Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Remember all the pictures I put up on floods in Singapore? Well, it’s okay if you don’t because I will be putting up more of them in the future. In fact Singaporeans can expect more floods in the near future.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong practically admit this when he says that it would be unrealistic for Singapore to be flood free. Instead, the PM ask Singaporeans to “manage their expectations” that a repeat of the recent floods would not happen again because it would be too costly to build the facilities to prevent the floods.

Frankly, I disagree with the PM. Not because it is unrealistic for Singapore to be flood free (I mean if it rain, there will be a chance of flood), but because he did not give a good reason why it is suddenly unrealistic for Singapore to be flood free.

Singapore has been mostly free of floods for the past 10-20 years, but recently we had news of floods hitting Orchard Road, Thomson, Bukit Timah etc. Now the PM is basically saying there will be more floods in the future. Fair enough, but he must give a good reason because most Singaporeans will not accept cost as a reason.

In the recent flood that hit Orchard Road, the water was in the areas where from the new shopping malls like ION were on. I, like most Singaporeans, don’t think that is a coincidence. You can spend millions to build new shopping centers but can’t spend the money to prevent floods caused by these new buildings?

Sorry, but it is unrealistic to expect Singaporeans to accept that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It Would Have Made No Difference

It took awhile but the World Cup finally got its first major referee controversy. Germany’s 4-1 victory over England was marred by a goal that was not given.

At 2-1 down, England’s Frank Lampard fired a snapshot from the edge of the penalty area. After it hit the bar, the ball landed across the line before spinning out, back into the arms of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Lampard initially celebrated the goal before putting his hands on his head in disbelief when he realized the goal had not been given by the linesman.

In the second half, Germany scored on 2 counterattacks to make the final score 4-1. Everyone, including Germany coach Joachim Loew, agreed that the ball had crossed the line. As expected, the English are crying that they had been robbed of a result and England coach Fabio Capello furiously argued that he would have changed his tactics if the referee had rightfully allowed the goal.

I watched the game and I will say that the English can have no serious case about the result. Did the ball cross the line? Yes. Should the goal be given? Yes. Would the result had been different if the goal had been given? No.

England was clearly outplayed by Germany. The final score was 4-1! Even before the disallowed goal, the Germans were tearing the English defense apart with smart off-the-ball running, intelligent passing, and smart runs from midfield. Frankly, the Germans boss the game…by a wide margin!

England may feel better about themselves thinking that they had been robbed, but frankly the result was never in doubt. The Germans won the game and they deserved to. On the day, they were the better team.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Comics this week

X-Men Legacy #237- 12 issues down, 2 more to go. The “Second Coming” crossover had been surprising solid thus far but the good run hit a brick wall here. As the Nimrod army continues to attack the mutants, an injured Magneto stood up to almost singlehandedly defend Utopia from the Nimrods. Meanwhile Cyclops and the X-Men defend the Golden Gate Bridge while X-Force attempt to override Master Mold's processing center in the future. Never a fan of time-travel stories, I had a hard time enjoying the X-Force section of the story. The section of Magneto was great; the section on Cyclops and the X-Men was passable, but the section on X-Force made little sense. I read it twice and I still don’t get how Cypber stop the Master Mold machine! It didn’t help that the most important section of the issue was the one which made the least sense! Overall, the crossover is a success but the writers need to pour it on in the last 2 issues or “Second Coming” will become another disappointing X-event.

X-Factor #206- Of all the tie-ins to “Second Coming”, X-Factor was the only one I pick up. Writer Peter David has positioned the series tying into “Second Coming” without being overwhelmed by the mega event. For that, I will forgive him for this weak conclusion. The issue opens with X-Factor on the run from Trask’s Mutant Response Division. As the various groups tried to reach the X-Factor safehouse, we got a few action scenes which were…well, very underwhelming. At no point did I felt that the team was in any danger whatsoever. Even when danger came, the various groups just teleport out. Even the climatic fight was poor! A weak finish to what was a pretty good story thus far.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 59-59

Ah Wimbledon! The spiritual home of tennis, where tennis history is made and constantly rewritten. Where every year, players come to play matches that will go down in history as epics.

