dead was great, but the backstory wasn’t. In a word; S.H.I.E.L.D.? Come on, is there a need for Nick Fury to be in everything Marvel do that has anything that remotely has spies in it? The action is still wild, crazy, and nutty but the story could use some work.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where Is The Rest Of The World?

News about war, natural disasters and terrorists has been the staple this year, but even now there is some good news. US$11.7 billion has been pledged by countries from around the world to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The funds were pledged by more than 40 donor countries, private foundations, and corporations and will be used to fight against AIDS and other deadly diseases like cancer. This is great news but I believed more can be done. Diseases like AIDS and cancers go beyond borders, they affect humans of all races and nationalities. Yet if you look at the breakdown of the donors, you will be that America pledged US$4 billion to the fund. That means one third of the pledge is by America while the rest of the world takes up the rest.

Now I applauded the Obama administration for their very impressive commitments, but what happened to the rest of the world? America is not one third of the world! Other countries should step up to help in this. I would like to know how much Singapore pledged to the fund. I mean it was just announced that Singapore has the fifteen most expensive office spaces in the world. I wondered where we ranked in the donor list.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stupid Pullout

In Europe, football teams tried their very best to enter the premier European Championship, the Champions League. Not so in Singapore! The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that Singapore will not be entering the Asian Football Confederation (ACL) Champions League.

The FAS said that this decision is necessary because Singapore has 3 foreign teams in the S-League, so we are unable to abide by one of the ACL rules which state that there must not be any foreign teams in the domestic league. So the FAS rather pull out of the ACL best competition then asking the foreign teams to pull out.

What’s my feeling of the pullout? The FAS is stupid! Really, there is just no other word to describe it. I mean outside Albirex Niigata, all the other foreign teams in the S-League comes and go. I mean I lost count of the number of foreign teams we had thus far because they come, stay for 1-2 seasons, and then disappeared. So why in the world are the foreign teams in the S-League more important for the development of football than the most prestigious team competition in Asia?

It’s not!

Monday, October 4, 2010

And The Winner Is...

In the border dispute between China and Japan last month, China looks like the winner. The captain of the Chinese fishing trawler was released by the Japanese and public support for the Japanese government fell off a cliff after that.

Compare to Japan, China had not suffered much in the spat. The Chinese government was relatively unhurt by the incident as most Chinese approved their government's handling of the territorial row. However it now seems that looks were deceiving.

In their bid to pressure Japan, China reportedly blocked commodities shipments, in particular rare earths shipments, to Japan. As China is the world leading exporter of such commodities, other countries have taken note of its action and are now looking for other sources of the commodity.

Rare earths are important as everything from iPods to solar panels used some form of rare earths. It’s a niche but important (and growing) market. And thanks to their actions against Japan, it’s a market China is going to lose.

Already Australia has stepped up to the plate, announcing itself as an alternate source of rare earths. Major consumers Japan, Europe and the United States have taken note and Japan is going one step further by stepping up link with Mongolia, another country with abundant resources of rare earth.

China has since come back to state that there never was any embargo of rare earths to Japan, but no one is taking any chances. Australian and Mongolian businessmen are expecting more orders and China only has itself to blame for that.

Japan may have lost the battle, but in the long-run, it seems that China will lose even more.