At Wimbledon this year, there is one more epic for the history books…and it’s not over! Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and American John Isner have played for 10 hours (yes, 10 hours!) over 2 days and their match is tied at 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7, 59-59.

Yes, 59-59 in the fifth set!

It is already the longest-ever match…and it’s still ongoing! Play was suspended as they ran out of daylight…for the second straight day! They played 3 hours on the first day, 7 hours on the second and play was suspended on both days due to lighting. When Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in the final last year with a 16-14 final set, I thought that was an epic. This one is an epic marathon! And it’s still ongoing!

Wonder what odds bookies are giving for the match going to 100-100?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Blame Game

Last week I put up a few photos showing the flood along Orchard Road due to torrential rain. Since then, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) had blamed the flood on debris which were trapped in a canal and that slowed the drainage of the water from the area.

The PUB has come under heavy criticism as Singaporeans want someone to blame for the flood. The unexpected flood caused millions of dollars in losses in Singapore’s iconic shopping belt, and although the PUB is in charge of such matters in Singapore, I don’t think it’s quite fair to blame them totally for the floods. It was heavy torrential rain! Not only that, it was heavy torrential rain that lasted for hours!

Heavy torrential rain is not exactly something you expect to last for hours. I’m not saying PUB should not take some responsibility for the Orchard Road floods but the criticism raining down on them now (pun intended) is over-the-top. The PUB has already taken some action by ordering a review of all the major canals in Singapore to prevent an incident like this from happening again.

They are NOT going to succeed, at least not totally.

Despite human’s belief, we cannot control nature; Mother Nature is the one who controls us. If Singaporeans need to blame someone for the flood, then blame the guy upstairs. After all, he’s the one who called the rain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pressure Will Still Be On

After Israel’s insane raid on a flotilla of aid ships last month, the Israeli government now has been forced under international pressure to ease the siege on the Gaza Strip. Israel’s decision is to allow all goods into Gaza, except for weapons and items deemed to have a military use.

Israel is surely hoping that this move will ease pressure on them. Sorry but I just don’t see that happening. Despite Israel's a change of course, pressure on Israel is not going to ease up.

The problem is Israel’s definition of “military use”. On paper this new decision isn’t really that different from what is happening now because this is exactly what Israel said they are doing now and the world already knows that Israel’s definition of “military use” is huge. Simple products like concrete and shipping containers are under Israel’s definition of “military use”. I mean potato chips were banned until the raid on the flotilla made the siege impossible to maintain. The world’s anger at the raid is not going to ease just because potato chips are now allowed into Gaza.

What’s worse is that Israel remained vague on what goods are now allowed and how did they came to the conclusion that these goods are now allowed while others are still not. So if Israel believed international pressure on them will ease after this latest move; they are dead wrong!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Property in Hollywood

With Singapore megachurch City Harvest Church and its founder, Reverend Kong Hee, under investigation for misusing church funds, it was only natural that attention would be turned to Reverend Kong Hee’s wife, Sun Ho.

A singer, Sun Ho, had been a lighting rod for criticism for years because
a) she’s a pastor’s wife but also a singer who thinks nothing about dressing skimpily for her career
b) her music isn’t gospel but techno/trance
and c) her husband has been an unabashed supporter of her career, even promoting her music to his church members

So it’s no surprise that the Singapore media had been trying to get some dirt on her. The latest is the fact that she has been living in Hollywood in a $28,000-a-month rented estate beside celebrities like actress America Ferrera and British singer Leona Lewis.

Seriously, is that the best you can come up with? Sun Ho has had a successful career in Asia, before she tried to break into the American market. She had sold millions of record so it’s possible she bought the property herself without help from her husband. Unlikely, but not impossible.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1 Week into the World Cup

1 week into the World Cup and already there had been some surprises for us. Cameroon is out, France is almost certainly out, Spain was beaten by Switzerland etc.

Top Teams thus Far
Argentina- A lot of people thought they would be challengers for the World Cup but I’ll admit; I wasn’t one of them. The team’s form was bad, there was no defence, and coach Diego Maradona don’t seem to know what he was doing; however they do have 3 good strikers in Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Thus far, that had been enough.

New Zealand- The All-Whites were supposed to be nothing but fillers in this World Cup. The lowest and arguably the weakest team in this World Cup, they were supposed to just enjoy the fact they were even in the World Cup. However a gutsy 1-1 draw with Slovakia meant that they will leave the World Cup with at least a point, and that’s something to cheer about.

Surprise Team thus Far
England- The always over-rated English had been expected to challenge for the World Cup but thus far, they had not been impressive. However what has been surprising to me has been how listless the team had been in the 2 game they had played. Coach Fabio Capello said that the team is scared and I have to agree. Star striker Wayne Rooney seems jaded and the midfield had been void of creativity. They need to vastly improve to have a chance to win the World Cup.

Disappointing Teams thus Far
South Africa- Host of the World Cup had always managed to get to the second round of the competition. This streak will be broken this time unless something truly amazing happen for South Africa. It may be sad for the host, but not unexpected as South Africa was always up against it.

France- Blessed with good players, the disunity in the team was the downfall in this World Cup. Coach Raymond Domenech had been unable to get the team to play together and the firestorm has led striker Nicolas Anelka to be sent home after he insulted the coach in front of the team and then refusing to apologize for it. They had been a total failure in this World Cup.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #4- Currently, the main spotlight of Brightest Day had been Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter. This changes in #4. The big problem I said at the start was how huge and epic the series feels and in this issue, the problems came to the fore as the action changes from Hawkworld to Ronnie’s college to Deadman’s journey into Dove’s bedroom. Everything is well-written but writer Geoff Johns has too many balls in the air and this issue suffers for it.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #3- Sometimes you pick up something that surprises you. “Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time” is one of those pleasant surprises. What was nothing but a set-up chapter in the book “Eye of the World” got the full-blown treatment here as Rand tried desperately to get his injured father to safety. The tension and fear of Rand was on full display as he played cat-and-mouse with the Fade. Thus far, this has been a surprisingly good comic series!

New Mutants #14- The action which returned in the last chapter of “Second Coming” kick up another notch this issue as the X-Men takes on the Nimrods in the present time while X-Force looks to cut out the Nimrod supply line in the future. In the midst of all the action, writer Zeb Wells even got a few character moments in there as well. Cyclops speech on Utopia was his best moment in the crossover while Rogue got to understand what kind of a girl Hope is. The strangest moment, as expected, was when Legion showed up. I’m no fan of the character but the interaction between Legion and his father, Charles Xavier, was great. His power powers seems to have been tweaked and what was once a cardboard villain became interesting. I also like the fact that Magneto is finally standing up! Keep this coming and “Second Coming” will be a success!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not Over Yet!

A few months after Greece gave the world a scare with its debt crisis, the worst it seems is NOT over. After Greece, it seems that Spain will now follow its EU neighbor in asking for a bailout.

Reports out of Madrid say that members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are in Spain after the Spanish government asked for a bailout. When Greece got into trouble, a lot of people said that some other members of the E.U. were in the same position as Greece. Unfortunately, it seems the doomsayers were right.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Spain. The Spanish government seems to know the position it’s in and reports said that the government are willing to enforce reforms on its rigid job market to revive their economy.

Frankly I’m not sure if that’s the way to go because Spain’s problems are more due to the collapse of its property market than anything else. Their unemployment rate may be more than 20%, but it was actually holding steady till the property collapse. Once the property market collapsed, the unemployment rate shot up.

The underlying problem for Spain is in their property market. Still, at least the government is going something. Here’s hoping what they are doing will work.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Floods in Singapore

This will be a short one today. Torrential rain poured onto Singapore today and flash flood hit several areas in Singapore. There are already several youtube clips on the floods but sometimes, pictures are the best.
Like they say; pictures tell a thousand words.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Will America Leave Afghanistan this year?

Don’t bet on it! U.S President Barack Obama may have promised that the Americans would leave Afghanistan this year but it was always a tall order. Now, it does seen to me that the Americans are laying the groundwork for staying beyond this year.

It’s no secret what the American’s southern push in Afghanistan has been floundering, and even American General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command which oversees Afghanistan, admitted that the Taliban has been more resilient than expected. So the war on the ground is not going well and if the Americans leave Afghanistan this year, it should be considered a loss of the war by the Americans.

That’s something neither Obama nor Petraeus want.

So when Afghan President Hamid Karzai suddenly announced that they had discovered nearly one trillion dollars in mineral deposits in Afghanistan…let’s just say I wasn’t that surprised. Suddenly it’s in America’s interest to stay in Afghanistan! There’s a trillion dollars in mineral deposits in Afghanistan, including rare minerals like lithium and niobium; it might actually be worth it to stay beyond this year for the Americans!

So don’t be surprise if the Americans do just that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Stupid Ball

Every World Cup comes with its own official ball which is used for all matches in the tournament. FIFA usually creates a new ball for the tournament in the interest of fairness (officially). The thinking is that if none of the teams had ever used the ball before, then no one has an advantage right?

The official World Cup ball this time is called the “Jubulani”, which means to celebrate. So far, the only thing to celebrate about it is how weird it is. Adidas, the maker of the “Jubulani”, had to fend off questions from all corners but from the matches I had watched so far…the teams have a point.

The ball is strange. I have seen a lot of overhit crosses where the ball just refused to come down. Instead of dropping, the ball seems to carry and just float in the air for an extra few seconds. However that is nothing but a minor complaint compare to the main problem of the ball, the bounce!

The main problem I see with the ball is the bounce. When a high ball hit the ground, the bounce is very high and the ball, more likely than not, will go over the player’s head. However when the ball is low, the ball don’t really bounce but skimmed the surface! Players seem to have discovered this because shots are coming in hard and low. The aim is to make the ball bounce just before it reached the goalkeeper because instead of bouncing true, the ball would skip to the side of the keeper. Already 2 goals in the tournament had been blamed on this and in the Ghana game last night, the keeper didn’t even attempted to catch the ball when a low shot came in. He just spread himself wide to block the shot and take his chances that the rebound would fall to a defender!

Personally, I’m not a fan of having a new ball every World Cup (what’s wrong with using any old ball?), and I think it would be sad if teams are knock out not by the quality of their play but by the unpredictable bounce of the ball. In every World Cup, there will always be heroes and villains but the greatest villain this World Cup has already been decided. It’s the stupid dammed ball!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Good Start to the World Cup

The World Cup has started and the opening match had host South Africa playing against Mexico. South Africa looked like they were on their way to a dream start in their campaign but a late equalizer by Mexico made the final score a 1-1 draw. To be fair this was probably the correct result as both teams had their chances and overall the play was pretty even.

It didn’t look that way at first because Mexico swamped the South African’s goal in the opening half. Giovani Dos Santos caused the South African defense loads of problems in the opening half with his runs with the ball and South African keeper Itumeleng Khune, who had an impressive game, had to be called into service on several occasions.

In the second half, things changes as South African’s Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira showed his experience by changing the tactics of his team. South Africa became a counter-attacking team, looking to break out of defense quickly and catching Mexico on the break. The plan worked to perfection in the 55th min when Siphiwe Tshabalala broke away and delivered a beautiful shot that sent the 84,000 crowd into glorious ecstasy.

From then on it was all South Africa as they tried to get the second goal. They never got it and Mexico made them pay when star defender Rafael Marquez slotted home in the 79th min. The goal was almost a comedy of errors as Mexico had fouled up their set-play on their corner, but they managed to get the cross in and Marquez suddenly found himself free at the backpost when the South African defense went AWOL. I think the South Africans were trying to play an offside trap but it was so disastrously bad any one of 3 different Mexican players could have scored on the play. Mexico attacked the South African’s goal from then on but it was South Africa who came closest to getting the third goal of the game when striker Katlego Mphela, again on a counterattack, hit the post in the dying minutes.

It was a pretty good game and a nice start to the World Cup. Neither South Africa nor Mexico will win the World Cup but if the rest of the matches are anything like this match, we fans are in for a treat.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Comics this week

Uncanny X-Men #525- After a few set-up issues, action is back on the menu. And not a second too soon as the X-Men throw it down with the Nimrods. Having said that, I wonder if the Nimrods had degraded since the last time I saw them because they are a little weak here. Storm destroyed one with a lighting bolt and Namor actually held off 5 while waiting for support. I know he’s powerful but Namor against 5 Nimrods? It was nice to see Xavier again and a little of the mystery of Hope is lifted this issue. All in all, outside the art, a good issue.

S.H.I.E.L.D #2- I commented on the first issue of S.H.I.E.L.D that it has a great concept but only an average story. One of the reasons is that writer Jonathan Hickman never explained anything but kept on throwing one mad idea after another towards us. Dustin Weaver's beautiful artwork can only do so much. In issue 2, it’s pretty much the same old story. It starts with a guy named Nostradamus, ends with Leonardo Da Vinci with Leonid, in-between there is a fight between Leonid’s father and 2 guys named Richards and Stark; and in total I had no idea what I was reading about! I am loath to call this a mess, maybe Hickman has some mysterious plan, but if he does he better start showing it soon.

Secret Six #24 –"Cats in the Cradle" has been one of the best arcs writer Gail Simone has written so far…till this issue. The issue starts exactly when the last issue ends; with lions eating Loki. Catman then track down the rest of the kidnappers and in the climax, he basically gave up the search! Sorry but that is just wrong. I always thought of Thomas Blake as one of those stubborn determined guys who won’t let anyone or anything get in his way. I mean he is the best tracker in the DCU isn’t he? The guy who said, “The pavement has my child” a few issues ago right? For him to just give up looking for his son, even with a reason, is just something that comes out of left field. The rest of the issue, Catman’s flashback and Black Alice’s confession that she may have given her father cancer, were much better. This isn’t a bad issue, but if not for the climax, it would have been great.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Spain to Win

The World Cup starts tomorrow and it’s time for me to throw my hat in the ring. Frankly, I just have to go with Spain.

Yes I know everyone and their uncle is going with either Spain or Brazil as favorites to win World Cup 2010, but I just can’t see any team in this year’s competition stronger than Spain.

In goal they have Iker Casillas, one of the best keepers in the world. Their defense is anchored by Carlos Puyol. Their midfield is so good they could even leave out Marcos Senna, who was their defensive lynchpin in Euro 08. Their attack is blessed by both David Villa and Fernando Torres. The whole team is so good no one in Spain is even worried about whether Cesc Fabregas could recover from injury in time to start the World Cup!

That’s how good the Spanish team is and I think it would take a brave man (or a fanatical fan) to bet against them. Fortunately for me and my wallet, I’m no fanatic.

Spain to win the World Cup!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

World Survivor Cup

The World Cup 2010 is starting soon but looking at the warm-ups of the teams, I have to say we should start calling this the World Survivor Cup.

Injuries to players before the World Cup are not new, in fact it happens all the time, but this World Cup has been especially cursed with the injury bug. Almost every team not called Argentina has a player or two injured. And these are not just squad members but important players! Just look at this list;
Portugal- Nani
England- Rio Ferdinand
Germany- Michael Ballack
Ivory Coast- Didier Drogba
Italy- Andrea Pirlo
Holland- Arjen Robben
Ghana- Sulley Muntari & Michael Essien

There are 4 different captains on this list! Some of these players are rushing to be fit so that they can play some part in the World Cup but almost all of them are expected to miss the first few games of their teams.

The upshot? I expect more upsets this tournament and that’s always a good thing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Who says Singapore does not have a sense of humor? 32 year-old Oliver Fricker, a Swiss business consultant, was charged in court with breaking into a Singapore MRT depot and spray-painting graffiti on a train.

Mr. Fricker’s passport was impounded and bail was set at a ridiculous $100,000. Now a Briton, Lloyd Dane Alexander, is suspected to be an accomplice of Mr. Fricker and is ought by Singapore. Problem is Mr. Alexander is in Hong Kong at the moment and Singapore is going to extradite him from Hong Kong.

Yes, Singapore is going to extradite a man for vandalism! People in Indonesia must be laughing their guts out when they hear this. There are over 10 Indonesian millionaires currently living in Singapore who are wanted by Indonesia for various corruption charges but Singapore has constantly refused to extradite them back to Indonesia. Now Singapore wants to extradite a man from Hong Kong for vandalism!

Is vandalism more serious than corruption? In Singapore, that seems to be the case. Who says Singapore does not have a sense of humor?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

“Dead Until Dark” is the first book in Charlaine Harris's vampire series “The Southern Vampire Mysteries”; also known as the Sookie Stackhouse novels. As you probably have guessed, the books follow the adventures of the character Sookie Stackhouse, a young telepath who worked as a waitress in the town of Bon Temps, Louisiana.

Much like the Anita Blake books, Sookie’s world has an alternate history where vampires coexists side-by-side with humans. In “Dead Until Dark”, a vampire, Bill Compton, takes up residence in Bon Temps and Sookie begins a romance with him after discovering that she cannot read the vampire’s mind. With normal humans, Sookie had to constantly restrain herself from reading the thoughts of others but Bill is silent to her.

After saving Bill from 2 vampire drainers on his first visit, Sookie was attacked by vampire drainers the every next night. Bill returns the favor by killing the drainers and shared his blood with the injured Sookie, creating a blood bond between the two. As the two get closer, other residents of Bon Temps are introduced, including Sookie’s grandmother, Adele Stackhouse, and her older brother, Jason. When a series of murders occurred in town, Jason became the main suspect and Sookie asked for Bill’s help in clearing his name.

To investigate some of the victims, Bill took her to a vampire bar called Fangtasia in the nearby city of Shreveport. Owned by a powerful vampire named Eric Northman, Eric discovered Sookie’s telepathic powers and answered Sookie’s questions in return for her help in discovering who has been stealing from his bar. Sookie finds out that another vampire by the name of Long Shadow has been stealing the money and she was attacked by the vampire immediately. Eric killed Long Shadow but not before some of the Long Shadow’s blood entered Sookie.

Once back in Bon Temps, Sookie finds her grandmother Adele is the latest victim of the serial killer. Later she discovered her granduncle was also killed, this time by Bill who arranged for his death after discovering he had molested Sookie as a child. Scared at how cold-blooded Bill could be, Sookie has second thoughts about the relationship while Bill had to leave town for work. While Bill is gone, Sookie was attacked by the serial killer who she discovers is Jason's friend Rene Lenier. With her telepathic powers and blood from 2 vampires in her system, Sookie managed to capture Rene but was badly injured in the effort.

Yes, yes; I admit I only got interested in the books after watching “True Blood” on HBO which was based on the books. Reading the books, I found that “Dead Until Dark” was an easy, almost breezy, read and was very different from the TV series.

The character of Sookie Stackhouse is very good and the world she lived in was very well thought-out. Like I said earlier, it is similar to other series but there is enough originality and difference to let it stand on its own. Making Sookie a telepath was a good move as the pros and cons of her powers are interesting and it made her a much more interesting character.

Personally I prefer books and movies where vampires are big, bad, and nasty and in this I am mixed on "Dead Until Dark". Although capable of violence, the vampires in the world are more interested in making good with the public and as they are legal citizens, they are also subjected to the same laws as normal humans. This sort of takes away a mystic about the vampires. I mean its just no fun reading about how Sookie’s knowledge about the vampires came mostly from the news on television.

Still the book was good. The characters of Bon Temps especially were well thought-out and the world was believable. Overall, this was a good book. If you want an unchallenging page-turner, "Dead Until Dark" could be the book for you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Comics this week

Brightest Day #3- Currently, I had found Brightest Day to be surprisingly enjoyable. However for it to stay that way, I think the pace need to be pick up. This issue picks up directly where issue 2 stopped; with Boston Brand’s white ring dropping him right in the lap of the Anti-Monitor. Needless to say neither of them are happy about the matter and Brand escaped in a hurry. Intersect on that are cameos of the other newly revived DC heroes, Aquaman and Mera testing out his power, Martian Manhunter’s captivating investigation into his attack on Mars, Firestorm’s power malfunction, Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s quest for revenge; all very interesting but that’s only 6 characters. There were 12 who returned and we haven’t seen any sign of the other 6 yet. We haven’t had any hint of the other 6 and we still don’t know much about the White Lantern. I know it’s just 3 issues so far but Geoff Johns and Pete Tomasi need to speed up.

The Thanos Imperative #1- The latest cosmic event by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning is on the surface a simple fight between heroes of our universe and their counterparts from another universe. Nothing unusual but the way it is being done is. Adam Magus has succeed in opening The Fault and now a parallel universe totally devoid of death has invaded our universe. To fight a universe without death, the galactic heroes need someone who represent death; Thanos, the avatar of death. The potential in the story is great but I have to say the art of this issue is poor. When I looked at the preview of issue 2, the pencils is good so the problem should be the inking and coloring. Still the story and unique plot should make this a fine series.

Friday, June 4, 2010

No, No, N0!

That’s my reaction when I heard that Lord of the Rings Online is going free-to-play. There's been speculation of this as the game had been slowly but surely losing players to other games and the less-than-stellar numbers for its latest expansion “The Seige of Mirkwood” (mainly to the fact there’s no retail version of it) but still I have to say I am surprised by this.

Reason being the game is losing players but it is still healthy. There’s hasn’t been a need to close down servers and the move to F2P is questionable, especially when there are people like me who had the game already. If Turbine is going to follow its pricing model in D&D Online, then most of the game areas (like instances) will be blocked unless players pay for them. But I paid for the game already! Does that means I have to pay again to access areas which I could access in the past? Also the story of the game is through the “Books” chain quest series, and most of these quests are in instances. Does that means players have to pay for them as well?

A lot of questions to be answered and till then, I guess it’s better not to reenter Middle-Earth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Not So Fast!

Singapore megachurch City Harvest Church has been under the spotlight ever since it was reported in March that the church had made a $310 million investment in Suntec City Convention Centre. Questions were asked on how did a church managed to get so much money and the church did not help itself when it refused to answer the questions.

So when the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) confirmed that the church founder, Reverend Kong Hee, was under investigation for misusing church funds, you can also hear the glee from Singaporeans. Reverend Kong, who is also the husband of pop-star Sun Ho, and 16 other individuals in City Harvest Church are being investigated by the CAD after complaints were made to the Commissioner of Charities (COC) on the misuse of church funds. Already Singaporeans are comparing the case to the funding scandals that had engulfed the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and Ren Ci.

I say, “Not so fast.”

Let not rush to judgment because details are bare at the moment and we don’t even know if charges will be brought against City Harvest. People are innocent until proven otherwise and even then, we need to see what the charges are. A lot of Singaporeans still think Ren Ci’s abbot Ming Yi is guilty of taking money even when that’s not what he was charged with.

Ming Yi was convicted of only covering up the matter because he wanted to save the face of Ren Ci. And that was after getting a promise from the person who stole the money that he would return the money in full. Even the judge agreed that Ming Yi did not financially benefited from the case.

So before words like corruption and scandal are thrown, let’s just wait for an official word from the police. Who knows; this might turn out to be nothing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NBA Finals Preview

The NBA finals are upon us and the finals will be a rematch of the finals 2 years ago between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. 2 years ago the Celtics won an easy victory but things looked very different this time. Here’s a look at the match-ups in the finals and who has the edge for them;

Forwards: The Lakers have Pau Gasol and Ron Artest but the Celtics have Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The Celtics should have the advantage here as they did 2 years ago. Back then, the Lakers were unable to stop Garnett especially on the boards and frankly I don’t see it being any different this time. The only question is whether Artest, one of the NBA’s best defender, can stop Paul Pierce. If he can, then the Lakers would be more than happy to leave it at that.
Advantage: Celtics.

Center: Normally I would go for Andrew Bynum (Lakers) over Kendrick Perkins (Celtics) in this match-up but Bynum has been plagued by knee problems throughout the playoffs, while Perkins held his own against Dwight Howard, arguably the NBA’s best centre.
Advantage: Celtics.

Guards: No contest here. The Celtics may have Ray Allen (a future Hall of Fame player) and Rajon Rondo (one of the best players in this postseason), but the Lakers have Kobe Bryant! Bryant averaged 33.7 points against the Suns and has been scoring 30 points for fun throughout the postseason. Also the Lakers have a tough defender in Derek Fisher who is capable of slowing and posting up Rondo.
Advantage: Lakers

Reserver: Neither benches are really that important to both teams but there are a few important role players in each team. The most important is without question Lamar Odom of the Lakers. He is a man who is capable of doing a little bit of everything and also everything goes through him when the second unit is on the floor. A lot also depends on the health of Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace of the Celtics. Both were hurt in the series against the Magic and both are important role players.
Advantage: Lakers.

Coaches: Phil Jackson of the Lakers has won 10 championships and is going for his 11th. Doc Rivers won one with the Celtics two years ago. On paper, this should be no contest but Rivers has been impressive in the postseason, carefully guiding his team through a few tough series while the Lakers made hard work of Suns.
Advantage: Lakers.

Expected Outcome: Lakers in 6.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Counterproductive Raid

Even the most pro-Israel person in the world had to admit that this current Israeli government has been nothing short of a disaster for the country of Israel. After humiliating the Turkish ambassador (their only Arab ally) on national television, we had the incident where the U.S. Vice-President was insulted while on a visit to Israel, and now to top them all, we have an incident when Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of aid ships trying to reach the Gaza Strip.

Pro-Palestinian activists from various countries were carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip when a predawn raid by Israel stopped them. Only 2 big problems; the raid happened in international waters outside Israel and the raid ended up killing at least 10 passengers in the flotilla. Immediate worldwide condemnation follows and Israel are now in a political and diplomatic dilemma on how to explain this most stupid of moves.

So far, the explanations from Israel ranged from stupid to crazy.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who seems to be Israel’s pointman, blamed the organizers of the Gaza aid flotilla for the incident, even going so far as to say they have connections to international terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Al-Qaida.

The problem with this is that these are aid ships carrying wheelchairs and schoolbooks to Gaza and the pro-Palestinian activists were not suicide bombers.

Israel also said that they had found weapons onboard the Gaza flotilla, which were used against Israeli troops.

When all they found were 2 handguns, a few knives, and batons against Israeli naval commandos rappelling down from Israeli helicopters? Where do I start with this one?

Mr. Ayalon also says that no sovereign country would have allowed such a provocation to take place.

Only problem is the raid happened in international waters outside Israel! What? Can’t Israel wait till the aid ships enter Israeli waters before raiding them?

This last question is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the incident. The raid happened a day before a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama who were to meet at the White House to discuss the Middle East peace process.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had to cancel the meeting to return home. Coincidence or excellent timing? The timing of the raid gives me an impression there is a political aspect to the whole incident.

One thing for sure; Israel's tough response will hurt it more than it helps. And all this to maintain a counterproductive blockade of Gaza that help their enemies more than Israel!